As a runner from the midwest, Jordan’s terrain has inexplicably taken a toll on the ease of my runs. I have been running long distance for the past six years now, and for the past year and a half, I have been recovering from runner’s knee. Runners are possibly some of the most adventurous people you will ever meet; no matter what situation we are facing, we always find a way to run and we always yearn to run. Since high school, running has occupied most of my little free time. However, when I was badly injured last year, I had to find a new hobby. Running is my outlet and it is my way of clearing my head and coping with my emotions. Without this outlet, I grew very anxious and agitated, and that is when I took up journaling and found my passion and love for writing. My writing ranges from day to day reflections, polaroid memories, and poetry. Studying abroad in Jordan has reshaped and propelled the runner and writer that I am today.
Amman is a city built on seven hills. I come from Illinois, a state where I have to go out of my way to find a hill to do hill workouts. The hilly terrain of Amman, Jordan, has made my easy runs extremely difficult. What I would normally consider an easy 5-mile run, I now have to account for it taking longer with all the hills that tire me out. On top of the hilly terrain, there are no sidewalks in Amman. I am often times finding myself running on the street with cars (a habit I picked up running in Chicago is to make sure I am running opposite the direction of the cars). Because of the terrain and lack of sidewalks, walking is not common in Amman, so you can only imagine how much I stick out while running. This often times leads to cars honking at me, slowing down next to me, and other general harassments. To say the least, being a runner in Jordan has been a physical and mental challenge for me.
On September 1st, 2018, I ran my second official half marathon in Petra, Jordan. The course of this race was breathtakingly beautiful –emphasis on the breathtaking– and it was truly an amazing experience. I ran through the desert, alongside camels, Bedouins, goats, sheep, etc., and ended up climbing 142 floors throughout the race (the Sears Tower in Chicago is 110 floors to give an idea of the mountains I had to climb).
I am now currently training for my first marathon that I will run in March. My training, as I stated, has been difficult on many levels, but nonetheless, I will persevere, as running my first marathon while abroad is one of my goals. Living in Jordan has challenged the role running plays in my life, but I will without a doubt return to the U.S a stronger and more confident runner.
Writing has always been something I enjoy, but it was not until recently that I started identifying as a writer. Coming from marginalized backgrounds, my identity is inexplicably important to me, and it is even more important that I have my voice heard. I have had numerous heartwarming and jubilant experiences while studying abroad, but I have also had many dark moments that took a toll on my time here. That being said, I would not change anything from what it is. The bad moments have pushed my growth and have shaped who I am and who I am going to be and are equally as important as the good experiences that filled me with joy. Everything this past year has influenced my writing. I never realized how much I love writing poetry and I would have never imagined sharing my deepest words and most sacred feelings to anyone. If you asked me six months ago who I was, I would have never told you I’m a writer, an artist. I would have never shared with the world (about 60 people, a mixture of expats and locals in a small cafe located in Jordan, a very tiny country in the Middle East) my vulnerability and fear of public speaking. I never would have imagined that sharing my work at poetry slams in Amman would play a big role in my study abroad experience, but it is the things you do not expect that reap the biggest reward.