Jessica: Hey, everyone. I am in Amman, Jordan and I am about to meet Tatiana. We are going to see what it is like to spend 24 hours with this seventeen-year-old. Come on!
Hi, Tatiana! Hi, I am Jessica. Nice to meet you!
It is 8am, and there is no time to waste…
Tatiana: I think we are good to go.
Jessica: …Tatiana is a senior in high school.
Tatiana: The tawjihi is the last year of school. Tawjihi is the scariest year. You have to earn good grades and good scores in order to get in university.
Jessica: So, your score determines where you can go?
Jessica: Wow! No pressure.
Tatiana: But I’m actually thinking about studying in the United States.
Jessica: Almost 6,000 miles away, Jordan is about the size of the state of Indiana. It is home to more than 6 million people. Arabic is the national language, but many young people learn English too.
Tatiana: This is my official class. We stay here all day.
Jessica: Teachers switch in and out, but students stay put. Tatiana takes six classes everyday. There is no lunch or gym period.
Will you show me around your house?
Tatiana: Yeah. Of course. Here’s the guest room.
Jessica: This looks very traditional.
Jessica: Meeting and greeting people is an important part of Jordanian culture.
Tatiana: Here is the living room. I usually watch Gossip Girl. Also, Pretty Little Liars.
Jessica: I see MTV is on.
Jessica: Now, is this the same MTV that we see in the United States?
Tatiana: No. No.
Jessica: This is different?
Tatiana: Yeah. This is different. This is MTV Arabia. They sometimes put on Arabic music.
Jessica: What do you listen to?
Tatiana: Rihanna. I like Beyonce.
Jessica: This is your room.
Jessica: Very nice! Very clean! This is how neat you are all the time?
Jessica: Jordan is right in between countries like Syria and Iraq. Do you ever feel that you are in the middle of this hotspot?
Tatiana: Jordan is very safe. I feel safe in Jordan.
Jessica: An important U.S. partner for peace, Jordan is a stable country in an unstable region, attracting refugees fleeing war and violence in nearby countries. Now, because of Syria’s civil war, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been pouring into Jordan seeking safety.
The majority of Jordanians are Muslim. But there are Christian and other religious communities as well.
Jessica: Are you Muslim?
Jessica: So, how does religion play a role in your life?
Tatiana: I really believe in God. I pray sometimes. But sometimes I forget.
Jessica: What do you usually eat everyday?
Tatiana: Arabic stuff. And I like lasagna a lot and pizza. Yeah.
Jessica: So, the biggest meal is at 3?
Jessica: And is that with your entire family?
Tatiana: Yeah, with my entire family.
Jessica: Jordanians enjoy something similar to a Spanish siesta. Some stores and offices close in the afternoon for families to get together. Then reopen for a few more hours until 6 or 7.
Tatiana: I tell my mom everything – everything that goes on in my life. I just go and tell her. I’m really close to my dad and my brother, but we usually fight.
Jessica: After lunch it is time to hit the books. How long do you study on a typical day?
Tatiana: Seven hours or more.
Jessica: Seven hours! In one day?
Jessica: You study?
Jessica: After school?
Tatiana: Yeah, because it takes a lot of studying.
Jessica: Now we are headed to one of your favorite places in the city of Amman. And so, you have changed into your regular clothes. Out of the uniform. And here we go, right?
Tatiana: Yes. Let’s go!
Jessica: So, where do you do most of your shopping?
Tatiana: At the malls.
Jessica: The mall? What is your favorite store?
Tatiana: American Eagle.
Jessica: American Eagle?
Tatiana: Yeah. That’s my favorite.
Jessica: And there is no Abercrombie, right?
Tatiana: No. I wish! I wish!
Jessica: So, I always see pictures of the king. He is everywhere. Is that normal?
Tatiana: Yes. That’s normal.
Jessica: Jordan is a constitutional monarchy ruled by King Abdullah II. His government has, so far, weathered the Arab Spring movement, the wave of protests that toppled longtime rulers in the Arab world over the last two years. And Jordan’s population has a higher standard of living than most Arab countries.
What do you think students in America think of people here?
Tatiana: We ride camels to school. And they think we live in tents.
Jessica: Why do you think they think that?
Tatiana: I read that on Facebook a lot. That’s just how I know.
Jessica: But many young people in Jordan have similar dreams and challenges as American teens, like homework.
Well, Tatiana. Since I know you study seven hours a day, we have taken up some of that time. So, I will let you get back to it. But thanks so much. This was so much fun. And I Ioved spending a day in your life.
Tatiana: Thank you so much. I had so much fun today, and would love to see you again.
Jessica: Yes! You too!