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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Urban Legends at Jordan University

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In the mid 90's, my mother took me to my first visit to the campus of the University of Jordan.

The scene wasn't new to my eyes, because we have a decades worth of 70's photoalbums that consist of pictures taken in UJ, where my mother had spent a good deal of time studying and then working.

I remember how excited she was that day, taking me around and pointing to the various landmarks around the campus. There is "Share3 il 3osha2" (the street of lovers), and that is the milkbar. Down the street is the library, and over on that hill is the old psychology department. This is the "Koleyet il Majali" area, and oh, did I ever tell you about the art studio that I spent so much time in? Memories are precious.

I, though, wasn't impressed. What I saw that day was very different from what I saw in my mother's old photoalbums, which might have as well been taken on the movieset of "Grease". The student population didn't consist of dolled up Arabian Barbies dressed in colorful floaty 70's dresses, pointy sandals, and perfect up-dos. The guys were not Kens either, there were no sideburns, hot charlestons, and tight chest-revealing tops. The general social atmosphere was also drastically different- the general comfort in the old pictures was nonexistant, and the conservative shift in society was shining bright.

It is 2006, and JU is the only Jordanian educational institution I have ever known. The conservative shift is more drastic now than it was in the past decades, and this shift has greatly influenced the campus of Jordan University. I, being the most easily fascinated human on earth, find these social and physical differences absolutely mindblowing, and I marvel endlessly over the sameness of the things that time didn't change.

"Share3 il 3osha2" still exists but has now become the home of a bunch of exceedingly loud funoon students (weee-ha). The delicious smell of the pine trees is still the same. The milkbar lost its display of milk bottles that have given it its name, and has now turned from a "cool hangout" to a building in the center of "Share3 il Nawar" (The Street of the Vulgar). The man that runs errands in the Deanship of Student Affairs is older now than he was in the 70's, but the cups of tea he uses are the same exact style.

After some thought, I decided to sort of start "documenting" the Jordan University student experience in the first decade of the new millenium- you know, the recent urban legends that the alumini are not aware of and the older legends that haven't changed for decades. These "documentations" will be very experimental, and I'm hoping they'll also be collaborative. So, if you're a student at Jordan University, start snapping or write something up and email it to me, otherwise, I would be content with suggestions that you think are worth documenting. If you're an alumini, please do share your memories and images as well, it would be nice to have comparative experiments.

Below are some pictures from my mother's photoalbums. Forgive me for the crappy quality as I don't have a scanner.

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