Heeah Ma Heeah (it is what it is)

*This is not, as far as I know, a real saying in Arabic*

I say this often in English, especially when things do not go as planned. Consequently, I would say it quite frequently in my Arabic class at Wofford, where things rarely seemed go as I wanted them to. After being scolded for not speaking Arabic during class, I asked Youness (our Arabic professor) how to say my catchphrase.

And now I say it all the more, first in Arabic, then in English.

My time in Amman, Jordan has been a very “heeah mah heeah” experience thus far. First, Customs showed up at the gate for my flight from Detroit to Amman. This meant two things: 1) I was the only one allowed on the plane without being searched (because I’m a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white girl) and 2) my bags never made it on the flight. They arrived in Amman four days after I did. What did I say while washing my clothes out in the hotel sink?

“Heeah mah heeah”

Adjusting to a new culture is just that, an adjustment. There’s new norms to navigate and relationships to cultivate. I am living alone with an older woman, whereas I had expected to be placed in a large family. I have been force fed more food after 11PM than I have eaten in entire days at home. I will have to rely on others more than I normally prefer to until my Arabic improves.

Again, “heeah mah heeah.”

These are all scenarios, not complaints. I say, “Heeah mah heeah” in a hopeful way, never despondently. Learning a new place, new people, new way of life takes time. I am taking my time, and accepting both my ignorant mistakes and confident moments.

For example, on the way home from school yesterday, my Uber driver was a middle-aged man who spoke no English but had a wide grin and kind eyes. Our 20 minute ride together became a full-on Arabic lesson. He would ask me a question, I would fumble for words until I could respond in fusha (“foos-ha,” AKA Shakespearean Arabic). Then, he would say it for me in Aamiyya (Jordanian Dialect Arabic) and have me repeat the phrase until I sounded like him.

It was such a precious moment for me here, where my Arabic practice has been surprisingly limited. I emerged from his Ford Fusion beaming.

I hope that sometime near the end of this semester in Amman, Yousef will pick me up again. Inshallah (God willing) I will wow him with my Arabic. For now, I’ll just keep taking what is for what it is.

Take care Wofford,