A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

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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  1. Kay

    My parents meet in JU and 25 years later they still have many memories, we often hear about over lunches and dinners. I’ve never been to JU, let alone Jordan. But I’m very grateful for it. I also love going through the pictures and seeing my parents as students. I wish my had saved some of her boots!

    Looking forward to your documantry.

  2. Western Brother

    I’ve never even visited JU (being the non-Jordanian that I am) but I think Roba’s project is simply fascinating. I wish I had done the same at my Uni while I was still a student. Now, my photo albums of that era mostly consist of ten half-drunk party photos taken one night, and then weeks of nothing, and yes, I guess there’s not a single pic of me in the lecture halls (but I did frequent them as well).

    What I just wonder… Roba, what do you mean by urban legends here? Urban legends as understood in the study of folklore – see for example what Wikipedia has on the subject at – or do you rather mean a broader idea of collecting contemporary JU student culture and remembrance?

    Which ever way you want it, your endeavour is worth praise. Wish your archives will one day be nominated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site LOL.


  3. Is your mom the one in green in the 3rd picture? if thats her, you look so much like her.. :)

  4. I guess you’re right, you hardly ever see guys in UJ these days wearing flared pants or chest revealing shirts. But you hardly ever see men wearing 7a66a and 3gal while holding an umbrella side ways like the guy in the first picture either LOL

  5. Kay, lol, cool :)
    My parents met through one of my mom’s best friends at JU.
    I don’t think I’ll be meeting anyone at JU though.. I’ve never met a guy there who is even slightly my kind of material.

    Western Brother, oh, yeah, I know there aren’t any urban legends in this post, but this “documentation” will be dedicated to those :)JU student folklore… :)

    Manal, lol, no, really? She’s not my mother and I have no idea who she is… funny you think I look like her :) My mother is the one wearing white in that picture. I don’t look like my mother at all, I look like my dad’s family :)

    Hamzeh, hehe, yup ;)

  6. Western Brother

    Don’t forget to keep all your fans updated in your blog on how the project is going :-)!

    Interesting to see guys referred to as material. They say girls are materialistic – now I understand what that means :-).


  7. I will post you pictures roba,but you will need to wait after I ‘ve moved and opened the zillion boxes I packed and found the pictures!!

  8. hey im not good at it, i just saw she kinda look like you ;) but your mom was my secound choice.. because she was in every picture :D

    you have a nice day

  9. ashraf

    Without reading the comments, I just want to say lovely pictures; I wish to live at that time. It seems to be simple, so peaceful and cheerful.
    If you have more photos for Jordan University please post them
    Great job

  10. Moe Ganem

    lol , the university is the best thing ever happened to me , i have a lot of good time in it , we actually spend time hanging with the guyz more than we attend classes xD engineering students what can we say :D , btw am still studying in it and i think its the best university ever ….

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