Fellows' Reflections: Jessie Wyatt

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Over the past few months, the weather in Jordan has been changing from heat that causes sweat while you sit to cold that causes you to shiver while you run. Originally coming from Minnesota, the land of cold and ice, I thought I was braced to fare any type of cold the winter throws at me. Little did I know that the winter in Jordan is an entirely different breed of cold. A key difference between homes in Minnesota verses homes here in Jordan is that homes here are designed to stay cool in the summer heat and are therefore not equipped with central heating. This changes the way you play the winter game.

When preparing for the winter, I’ve been grateful to rely on the knowledge of my Jordanian friends to transform my perfect-for-summer breezy apartment into a fortress against the cold. There are three main steps to take when fighting the cold: change your furnishing, change out your fans and change your clothes.

When transforming your physical apartment space, it all starts with making sure there are as many materials in your house as possible to line the floors and the windows. Starting from the bottom moving up, we lined our house with carpets from the local market. Not only are they beautiful, but they provide the insulation we need to sustain any warmth within the apartment. Next, we moved to the windows. One key feature in my apartment are the floor to ceiling windows we have in our living room. Just as they generate natural light, they also let in the cold from outside. Therefore, we invested in thick curtains to block out any wind that might seep through.

The next step to keeping your home cozy involves making the financial investment in space heaters. In our apartment, we use two different types of heaters: an electric heater and a gas heater, commonly referred to as a “soba.” The electric heater, although easier to manage, requires a lot of electricity to function. Although they are strong (you can even cook on them! See picture), many heat-experts opt for the “soba,” a gas heater. Although initially frightening because they require opening a tank of gas similar to the one used for a grill, they quickly light up and project heat throughout the room (with three different heat settings!). Just remember, when you turn on your heaters in the main room, make sure to shut all of your bedroom doors.  

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Finally, adapting to the cold requires an outfit change. One essential piece required for everyone’s wardrobe is the “farwa” (see picture). The “farwa” is a coat commonly used by local Jordanians to protect against the cold. It is a thick leather coat lined with fleece that even the cold from my home in Minnesota can’t penetrate. Making the investment makes a world of a difference.

All in all, even though winter in Jordan has presented new challenges and changes, I’ve taken the above steps and, when in doubt, rely on hot chocolate to warm my body and soul.