Cultural contact, constant support, and encouragement to explore! Past Review

By (Lawrence University) - abroad from 08/23/2014 to 12/19/2014 with

AMIDEAST: Amman - Area & Arabic Language Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned to be patient with cultural differences when interacting with my Jordanian friends I met through the program. I also saw myself mature and drastically improve my Arabic language skills (I jumped up 3.5 levels in proficiency versus the average 1.7). I can now say Jordan is a city I see myself working in farther in the future, and that I have skills and confidence to travel abroad and really succeed.

Review Photos

AMIDEAST: Amman - Area & Arabic Language Studies Photo AMIDEAST: Amman - Area & Arabic Language Studies Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The resources were enough for the courses that AMIDEAST offered for this term, but it was still difficult to track down books or articles in a library other than ACOR which was difficult to reach sometimes. The academic rigor wasn't the same as that of my university, but I think it fit the expectations the program had for making sure we explored the city and got out into the community. I am used to a trimester system, so the semester system did not seem as rigorous either.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The on-site administration was organized and creative, asking for regular feedback from students about the fun programs we wanted to have at AMIDEAST in addition to their constant suggestions. Also, the program ran smoothly and I felt very safe and taken care of by all of the study abroad staff in Amman.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host family were kind people who were willing to talk to me and my roommate in Arabic and very enthusiastic about our studies and getting to know Amman. However, they had trouble providing all of the necessary resources for us, just as AMIDEAST told them to do in the very beginning. Essentially, communicating with them even in Arabic caused stress for me and my roommate such as we had cold and infrequent showers, no laundry washed for 5 weeks and during one period of time, sporadic meals.

* Food:

The food options in Amman are numerous, especially for cheap food. My host family was excited to share Middle Eastern dishes with me and I found exploring food to be one of the greatest ways to get to know Jordan and the city. It's absolutely delicious, and the city has so many options.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt the most integrated from exploring my neighborhood and going to events around the city with my Jordanian friends. However, I found it difficult to truly integrate with local culture just by the simple fact that my sub-par Arabic and western look made me stick out and therefore put people on the defensive sometimes.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Amman is a city with wonderful quiet neighborhoods intermixed with bustling streets. As long as I used common sense and the tips provided by AMIDEAST, just as I would in my home city of Minneapolis, I found Amman to be inviting and safe. I only felt unsafe two times during my 4 month stay and nothing every came of these very minor instances. Don't let fears about safety keep you from studying in Amman. All of the action is far away near the Syrian border in small peripheral towns, and frequent security updates from the Embassy, AMIDEAST and iJet keep you informed.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

It was WAY cheaper in my experience, definitely less than what AMIDEAST estimates your expenditure will be. It's always good to be prepared to spend more, but oh so nice when you don't.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent about $50-$75 a week on food and other expenses
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat with your host family! And you can never have too much shawarma and falafel for a quick and cheap meal outside of home. Don't get hooked on shisha or fancy restaurants too much.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

Target Language Commitment Tuesdays were very helpful and the effects of always trying to speak Arabic continued throughout my time abroad.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 101 Arabic
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Get out and make friends with Jordanians. If that is too hard, insist that you practice speaking Arabic with your friends for continuing your adherence to the language.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The additional cultural dialogue and language partner programs to meet Jordanians
  • The amazing Qasid Professors!
  • The wonderful study abroad staff
* What could be improved?
  • The space for study abroad students in the AMIDEAST building needs to be expanded
  • More required Arabic-only days during the week
  • More information on alternative transportation like public transport from the beginning
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish this was really emphasized as a language intensive program. I applied through the Associated Colleges of the Midwest and they repeatedly told us you were not required to learn Arabic. I still started preparing with a professor at my University a semester before the program, but I think students with more language experience got much more out of living and interacting with Jordanians than the beginners.