The Hardest and Best Experience of My Life Past Review

By (Middle Eastern Studies, Political Science, Wellesley College) - abroad from 08/29/2013 to 12/14/2013 with

CET Jordan: Intensive Language

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a crap ton of Arabic, but more importantly I learned how to be comfortable with my self and my constantly changing, tumultuous surroundings. I'd like to think I became a much stronger, confident, and braver person in Irbid. I came back to America feeling so at peace with everything, and I still carry that sentiment with me today.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Classes were very relaxed, but I was constantly challenged to learn Arabic, both inside and outside the classroom. The way in which we were taught encouraged, rather than deterred, us from exploring the language with enthusiasm and ease. Professors were outstanding and amazingly supportive.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Extremely supportive staff. I grew close with all of them.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Generally nice apartments, but there were often many issues with electricity, water, and gas. Most problems were fixed relatively quickly, though.

* Food:

We were in charge of getting our own food. Yarmouk University is close to many delicious, affordable restaurants (mainly Jordanian and Western cuisine). There are also several grocery stores within walking distance from the campus apartments.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Hardly any tourists ever venture to Irbid, so we were definitely part of the very few expats in the area. Walking down the street was always an adventure, and oftentimes a nuisance for the women, because you stick out very much. However, you are constantly speaking Arabic; rarely will the locals speak English to you. Further, the city of Irbid is very intense culturally in the sense that is the polar opposite of many Western cities. It's not always easy to live there, but it is probably the most thorough, intense Arab experience an American can get.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had an amazing experience with healthcare. The program set me up with a doctor in Amman that I would see biweekly. Not only was the doctor fantastic, the program was very supportive in getting me to the office and back.

* Safety:

Irbid is generally safe for men, both foreign and local, but for women the situation is very different. The program is great about warning female students about the street situation, but actually dealing with street harassment on almost a daily basis is never easy. If you're in Irbid and a female, never walk in the street at nightime, and have a male escort with you, if possible. Even during the day time, walking with other people is usually much more enjoyable than being by yourself. In terms of clothing, wear what makes you feel comfortable, but avoid tight clothing and any shirts that reveal any cleavage.

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

Finances

* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Around $40
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy bulk at beginning at grocery store, and eat at local restaurants, which are not only delicious but very cheap!

Language

* 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

All day, every day (language pledge)

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Intermediate
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? Actually stick to the language pledge and talk to locals. Take advantage of your surroundings and actively seek conversations with anyone and everyone.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
* 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 people, both in Jordan and in my program
  • The Arabic Program
  • Falafel
* What could be improved?
  • Preparing the women better for the street harrassment
  • More trips off campus as a program seeing as Irbid grows boring after a bit
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That everything was going to be ok

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'