A Semester in Amman September 03, 2018

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 01/28/2018 to 05/15/2018 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury In Amman

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was worthwhile - I gained very valuable language and cultural fluency skills.

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.

Only issue I had was with Nour Afaneh's politics course. Resources were there and it was challenging enough. I do think that class placement could be improved, and what electives are offered to which levels.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I think they all did a great job - Karen, Udai, Zain, and CJ. It can be tricky to run a program in Jordan with all sorts of different types of students, and I think they balanced it as best they could. Things I didn't like about studying in Jordan didnt have much to do with the program, but rather more with Jordan. If I ever had an issue, I usually contacted CJ and he helped right away.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lucked out with my family. No issues.

* Food:

The family did the best to feed me food I liked, although I wasn't too picky. They also encouraged me to try new foods which I appreciated (even if I didn't end up liking them)

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt integrated for the most part, but a lot of people I met still kept you at arm's length even if they tried their best to integrate you into the local culture. Not the program's fault, but I wasn't there long enough to gain enough trust. I could get around Amman just fine though.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never used any health services on the trip, but it was part of orientation and we were all insured by the program. We were also given a list of approved doctors/hospitals/etc. if we did need help, and the program would go with you if needed.

* Safety:

Amman can be a tough city. It is unsafe in an OSHA sense, not in a crime sense. People drive like maniacs, Taxis are never maintained properly, crossing roads is like real life frogger.... but it all becomes normalized very quickly. Just be aware. I never felt like someone was going to hurt me though. The program did warn us though and helped us warm up to it, but it is just a fact of the city and something to get used to.

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

It is the best program if you actually want to learn the language. It will be hard for sure, but I feel like most students that choose to study abroad in Amman are ready for a challenging semester abroad.

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)

On necessary expenses, I probably spent more like $75 a week maximum.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $75
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Learn the bus system to save money on taxis. Taxis will rip you off from 3:30 - 7:00ish because of traffic, so learn which buses run to your neighborhood and take them. You will save about $2 a trip which adds up. Also learn which ATMs will be fair about ATM fees and conversion fees.

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

The idea was to use the language 100% of the time for everything.

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? A high intermediate course
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Do not be shy about it... we all make mistakes.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • 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?
  • Language Component
  • Supportive but Hands-off
  • The Middlebury Team
* What could be improved?
  • Certain Classes
  • Level Placement
  • Community Engagement
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How frustrating Amman can be. It is the best place to learn Arabic currently, especially the Levantine dialect, but the city itself can be tough. It forces you to learn though.

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.'

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Fusha

Course Department: Arabic
Instructor: Khetam
Instruction Language: Arabic
Comments: I enjoyed this class and learned a lot. It was a class focused on the living fusha language - found in media and academic settings - and not the one that most students were used to studying from a text book. This made the course more valuable, as the course materials were actually news articles / published stories / etc. I participated as much as usual and it was challenging at times, but it was definitely manageable. This class was not really a field trip class. We were assessed mostly through class participation, but we still had tests, essays, and presentations.
Credit Transfer Issues: N/A - Middlebury Student
Course Name/Rating:

A'miyah

Course Department: Arabic
Instructor: Nadia
Instruction Language: Arabic
Comments: Nadia was great - I ended up speaking way more A'miyah by the end of the program than Standard Arabic, even though I didn't speak any going in. I probably participated more than normal and did on-campus field trips, where we want and talked to local students at the university. We also did independent field trips for homework. We were assessed mainly through class participation, but also had some tests and presentations.
Credit Transfer Issues: N/A - Middlebury Student
Course Name/Rating:

Translation

Course Department: Arabic
Instructor: Areej
Instruction Language: Arabic
Comments: This course was challenging at times, but we also did more than just translate. We also looked at the academic side of translation and all the issues that have occurred. I participated probably more than normal, and Areej was super knowledgeable. We had some quizzes, but it was mostly homework corrections and class participation that we were graded on. No field trips for translation.
Credit Transfer Issues: N/A - Middlebury Student
Course Name/Rating:

Contemporary Political Issues in the Middle East

Course Department: Arabic
Instructor: Nour Afaneh
Instruction Language: Arabic
Comments: This was probably my least favorite course. Middle East politics is interesting, but Nour managed to do a bad job about it. She just wasn't a great professor, so it killed the class a bit. We did do a few field trips to ministries and such, and I might have participated less than normal. It didn't seem challenging, but Nour still gave us all bad grades on subjective stuff...
Credit Transfer Issues: N/A - Middlebury Student