Rewarding experience that changed myself September 11, 2018

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 01/28/2018 to 05/16/2018 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury In Amman

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Learned hard language skills, i.e. verbal, reading and writing skills. But also learned soft skills like adjusting communication styles (Arabs are very direct and honest) and persistence with difficult people.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Classes weren't too hard although the language pledge in Arabic made everything a challenge. The staff were supportive and always provided enough resources for your daily life in Amman. There were many programs and activities on the weekends that made my tie in Jordan enjoyable. Overall it was a good experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They were great and kept everything running smoothly, most of the time.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had a host mom and a host aunt. While the host mom was the greatest host mom I could ever imagine, the host aunt was pretty difficult to live with. Otherwise, the amazing location of the house in the city center made up for the small inconveniences in the house.

* Food:

Jordanian/Levantine food was delicious but I got bored of it pretty quickly coming from a food-obsessed culture where we eat spicy food every day. There was enough variety in Amman but they tend to be expensive. Healthy eating was definitely a challenge there as Jordanians eat a lot of carbs and sugar.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I wish I made more Jordanian friends. While the program had local volunteers from the university to be our 'mentors', I felt like I didn't make a genuine connection with them. Also, coming from a Muslim/Eastern culture I definitely felt that Jordanian culture was not that different from mine. Americans definitely had a tougher time adjusting than me.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I can't speak for this because I didn't experience any mishap but those who did were well taken care of by the administration

* Safety:

Amman is a pretty safe city, but that's coming from someone who identifies as male. Female students might not have felt the same; I heard some got catcalled a few times.

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

Middlebury's program is the most academically rigorous program among study abroad programs in Jordan. It's also the only program with complete immersion in Arabic.

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)

It's pretty easy to live on a student budget if you don't eat out a lot. Food other than the standard shawarma and sandwiches can get pretty steep (except the SUPER CHEAP and DELICIOUS Yemeni restaurants outside the North gate). Gotta watch out for transportation costs though. Public transport is so unreliable in Amman (that might change with the new bus system) so taxis become your primary mode of transport. Although they're not that expensive, they might overcharge you because of rush hour or because you're a foreigner. Also, anything from the pharmacy can be expensive. Watch out for that too.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Max. $50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Share taxis. Take public transportation when you're not in a rush. Go to the Friday market to buy clothes. Don't eat out too frequently. Avoid Abdoun at all costs. Study at Jannoura, not cafes.

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 language pledge forces you to only speak Arabic with everyone in the program.

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? High Intermediate Arabic
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? Go to language tables. Speak Arabic with returnees from the program. Go frequently to your Arabic professor's office hours. Learn some basic colloquial/ammiyah before going to Jordan. It's a game changer.

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 pledge
  • Refugee studies class
  • Trips around Jordan
* What could be improved?
  • Connection with Jordanians
  • Participation of other students in the language pledge
  • Host family
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wished I knew more about the social arrangement with respect to the mentors program so I would know what to expect in terms of making friends with local Jordanians.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Refugee and Migration Studies

Course Department: Political Science, International and Global Studies
Instructor: Peter Stavros
Instruction Language: Arabic
Comments: A pretty challenging and rewarding course at the same time. Taught in a very innovative way where there was a lot of involvement from students through discussions, presentations and field trips. Culminated in a fun final exam.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Challenges to Middle Eastern and North African Economies

Course Department: Economics
Instructor: Noor al Moghrabi
Instruction Language: Arabic
Comments: It wasn't a particularly challenging and interesting course. I expected more theoretical depth and rigor coming from a college where economics is very rigorous. Overall a mediocre course covering the challenges the MENA economies face from a business/practical perspective.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Accelerated Intro to Jordanian Colloquial Arabic

Course Department: Arabic
Instructor: Nadia Al Assaf
Instruction Language: Arabic
Comments: The most useful and enjoyable class during my study abroad. It's directly applicable to day-to-day situations in Amman, e.g. in taxis, restaurants and shops. Very interactive and takes the class outside of the classroom sometimes.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Arabic 4

Course Department: Arabic
Instructor: Rasha Jalees
Instruction Language: Arabic
Comments: Rasha was an amazing instructor. She made the class very interesting and she was sensitive to the differences in people's Arabic abilities. I definitely improved my verbal skills in Modern Standard Arabic from that class.
Credit Transfer Issues: