A Walk-About March 23, 2020

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 02/03/2019 to 05/09/2019 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury In Amman

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Can't say I learned anything new, but it definitely reaffirmed components of my life such as my drive to explore and walk around new places, my level of comfort in navigating and getting to know cities, and the recognition that I don't like to live in cities long-term.

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.

It was the right amount of academic rigor to push our vocabulary expansion, reading abilities, and listening skills while also recognizing that we are abroad and want time to explore and have fun.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Most of the time on-site staff and administration was excellent. Truly phenomenal. Kristen and Udai are great program administrators.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

There's nothing really to complain about my host in particular. I know there were difficult family circumstances during the term which limited her ability to be present, but that's okay. The physical components of the house were completely satisfactory - plenty of food, shower abilities, laundry times, good and warm bedding. I not only had a private room, but a private bathroom. The flat was very nice.

* Food:

There was always plenty of food. It was never poor quality or anything like that. Most of the time, the daughter of my host who lived in the same apartment cooked both for me and her own student from the Middlebury program, but not from Middlebury College. There was always generous quantities and I never went hungry. In fact, it was the opposite. The daughter piled on massive amounts of food for both myself and her student and she frequently made clear that it was a personal offense if we were unable to complete all the food. I know this is a common stereotype about Jordanian mothers, but she honestly meant it and took it seriously. She very clearly treated me better than her host student and cited the fact that I finish the food she gave me while he could not. Overall, this was an annoyance for me but didn't really have any major negative affects on my study abroad experience. I can't say the same for my friend who was hosted by the daughter.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Completely at ease and comfortable being in the city and throughout parts of the country. I frequently used public transportation without any hesitation. I frequently engaged in conversation with individuals walking in the city and with taxi drivers. Although staff may not have liked to hear this, I along with two other friends felt comfortable enough with the local culture to participate in hitchhiking and couchsurfing. I didn't quite fit into the cafe culture and the preference for a number of students to hang out at these shops.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any experiences but I found that information was very accessible if necessary.

* Safety:

From my point of view, Amman seems like a safe city. I had no major concerns, just standard moments of readjusting my course of action when necessary, such as switching which side of the road I walked on at evening/night to avoid shabaab or other small groups of hooligans (as is typical in any city in the world). Biggest safety concern is by far driving. Seat belts are rarely worn and not always even existent in taxis. Many taxis don't have adequate vents to prevent the windowshield from fogging up in the rain. I always used either taxis or buses and never actually had a safety issue, but I could clearly see there was the elevated potential for one. I did drive a rental car for a total of 15 days in Jordan and can confidently say that driving is very aggressive in Amman, especially during Ramadan, but that it's very straightforward outside of the city.

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

I love Jordan and find it a great country to drive, explore, hike, and bus around.

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)

Very easy when you use mostly bus, have students nearby to split taxis, and specifically object to the use of Uber.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Maybe around 15 USD, not including two separate weeks (spring break and post-program) in which I split costs for a car rental (which was $20 per day)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make arrangements with nearby students to share taxis, make a schedule to use the bus at similar times if you are uncomfortable riding the bus without a friend.

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

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 202
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? Study, study, study vocabulary. Read the news. Write a journal. Read Wikipedia. Listen to YouTube.

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
  • International Students
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?
  • It was in Amman
  • The teachers and staff
  • The trips
* What could be improved?
  • More explicit and a helpful guidance in the process of renewing our visa. I had to do it on my own while other students were approached by the university to have it done for them. I found that information in the syllabus regarding which police/ government offices to go to were not correct.
  • .
  • .
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How accessible, and not stressful, classes would be. There was no need to worry that my language wouldn't be good enough to keep up.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Media Arabic

Course Department: Arabic
Instructor: -
Instruction Language: Arabic
Comments: This was the easiest of my four courses. It mainly involved reading/ listening to the news and then discussing it. Individual presentations were nice and the teacher provided very detailed comments about our language and areas in which we made mistakes. This course was very focused on vocabulary acquisition, which I personally enjoyed.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Gender Issues

Course Department: Arabic
Instructor: -
Instruction Language: Arabic
Comments: this course was not incredibly challenging during class time. Discussions and lectures were very approachable and the teacher frequently gave out vocabulary lists. The end of the term project was a nice way to push my language skills as it included preparing a presentation for the class, interviewing Jordanian students, and writing an academic paper with our results.
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

Dialect

Course Department: Arabic
Instructor: Khetam
Instruction Language: Arabic
Comments: I found the dialect course to be pretty easy. It really only required effort to memorize dialect vocabulary. I engaged in the class more often than I would at home. I did enjoy class assignments which required us to go into the college campus and chat with Jordanian students.
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

MSA

Course Department: Arabic
Instructor: Nadia
Instruction Language: Arabic
Comments: I found the Fusha course to be adequate and fairly enjoyable. I participated in the class more often than I would at home. I did not find tests challenging by any means, but various listening and reading homework as well as in-class discussions/ presentations challenged me and pushed my language growth. Nadia was very well-equipped as a teacher.
Credit Transfer Issues: No