Rigorous Arabic Program in an Exciting City July 21, 2022

By (Middle Eastern Studies, Wellesley College) - abroad from 08/28/2021 to 05/17/2022 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury In Amman

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
- drastically improved my Arabic - gained new perspective - learned about a new culture - was the most worthwhile part of my undergraduate

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.

Middlebury's program is rigorous. Your entire life is in Arabic starting from the time you wake up and while this can be draining and daunting, it is great for Arabic acquisition. Learning new vocabulary words is infinitely easier when you are applying them every day and need them to communicate with your friends, professors, and host family. Additionally, teachers in the Middlebury program will go above and beyond to help you with any concepts you don't understand. In fact, in even after graduating from the program, one of my teachers still helps me with Arabic questions and keeps me motivated. The only critique of the program's academics is that I didn't always feel that the coursework that the teachers assigned us was appropriate for our language level. I felt this especially when I first started the academic year. Initially, I had a really hard time speaking in front of the class without preparing something to say, which made every assignment infinitely harder and longer to do. And I didn't have a large vocabulary so every reading and writing assignment also took forever. Personally, while I feel the work helped improve my Arabic, I was so overwhelmed by the amount and rigor of it that I felt that my learning was hampered. I actually feel like I learned a lot more in the second semester simply because I had more of an ability to actually do the work I was assigned. For example, I remember during my first semester a professor telling us that we would have a really small amount of homework, just a 5min presentation and a quiz. But for me during my first semester a 5min presentation sometimes took me 2hrs to prepare for. A 5min presentation didn't become a quick assignment for me until my second semester. Thus, I feel that teachers should be more sensitive about the workloads they are assigning to the intermediate levels.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They were very welcoming and able to help with any problem I faced in Jordan.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I really like that Middlebury had us live in host families. It introduced me to a lot of cultural aspects and food that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. That being said some people have better host family placements than others. However, overall the program does a good job of finding families that are safe, excited to host American students, and provide great meals. During my second semester, I rented an apartment and lived with another student in the program. I enjoyed living on my own; however, I would not recommend living in the area I lived, Jubeiha (the area right next to the University).

* Food:

Middle Eastern food has become my favorite. It is relatively cheap and fantastic. The food I ate at my host family was good but it wasn’t healthy and didn’t really contain vegetables. This didn’t really have much to do with my host family though, it is the culture generally. I would recommend supplementing with veggies and fruits from a local market since they are cheap and accessible.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The program really goes out of its way to help students integrate, which distinguishes it from other programs. A notable aspect of the program is the University of Jordan peer mentors who help you navigate the University and Jordanian life. During my first semester in Jordan my social life really revolved around the mentors since they were genuinely interested in doing activities with us and becoming our friends. The mentors then also helped me get out of the Middlebury bubble since I was able to meet their families and friends.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Amman has really great, accessible healthcare. All the doctors I have seen spoke perfect English.

* Safety:

Before going to Amman I read a lot of the reviews on this site from other females and I felt really nervous. However, after living in Amman for a year, I feel that my experience doesn’t match some of the reviews placed on this site. Personally, I feel that Amman is much safer than my US hometown and I never felt that my safety was at risk at any time during my stay. There may be some annoying catcalls here and there, but it by no means impeded my ability to explore the city and really fall in love with Amman.

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

Great classes, good administration, in a good city


* 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 really depends on how you spend your money. My first semester I almost never ate out or traveled. So my only expense really was transportation which was about $3-5 every school day. The second semester I went out to restaurants more and traveled more so I spent more money. I would say that Amman in terms of transportation and food is half the price of an American city or even less. However, cafes and gyms are usually at American prices or even more expensive.


* 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

It encourages language use probably more than any other Arabic language program in Amman. It has a language pledge. During my first semester, my cohort and I were really strict about the language pledge and rarely ever broke it. However, during my second semester, the cohort was more relaxed about the language pledge so some people kept the language pledge and some people didn't.

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? I had finished Al-Kitaab 2
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? - I would definitely recommend staying for the year if you can. It is crazy to think about how much of the city I would have never experienced and how much Arabic I wouldn't have gained if I didn't stay for two semesters. - I also recommend that you embrace the language pledge to the fullest extent that you are able. It really pays off!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
* 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?
  • language pledge and language training
  • camaraderie with students and teachers
  • special experiences like mentor hangouts and trips
* What could be improved?
  • less work load for intermediate students
  • Students that are placed in housing further than other students should be close to reliable public transportation or should have a travel stipend. It really isn't fair that some students can walk to the University or use the 99bus/coaster while others really have no affordable option that doesn't require them to spend more than an hour getting to school. This really needs to be addressed.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Before going to Amman, I wasn't really excited because people told me that it was boring and not friendly to females. However, that wasn't my experience. Thus, I wish I knew that I was heading to live in a fun, affordable city and that I would get to travel with the program to some really special and beautiful places.