An Unforgettable Experience January 23, 2021

By (Kenyon College) - abroad from 09/01/2018 to 12/08/2018 with

SIT Study Abroad: Jordan - Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the Middle East

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
In terms of academics, I learned a great deal about Jordan and the MENA region in terms of political, social, and cultural dynamics. I gained insights from some of Jordan's top thinkers and policymakers, and learned how to negotiate some of these issues with my own skills. My Arabic improved, especially functional/survival use that isn't emphasized at my home institution. I also added the Aamiyah dialect to my toolbelt, and especially skyrocketed my proficiency during an internship that was full Arabic immersion.

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.

Not too difficult in terms of academic rigor, especially compared to my very difficult home institution in the U.S. Classes are based on readings, guest lecturers, and group discussions for Geopolitics and Psychology, while you also take a formal Arabic course and an Aamiyah Arabic course.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration at SIT Jordan is absolutely outstanding. From the moment they pick you up from the airport, to orientation, and throughout the entire semester, they are there absolutely 100% of the time, 24/7 to help with anything at all, whether related to academics, homestays, directions, individual excursions, cultural advice, help with future programs, and even to just hang out with and get to know. I couldn't have asked for any better program administrators.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I stayed in a homestay that was very tailored to what I asked for when communicating my preferences with the SIT homestay coordinator. I was lucky enough to have my own room with lots of space and privacy, but the freedom to hang out with my host family and their many children whenever I wanted. They made me feel welcome, inviting me on outings, feeding me, and simply letting me sit in the living room and watch Arabic soap operas with them. I absolutely adored my homestay and host family.

* Food:

The food in Jordan is incredible, and SIT did a wonderful job of providing us with daily snacks as well as recommendations for the best authentic Jordanian food and dishes. Make sure you hit up Hashem in Wasat al Balad and Al Usra in Abdoun!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt that my integration with local culture increased throughout the semester, especially as I sought out Arab and Jordanian friends. I wish SIT did a bit more in terms of introducing us to Jordanians around our age--like maybe a partner program with the University of Jordan, or just some friendly pair-ups for dinners or tours around Amman!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

SIT has a great health insurance program and the administrators of my program helped me immediately upon quite a few health issues, including an IV, eye infection, and gynecological issues (at different times throughout the semester). It was pretty easy to contact the insurance (except by phone because it was based in the UAE and I could not make out of country calls), but my family in the US was able to help out with contacting them and they were always very prompt with their reply and help. The insurance people directed me to the best facilities and my expenses were covered, and when available SIT staff would escort me to appointments. There was only one big misunderstanding regarding a prescription, but that was all the hospital and no fault of SIT--in fact, people from SIT got on the phone to help me out by speaking to the pharmacist in Arabic. I had a great experience with assistance by SIT and the health insurance providers.

* Safety:

Generally pretty safe if you stay in the part of Amman SIT requires you to. The only safety note would be protests and demonstrations, which SIT requires you to stay away from. On my last night before leaving the country, I was staying in a hotel and a protest did make it through many of the city circles to my hotel, but I never felt unsafe at all. SIT did a great job reviewing safety during orientation and reinforcing expectations throughout the semester.

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

Amazing friends, memories, and a beautiful country I feel I can always call home--I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.


* 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)

Because of my finances, I personally did not live on the easily minimal cost budget, but it is very easy to do so. There's cheap food everywhere, and SIT gives you a stipend for lunch and transportation to/from school each week. Part of the program, however, was a visit to Dubai and a few other emirates in the UAE, for which you'll want to save money if possible--that trip was expensive and it is very easy to drop $500+ in the UAE.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 100-200
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? When preparing for study abroad, save as much as possible. Weigh the instant gratification of whatever you're about to buy or do against the endless possibilities waiting for you abroad and I assure you you'll think twice! :)


* 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

Not many people know English (extensively) in Jordan, so you have to use Arabic a lot whether it's struggling to make people understand you in FusHa or utilizing newly learned Aamiyah.

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? Intermediate II
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? Get your speaking skills up whatever way you have to, and make sure you study some of the dialect. When I arrived, I was so confident with my 2 years of Arabic until I realized no one understands FusHa! Definitely practice confident speaking of the dialect before you go, and learn some of the alternative Aamiyah vocabulary for necessary survival words.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
* 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?
  • 1. Homestay
  • 2. Excursions
  • 3. Internship 4. Closeness of my cohort and SIT advisors
* What could be improved?
  • Arabic curriculum to match home institution
  • More programmed activity/interaction with locals of similar age
  • Help securing internships
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? 1. To look into internship opportunities beforehand and also recognize most places don't want a 1-month volunteer intern. 2. Jordan is very modern! 3. FusHa is not spoken every day! People don't understand MSA!

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:

Aamiyah Arabic

Course Department:
Instruction Language: Arabic (Aamiyah dialect)
Comments: Amazing course! You start from the very very beginning, as they assume you've mostly studied FusHa at your home institution. It was extremely fun to learn the names of vegetables, streets, directions, maps, etc. and valuable in terms of getting around and communicating with host families. Since we were at a very low level of Aamiyah, we got to go on fun excursions, participate in silly role plays, and talk A LOT!
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Geopolitics, IR, Future of ME

Course Department:
Instruction Language: English
Comments: SIT Jordan brought in amazing and high-profile guest lecturers every day. Prior to the lecture, we would read journal articles for homework. After the lecture, we split into groups for student-led discussion and debate on lecture and reading topics, as well as their relevance in Jordan and the region.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Advanced FusHa Arabic

Course Department:
Instruction Language: Arabic
Comments: Challenging course with a knowledgeable professor, however was taught less systematically than I was used to at my home institution. Assessed by exams, homework, classwork, and oral projects.
Credit Transfer Issues: