Jordan: a confusing modern/backwards country for an American woman, but so loving Past Review

By (HISTORY., Fordham University) for

SIT Study Abroad: Jordan - Modernization and Social Change

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I am significantly less innocent, but so much more informed, and so much more excited and energized to continue studying Arabic and Arab culture

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.

I was in a small program that was more like a family than a university atmosphere, and therefore the academic discipline and rigor was not as intense as at home. But there were other challenges to cope with like cultural and homestay challenges at home. My experience was not that academically rigorous I would say, but that was probably a good thing else I could not have handled the difficult cultural aspect of my semester. Grades were not that big of a deal, and the writing and reading workload was not that large, the lectures were all very interesting, but not all from academics delivered in an academic way. So it was just overall very different, but allowed for a lot of intense learning about the culture, which to me was the main point.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

SIT staff were amazing, we all became like family and they knew everything about Jordan and had immense connections that allowed the students to have immense opportunities as a group and individually during the research period.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Camping under the stars at Wadi Rum was one of my favorite experiences.

* Food:

My host mom cooked the most amazingly large portions of the most wonderful homemade food, i was overfed to the point of it becoming a health problem. Excercise was hard to come by in Amman since walking isnt really a thing and gym membership is expensive.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Egypt for a week= dream come true, sleeping under the stars at Wadi Rum, becoming a part of a huge Palestinian family, being able to express myself in another language, adjusting to a different life rythm, waking up at 3 am to eat so i could fast for Eid Al-Adha, cooking and cleaning in the tiniest little kitchen, living in a three bedroom apartment with seven people (plus constant guests) with very little water, everything being so different but also feeling like my host mom and real mom would be great friends if they spoke the same language.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

You don't really need seat belts, eating lamb with fur still on it is fine, you can have diarrhea every day and still learn Arabic and have fun, pita bread is all you really need to survive, youth hostels in Jerusalem have bed bugs, you dont need to drink as much water as you think, your body adjusts to being dehydrated all the time, also you dont really need to shower more than once a week, your body adjusts to using as little water as possible. Also second-hand smoke inhalation is a given, you can't stress about it or else you will always be stressed. I survived. I might be lactose intolerant now though because of the different dairy I ate over there, but its all good.

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


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I bought peanut butter and crackers and fruit to eat for lunch at school five days a week, but mostly I ate from my host families kitchen, dinner and leftovers for lunch at school sometimes.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You have to pay for your own internet if you want it at home, which you do, trust me. You can have a monthly plan or a pay as you go, I did this and had a little USB stick that I stuck in to my computer, you can't download things but you can do email and facebook and even skype sparingly. You pay maybe $20 a month depending how fast you use it.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? four semesters of Arabic
Language acquisition improvement?

You can go to Jordan and only speak English, but you will only get to interact with a very small sliver of the culture. Speaking Arabic as much as possible with your host family and teachers is vital.

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Hotel
  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • host family
  • food, historical sites, nature
  • welcoming culture
* What could be improved?
  • academic rigor of some of SIT's classes
  • communication between US arabic teachers and Jordanian arabic teachers on syllabus
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? You should want a total immersion experience, dont do this program if you want to party at the dead sea or in Beruit, do do this program if you want to become a part of a jordanian family and experience the joys and hardships of their life with them and learn how to really speak Arabic like a native