Middle East cultural immersion--Jordan's wonderful people, food, & history Past Review

By (Vanderbilt University) - abroad from 01/27/2014 to 05/11/2014 with

SIT Study Abroad: Jordan - Refugees, Health, and Humanitarian Action

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained valuable into an area of the world that I previously knew little about, and made life long friends along the way. The health program, in particular, educated me on Jordan's health care system more thoroughly than I could ever have hoped for. My host family and the SIT teachers were excellent, and I know that if I am ever back in the area, I will have many Jordanian friends to stay with.

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 learned more about the health system in Jordan than I even know about the one in the U.S. For me, this was an outstanding experience, and I even believe my experience in Jordan was the main factor in my getting an excellent job in the health field upon graduation.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Some students had minor issues with host families, but most were positive. The only minor criticism is that some don't have internet, even though you need it for school work. In this case, students had to buy an internet stick, and SIT doesn't cover that cost, which is a bit unfair since your family is random. Nonetheless, mine was outstanding and I still keep in touch with my family!

* Food:

I brought some back and I still miss it every day!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Although the host families were a great way to connect to local culture, outside of that, the majority of time was spent at the SIT building. On the one hand, this was great because it created a "hub" for us to go at virtually anytime of the day or evening, and we became very close. On the other hand, since all of our classes and free time was there, we didn't get many opportunities to interact with people outside of SIT. It would have been nice to have more opportunities to do so, especially with Jordanian students our own age. However, again, this is something we told SIT, and they might be making this change in the future.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Wonderful health system. Students were well cared for by SIT faculty, and taken directly to a health professional when problems arose.

* Safety:

Amman was VERY safe. I felt safer there than I do at home in the Midwest, USA. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that it is a slightly different experience if you are a woman. For the most part, everything was great, but sometimes there is a bit of harassment (no touching, but cat-calling, for instance) on the street. This is especially if you are alone and at dark…but really, you shouldn't be doing that anyway, so just avoid this situation and it should be great.

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? 30-50 JD
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't buy souvenirs in Jordan until the end. There aren't that many to get in Amman, and by the end you'll have a better sense of what you really want. But DO buy them on your trip (Turkey, for us).


* 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? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? No previous Arabic.
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? The language component was the most disappointing aspect for most students on the health program. They are trying to restructure it, so it may be better in the future, but if you really want to learn the language, either do a different SIT program (like Modernization and Social Change in Jordan) or be prepared to do most of it on your own.

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?
  • SIT staff and students--ALL incredible people!
  • Health classes--the field-based learning, especially
  • Jordanian food
* What could be improved?
  • Arabic program
  • More immersion/interactions with Jordanian students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Jordanian culture is incredible, the people in particular. However, there isn't always a lot to do in Amman, so make your own fun! Look on cultural websites for new activities in the area, etc.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Research Methods and Ethics

Course Department:
Instructor: Dr. Bayan
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Did a good job of preparing us for the independent study (ISP). Told us what we needed to know, but didn't waste time with material that we all knew already. The ethics section, in particular, was useful in prepping for our ISP's.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Health, Environment, and Community Development

Course Department:
Instructor: Dr. Bayan
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Wonderful experience. See my review for the Health Policy class.
Credit Transfer Issues: No issues, got major credit.
Course Name/Rating:

Health Systems and Policy

Course Department:
Instructor: Dr. Bayan Abdulhaq
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Absolutely wonderful experience. Field visits almost every day, flexible schedule according to what topic areas students were interested in, meetings with top notch organizations (WHO, MOH, UNRWA, etc.). The structure of the class was a bit disorganized, but that's only because it's so new and the instructor allowed us our input. Dr. Bayan arranged incredible field visits (even paying out-of-pocket on some) and speaker engagements, that would never have been possible without her. I would not have learned even half as much about Jordan's healthcare system if it weren't for this class and Dr. Bayan's dedication to her students.
Credit Transfer Issues: No--even got major credit.
Course Name/Rating:


Course Department:
Instructor: Hussam
Instruction Language:
Comments: Teacher was very kind, and clearly had experience teaching. Unfortunately, we were Level 1 and spoke no Arabic, and the professor spoke almost NO English, which made it very difficult to communicate even the simplest of things (e.g., when HW was due, what to do, etc.). Also, since only Amiyah is spoken, and that's what we would use to get around the city, we had very little opportunity/need to practice Fus'ha. For level 1 students, it would almost have been better to focus all our energy on Amiyah and not learn Fus'ha at all. I should say that when we spoke with SIT's Arabic director about the problem, she was VERY accommodating, and I believe they are planning to make changes for next year. Much of this could have resulted from the fact that we were a new program.
Credit Transfer Issues: No problem transferring credit.
Course Name/Rating:


Course Department:
Instructor: Muna
Instruction Language:
Comments: Teacher was nice and enthusiastic, but VERY inexperienced. Did not teach in an organized manner, very sporadic assessment. As such, our language skills improved VERY little, other than what we taught ourselves.
Credit Transfer Issues: No problem transferring credit.