The most REWARDING experience of my life! Past Review

By (Sustainability Studies; Biology, Lake Forest College) - abroad from 01/24/2015 to 05/09/2015 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained so much - a professional and personal network, a wider perspective, critical thinking skills, knowledge of new country, customs, health care systems, sustainable development...I could go on and on. I don't know how else to say this, but I have had an experience of a lifetime - a truly enriching and rewarding experience. I want to do it all over again, with SIT. I am tremendously happy with the program and have gained memories and experiences that have made my life more meaningful. I really mean that. Having been a commuter student for 3 years, I was afraid I would miss home a lot. However, while I was in touch with my family everyday, there was not even one day that I was home-sick or desired to leave Jordan! SIT staff and organization had a lot to do with that. I don't know if I would have felt the same way with another program.

Review Photos

SIT Study Abroad: Jordan - Health & Community Development Photo SIT Study Abroad: Jordan - Health & Community Development Photo SIT Study Abroad: Jordan - Health & Community Development Photo SIT Study Abroad: Jordan - Health & Community Development Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes and assignments are not very difficult; however, the program is intense in terms of being very fast-paced, varied in content, and rewarding. The sheer amount of resources, field visits, and speakers will keep you on your feet and constantly interested. I am extremely satisfied with JOH, academically.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The SIT staff were the most sweetest and helpful individuals I have met. We had one of the best Academic Directors. She not only cared about her students, but was completely invested in making the program the best it could be. She organized lectures with hard-to-reach intellectuals - widely recognized masters of their field! She also organized field visits to places like Za'atari and Baq'a refugee camps, which was a very poignant experience. I am grateful for such a hardworking AD. I also miss my home-stay coordinator and my Arabic coordinator, as well as my Arabic teachers. Apart from being employees for SIT, the staff were just good human beings. They made for a tremendous support system, which I will cherish for years to come. 5 starts doesn't do them justice.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

All students are placed in a home-stay family in Amman for the bulk of the program. I absolutely loved my host family! I was placed with an elderly, loving host mom and her maid. What made things more interesting was that my grandmother did not speak English, at all, and I did not speak any Arabic. The first week was quite terrifying as I was not able to communicate much at all; however, the SIT staff, teachers, and my huge extended host-family (some of whom spoke English) supported me through it. Throughout the semester, I became better at Arabic and was able to communicate basic things and even hold conversations! I believe it was a challenging home stay, but it allowed me to develop critical skills and grow. While it was difficult at times, I would not want to change my home stay family (although that could be an option if you really wanted to switch out). I am still in contact with my host family and hope to stay in touch! I miss them a lot!!

* Food:

My mouth waters just thinking of the food - tabbouleh, shawerma, mansef, hummus - EVERYTHING! I was never unsatisfied. You will LOVE it! A couple of my friends had dietary restrictions and allergies. SIT and the host families were able to accommodate them quite well, so food will most likely not be an issue for you. If you're missing home or want brands you'd find in the US, local convenience stores carry almost everything you may need - m&ms, cheetohs, etc.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt VERY integrated with the local culture, especially when taking the taxis, where I became used to speaking a lot of Arabic. Many are genuinely curious and want to know more about you- sometimes this made for great conversation and Arabic practice. (Beware: some taxi-drivers can be a bit sketchy, so use general precautions and do not give out too much personal information.) Additionally, through our excursions to medical schools and nursing schools, JOH made friends with many students. We were able to hang out with medical students and learn more about the culture through our peers in Jordan.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Health care in Jordan is one of the best in the Middle East. The program's focus is, obviously, health, as well. It would be quite ironic if JOH did not care about its students health, which was definitely not the case. Thankfully, I did not have any health issues abroad. However, some folks on the program fell sick and were immediately taken care of. I remember how one of my JOH friends fell sick after Arabic class and was taken care of immediately, as the Arabic teacher herself immediately accompanied her to the doctor's office. I also remember how one of my friends had food poisoning while we were on an excursion to Aqaba. Our AD had called a doctor to come to the hotel to check on her. Do not fret - Your health care will be taken care of- just keep the staff informed if you're not feeling well.

* Safety:

Generally, I felt as safe as I normally do in the States. I took extra precautions and, normally, did not stay out past after-dark. If I did, I would always be with a group of friends.

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)

Jordan is quite an expensive city to live in. (Save the bulk of your shopping for Istanbul!!) However, expenses like food and taxi rides are relatively cheap. JOH provides a weekly stipend, which covers most of your expenses.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~$100 USD
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? It is possible to be as frugal as you like. Some of my friends managed to survive just on their stipend. I would always keep some extra money, just in case I ran out. In order to avoid service charges, I opted to have my parents wire me my scholarship money instead of using an ATM. Western Unions can be found pretty easily.


* 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

When I arrived to Jordan, I did not understand any Arabic, except "Marhaba". By the time I left Jordan, I was able to direct taxi drivers to and from my home, greet individuals, and hold a basic-intermediate level conversation! I loved my Arabic professors. They were really nice and the course was very helpful!!

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 0
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? It always helps to know a bit of Arabic prior to arriving to Jordan. It will enrich your experience; however, you will be just fine even if you do not know the language. :)

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? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Field Visits
  • SIT staff
  • Independent Study Project
* What could be improved?
  • Excursion to Istanbul should be longer!! :)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I will admit that I was a bit concerned about affairs in the Middle East and how that impacted Jordan. I now know that Jordan is one of the safest countries in the Levant. There are crises in neighboring countries; however, Jordan has maintained itself as a very safe country. Additionally, SIT is located in one of the nicest neighborhoods (Abdoun) in Amman. I felt very safe throughout the program. Also, I fell in love with Istanbul. It is absolutely the prettiest city I have ever seen and a wonderful mesh of Europe and Asia. I loved exploring the history, health care, and culture there. It was nice to compare and contrasts various elements of Jordan and Turkey. My advice to prospective students is to read as much as you can on the places you will visit and use general precautions during the program. Otherwise, the program keeps you extremely fascinated and on your toes! I believe all students should have an experience like I did!

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!