For my STEP project I enrolled in and participated in an Advanced Arabic language program through CIEE in Amman, Jordan. For several months I lived with a host family and was fully immersed in the Arabic language. During the course of those months I travelled to Cairo, Jerusalem, Aqaba, Petra, Wadi Rum and Jerash (just to name a few). It was an absolutely amazing experience which I will never forget.
Before leaving for Jordan I was nervous. Despite being a very independent person this would be my first international experience without my family (or anybody that I knew). I was anxious about my ability to really jump into this new and foreign environment while making the most of my Arabic skills (which I also doubted). But as my time in the Middle East passed I grew to understand that my language skills where stronger than I initially understood and that I was more adventurous than I had previously thought. I also came to appreciate just how difficult it can be to live in the Middle East as I learned about the locals’ frustrations, fears and aspirations.
It is difficult for me to summarize which particular moments or experiences in particular shaped these new understandings of both myself, my language skills and my understanding of the Middle East. What I can do is pinpoint a few broad moments throughout the semester. My adventurous side began to come out slowly as the semester progressed. I travelled to Jerusalem sort of by the seat of my pants and wound up seeing some of the holiest sights in the world as a result. During my time in rural Jordan I spent time herding sheep, chatting with Bedouins and coming within 15 miles of Syria. I rode camels and delved into pyramids. All of which I would never have dreamt of doing if I had decided to stay in the states.
My language ability also progressed throughout the semesters. My proudest moments would come when I could fully converse with a taxi driver on any subject he chose, or when I was able to pull out a particular saying for one of my Arabic professors or when I could converse with normal Jordanians. It was daunting being in a full immersion course. Deciding to join that program could be attributed to my increasing sense of adventure I suppose. While I was pretty uncertain about my language skills upon arrival I left feeling more comfortable with Arabic than I had in 3 years at OSU.
My time in Jordan taught me much about myself and how I’d like to live my life. I hope that this growing sense of adventure can help enrich my life with travel and other interesting experiences. I believe it has also broadened my horizons in terms of how I approach and understand the struggles other people go through. I hope that one day, should I have a family, I can pass on these lessons to my children in the hope that they will grow up to be better people than I am.
If you’d like to read about my experiences in depth I’ve attached a link to my blog below.
One thought on “Reflections on Jordan”
Wow. Your blog was amazing! I read a few of your posts, and your experience looks to be truly transformational. I am hoping that you continue to use what you learned during your time abroad and ingrain it into your life back at OSU. Hopefully you continue to share your experiences with others!