Written by David Littlejohn, (Student Correspondent) Washington State University
CET Intensive Arabic Language in Jordan, Spring 2015
It might be the first thing you notice as you leave the airport and will certainly leave a lasting impression on your study abroad in Jordan; the streets can be chaotic. Cross walks are more of an idea (than a means to an end) and while there are traffic laws, they are rarely enforced. Despite what may initially be trepidation, students find getting accustomed to the rhythm of Jordan an endearing and maybe even thrilling experience. Plus, once the realization that this is an everyday reality even for children, it becomes just another cultural experience.
It must be taken into account that some American students initially have somewhat weaker stomachs than most of the local population. But not to fret! Standards of cleanliness are a cultural and religious value held deeply by many. With that in mind, every restaurant differs and you may run into a few that are not worth the problems down the road. Don’t be afraid to try new dishes, just be aware of your personal limitations.
It is no secret the Middle East has been and continues to be a place devastated by the ravages of war. So what might come to mind as you consider studying abroad are the borders Jordan shares and the conflicts that have taken place and continue to play out. Through all of this, Jordan has proven itself to be a place of stability. Borders are securely guarded and progress is being made in the democratic process. Moreover, King Abdullah, the royal family and the people as a whole, value their strategic international relationships and work tirelessly in order to ensure their longevity. It may not be apparent until arrival but the deeply rooted idea of hospitality and the honor of protecting ones guests is a very much alive cultural practice found in Jordan. So while the news constantly portrays a negative image of the Middle East, you might just find that Jordan shatters these stereotypes.
While learning the national anthem may be something you and your language partner decide to take on, anyone who has spent time in Jordan will instantly recognize the ringtone that comes from the little blue phones. They are cheap and contract free, widely used and certainly convenient but if they are not present at all times (silent, vibrate, or otherwise) they cannot perform their essential function. CET makes it a priority to ensure student safety and instant contact with program staff is a must, thus they provide all students with a local Jordanian phone. One charge can last up to a week and it is only a matter of putting it in your pocket when you go out, or your backpack before you walk to class. Regardless, make it a priority!
Students are given the freedom to make weekend travel plans and the mid-semester break is a great chunk of time to explore another country. Many students choose Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Egypt and even a trip to Europe is half the cost of what it would be in the US. But before making these plans, there are some things to keep in mind. First, enroll in the STEP program through the US Department of State website, they provide travel warnings, advisories and thorough information on many countries. Second, whether it’s a trip to Aqaba to scuba dive in the Red Sea, or to one of the many historic sites found in Jordan, make sure all CET Staff are aware of your adventures before they take place!
Finally, consider that living in Jordan is a dynamic experience that will teach you just as much Arabic as it will about yourself. Don’t let your fears and preconceived notions hold you back from what will turn out to be an amazing time studying abroad!