Written by Agneetta Moisio, (Vanderbilt University), Student Correspondent for CET Jordan, Fall 2021
Funny enough, the stereotypes that many Westerners hold towards the Middle East was one of the reasons that made me choose Amman as my study abroad destination. Having lived in Northern Europe and in the U.S., I knew I wanted to go somewhere different, completely new, and unknown to me. I began to study Arabic to prepare me for an international career after a high school counsellor of mine suggested it. Arabic is one of the official United Nations languages, and learning a new alphabet seemed like an appropriate challenge for college. Having studied Arabic, I wanted to deepen my understanding of the Arab culture, not only the language, and out of the Arab region, Jordan stood out as an interesting option.
Reputed as one of the most peaceful nations in the conflict rich region, Jordan seemed like a place where people of many origins and ethnicity seek refuge. The idea of groupthink and emphasis on family relations intrigued me. Growing up in Finland, I feel that I come from one of the most extreme countries in terms of youth independence from parents’ influence. I am interested in understanding a completely different way of thinking. I am keen on learning to understand the meaning of family from the point of view of my future local friends. The importance of family extends far beyond the household, but influences the outcome of politics and policy, making it an important topic to comprehend. These family relations extend way back to ancient history, which is another reason I chose Amman. The region, as water scarce as it is, has been inhabited for ages and is extremely rich in history. The ability to visit historical places such as Petra and the Dead Sea, made the decision even easier.
Back to the stereotypes I mentioned in the beginning. I am very interested in female empowerment, and having been brought up in Finland, I realized that the life I got to live as a girl is vastly different from the one many women around the world experience. The Western stereotype of the Arab world is often characterized as limited in terms of opportunities that women have in comparison to their male counterparts. While this obviously is an issue worldwide, I wanted to experience how my ideas and opinions would be perceived in the workplace and in school, and how I would be treated in public, if differently at all. While I could study cultures in school, nothing beats experiencing it first-hand. That’s why Amman.
Featured image at top of post: Amman and the Roman Amphitheater pictured from the Citadel