Welcome to Amman
At CET, our goal is to make study abroad accessible for all. We believe that learning happens best when your class reflects the world around us—complex and diverse. So we work hard to create and maintain programs that support students of all races, religions, abilities, gender identities, and sexual orientations. No matter where you are coming from, we want you to have the chance to have a successful study abroad experience.
CET makes every effort to offer accommodations comparable to those of your home institution. Disclosing early helps us to make proper preparations and work with you to determine if a program will be a good fit. We recommend that you use the following details to inform your decisions and conversations with your Student Services Coordinator.
Race & Ethnicity
Amman enjoys cultural, national, ethnic, age, and occupational diversity and is considered to be a very open city within the Middle East. However, the average Jordanian person is not surrounded by the same racial diversity that exists in the US and as a result racism manifests itself differently. It may express itself in various ways—through words, ways of thinking, some laws, etc.—but rarely does it escalate to physical harassment. This ignorance can cause behaviors that students might perceive to be microaggressions, but most of the racism that a student might experience is often the product of ignorance as opposed to malice.
Certain nationalities must get a visa in advance (as opposed to purchasing one at the airport) and can expect extra steps in the temporary residency process. Additionally, these students are not permitted to leave and re-enter Jordan without special permission.
Generally speaking, there is a widespread lack of awareness regarding identities that are not heterosexual or cisgender, and thus most Jordanians will assume that an American student is cis and straight. LGBTQ identities and issues are not widely understood or accepted in Jordan, and students are recommended to establish a rapport with local acquaintances before disclosing their identities or discussing ideas of sexual orientation and identity. There are no official support groups that students can reach out to, but there are certain spaces where local LGBTQ individuals might find community. During orientation (when available), on-site staff invite a prominent LGBTQ community leader to speak to students about navigating the local context as a member of the LGBTQ community.
Varying gender identities are less understood than non-hetero orientation and issues in Jordan. Linguistically speaking, non-binary students are suggested to choose either male or female pronouns, as most locals are unfamiliar with genderqueer vocabulary.
Muslim and Christian students are free to practice their religious beliefs and can easily find a mosque or church in the city. Practitioners of other religions cannot publicly practice their faith, but the program can provide excused absences for religious holidays with advanced notice. There can be some discrimination against Judaism, and there is little acceptance of atheism or agnosticism. Proselytizing is illegal in Jordan.
Cost of Living
Depending on your lifestyle, the cost of living in Amman can be very cheap or expensive. Things like groceries, restaurant prices, and taxis are cheap, but electronics, imported products, and western chains (e.g. Starbucks) are expensive. Relative to neighboring countries like Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt, Amman’s cost of living is pricier. Check out a budget sheet to get an idea of what life in Amman might look like financially for a semester or summer.
ACCESS in ACADEMICS
In the first month, semester students are typically in classes/office hours for an average of 4 to 5 hours each day. After the first month, content courses in Arabic begin and daily class hours vary. Students can expect to have between 5 to 6 hours of class per day (though this could be as many as 7 hours a day depending on the course schedule). Language classes typically have 4 students per class, with a maximum of 8. English-language electives have a maximum of 15 students and the internship course component has a maximum of 20 students. For every hour of class, students are expected to complete a minimum of 1 hour of homework.
Summer students have 4 to 5 hours of class/office hours a day.
Available for students with documented need: low-distraction test environment; extra time on exams; modified deadlines and seating; exam readers; note-takers; audio recordings of lectures; sighted companion; braille signage around program; a computer to take exams; term syllabi/readings/assignments in advance; mobility orientation to campus.
Unfortunately, the University of Jordan is not wheelchair accessible.
Internships offer varied work environments and require varied tasks. Interns typically work two full days each week. Distances and modes of transportation to internship sites vary. Private transportation to and from internship sites can be arranged for a student with documented need.
CET occasionally plans mandatory academic activities and optional trips to nearby sites and other cities after class and on weekends. Excursions may involve urban walking, rural hiking, use of public transportation, and/or going up and down stairs.
Itinerary modifications and accommodations can be made for students with documented need. Transportation can be arranged as necessary, and excused absences are provided for mandatory excursions that are inaccessible due to a disability.
ACCESS IN HOUSING
Your Home Abroad
Apartments differ in layout but all provide the same overall experience. The apartment buildings typically also house Jordanian families (as well as CET staff), so it is crucial and expected that students respect local norms in and around housing. Housing setups are not wheelchair accessible.
Mixed-gender housing is forbidden by Jordanian law, so housing assignments are arranged following a student’s passport-listed gender. However, arrangements can be made to accommodate gender non-conforming students if notice is provided in advance.
Rooms are typically shared, but a single room in an apartment, with a private shower or toilet, may be available for students with documented need if requested in advance.
Amman is not a walking-friendly city, but some areas may have more means to accommodate students with a disability than others. There has been an increase in the efforts to provide ramps, but this is not yet consistent throughout Amman or the University of Jordan campus. Elevators are common, though they are not always large enough to accommodate wheelchairs.
Health & Diet
Health & Medicine
The emergency room is accessible to students for both minor and major illnesses and ailments. It is relatively cheap compared to the US and most doctors speak English. Medicine can be obtained without a prescription (excluding mental health medications), and there are no issues with students bringing medication into Jordan provided they have a prescription. Students pay upfront for medical services and are reimbursed by GeoBlue (their insurance abroad) through the mobile app. Because these reimbursements take between 4 to 6 weeks, students are advised to budget discretionary funds for upfront costs.
Jordan does not allow residency for foreign nationals with HIV/AIDS and those seeking residency are legally required to be tested as part of a general medical screening for residency. Academic year students with HIV/AIDS are recommended to plan on leaving and re-entering Jordan to avoid a year-long residency process and the associated exams.
Keeping Fit in Amman
There are many different options to exercise while in Jordan. There are many parks and running tracks available for free, as well as gyms and swimming pools that require a membership or a small fee for day use.
Managing Mental Health
There is a network of mental health providers that are accessible to students. These providers have psychological, psychiatric, and counseling services available. Practices provide either local or American doctors. Some mental health medications are hard to get locally and require a prescription from specialists. Students on medications are advised to plan ahead and bring enough supply of their medication (along with the prescription) to Jordan.
Special dietary needs are not as common in Jordan, so restaurants do not have the same regulations about the contamination/mixing of ingredients. Students with severe allergies are advised to cook for themselves at home and to be extra careful when eating out. Staff can help these students when arranging meals during trips and provide them the verbiage to make special requests at restaurants. Amman also has western-style supermarkets where students with dietary restrictions can purchase more familiar ingredients for home-cooked meals.
There are many options available that cater to a variety of diets, but generally speaking, traditional Jordanian food is very heavy on bread, dairy, and meat.
Resources from Alumni
These are alumni-written essays that reflect upon how their own identity affected their time abroad (both good and bad) and what it was like to navigate another culture in their position. We encourage you to read these to better understand what studying abroad in Japan could be like for you or your future peers.
Are you a CET Jordan alumnus? Consider telling us about your time abroad.
- Expectation Setting for Jordan by Zoie Chang, CET Jordan | Summer 2018
- Being Foreign by Anonymous Contributor, CET Jordan: Intensive Language | Fall 2018
The foreign-presenting experience in Amman
- Pass It On: Coping and Learning by Anonymous Contributor, CET Jordan | Fall 2018
- Studying Abroad in Amman as an Arab-American by Alaq Zghayer, CET Jordan | Fall 2019
For “heritage students, Arabs, Muslims”
- A Female South Asian Experience in Jordan by Wendy Pius, CET Jordan | Fall 2019
For “Females in the Middle East, South Asians in Jordan”
In final evaluations, we ask students how their identities affected their experience abroad. The following are a few select quotes from recent program evaluations to help you understand what life in Jordan may be like for you or your future peers.
TALK TO ALUMNI
Chat with alumni about their experiences abroad. Once you start an application, your online CET account will give you access to the following resources:
- Alumni Support List: A directory of students who have volunteered to chat about their experiences abroad in Jordan.
- Identity Abroad Support Network: A group of students who have volunteered to discuss their identity-related experiences in Jordan. This is a volunteer-based program that started in 2019. Volunteers can also opt to have their contact information kept privately by CET staff and only shared when certain lived experiences are asked about.
Don’t see anyone listed for the Identity Abroad Support Network? Call CET for more information and resources. Consider joining after your program to support other minority students abroad.