I looked up from the ground and felt a rush of panic and embarrassment overcome my entire body. I anxiously reached down for my phone, as I habitually do when feeling uneasy, just to realize that I had no service – why was my SIM card not working? Each beige building around me blurred together and the masterful calligraphy that had always intrigued me was now mocking my inability to identify it. I was physically and mentally lost at the University of Jordan in Amman thinking to myself, “What am I doing here?”.
Culture shock is inevitable and will affect everyone at different times and in dramatically different ways, ranging from finite moments of uneasiness to easily recalled anecdotes. Other days it can even be hard to even determine what or how you are feeling and that is okay.
When preparing to study abroad I was extremely thorough – I reviewed each document carefully, designed an itinerary of necessary actions and talked to others who had studied abroad. I felt that with all my preparation I would be fully equipped to cruise through this experience without really encountering any hiccups along the way.
Getting lost on UJ campus within the first week was truly a scary moment; yet, looking back now, I can appreciate the memory as an important early lesson for how to overcome fear and ask for help from those around me, despite a language barrier. I have found that breaking out of my shell has allowed me to become more adaptable and integrated within Jordanian society and for that I am truly grateful.
The opportunity to travel abroad is a gift and although I am only at the beginning of my adventure here, I have already been shaped by an array of exciting emotions.
Living within other cultures opens your mind to different perspectives and enables a wider appreciation for what the world has to offer. Although there have been and will be many times where I might feel uncomfortable and out of place, each one of these moments serves as a catalyst for personal development and I am actually looking forward to embracing the unknown.