Living in Amman has been such a different experience than I expected. I severely underestimated what this program would be like and how much I would change over the time I’ve been here. The CET Jordan program is by far one of the toughest, yet most rewarding programs I have ever participated in. It is extremely emotionally, academically, and socially demanding but SO worth it.
I see my school as pretty academically rigorous because we are on trimesters (instead of semesters); therefore, we only have ten weeks of classes for the fall, winter, and spring terms. I will regularly find myself up to my knees in schoolwork, not to mention extracurriculars, family/friend obligations, and work. I am a classic overachiever and can’t live with myself if I don’t take on more than I can chew (this is bad, I know). Because of this, I thought I’d be ready for everything that would come my way here in Jordan. I did my research, talked to friends from Jordan and Lebanon, and reached out to my professors as well. I wasn’t even close.
I have always been interested in the Arabic language and wanted to study it. I knew I wanted to do this program at my school before I even got accepted. However, my school only offers one full year of Arabic study, and then you’re cut loose to figure it out from there. Not knowing this, little me decided to take all of those classes as a freshman, but I wouldn’t be studying abroad until junior year. When first getting here, I realized just how much Arabic I’d forgotten and the sheer amount of things I just didn’t know in the first place.
This program is highly intensive—highly. On day four, we started our language pledge, where English is ممنوع (forbidden), and for the first two weeks, classes went for 5 hours straight every day to immerse us as much as possible and prepare us for our lives here. After our week-long fall break, we started content courses with our dialect courses, which are classes on advanced topics taken completely in Arabic.
It is hard. It’s hard to balance academics in a language you don’t fully know while also managing your social life and making new friends in a new place.
Despite this, I love the program so much because I know my Arabic has gotten way better, and with the way the program works, I have not had, and don’t plan on having retention issues. My confidence has skyrocketed, and my comfort level has been altered. I have pushed myself through really stressful, overwhelming times knowing that I have the full support of CET Jordan center staff, Manal (CET Jordan Academic Director), my professors, and all of the program’s students; I will forever be grateful for them. Sometimes, it feels like I don’t have time for anything except homework and food, and most of the time, I feel like no matter how hard I try, I can’t finish every task given to me. But I’ve learned to be okay with that because it’s all a part of the process. I take it one day at a time, one new word at a time. Slowly, I have become a stronger, more resilient person who can communicate and understand a language I have only studied for one year and some months.
I think it’s important to be truthful about everything the program entails, and I can’t summarize everything in this blog post because I’m sure that would take hundreds of pages! If you are reading this looking for reasons to do the program or have questions and want to see if this program is for you—it is! CET Jordan is challenging, overwhelming, rewarding, fulfilling, and enriching. You can come into this program with any language level, any amount of fear or apprehension, any amount of insecurity or lack of confidence, and I guarantee you will come out of it without those things. You will have gained amazing, beautiful experiences, new friends, lifelong connections with CET staff, jiran, and language partners, and the ability to speak, write, and listen in the Arabic language.
Here are some of my favorite memories of my time in Jordan with CET so far:
Here we are, the CET Jordan crew, walking down a street in the city of جرش (Jerash) while spending the day with some of our jirans (Jordanian neighbors) who graciously invited us to their vineyard to pick grapes and eat a traditional Jordanian breakfast.
The Souk, in the city السلط (A-Salt). You can see the vibrant colors of the sheets hanging from the buildings and all the merchandise on the steps, as well as a peek into some of the clothing you can find here. A-Salt is a more traditional city, and we visited on يوم الجمعة , the day of prayer, so once everyone came out of the mosque, the streets were absolutely jam-packed with people and all kinds of fruits, vegetables, sweets, clothing, and other merchandise.
The Dead Sea
A picture from the البحر الميت (The Dead Sea), which is so beautiful and serene. While there, I learned that the Dead Sea is at risk of disappearing for good within the next few decades due to climate change. Every few feet as I walked down the private beach of the hotel we were at, there were signs saying, “The Dead Sea level receded quickly, the water level was here in…(insert year).” This was really eye-opening for me because I had no idea just how in danger it was. There are people working on solutions to the diminishing of the sea, and I highly recommend looking into them and educating yourself and your loved ones on the topic. It is also a must-see/swim in Jordan!
Shopping with Marwa (Language Partner)
This is my beautiful friend from the program, Samira. We spent the day with our language partner, Marwa, and she took us shopping at one of her favorite malls where you can find cute, cheap clothing. Amman is basically a mall city, so there is an abundance of shopping options, which makes it important to know where the best prices are!
This picture was taken in the beautiful وادي المجيب (Wadi Mujib) with me and Ezell, the person whom I have gotten the closest with on this program. From the stunning canyons, you get a full view of the Dead Sea and Palestine on the other side.
Novice High MSA Class
My class, Novice High MSA, visited the Diwan El-Duke as a field-based component and compiled a set of questions to ask him about his life to practice our MSA after getting used to using the Jordanian dialect. The Duke is not a real Duke, but he was nicknamed this by the Great King Hussein for his work in preserving Jordanian culture and history in one of the oldest houses in Amman.
Traditional Jordanian Food
Traditional Jordanian dishes at a sufra restaurant in downtown Amman. Pictured here are rice, falafel, hummus, tabbouleh, and stuffed eggplant.
Ajloun (Overnight Trip)
Norah, Sarah, and Clara on the balcony of their cabin (middle image) when we visited the city of عجلون Ajloun for our orientation refresher and a nice nature getaway, and Kharely during our hike in Ajloun (left image). The gorgeous view from Ajloun castle in the North of Jordan (right image). The castle is on top of Mount Auf and provides views of the Jordan Valley and the desert.