Written by Margaret Stoner, (Franklin & Marshall College) Student Correspondent CET Jordan:Intensive Language, Summer 2017
Like most students who plan to study abroad, I enjoy the exploration inherent in travel, whether to a different country or a city close by home. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunities to travel abroad in the past for short trips and consistently felt beyond excited for each opportunity. However, as I prepared to live for six months in Jordan, instead of the anticipation that filled my thoughts prior to previous travels, I felt a growing sense of dread. Since my childhood I had wanted to study Arabic in addition to living in a different country, so it didn’t make sense to me that I would be scared of an opportunity that I had wanted for so long.
Even if you’ve traveled before, living abroad for an extended period of time can be a shock. For me, the excitement was replaced with an intense homesickness and loneliness. I craved “American” foods that I don’t even enjoy at home. In order to take care of myself, I found it helpful to include in my routine a few activities and foods that reminded me of home. If you want to get McDonald’s once a week, go for it (in Jordan, McDonald’s will deliver to your apartment!). It’s also helpful to set up a regular time to skype or facetime with family or friends.
With that being said, don’t limit yourself to things that are comfortable. Many students return from study abroad talking about how much a semester abroad has “changed them.” The reality is that simply living in another country won’t magically help you mature or gain language skills and cultural sensitivity. You have to be willing to put yourself in situations that make you uncomfortable and where there is potential for you to make big mistakes.
As far as academics go, procrastination is your enemy. Many of the my favorite experiences in Jordan weren’t planned. Instead, we only learned of the opportunity an hour or two before the event, so completing your homework early frees you up for a lot of amazing experiences.
At this point I’ve made it through two months of living in Jordan. It’s begun to feel like a second home. Though it’s definitely not easy, you gradually adjust to life. Now, I don’t know what I’m going to do when I come home and can no longer eat mansaf or ketchup flavored chips whenever I want.