Written by Corie Maguigad (American University), Student Correspondent for CET Jordan: Intensive Language, Fall 2019
“You made it! Only two more minutes,” said the little girls selling souvenirs. I was sweaty, out of breath, and seriously wondering if this trek uphill was going to be worth it.
At this point, we had been hiking for about 40 minutes. In the grand scheme of life, it wasn’t that long, but I was ready to collapse. I know the girl was being friendly, but she was the third person to say those words to me in the last ten minutes.
At this point I was starting to doubt my friendship with Madeline, who desperately wanted to hike to the Monastery. She definitely didn’t force me to go with her, but she was the reason I climbing my 40th flight of stairs that day. At the end of the day, I was extremely grateful for her persistence.
The hike to the monastery felt like eternity, but really only took less than an hour. The hike back is what really killed me. Over the course of five hours in Petra, I walked 10 miles and climbed 60 flights of stairs. As I sat in the restaurant at lunch, I desperately tried to recover from dehydration and exhaustion. I had completed the hike and seen the sights, but still I contemplated if the hike was worth it.
One of my personal weaknesses is that I am a slow walker. The heat, blisters, and dust in my lungs definitely made it worse, but I barely made it back to the hotel in time. My roommate was already packed and ready to check out by the time I stumbled into the lobby. I didn’t have time to shower and change like my classmates, but it was a small price to pay.
After lunch, and a nap on the bus, I felt much better, even if I was still dehydrated. It has now been a couple days, and I am fully recovered. The only evidence of the hike, now, is the pictures on my phone, the sand in my converse, and the soreness in my calves (I repeat: 60 flights of stairs!!).
I can officially say that the hike to the Monastery, and then to Sacrifice Point, was completely worth it.
The Monastery is a structure very similar to the Treasury in Petra. One of my classmates says she likes it better than the Treasury, and it is definitely less crowded. The Monastery was great – I did the hike, and I made it. But what really made it worth it, was the view. Dubbed “the best view in the world” by countless signs along the path, Sacrifice Point overlooks Wadi Araba.
I felt like I could see the entire world from this spot. As I overlooked the valley and the hills that stretched on forever, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and assurance.
So much of studying abroad is pushing yourself out of your comfort zone emotionally and mentally. You try different things constantly. You’re thinking and living in a new language and culture. It takes work to study abroad, but that’s where the growth happens.
However, I rarely think about putting myself out of my comfort zone physically when I think about the challenges of study abroad. Sometimes the emotional and the physical go hand-in-hand. For example, for the first couple of weeks the mental exhaustion of functioning in Arabic made me so physically tired, I had to take a nap every day (which is unusual for me).
In this case, I hiked a trail harder than I have hiked in a while. We also had to hike it as quickly as possible because we had to get back in time for lunch. It’s just one of those things that you do abroad. I can learn Arabic anywhere, but I can only impress local souvenir sellers with my Arabic when I’m out of breath in Petra. I can read about spectacular views and the colors of the mountains anywhere. I can look at pictures, but I have physical proof that pictures and words don’t do this view justice.
Life is really short, and my time in Jordan is even shorter. I don’t want to have any regrets. I got my pictures in Petra, and I hiked to the Monastery. There’s no Petra FOMO here. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some shoes to shake out.