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ISA in Amman, Jordan
Eric Burton is from Richmond, Virginia and currently studies Criminal Justice at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Eric is a 20 year old Junior at his university and enjoys topics on international issues and conflicts. Since studying abroad, Eric has developed an interest studying abroad and Middle Eastern affairs. Eric is now an ISA Global Ambassador at his University.
When: Fall of 2011
Highlights: The highlights of my trip were the excursions to Wadi Rum and Aqaba. Wadi Rum was amazing because we rode camels and stayed overnight with the Bedouins. Riding camels for at least an hour through the desert was an once-in-a-lifetime moment! The moment was so surreal because a year ago I never would have imagined me riding a camel. Once we arrived back to the camp after watching the sunset we had Bedouin prepared dinner. The food was great. We had dishes from lamb to hummus. Aqaba was amazing because it was my first time ever going snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming in clear water, let alone the Red Sea! The Red Sea was like swimming in a salt-water fish tank, but with so much religious significance. If you were wondering this is the same sea that Moses crossed when he freed the Jews from Egypt. Both of these experiences together made my experience life changing and amazing.
Academics were fun and interesting. I took courses in Arabic 101 and US and Middle East history. Arabic was very challenging because of how fast paced the class was. Arabic was difficult, but the feeling you get when you can hold an elementary conversation with an Arab is gratifying. The US and Middle East class was very informative. One might argue that the class presents bias views, but it is good to see how the other side feels apart from the western view.
Morning: Usually I would wake up between 6:00-6:15am every morning to prepare for school. I had to get ready so early because I had transportation waiting for me at the SafeWay grocery store across the street from the apartment. After getting dressed I would head over to the pick-up spot, but before the bus would arrive (around 7:10am) I would grab a snack or two out of SafeWay. The first pickup would consist of my apartment and another down the street. We would arrive at the other pickup spot around 7:20 to pick up the second group of two apartments, and then we would head to school. The ride to school usually took between 25-35min. Since me and three other students did not have class until 10:30 we would do some homework or hang out at the ISA office on campus.
Afternoon: My typical afternoon/evening would consist of me taking both of my classes until 3:00pm. After school I would either grab lunch/dinner or relax at the apartment. Sometimes I would go over a Jordanian's home for dinner. Jordanians are friendly and usually as soon as you exchange numbers they invite you over for dinner. I would also hang out at cafes or restaurants with fellow ISA students who are usually accompanied by Jordanians. Then I would usually head back to the apartment where I would get on Facebook, check my emails, and do some homework.
Evening: In the evenings, it really varied with what I had planned for the night. If I had tickets to an event (such as the Royal Tattoo) I would mainly hang around the main city, get something to eat from a restaurant (my rules when eating out were to not eat at the same place twice and to not eat at someplace that I could go to back home), and then kill time by window shopping and watching street performers. I didn't really want to go back to the flat because I didn't want to have to make two trips back to the flat. I was happier keeping myself occupied in the city.
Carmen Mitchell is from Louisville, Kentucky and currently attends the University of Louisville. She is majoring in psychology and minoring in Middle East and Islamic Studies, and in the Summer of 2012 spent 10 weeks studying Arabic, US Foreign Policy in the Middle East, Islamic Art and Architecture and Gender in Islam. In her (limited) free time she enjoys reading and volunteering.
When: Fall of 2011
Why did you decide to study abroad with ISA?
Carmen: I choose ISA for several reasons. Several of my friends had participated in ISA study abroad programs and had many good things to say about the program! I also chose this program because the coursework in Jordan was exactly what I needed for my Middle Eastern studies minor so it kept me on track in completing coursework.
State two things you didn't expect to happen when you moved to Jordan?
Carmen: One amazing thing that happened to me while I was in Jordan was that I was able to get in contact with several local advocates in the special needs community, and one of them is an adviser to the ministries of education and social in Jordan and had helped write laws to improve Autism services in Jordan. Something less fortunate that happened during my stay was my camera breaking after I dropped it in the sand while riding a camel!
How has this experience impacted your future?
Carmen: This experience has impacted my future in many ways and will continue to overtime, as it gave both the cultural knowledge and connections to continue expanding my work with the Middle East in international health advocacy.
Highlights: The academic highlight of my trip was definitely taking the US Foreign Policy in the Middle East class. Even though I am currently a psychology major with plans to study health and medicine on an international level, understanding the history behind the relationship between the Middle East and the US during the 20th century and now helps me when trying to build cross-cultural bridges of my own in the health field.
The highlight of my personal experience in Amman was the East-West Youth forum I participated in at the beginning of the summer where I was able to meet many students from Jordan, Russia, the UK and Canada and participate in volunteering activities, touring the city and wonderful social gatherings. It was an excellent opportunity to meet and discuss cultural differences and similarities with people from around the world and I will never forget it!
Morning: My typical morning always consisted of going to class (which is almost always the case summer intensive study abroad sessions). Every morning I would get up to catch the bus from my apartment, and there was mostly nothing remarkable about that experience except when Ramadan would arrive and I would wake up before sunrise to eat a full meal before sunrise (as I elected to fast for half of Ramadan).
Afternoon: My typical afternoon also would consist of class and catching up on any assignments, but I would also meet regularly with some Jordanian friends I hade made at the university and talk about daily events.
Evening: My evenings were never typical! Sometimes I would go out with my Jordanian and American friends to go to a new restaurant and perhaps catch a football (soccer) game! Other times I might go walking and find a local art gallery or visit the local library, and almost every Friday evening I would go to the Souk and buy things such as art, jewelry, books and stone carvings!
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