My semester in Jordan was not my first time in Jordan-I had been twice for study abroad with my school the previous summers; however, this experience was unlike any other. CET offers 2 outlets which are important in learning a language, especially in a foreign country, which makes the program itself stand out from other study abroad programs: the language pledge and native roommates who live in the apartments. While the language pledge was frustrating at times, and also tempting to break when in our apartments or with our friends, it improved my Arabic skills the most and helped me become more confident in my speaking abilities. It always felt rewarding when I would explain a concept to someone, 100% in Arabic, and they understand almost entirely the ideas I was conveying. As for the or for my broken Arabic that they didn’t understand, we would discuss in Arabic until we were on the same page. It was also fun to engage with other students who were at different levels and help one another.
Living in the apartments with a Jordanian roommate also proved beneficial. In my past study-abroad experiences, I lived with close friends, so we did not speak Arabic as much as we could have; this past semester, I shared a room with my Jordanian roommate, which was an experience I loved more than I ever thought I would. There were nights where she and I would exchange stories about our family lives, our friends, or just funny experiences—all in Arabic, for hours.
As for the quality of our apartments, they were more than adequate and provided the amenities one would expect from a study abroad experience. Nothing too fancy and nothing too plain, our apartments came fully furnished and seemed more-or-less clean. Some apartments came with enough plates and utensils for all 3-4 roommates (maybe more than enough), while others came with not nearly enough. Some had pots and pants; others did not. The apartment is on top of a hill and is guarded; and with the directors living there as well, there was never any reason to feel unsafe. Having the directors in the same apartment complex as the students was more than beneficial: most students felt not only safe, but also reassured that help and advice—no matter the situation—were always just a few doors away.
The teachers were exceptional and always made sure that their students understood the material, and that no one felt behind in the class. They were always willing to meet at any time outside of class, for however long the student needed. The classes were small, which I liked—my class had 5 people including me—because it helped the students bond closely and encouraged active participation and, in turn, improved students’ Arabic skills through casual conversation. While we learned a lot of new vocabulary, we focused heavily on how to use these new terms, specifically in giving presentations in front of our classmates (rather than just constantly learn lists of words). We discussed issues that are important to Jordanian society and had many opportunities to go out and ask questions to students, who were hanging out in the streets between their classes, specifically asking about the topics we discussed in classes that day or week. We would come back to class and present on what we had just discussed with our new friends.
The trips and cooking days also served an important role in our learning. We would learn about the places we were going and give presentations on them with our newly expanded vocabulary and have the chance to discuss the sights and history of the places we visited with our friends, language partners, roommates, and teachers while exploring. The cooking days were my favorite; I was able to develop my culinary vocabulary, learn colloquial terms for food, and perfect authentic Jordanian dishes—all while laughing and having fun with my classmates. We would later share our dishes with other classes, and then teach them how to make the dish. There was constant engagement among the students, whether it manifested in the encouragement of others, helping others with homework, or sharing fun stories. There was never a dull day with CET.
I love CET for many reasons, but mostly because it gave me the confidence to speak and not be afraid to make mistakes.