If you want to learn Arabic, this is the place to be! Despite having studied four years of university-level Arabic prior to the program, the biggest improvement in my language skills was definitely during my two months in Jordan. Not only are the teachers and staff are absolutely phenomenal (incredibly sweet, supportive, and understanding) but the curriculum is incredibly challenging and engaging.
The setting is also perfect. Not only are you set in Amman, but the program is also held within the Univerist of Jordan campus, meaning you have a wonderful opportunity to get to know other Jordanian students your age. One of the students even offered to arrange for me to become a regular at a lecture/class while I was there! Being at the University of Jordan also means that you have the wonderful opportunity of participating in campus extracurriculars and events, an opportunity that you should definitely not pass up! Being assigned a language partner from the university (still a close friend of mine!) means that your skills just keep improving.
The program also actively tries to include you into Amman's social scene. Your language partner will take you out to different locations (often to visit their families as well) and your Jordanian roommate will work hard to introduce you to his/her friends. As long as you stay open to new experiences and actively try to explore, you will make lifelong memories and friends.
The housing situation is also incredibly safe and comfortable. That being said, it is definitely different from the type of comfort you might find at a European or American study abroad program but despite some minor hiccups, we were very happy with the situation. Being assigned a local roommate only makes it that much friendlier.
That being said, there are some tips to share:
- Do your own studying and research about Jordan and the Middle East before arriving. You will learn a LOT about Jordan and Arab culture while in Amman but, as most of the teachers have grown up in Jordan and never lived in the West, they will be teaching you curriculum based on their perceptions of how the West looks at the Middle East. Sometimes these (though completely well-meaning) intentions end up re-inforcing stereotypes that are untrue.
- Although the housing situation is wonderful, make sure to BRING WARM CLOTHES! Water shortages in Amman means that central heating is not a common amenity and it gets incredibly cold in the winter!
- Evaluate what you want to get out of your study abroad experience. If you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and excited at the idea of adventure, this is the program for you! This will not be like a program in Europe - to meet people and have exciting experience, you have to be actively trying to take risks and meet new people! Once you do that though, you're gold.
All in all, this was an absolutely heartwarming experience and, hands down, I would definitely do it again. I met some incredibly wonderful people and people who I will be friends with for a long time (both American and Jordanian). If you have the opportunity to go to this program, don't pass it up.