SIT Jordan: Modernization and Social Change

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About

Examine crucial issues in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a moderate Arab state grappling with political responsibility, social change, modernization, the effects of the Arab Spring, and regional conflicts.

Jordan has made enormous strides recently in healthcare, literacy, and democratic and economic reform. However, it remains challenged by a lack of natural resources, environmental concerns, economic and social issues, and the impact of Palestinian immigrants and refugees, who now make up more than half of the nation’s population. More recently, Iraqi refugees have been pouring into the country and changing the demographic and physical landscapes of the capital.

The program is based in the capital city of Amman, and students conduct academic fieldwork throughout Jordan.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

93%
based on 3 reviews
  • Academics 7
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
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Lauren
9/10

Truly a global learning experience

I beyond highly recommend SIT: Jordan.

To begin, this program used to be titled Modernization and Social Change, but the name switched to Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the Middle East. Just so you know!

I began my experience in Jordan not with SIT, but with a small, independent language center for two summers. While we went on trips and I enjoyed that experience, SIT gave going to Jordan a whole other dimension.

The staff is extremely supportive. I was met at the airport by a staff member, and everything was very organized. After, we went to the hotel to stay for a week of orientation, which did a very good job of preparing us for Jordan. I felt it could have been maybe a little shorter, but I had experience in Jordan before, so that may just have been me. The hotel was very nice, and it was lovely to get to know staff and fellow students during that first week. Throughout the entire program, the staff went above and beyond to help us feel comfortable, to support our Arabic, and to support us during the ISP/internship period.

After the first week, we were given a stipend and sent to live with our host families. SIT GIVES A STIPEND- THIS ONE IS 50 JD A WEEK. This is a huge draw to SIT for me. I didn't know about the stipend originally, and I was shocked to find out about it because other, similarly priced programs do not offer one. This is a major pull to SIT- I spent very little of my own personal money on cost of living expenses. Also, SIT offers a Pell Grant match which is super helpful.

The host families are also an amazing aspect of SIT. I learned much more Jordanian Arabic and much more about Jordan's culture than before, and most of the host families were pretty amazing. Some people only had so/so experiences, but they were in the minority. In general, everyone was happy to have that support and family atmosphere. People really welcome you quickly, but also most families have been with SIT for a while, so your presence isn't a huge deal either. I loved that, and felt pretty comfortable almost immediately. Also, the food was AMAZING.

Academics were okay. I would not necessarily say this program shines in that department. Classes are usually taught by guest speakers, who come in and give a lecture on one topic. However, it was cool to learn from a variety of perspectives, and we often went on field visits (such as to the senate, local NGOs, etc). Arabic classes are not heavily emphasized, and if your goal is to learn a whole lot of fusha or Arabic in general, I would think about a different program. This program shines in giving you a diverse set of speakers who present a variety of ideas, as well as providing an amazing host family experience (which helps with Jordanian Arabic), and putting on great, informative trips. It is just not extremely rigorous academically.

That said, students get the option to do an internship or independent research project, and that was an amazing experience. I did a research project, and the opportunity to conduct field research while abroad is not one to be taken lightly. People always ask me about it when I bring it up, and it helped in an internship interview. It helped me identify a field of study I want to go on to get a Masters in, and the overall support system was great! Students who did internships also seemed to learn a lot and enjoy their work.

I definitely felt like I came away learning a whole lot about Jordan and the region, especially considering I had studied there previously. Additionally, a trip to the UAE was included in our tuition. This was amazing- we got to see the contrast between Jordan and a wealthy Gulf state, which fit the program theme well. We also had tons of fun in Dubai!! In Jordan, we went to Um Qais, Petra, Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea, and Aqaba. All of those trips were super, super fun!!

In all, I highly recommend SIT: Geopolitics. The trips were great, the host families were unique, and you get much more for paying the same amount as comparable programs. Even though the academics are not rigorous, I think I learned more about Jordan and the Middle East than my friends on comparable programs. The research project was an invaluable opportunity. However, I did feel like I learned less Arabic. The woman who directed the Arabic program was great and always willing to offer extra help, and I adore her! But overall, I think the program emphasizes it less.

How can this program be improved?
A greater emphasis on Arabic.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Azulina
9/10

Jordan: Modernization and Social Change

The opportunity to conduct independent field researcher as an undergraduate student is what sets this SIT program apart from any other study program in Jordan. At first the prospect of researching a topic, conducting interviews, and distributing surveys to culminate in a large paper was daunting, but the support of the SIT staff made the experience extremely rewarding. During the one month independent study period all of the staff put their personal connections at my disposal calling in favors, providing me with transportation, and even translating for me when my language skills came up short. The ability to conduct interviews and surveys in Al Zaatari camp, the largest of the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, was a once in a lifetime experience that would not have been possible without the complete support of the entire SIT staff. From language teachers who proof read my translations to the staff members who accompanied me into the camp I was reminded time and time again how much the staff believed in me and my ability to conduct meaningful and ethical research. The experiential aspect of this program has had lasting effects on my life, helping me to expand my cultural understanding, language skills, and even make valuable connections that helped me to secure a summer internship and return to Jordan.

How can this program be improved?
The only part of this program that could be improved is the arabic program. Although the instructors are some of the most enthusiastic and knowledgable language teachers that I have ever had, there simply isn't time to expand the language element due to the large amount of time spent in the field and with guest lecturers. I highly recommend this program for anyone whose learning goals are not simply to improve their Arabic, but also to gain meaningful insight into the social, political, and cultural aspects of Jordan.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Kelsey
10/10

Four Months in the Hashemite Kingdom!

The SIT program in Amman, Jordan was great for a number of reasons. The staff is made up of a group of amazing and kind people. If we had any issues or concerns we went to the staff and they worked with us. They are also very connected in Jordan, which was especially helpful during the ISP period when we needed advisers and people to interview. I was fortunate enough to interview 15 Jordanians and pass out my surveys to over 70 Jordanian students. I was even able to interview two former Jordanian ministers of culture.

Arabic classes were small and had a lot of individualized instruction. The seminars were larger, but our group was also larger than the usual group. Many of the lecturers were really interesting. The ISP project was a lot of work but the work load in general was not that demanding. We had plenty of free time to explore the city and get to know each other, other foreign students, and locals. I joined a youth tennis group (I was by far the oldest but it was a good experience!) and played at least once a week.

The excursions were one of my favorite aspects of the program. We traveled to post- revolution Egypt, which was a great experience. We stayed in Cairo and also spent a day in Alexandria. We also went on numerous excursions throughout Jordan. I swam in the Dead Sea, the Mediterranean, and the Red Sea. Swimming in the Dead Sea and seeing Israel on the other side was a really cool experience. When we visited Aqaba, which is on the Red Sea, SIT rented an entire boat for us. We spent the day sunbathing, snorkeling, jumping off the boat, and enjoying each other’s company. We also spent a night in the Wadi Rum desert, where we rode on camels and ran in (and rolled down) sand dunes.

Living with host families was a terrific experience. Over a year later I still email my host family and they send me pictures of my little host sister. It was a good way to practice speaking Arabic, although it is easy to slip into English if your host family speaks some English. You have to force yourself to speak Arabic if you want to improve. I enjoyed living in Amman and being able to take a cheap taxi anywhere. The only issue I had was standing out as an obvious foreigner. Girls in our program often received negative but generally harmless attention (though it was irritating and frustrating- and it was important to be careful). This can happen anywhere in the world, of course, but it was especially bad in the downtown area of Amman.

Overall, Jordanians are some of the most accommodating and kind people I have ever met. Everyone made sure we were comfortable and enjoying our time in Jordan. Whenever we were guests in someone’s home they made sure we had plenty to eat and drink. Guests certainly never go hungry in Jordan! Even if you are not hungry, you can expect to be offered ample amounts of food. It is terrific but difficult to refuse if you are feeling stuffed. The generosity was really amazing though. During the rural Badia homestay I told a complete stranger that I thought her scarf was pretty. She immediately removed it and offered it to me. This was not an uncommon occurrence either. I remember the generosity of the people the very fondly when I think of Jordan.

How can this program be improved?
I would make the Arabic classes more demanding.
Yes, I recommend this program

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