Over the summer of 2023, I had the opportunity to study in the Middle East, specifically the country of Jordan. The Arab nation is home to more than 100,000 archeological, religious, and touristic sights. The entirety of my study abroad consisted of a two-month stay with a host family in the city Amman. Once arriving, I began my eight-week study into a full year of the Arabic language.
The environment Amman had was so singular from what I’ve known, and seeing natural aspects of culture that I practiced at home being utilized everywhere was a comforting feeling. Some of the biggest aspects that I recognized in Amman compared to America were:
Everything is open late
Many businesses in Amman were open past midnight, which allowed me more freedom to explore the city at night, study late at night, and enjoy nights out with friends more. During days where I had to study, I would find local coffee shops to work in which usually stayed open until 12 or 1am. Additionally, many takeout places and restaurants stayed open until 3am which allowed me to order takeout late; I loved this, as later at night is when I usually get hungry.
Walk, Walk, Walk
Amman is a walkable city, and many of the necessities you need are usually within walking distance. It made many things accessible for older families and families who didn’t have vehicles. From where I stayed, there were countless restaurants, pharmacies, coffee shops, and grocery stores. Walking was also one of my favorite ways to learn more about the area and find new places to try out. Amman isn’t a flat or quiet city, and you’ll be walking up hills, walking on the street, and taking shortcuts through pathways.
Call to Prayer
Throughout the day, the mosques will play a call to prayer from the Quran, as Jordan is a Muslim-majority country. There are times that you’ll hear it in the morning, or in the middle of the night. The prayers have a beautifully-haunting melody and sound that blocked out all the sounds of the city.
The city of Amman had older, yet beautiful architecture when it came to city buildings and monuments like the Rome Theater. Many of the buildings have this wheat color that feels cozy and homey. While driving around the city, there are many moments where you have a beautiful view of different parts of the city. A must-go location is downtown Amman, where you walk throughout the crowded streets, seeing multiple stores for jewelry, food, clothing, hookah, coffee, and much more. It felt adventurous to explore the different parts of downtown and was filled with many things to do.
The Arabic language is beautifully incorporated into Amman’s city structure, and learning more outside of home was a liberating experience. My courses consisted of a Sunday-Thursday university schedule. The courses allowed me to get to know my professor more and learn more about Jordanian culture. Within the study abroad, you complete an entire year of the Arabic language, and complete a culture or dialect course!
My study abroad experience this summer was truly life-changing. I got to experience my culture through an alternate lens that made me appreciate being Arab more. I recommend the Arabic Study Abroad because of the beautiful trips I got to see, which included seeing Petra, watching the stars in the middle of the desert, and swimming in the Dead Sea.