Choosing a Study Abroad Program in Jordan

by Joel Tan

In study abroad circles, Jordan is known as one of the most popular places to learn Arabic. This Arab kingdom on the east bank of the River Jordan is one of the tourism hotspots of the Middle East. Jordan brings in around $3.4 billion annually in conventional tourism dollars and about a billion more in medical tourism dollars, from foreigners who want to combine healing with a vacation.

University students after classes.
University students after classes. Photo Courtesy Fanousz on Wikimedia

Jordan has much to offer for a wide variety of interests. Ancient ruins and Biblical sites appeal to those interested in history, archaeology and theology; the warm, clear Gulf of Aqaba lures dive enthusiasts; nature reserves draw lovers of the outdoors; and the Dead Sea entices the masses. Its healing waters, mineral-rich mud, and bubbling hot springs attract people from around the world to luxuriate in nature’s spas. It’s no surprise that international students would want to flock to this fascinating and gorgeous country.

The trick is in choosing the right study abroad program in Jordan. Here are some terrific programs aimed at students who are serious about learning Arabic:

Cultural Immersion in Amman. International Studies Abroad’s spring, summer and fall study programs in Amman are all about discovering Arab culture. Jordan’s capital is an elegant city with a striking mix of ancient and new. Students visit historical sites like the Herculean Temple and the Umayyad Mosque, and learn the Arabic language on the beautiful campus of Al-Ahliyya Amman University.

Summer Arabic Language Course. Choate Rosemary Hall offers a more immersive program. It’s widely believed that full immersion is the best way to learn a language. Students in this program are placed in a homestay with an Arabic family, giving them ample opportunity to speak the language and experience Middle Eastern life from a local’s perspective. The excursions that come with the program — trips to Amman, to several Biblical sites including the area where John the Baptist held his ministry, and the Roman city of Jerash — complement the immersion experience.

Intensive Arabic Language and Culture Studies. For students who prefer to go off the beaten path, CET Academic Programs offers an Intensive Arabic Language and Culture Studies program in Irbid. Jordan’s second-largest city in the northern part of the country is more of a college town, free of tourist traps. Irbid is far more traditional and conservative than the ultra-cosmopolitan Amman, so women are not often seen out after dusk. This is a great starting point for travels around the northern Jordan Valley.

Intensive Arabic Immersion Program. Another program based out of Irbid is Petra Crown, Academics’ Intensive Arabic Immersion. Held at the Jordan University of Science and Technology, this program offers excursions to the Dead Sea, Jerash and, as the name suggests, Petra.

Beyond Arabic: Other Study Programs in Jordan

There is one health study program in Jordan: the U.C.-San Diego Global Seminars on Public Health. The program focuses on basic aspects of population and public health.

Another good alternative to the traditional Arabic program in Jordan is International Education Programs’ Mystical Mideast. This study-abroad tour gives students the opportunity to explore the birthplace of three dominant world religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

After a first stop in Israel, the second leg of the Mystical Mideast program brings students to Jordan. Participants stop in Amman before visiting the ancient ruins of Petra, a historical and archaeological city in Ma’an, Jordan. The ancient city, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site, has had a modern-day resurgence thanks to Hollywood movies filmed there, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

If Jordan is calling you, why wait to answer? With a variety of study abroad programs in Jordan to choose from, you are one step closer to an adventure of a lifetime. All you need to do is pick the right one for you.