Top Reasons to Study Abroad in Jordan

by Joel Tan

If you are a history buff interested in ancient structures, you might think Egypt would be the ultimate destination. Not all the Egyptians wonders are accessible to students and visitors, though. However, neighboring Jordan hosts a good number of very old structures, some intact and some in ruins, that can be seen, visited, and experienced.

Carriages passing through the Siq to the city of Petra, Jordan
The entrance to the city of Petra - the Siq. Photo by Keri Foley

Should you find yourself in a study abroad program in Jordan, take the time to stroll down the annals of history by visiting these venerable structures:

Petra

This ancient city is the most recognizable among Jordan’s historic wonders, thanks in part to being featured in films like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (the last resting place of the Primes) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (the temple housing the Holy Grail).

In earlier times, Petra was home to ancient Arabs of North Arabia, known as Nabataeans. Their influence had spread far and wide into nearby areas like Syria, where Nabatean columns still stand; and Israel, where remains of a Nabatean cistern can be found.

Strolling down the streets and in buildings of Petra gives one a sense of awe and wonder. The architecture and engineering of the structures are mind-boggling. It is not every day you get to see buildings carved out of rock faces. Smithsonian Magazine lists Petra as one of the 28 places you should see before you die.

Jerash

The city of Jerash, about 48 kilometers north of the capital Amman, is actually new. What's ancient is the city on which Jerash is built: Gerasa. Gerasa is said to have been established by Macedonian king Alexander III, also known as Alexander the Great.

Jerash's glorious past can be gleaned from examining some Greco-Roman structures still standing, including the Corinthian Columns, temples dedicated to Greek gods Zeus and Artemis, a hippodrome, a couple of baths, and an arch purportedly built to honor Roman Emperor Hadrian. (This Arch of Hadrian shouldn't be confused with the one in the center of Athens, Greece.)

Shoubak

Shoubak

The town of Shoubak is another modern settlement built on the bones of the past. Shoubak's first settlers were Edomites because Busaira, the capital of the Kingdom of Edom, was nearby. The town was later settled by the Nabataeans. The Montreal is a castle on top of a hill near the town. What makes the Montreal remarkable is the fact that it was a Crusader stronghold.

Qasr Amra

If you are studying Arabian culture in Jordan, you might have a trip to the desert castle Qasr Amra already planned in your course itinerary. Proof of its importance in art and architecture is its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What makes Qasr Amra notable isn't really how it looks from outside; rather, it’s what is inside it. Frescoes depict hunting and eating; the then-kings of the region, such as Roderic, king of the Visigoths; the Byzantine emperor; the Negus of Ethiopia; the Shah of the Sassanid Persians; and an Indian rajah.

The River Jordan

A 251 kilometer-long waterway that flows through Jordan and Israel, this river connects two large lakes, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. Today the river serves as an important resource to both countries, which are largely dry. In the 1950s, the river was a focal point of conflict among countries in the region.

The Jordan River is also popular in Christian tradition. It is said to be where Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist. The river was also the body of water crossed by the Israelites bearing the Ark of the Covenant under Joshua's leadership.

The Dead Sea

Not really a sea but a hypersaline (very salty) lake, the Dead Sea is about eight times saltier than any sea or ocean. What astounds visitors to the Dead Sea is how it affects their buoyancy: The lake is so dense that swimming is more like floating.

Dead Sea

It bears its grim name because no living creature can flourish in it; however, an amazing fact about the Dead Sea is that it’s actually a source of life. In recent years, the lake has become a center for health research, after scientists discovered its mineral content reduces ultraviolet radiation from the sun, helps clear clogged sinuses, and relieve pain induced by osteoarthritis.

Now are you ready to choose a study abroad program in Jordan?