Jordan Bennett - 2013 Program Participant

Petra in Jordan

Largest tourist site in Jordan is the beautiful Petra!

How did you decide that study abroad was right for you?

For my anthropology major, I am required to take two years of a language. After deciding to take Arabic, I wanted to learn more about the culture of the countries in the Middle East. I also wanted to learn Arabic in a country that it is spoken in, so studying abroad made the most sense to me.

Why did you choose ISA’s program in Amman?

I chose ISA (International Studies Abroad) because I liked the way the program was set up with small classes, and the several excursions that we would be going on. The small class sizes enabled students ample time to ask questions about clarifying homework, and the excursions allowed us to travel all over Jordan and experience many different aspects of it.

Snorkeling in the Red Sea near Jordan

My program members getting ready to snorkel in the Red Sea!

What was your favorite part about studying in Amman?

My favorite part about being in Amman was that our apartments were centrally located to allow for students to get to school easily, close to grocery stores and restaurants, and also allowed for us to actually be immersed into the culture because we were living in a building and neighborhood with actual Jordanians. We were not hidden away on some campus, but rather allowed to experience what it would actually be like to live in Amman.

What made your program experience unique?

This program was unique for several reasons. First, we had several excursions that brought us all over Jordan, but we didn't simply go to only touristy areas. Although we did go to the Red Sea and the Dead Sea (which were both amazing!), we also visited a Palestinian Refugee camp as well. It was very humbling to see so many people displaced from their homelands. I really appreciated this part of the program because it showed the kindness of Jordanians for allowing the camp, and also the solidarity of Palestinians although they have been removed from their homes.

How supportive were local staff during your program?

The local support staff was always willing to help. They offered to help us if we were struggling with the language, or even if we got lost in the streets of Amman, which did happen my first week there! Also, a staff member always went on the excursions with us, which was also fun to see them outside of their professional setting.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently during your time in Jordan?

I wish I tried to talk to locals more while I was in Jordan. Learning Arabic in Jordan went very well, but I wish I tried to meet more locals to get more practice in my speaking skills.

The Al-Hussein Mosque in Amman, Jordan

The Al-Hussein Mosque in Amman

Describe a day in the life of an international student in Amman.

The average weekday started with taking a bus or cab to our college, then our first class. Then we either had lunch at the falafel or shawarma restaurant right off of campus. I ate at either of these places almost everyday of lunch and never got sick of them because they were so good! Then we had our second class then went back to Amman. Then, my classmates and I would meet in the local hookah bar to do our homework and play cards.

When it came time to dinner, we either made food at home or walked to a restaurant. Also, don't be nervous about not liking Jordanian food; even though it is delicious, it is not for some people. There are plenty of other types of food in Amman as well, this includes pizza, burgers, pasta, and seafood. Jordan has food for even the pickiest of eaters!

What excursion was your favorite?

As an anthropology major, I was very excited for the excursion to Petra. Although not well known, it is an amazing site. It is an ancient monument carved out of the side of a mountain. It is breathtaking to see and I absolutely recommend visiting it while in Jordan. It is probably one of the biggest tourist places in Jordan.

Where did you live in Jordan and what was it like?

While in Jordan, I lived in an apartment with four other girls in my program. Although we each shared a room, our apartment was well furnished and beautiful! And honestly, my favorite part of the apartment was having two and a half bathrooms. Since girls take forever in the bathroom, this was very convenient since there were five girls at my place! We also had a nice porch/balcony that we could watch the sunset from!

Now that you're home, how have your experiences in Amman stayed with you?

Now that I am home, I realized that there is much to be gained from traveling abroad. It opens your eyes to new cultures and ways of life that you may never have considered before! It also made me realize that it is not fair to judge people. By just looking at someone, there is no way for you to tell what they have been through, or to judge based on preconceived notions about an area of the world. The best way to overcome this is to ask questions and become friends with new people who may live differently from you.