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ISA Study Abroad in Amman, Jordan

10 Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

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Outside your Comfort Zone

When most people start to talk about their experience studying abroad, they talk about how it changed their life. So if you are considering study abroad, you have already heard it a million times. So I will be cliché for a few minutes. Studying abroad was the most daring, exciting, scary, and worthwhile decision I have ever made. Daring that I chose to move to a completely unique and different country for five weeks without knowing a single soul on the entire continent. Exciting because this would be the chance to gain a new perspective on an unfamiliar culture and truly find myself. Scary because of the comments from friends and family that I was receiving about how dangerous and confrontational Jordanians, and even all Middle Easterners are. By the way, all of the negative feedback I got about choosing to go to Jordan were all very wrong. And finally, worthwhile because my entire experience gave me the change to find out who I really am.
So now that I am done being cliché, the idea of studying abroad to a perspective student always sounds exciting and intimidating. I found this quote while looking into ISA as possible program to go to Jordan with, and I think it helps to put studying abroad into more perspective. “I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on earth, then I ask myself the same question” (Harun Yahya). This quote helped me finalize my decision, and I hope that it will also help other students as well. The world can be viewed as a very large place with many different people living on it. But traveling abroad helps a person realize that we are all equal and that experiencing other culture is very beneficial. It teaches us not to be as close minded and to be open to people who seem to be different than us.
Overall, I found myself in Jordan. I hope that by reading this, it gives you the courage to try something new and go outside your comfort zone to experience something that will help you find yourself.

10 Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

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Going to study in Jordan was a life changing experience!

When I told my parents that I decided to take Arabic, they thought I was crazy. Then a year later I told them I wanted to study abroad in Jordan, and they did not like my decision. At first they said no because it was too dangerous. But once I showed them the ISA information, they started to get used to the idea of me studying abroad. The ISA website provided information about the city of Amman, where we would be living, the various excursions, and our directors that we would meet. This was extremely helpful for my parents because it seemed like they had a million questions about the program. The information helped to reassure them that the area would safe, and they finally decided to let me go.

Before leaving for Jordan, the representatives in Texas were very helpful in answering any questions that my parents or I had about everything from classes to food, and money conversions to excursions. And once in Jordan our ISA directors were always there when we needed them. They helped us when were sick, when we wanted to find new places to see, and if we just needed to talk. Also, the classes we took were the perfect size so the teachers got to know each of us in the program, and were very accommodating when we didn’t understand a concept or idea.

Another great aspect of the program was the various touristy things we did. We went to Petra (where Indiana Jones finds the Holy Grail!), Aqaba to snorkel and scuba dive, and the Dead Sea. We also got to see the various ancient and modern aspects of Amman.

Overall, I was extremely pleased with ISA. They set up the classes so they were not overwhelming for my classmates and I. The excursions were amazing and I took hundreds of pictures, and it was exciting to see a completely new and different culture first hand. I strongly recommend choosing ISA as your study abroad program, and if you decide to go to Jordan, then it would be an experience that you will never forget.

10 Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    9

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Best Experience of My Life!

I spent this past summer living in Amman, Jordan, and I can say without a doubt it was the most life-changing summer I will ever have. Before going to Jordan, I did not know anything whatsoever about life in the Middle East. I had the common misconceptions that many Americans hold. But after living in Jordan and being completely immersed in the culture, I have gained so much respect for people of the Arab/Muslim culture, that I pass it on to everyone who will listen to me in America. I would have never been able to learn any of the things I experienced from a textbook. The best part of the trip was the people I met. I learned about a completely new perspective on life. The people in Jordan were the most helpful people I have ever met. Everyone was very patient with my group and was willing to help us with our Arabic or finding things if we were lost. Before going, I was a little concerned about my safety. I will tell anyone that I felt 100 percent safe in Jordan and although there are some things that differ from American culture, it was still a very safe and welcoming environment. The program would not have been what it was without the amazing staff. Our program director, Mohammed Naser, was the most helpful and guiding person that there could have been. He made my group feel safe in every situation and he was very knowledgable about any and all questions we asked. I would gladly recommend this program to anyone who is thinking about it and I would love to visit Jordan again!

10 Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

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Awesome Experience

I loved my study abroad experience in Amman with ISA! Mohammad and Ghadeer (the program administrators) are very helpful and available to students. The excursions were also really fun and well planned. Overall, I felt like ISA provided great service so that students would not have to worry about many aspects of their study abroad experience and could enjoy their time fully.

Academics:
I really enjoyed the classes with the ISA instructors. The assigned coursework was enough to help us learn the material, but not so overwhelming as to keep us from having time to go out and engage in the culture. It was great to take Middle Eastern Studies courses from mainly Jordanian and Palestinian professors and get their perspective on the material. Also, it was great being immersed in my coursework daily and getting to live in the material.

Living Situation:
We lived in a huge, nice apartment in a very nice neighborhood in Amman. Our apartment had plenty of room with three living rooms and a nice kitchen! Additionally, we were right across the street from a Safeway store, so we were never far from groceries, etc. The bus picked up right by the Safeway, and the public bus stop was only a few minutes' walking distance from our apartment. Taxis also picked up on the main road near our apartment. Overall, I thought the location and quality of the apartment were awesome.

Cultural Immersion:
By living in Amman, we had plenty of opportunity to go out and immerse ourselves in the culture. Also, our teachers were great about taking us on trips to explore different areas of Amman and practice our Arabic. People are very friendly and willing to interact with you and make your experience worthwhile. Also, there are many opportunities like conversation exchanges to facilitate making local friends. I think that the only way that I would have benefited more from the experience would have been through a home stay, but I am happy with the other opportunities offered to me.

Program Administration:
Mohammad and Ghadeer were great program administrators. They were very willing to help us with anything in any aspect of my abroad experience. Ghadeer even came over to teach us to cook and have a girls' day at our apartment. They have an office on campus, and their door is always open for students to come by.

9 Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    6

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    0

  • Social Life

    0

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Cultural success with ISA Jordan

For students with the right mindset to study in the Middle East, ISA Jordan is a fantastic & rewarding experience. The program managers are extremely helpful and encouraging for students to get involved in Jordanian culture.

9 Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    6

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

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More than accommodating

My experience with ISA in Jordan was phenomenal. My only regret is not studying abroad for an entire year!

ISA Jordan offers the perfect balance of program-arranged day and overnight excursions, as well as weekend cultural and language outings. Sometimes the excursions felt a little bit rushed (it’s hard not to when there’s so much to see!), but we were also given a lot of time to divert from the group and explore on our own. The optional cultural and language outings were always led by our amazing Arabic teacher, Balqees, who would often invite us to cafes for lunch and to teach us Arabic instead of sitting in the classroom and always reading from the book. Some of my best memories in Jordan are from the outings to museums and markets with Balqees. The small program size allows students to get away from the comfort of being only with American students while abroad and focus on language learning. If you’re willing to put in the time studying, you will surely improve a lot in your Arabic from this program!

After having a very negative experience in the female-only university dormitory my first few nights in Jordan, ISA did everything they could to move me into a HUGE apartment in the city with three other girls. Our apartment had three living rooms, two bathrooms, two bedrooms, and a massive kitchen and was located a minute’s walk from the grocery store and the AAU bus stop. All of the ISA apartments during my semester abroad were close to good shopping areas and major roads, making it easy to find taxis any time of day.

One of the drawbacks of this program is that Al-Ahliyya Amman University is located so far from the heart of the city. It is difficult to leave campus and go home if you have a few hours between classes. It also means that it takes about an hour bus ride to and from school each day, leaving little time on the weekdays to experience Amman during daylight.

ISA was very helpful in allowing me to take a hybrid of courses with local students and courses with ISA students. I thoroughly enjoyed my Arab-Israeli Politics course with ISA, which allowed us to visit two Palestinian refugee camps in Amman. The courses I took with local students were mostly in English, but at times the professor would speak entirely in Arabic, something ISA warned me about prior to my semester abroad.

Overall, I could not have chosen a better place to study abroad or a better program to study with. Both ISA in Austin and ISA in Amman are more than accommodating in addressing any concerns that may pop up and fixing any negative situations. ISA continues to ask me for feedback and ideas for improvement even though I have been back for almost five months now. Jordan is the perfect place for those interested in history, humanitarian efforts, geopolitics, and intensive language study.


Safety:
Despite the occasional catcall or overt glaring (something you'll likely experience in any city of Amman's size or bigger), I felt just as safe in Jordan as I do living in the United States. Police are everywhere in Amman, making it the safest place in the Middle East and consistently one of the safest countries in the world. ISA is available 24/7 for any safety concerns.

Social Life:
There's always something to do in a city like Amman. Taxis are easy to find any time of day. Cafes are open almost all night and malls are open into late hours. There is an abundance of really nice movie theaters (which often gives you the advantage of seeing movies before they hit the screens in the States), video game hang outs, bowling alleys, and pool halls. There aren't too many clubs, but there are plenty of bars spread throughout the city. I particularly enjoyed Prego, a bar near Rainbow Street with a club-like atmosphere. The only two real clubs I got the chance to go to were G-Club and Switch 51 which were both really nice inside and offered ladies nights throughout the week. La Calle on Rainbow Street is a great place to meet with friends and provides alcohol. Jafra downtown offers a more traditional atmosphere and some of the best shisha you'll have in Jordan.

8 Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    7

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No Excuse. Go to Amman,Jordan

Remember people this is study abroad and you cannot expect everything to be perfect. When living in a foreign country you must put away the tendency to compare it to the US. Overall my experience in Amman was amazing!! This study abroad experience allowed me to dismiss all the negative stereotypes about the Middle East. The excursions and the classes were all worth while. The staff were really hands on. Mohammad invited us to his home to play video games and he even was there to listen to our individual personal problems when requested. Ghadeer was exceptional! She was so easy going and funny! My professors were really knowledgeable about their subject matter and class discussion was very interesting. The courses I took were Arabic 101 and Middle East and US History. The highlights of my trip were the excursions to Wadi Rum and Aqaba. Wadi Rum was amazing because we rode camels and stayed overnight with the Bedouins. Riding camels for at least an hour through the desert was an once-in-a-lifetime moment! The moment was so surreal because a year ago I never would have imagined me riding a camel. Once we arrived back to the camp after watching the sunset we had Bedouin prepared dinner. The food was great. We had dishes from lamb to hummus. Aqaba was amazing because it was my first time ever going snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming in clear water, let alone the Red Sea! The Red Sea was like swimming in a salt-water fish tank, but with so much religious significance. If you were wondering this is the same sea that Moses crossed when he freed the Jews from Egypt. Both of these experiences together made my experience life changing and amazing. I plan on returning to Amman one day and I encourage everyone to study abroad to Amman, Jordan through ISA. If you want a life changing experience then ISA Jordan is the way to go. I am now my university's ISA global ambassador to promote studying abroad through ISA.

5 Overall Rating

5/ 10

  • Academics

    4

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    5

  • Program Administration

    6

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    6

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Seriously Understaffed

Top three best things about ISA Jordan:
1. Mohammad
2. Mohammad
3. Mohammad

Seriously, whatever ISA is paying their program director in Amman is not enough.

To be fair, there are other great teachers with ISA. Balques, Hind, Levi, and Beth are all excellent professors and people. However, ISA really needs to work on hiring more support staff for the director. His assistants didn't seem to do very much (plus they never warmed up to us and it was really hard to ask them questions). After one assistant quit and one professor had a medical emergency, both mid-semester, that left three ISA staff members in Amman to teach ten kids and handle administrative details for another ten. Class has been canceled a lot due to unforeseen circumstances and the fact that everyone is overworked.

There are no extracurricular program offered by ISA and (again because there's almost no staff) it's extremely difficult to get help to set up your own arrangements. Therefore it's hard to meet locals and have a true cultural experience - we ISA kids just hung out together pretty much the whole time.

I can't fathom why this program cost as much as it did. ISA Austin is INCREDIBLY cheap and also imposed a lot of bogus rules that detracted from the experience. Overall recommendation: find another program, there are plenty.