Olivia Fisher - 2013 Program Participant

The Roman Amphitheatre in downtown Amman. Photo by Olivia Fisher
The Roman Amphitheatre in downtown Amman. Photo by Olivia Fisher

What made ISA stand out above other study abroad programs?

ISA is one of the affiliate programs through my school, Bridgewater State University. I browsed their website and compared it with the other affiliate programs offered, and ISA seemed to be very organized and professional. They made it very easy to gather information before embarking on the journey of applying to study abroad.

What advice would you give to other students going to study abroad in Amman? 

My advice to students travelling to Amman is to embrace everything that the city and country have to offer. Jordan is unique in so many ways; you can go out drinking every night and have a"western" visit, but the reason so many go to Jordan is to get a glimpse of what the Middle East has to offer. In the course of one week you can volunteer at a refugee camp, travel to the desert, swim in the Dead Sea, and adventure through the amazingly diverse city of Amman. You are only abroad for a few months, so grab your trip by the horns and make it the most memorable experience that you can. I sure did, and I don't regret one thing. 

What makes Amman the ideal place to study abroad in Jordan?

Amman was the best place to study because there is a huge population of college students. There are numerous schools in the surrounding area; Al Ahliyya University and Jordan University seem to be the most popular. Not only can you mingle with other students your age from Jordan, but there are also a ton of international students from all over the world.  Amman truly was a melting pot of people. I had made friends with a few people on my street that were also in college; one of them attended my school and became my best friend. We helped each other study, and he introduced me to tutoring services and an awesome library I could do research at. Amman is a perfect place for students to grow and learn.

What was your favorite class and why was it so rewarding?

My favorite class was my Arabic class. I had taken Arabic at Bridgewater, but taking the class in Jordan opened up so many new opportunities. Our professor took pride in working with us in class and on a personal level. She was AMAZING! We spent time with her outside of class as well, where her lessons would take a more casual but useful approach. We learned how to operate the city like a local, coming to learn local phrases and understand casual Jordanian Arabic over the Standard Arabic most of us had previously learned. And let me tell you, you get much more jovial responses when you try to speak like the locals. Of course, most of our Arabic accents were horrible, but the people in Jordan appreciate the attempt.

How has study abroad impacted your life, and what makes study abroad so valuable in general?

I will start by saying that studying abroad in Jordan has completely changed my life. My eyes were opened to not only the culture of Jordan, but the culture of the Middle East. The wonderful thing about Jordan is that you run into not only Jordanians but Palestinians, Iraqis, Kuwaitis, Egyptians, and everything in between. You learned the differences in their cultures and languages in contrast with not only the United States, but with Jordan as well. Being removed from the comfort of life in the States, where I have lived in the same small town for most of my life, I was thrown into this bustling city filled with people that I could barely communicate with. It was the most fulfilling experience to be able to see myself grow and adapt to the language and culture I was surrounded by. A few weeks in and I felt welcomed as a local; I made friends with shop owners and my neighbors, which made for a more comforting stay in the city. I learned that Muslims and the people of the Middle East are some of the most understanding, welcoming people. The people I had met and engaged with made me feel like I was a part of their family almost immediately. This has opened my eyes and my mind to learn more about people before making a decision that judges an entire region of the world.

I also visited the Red Sea, Dead Sea, and some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Watching the sun go down  on the back of a camel and seeing it rise again over the red sands of Wadi Rum is something that will never leave my memory. Visiting Petra and climbing up each and every step to get to the top was a journey well worth taking. Once you reach the top you can look over rolling mountain tops, and suddenly any weight on your mind is refreshed with the knowledge that there are much bigger things in the world. I think that people that spend their entire lives in one place are missing out on what life truly has to offer you; studying abroad is more than going to school in a new country, it is opening up your eyes, mind, and heart to the world and accepting that you can climb the steps to any goal you want to achieve.