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Student Profiles

Overseas Study Program

Amman,  Jordan

I know that I am much more capable than when I left. I have more confidence in my abilities to navigate new cultures with and without knowing the local language.”

Jackson Doering

Majors: International Studies and Near Eastern Languages and Culture

Term abroad: Spring 2014

Why did you choose this program? I chose this program because it offered a comprehensive approach to learning the Arabic language. We had to sign a language contract at the beginning of the semester saying we would only speak Arabic for the entire semester.

Describe your favorite class(es) abroad. My Modern Standard Arabic class was three hours long every other day but the professor kept it interesting with new ways to apply the lessons and presentations from the other students.

What was the housing like on your study abroad program? I lived with a Jordanian family on the southern side of the city called Abdoun. My experience was slightly different from other students because I had access to water all day and my own room.

What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? Dive straight in and commit to the language. If you're there to learn how to speak Arabic, limit your time with Americans as much as you can and get to know the locals. You'll come out of your experience on a whole new level of Arabic than when you started.

What’s your best memory from your time abroad? We took a cooking class at a place called Beit Sitti that CIEE organized and we got to cook Maqlubeh and Um Ali. It was delicious and that's when I think I really connected with my classmates.

What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? Social etiquette was probably the biggest surprise for me. In Amman, it's not uncommon for men to have a lot of physical contact between people except between the sexes and adjusting to that was not easy. My professors were very quick to pat me on the shoulder or arm and it was a little unsettling at first but I adapted fairly quickly.

Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. Reverse culture shock definitely hit me hard coming back from Jordan. While I stayed with my host family I had a curfew I had to follow and my ability to move was limited by the fact that I didn't have a car and public transport wasn't available in the area I was living in.

“If I could do it over, I would…” have gone on more adventures on weekends and traveled more. There is so much of Jordan and the surrounding area I wish I had seen.

What do you know now that you didn’t know before you went abroad? I know that I am much more capable than when I left. I have more confidence in my abilities to navigate new cultures with and without knowing the local language.

What do you wish someone had told you before you left? I wish someone had told me that I wouldn't see all the results of my work until after I came back home. You discover them slowly but they're the ones that will put you ahead of everyone who hasn't studied abroad.

What was your greatest challenge? My greatest challenge was adjusting my lifestyle. At IU I have so much freedom to move around and make my own schedule. But in Jordan I had to adjust my life to meet some of the expectations of my host family and safety precautions laid out by my program.

What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn? No one actually knows any street names in Jordan. To get around people use landmarks or major buildings to help navigate. Finding new places is really difficult, but worth it.

How did you find scholarships for study abroad? I applied to scholarships through CIEE as well as the Hutton International Experience Program and was able to reduce the cost of my study abroad experience.