Marhaban! My name is Sean and I am a senior at Central Michigan University, studying International Relations/Comparative Politics with an emphasis on the Middle East. I am about to embark on a semester in Amman, Jordan where I am excited to put my mediocre orienteering prowess and basic Arabic skills to work.
At the time I didn't have a good response because it was impossible to give a complete explanation for my reasons in a brief encounter. In this post I want to expand on why I chose to study abroad, and how I selected this region of the world.
Since freshman year I knew that I wanted to study abroad. Everyone who I spoke to about their experiences abroad would fill my mind with adventures, and opportunities of a lifetime. They described these instances as the pinnacle of their college career. It was from this a seed grew; it was an ambition that pestered my mind. I knew that my undergraduate education would feel inadequate without taking advantage of this opportunity. It was with this catalyst that I began the extensive process to live and study abroad.
The Middle East has been dominating the headlines in the past century, and is an area of the world that most Americans are inexperienced and unfamiliar with. It was this uncertainty that encouraged me to take a class about the Middle East and Islam. From this class I became fascinated with the history, diversity, and complexity of this region and I wanted to learn more. What better way to learn than literally being right in the middle of everything happening.
When deciding where I wanted to study abroad, picking the Middle East was the obvious choice and choosing Jordan was more obvious. If you look at a map of Jordan it borders or is close to, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and Egypt. It has one of the best universities in the Middle East, and it is centrally located between these countries of interest.
I have learned so much about Jordan and the Middle East in my one month here, but I know that this is just the beginning of a long progression to truly comprehend the language, culture, and politics of this region, and I look forward to traveling down this lengthy road.
I haven't even left here, and I am already anticipating coming back.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” Mark Twain (Innocents abroad).
I went to my first football match yesterday, and it was a very different, very unique experience. This is coming from an avid Lions fan, and experienced NFL game goer. The atmosphere around the King Abdullah Stadium was energizing, and deafening. When I first approached the stadium, I asked my friend's host brother if the game had already started because of how loud the cheering was, he replied that it still had an hour until it began, I was bewildered.
Jordan ended up coming through in the second half with the win, 2-1.
I am still in the first week of my internship and classes. Everything is going smoothly, and I am really enjoying my time here in Amman.
For more pictures from the football match, click here!
My host family consists of a family of four, a mother, father, and two sons. Both sons are around my age and have been exceptional hosts and translators since I’ve arrived here early this past week. The mother doesn’t speak any English, but is fluent in Arabic and Russian. The father is fluent in Arabic and knows a little bit of English. Both sons are fluent in Arabic and their English is the best in the family, which has been helpful with communication. Language barriers can become difficult and frustrating sometimes; but my experience with this family has been a great comical learning experience.
Professors always talk about the practical use of the material that they are teaching, and usually students ignore it, now I know what they are talking about. I’ve had to pull out all my basic Arabic knowledge to communicate what I want to eat, drink, and do. Communicating with my host family appears easy when I’m out on the street of Amman attempting to navigate myself to and from places. It has been an adventure full of failures and successes, but most importantly learning opportunities.
Semester schedule: I have four classes, 15 credits this semester. Nine credits of which are Arabic language classes, and the final six credits consists of two classes; The Middle East: Alternative Perspectives, and Environment and the Politics of Water.