Not Lost! On an Adventure.

A collection of travel and life related neurotic ramblings by yours truly.

Off The Map- Jordan and the Middle East

Woohoo travel! Here is a general look at what I will be doing during study abroad as I know it right now.

I am studying with a program called CIEE in Amman, Jordan.

This is where I’ll be!

And, before everyone starts or continues freaking out about the fact that I am going to the Middle East you should know that Jordan is really safe! There have been peaceful protests in the country but the people are calling for constitutional reform, not a change of leadership, and violence has been minimal. My program has a safety and evacuation plan should we need to leave the country which I desperately hope we don’t need! If you have any questions or concerns talk to me, also here are some great websites to keep up with Middle Eastern news: http://www.bbc.com, http://www.english.aljazeera.net, and the good old nytimes.com. These three give a pretty comprehensive look at the situations in the Middle East as well as what is happening in Jordan.But, as my favorite quote from Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes cartoon fame) states- ‘God put me on earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I am so far behind, I will never die.’

Whilst in Jordan I will be taking more Arabic classes (I will have a year of the Arabic language under my belt as of June!) as well as some general international studies classes, religion classes, and history and archeology classes. I will also have an opportunity to volunteer in the community of Amman as well as possibly do an internship with a local nongovernmental organization (NGO). There’s lots to do!

I have the option to do a home stay with a local family or live in an apartment with other students in my program. At least for the first semester I am hoping to be placed in a home stay because of the opportunity it will give me to learn about the Jordanian culture as well as practice my Arabic.

The CIEE program is located across the street from the University of Jordan. I won’t be taking classes with Jordanian students but I have full access to the entire University campus and will be taking a few classes through my program there. There is a peer tutoring program that pairs Jordanian students with kids like me to help us with our Arabic as well as hopefully show us around the city and get to know more students at the University of Jordan. Yay for making new friends!

We will be taking group excursions to locations around Jordan like Petra (think Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade here- yes, that’s a real place!) and Wadi Rum (imagine a really desert version of Arches or Canyonlands National Parks). I also have the ability to freely travel around the country to my heart’s content! To travel outside the country more safety precautions are taken, but I’ll cross that bridge after I’ve scampered around Jordan a bit :).

I think I’ve covered a lot of general information about my program, but if you have more questions feel free to contact me or look at my program website: http://www.ciee.org/study/programOverview.aspx?pID=132#1rightForYou.

Well there you go! I will update all y’all on what’s up with more specific travel details as I get them.

Here is a map of some of Amman- so confusing!

And here is a picture of what the money looks like:

Why I Chose Jordan:

Many of you have recently been asking why I chose Jordan as my study abroad location (and I realized that this was not only an incredibly valid question, but something that was seriously lacking in this blog!)

I chose Jordan because I am currently learning Arabic in college and need two years of the language to fit with my International Studies major. I chose Arabic because it is a challenging language to learn as well as being very relevant in culture today. I have so far taken a year of it in college and will continue that during study abroad.

The University of Denver has a great study abroad program in which many of the students go abroad during their junior year, either for a semester or the academic year. There are a ton of different countries and programs to choose from, which is both exciting and overwhelming if you aren’t sure what you are looking for!

I chose Jordan over the other Arabic programs in Oman and in Morocco simply because I felt like I would fit better there. In Morocco the Arabic is spoken very differently from the rest of the Arab world (because of the French and Spanish influences) and Oman is very conservative as Muslim countries go. I had little interest in going to Israel mostly because they do not have an Arabic program in most of the universities there. I also know no one going to Jordan from DU, so I am starting over again which I very much enjoy!

Jordan is an interesting country once I stated to learn about it a little more. I read King Abdullah II’s biography (I would recommend it, it is a fairly easy and understandable read) and was intrigued by the variety of classes the CIEE program offered.

Many of you wonder why I chose Jordan. I chose it because I feel as though I will learn the most there- it is in a volatile region of the world to be certain, but I would not get as much out of my study abroad experience if I studied in Australia or Europe. The Middle East is a place that not many Westerners understand; fathoming their history when many of us don’t know our own puts us at a serious disadvantage considering America’s relationship with that part of the world. The Middle East is incredibly relevant to the field of International Studies today as well; academically this program and region fit me well.

I am also interested in the people of the Middle East as well as the culture and practices. I am a fairly outspoken, independent American woman who does not respond well to people telling me how to dress, what to say or not say, and what to do. I do not like other people defining my life, and I feel like that is the Western perspective of the relationship between Muslim men and women. So, I would like to go to Jordan to learn about myself as well- if I can function in a society that does not particularly value me, my actions, or what I have to say, how will I respond? What kinds of people will I meet and what friends will I make? What kind of places will I go to?

But, in the end, its not about academics or soul searching or being in the middle of history in the making. It’s about pointing to a place on the map and saying, ‘I’m going there’ and then doing it.

See you on the other side of the world 🙂


3 responses to “Off The Map- Jordan and the Middle East

  1. Tami Borneman says:

    Elizabeth,
    I think this is a fantastically wonderful opportunity. I thoroughly enjoyed my 7 years on the mission field. You will really enjoy this and I’m very happy for you. I look forward to reading your blog to see what you’re doing.
    love Aunt Tami

  2. Mike B says:

    people with blue hair are certifiably nuts and trotting off to Jordon simply confirms what I already knew! you da bess kid and i will keep you ‘prayed up’. I will miss you..
    Mike B

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