After returning to the United States, I have constantly been confronted with the question, “How was Jordan?” My answer to this question provokes contemplation of my trip and requires an answer worthy of the spectacular journey I was on. I could speak of Petra, the beautiful modern wonder of the, or discuss riding camels at Wadi Rum, where I camped alongside Bedouins. I could elaborate on my wonderful host family, who cooked meals for me every day, assisted me with my homework, and helped me adapt to life in Jordan. I could also detail my amazing professors, who revitalized my love of learning Arabic and motivated me to work diligently in improving my proficiency. But none of these accounts, no matter their authenticity, do my time in Jordan justice. Notice that I mentioned the highs – the trips, the weekends, the positive aspects of my study abroad program. These images mark the pages of brochures and blogs, while the struggles of adapting to a new country, foreign language, and different lifestyle are rarely highlighted.
For me, the highs of riding a camel for the first time, speaking Arabic adeptly with a taxi driver, and enjoying chicken liver, soared above my expectations of my trip. But the lows… Yes, there were trifling matters, like realizing that throwing toilet paper in the toilet is not a global practice, but there was one event that challenged me in a way that I had never been before. At first, I felt like a sacrificial lamb, a victim, engulfed by a sense of weakness. But gradually, due to the passing of time, I have moved on – that is, to say, that I have not forgotten what happened. I will never forget. My struggle in Jordan led me to realize a newfound strength in myself that I didn’t know existed.
Jordan was not only amazing, but it was also amazingly challenging. The highs, the lows, they all make up my overall experience in Amman. But it was also how I dealt with these challenges that define my trip. Because I went abroad, I am more motivated to gain proficiency in Arabic. I am taking an Arabic Media course, despite that it does not count towards my Arabic major, because I believe that it will improve my weakness, namely listening to and understanding Arabic. I will also attend conversation hours and set up an informal discussion group. Struggling to adapt to the lifestyle in Jordan made me realize that I would prefer to work in the United States in the future, but I am still interested in pursuing an internship next summer in Amman. And lastly, I have discovered a strength and resilience that I never knew I possessed.