About My Study Abroad Program
Major/Minor: Global Studies and Political Science
Program: CET: Jordan
Location: Amman, Jordan
Term: Spring 2022
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
When I came to UNC, I knew right away that I wanted to major in Global Studies and Political Science. I have always had an affinity for travelling and learning about new cultures, and when it was time for me to pick an area of concentration, I chose the Middle East. I did not have a personal connection to the region, nor did I know a lot about the culture and history; however, I allowed my fascination and curiosity to get the better of me, and I'm glad that I did! After taking a few courses on the language, religions, politics, conflicts, etc. in the region, I decided I wanted to study abroad. I always planned on studying abroad in college, figuring I would go to France or England or Italy, so one can imagine my parents' surprise when I chose to go to Jordan instead. The CET: Jordan program was recommended to me by my Arabic professor at UNC. He told me that the program was perfect for those that are serious about learning the Arabic language and immersing themselves in the culture. I was sold! My parents were not. However, after doing more research on the country and the program, they were convinced that I would be safe and happy. The CET: Jordan program provided me with an amazing opportunity to widen my worldview, expand my knowledge beyond what I had learned at UNC, and to prepare me for any future interests I may have in the region. The intensive Arabic learning permitted me to challenge myself and push myself to amount to expectations I had once thought were out of reach. For anyone looking to study abroad, CET: Jordan is a program that I would definitely recommend!
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned a lot about myself through studying abroad. It was the farthest I had ever been from home and my first time being away from home for so long. Additionally, I was the only one from UNC enrolled in the program. I was alone in a foreign country. I was terrified. However, I learned that I was a lot braver than I thought. When I meet people for the first time, I usually do not speak that much. I stay quiet and observe. In Jordan, I took the initiative to introduce myself to people, to start conversations, and to build relationships. Growing up, I was a very picky eater. In Jordan, I tried everything, and most of the time, I loved it! Often, I tend to stay home rather than go out. In Jordan, there was not a day that went by where I didn't go explore some place new. I spoke a different language. I learned how to cook. I started to enjoy waking up early and going to school every single day. All of these things were so new to me! Even though I ventured out of my comfort zone, I learned that I was more than capable of creating my own comfort, no matter where I go.
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
It is so hard to pick just one of my favorite memories, as every day I was in the program, I created new, exciting ones. Nevertheless, there is one night that I will never forget. I started this day by getting onto a bus with all my friends from the program and singing karaoke until we reached Petra. Declaring it as one of the wonders of the world is an understatement, and pictures and videos do not do it justice! The ancient city was absolutely breathtaking, to put it simply. I rode a camel for the first time in front of the Treasury and I rode a donkey up a mountain, while also having the ability to hold a conversation in Arabic with many of the Bedouin people that lived and worked there. After exploring the historic site, we all made our way to Wadi Rum, where many of my favorite movies were filmed, including Transformers, Star Wars, and Dune. I sled down sand hills, lived in a tent, and watched the sunset from the top of a mountain in the middle of the desert. Words can't even describe how incredible it was! However, the best part of the day happened after the sun went down. We returned back to the camp and enjoyed dinner around a fire under a blanket of stars. We talked with the Bedouin people about their lives and history. We danced. We played games. We laughed with our professors and drank Arab tea until it was four in the morning. Once I finally went to bed, I knew that I was going to cry so hard when the program was over. It truly was the best night of my life!
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Don't sweat the small stuff. I can't even count the number of times I completely embarrassed myself while abroad. I got lost. I was almost hit by a car because I didn't understand the direction of traffic. I accidently walked into the middle of a parade. Plus, that does not even measure to all the embarrassing things I did due to the language barrier. For instance, I once tried to order a meal for myself and ended up ordering five meals that could feed an entire family. Even when I thought I was finally getting the hang of everything, something else came along to humble me. So, take my advice and remember to pack a sense of humor! Be respectful. It is important to have some basic knowledge of the customs and culture of the country beforehand. Just because some practices are done differently than in the US, doesn't mean that they are wrong or that they don't deserve to be treated with respect. In Jordan, I wore clothes that covered my shoulders and my knees. I didn't have to, but I chose to because I wanted to remain thoughtful of the culture, where most women tend to wear modest clothing. Leave your judgement behind! Have fun! This should be a given, but it's still important to remember. My program was very intensive and required a lot of studying. I was grateful for that, but I also wanted to make sure that I went exploring, met new people, and tried new things. Don't neglect school, but more importantly, don't take this opportunity for granted. Get out of your comfort zone and make some memories!
How do you identify?
Student of color