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By Dominique Bonessi

After two months in Jordan, yesterday, I finally visited Petra, the historical landmark Jordan is best known for.  We took a day trip three hours driving down to see the ancient site and three hour drive back to Amman.  I didn’t feel like a tourist visiting Petra; I felt like a Jordanian visiting their countries pride and joy.

I also realized yesterday that my time in Jordan is more than half way over and looking back at my first week till now; I have grown in so many ways.

In the beginning of the program, I was shy to speak and talk to anyone for fear my Arabic would be severely judged.  But at Petra, I talked to the locals and on a daily basis now I am able to have regular conversations in Arabic with my University of Jordan friends, my host family, and my classmates.  This has become especially helpful when getting into taxis and the taxi driver asks where I am from.  I often lie to him and tell him I am from Spain that way he can’t speak to me in English and is forced to speak in Arabic to me.  No one really knows Spanish, although one driver decided he was going to tell me every word he knew in Spanish.

Another big challenge was to budget my money at the beginning of this program.  I have come to realize that since Amman is not a walking city taxis rides are a must, but they can add up and become very expensive. In addition, to this issue I also realized that in the first part of the semester I didn’t venture off during the weeknights to do homework with other people or go to cultural events. So instead of returning to home to my house after school, I have been going to the gym almost every day after classes, from there I have been trying to make an effort to get out with my fellow Jordanians and experience Amman.

Granted Amman definitely isn’t my favorite city to live in like DC or New York, but I was told my host mom’s sister that in order to like Amman—and maybe even love it—is by making friends and seeing Amman in all its splendor and not so splendor. During the weekends, I have also tried to get out of my house when we don’t have planned trips and go to a café to do homework.  I have also started a Spanish-Arabic conversational group with a few Jordanian friends and classmates.  The Language Center at the University of Jordan offers a wide variety of languages and most of the students concentrate on two to three languages at a time.  Many of my Jordanian friends who are learning Spanish for their first time have really good Spanish accents too.  At the same time I get to use both my Arabic and Spanish to talk with people, but most of the time I have just been mixing the two while I talk.

With only a month and a half before I leave Jordan, I still have so much I want to do.  First, I would love to take a day trip to Muqaba to see the ancient mosaics, I also want to swim in the Dead Sea, and find a new café every Saturday to do homework in.  I know my time here is short, and I know that I only get to do this one study aboard in my undergraduate year, so I want to do well in classes, but also have more fun befriending locals and experiencing the culture.

By Dominique Bonessi

With my first week of classes finished, I can now start my weekly routine.  The Middlebury Language Program at the University of Jordan is quite intense.  Sunday to Wednesday—because the work week starts on Sunday—I have three classes a day.  The best part about this program—if you are a real Arabic nerd—is the language pledge which helps you and your classmates maintain speaking Arabic to each other the entire semester.  Therefore, classes are taught entirely in Arabic with several pages of glossaries to be of assistance.  This program is not for the faint-of-heart and I suggest if you are serious about learning Arabic or any language that you strongly consider Middlebury Colleges in Vermont or any of their programs around the globe.  Their approach is that you will learn more speaking and interacting on a daily basis with the language if you only work in one language instead of switching back and forth.

**As a caveat, I want to say that Middlebury abroad does permit some leeway for emergencies, talking with loved ones (once a week) from home, and writing blogs (like mine!)**

Without further ado I give you my daily routine:

7am: Wake-up and go for a run around my neighborhood

8:30am: Leave for the University of Jordan [UJ] in a taxi a block from my house

9:00am: Fos-ha or Modern Standard Arabic Class

10:40am: Em-iyya or Jordanian Dialect Class

12pm-1pm: Break for Lunch or meeting other UJ students

1:15pm: Sundays and Tuesdays: Gender Issues in the Arab World, taught by the Director of Women’s Studies at UJ

2:00pm: Mondays and Wednesdays: Media Arabic, taught by the director of the Middlebury Jordan Program

3pm: Homework either in Middlebury Office, Library, On-campus, or at home

3:30-5pm: Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays: Volunteering at Reclaiming Childhood, a basketball clinic for Syrian, Palestinian, Iraqi, and Special Needs girls.

5-11….sometimes 1 am: Homework, studying, eating, spending time talking to my host family.

The best part about the weekends is that there is plenty of time to either relax at home, commit to doing homework, cooking with my host family, and weekend trips with the Middlebury Program to various parts of the city and outskirts.

By christinatometchko

Hola amigos! My name is Christina Tometchko and I'm a Junior majoring in Political Science with a Public Policy Focus and minoring in Communications. Originally from Mountain Top, Pennsylvania, I will be spending the Spring 2014 semester studying with IES Abroad on their Liberal Arts and Business Program in gorgeous Barcelona, Spain. My semester abroad will be my first trip out of the U.S. so I'm looking forward to immersing myself in the local culture of Barcelona, exploring all the other amazing cities that Spain has to offer, and doing as much traveling as possible! Along the way I hope to continue my commitment to serving my community through volunteering in local elementary and high schools throughout the city. I can't wait to get started and invite you to join me on my journey as I discover all of the amazing hidden gems that Barcelona has to offer!

By oncptime

I’m less than a day away from leaving the U.S. and I find myself in a bit of an odd position. I’m writing this laying on the hardwood floor of a friend’s apartment in northern Jersey. Now you might be thinking to yourself “Why’s he laying on a wooden floor? That can’t be comfortable.” And you know, you’re right. It really isn’t. I’m down here, you see, to take inventory of the hoarding extravaganza that is my suitcase.

Months ago, when Italy shifted from a “maybe” to a “definitely”, I began to fantasize about the nomadic lifestyle I’d live while abroad. I’d trek across the globe armed with nothing but a simple rucksack and a hunger for worldly adventure. I’d befriend chic gypsies and schmooze my way into state-sponsored soirees with the consulate. I’d throw myself to the wind and like a leaf I’d dance and glide my way across Europe with whimsy and grace. In short, I was going to be amazing.

Thing is though? All of that amazingness is pretty damn difficult to pull off when you’re lugging 100+ pounds of crap on your back.

...continue reading "True Life: I Overpacked for Study Abroad"