Leaving the bustling music scene of Denver, CO I was initially worried about being homesick. However, after the first week of immersing myself in the unique Jordanian culture it was easy to leave Denver behind. The only other culture shock I’ve experienced and can relate to is when I lived in a tent in the Rocky Mountain National Park for an entire summer. While living in the woods and living in Jordan are two very different settings I can relate the two by a principal I’ve always believed in. That is, being very open with people and making new friends. In my experiences I have made friends with very diverse people whether they are homeless or at the opposite end of the spectrum.
By the end of the first week I had met a local Jordanian named Fuad. He approached me and asked in Arabic, “Do you want to be friends?” Never have I been so lucky to make a friend like this because Fuad and I have become very close. At first we met in cafes and restaurants to get to know each other better. After a few weeks I went to his house for coffee and tea; the next day he invited me and a number of the people from my study abroad program (CET) to meet his entire family. We were all amazed with their beautiful house. I found the architecture with its ornamental arches and golden leaf chairs to be quite different than homes in the United States. My friends and I were also invited to Fuad’s house to have a traditional meal called “mansef.” This was the first time I had ever eaten with my hands, aside from chicken wings, and it was very delicious.
When I first arrived to Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan I realized my Arabic skills were sub-par to everyone else’s, however, after becoming friends with Fuad and consistently studying very hard I quickly gained ground. After a few months I became acquainted with many of Fuad’s friends in Jordan. By the second to last month of my program I began dreaming in Arabic, it was at this point I realized I was meeting my goal of reaching fluency. Once I began dreaming in Arabic constantly I always thought in Arabic and felt as if I began improving every hour of the day. When you reach the ability of constantly thinking, speaking, and dreaming in a new language you start having difficulty with your native language. This is why I believe the key to having a successful language and cultural study abroad experience is making a close connection with local people. I believe I have marked the right impression on Fuad as a person and where I study because he is now in the process of applying to the University of Colorado at Denver. I am extremely thankful for making a connection like this because we will now always be friends.
This is a link to the exact study abroad program I attended, CET Irbid, Jordan Intensive Language and Cultural Immersion Program.