A reflection on my abroad experiences

My time studying abroad in Jordan is drawing to a close, with only two weeks of finals left in Amman.

My program stresses the importance of reflection on our experience so much that our whole last week in Jordan is dedicated to it. While most of my friends and I joke about reflection activities, I know looking back on my semester overseas is a big part of studying abroad.

There are many ways I have reflected on my time in Jordan. This column, for one, has helped me articulate some of the concepts and observations I have made each week.

The classes I’ve taken have helped me formulate my own opinions and broaden both my perspective and knowledge on issues in Jordan and the Middle East. I have found that in many ways, these issues are very present in the United States even though I might not always be aware of them.

At the same time, each country has its own pressing issues and I have been able to witness a number of these play out in my own daily life — as well as in the lives of other Jordanians. Traveling to different parts of Jordan showed me the different ways people live and identify.

Learning the stories behind the people I meet every day by talking with my taxi driver or one of my language partner’s friends has been my most eye-opening experiences. Every person I met had a different story that often shared a similar theme, like being a refugee or struggling to learn English.

My favorite parts of studying in Jordan have been my trip to Wadi Rum and Petra, creating relationships with my language partner and her Jordanian-Circassian family and learning how to live in a largely Islamic, Arab culture.

Since I arrived in Jordan, my Arabic has improved significantly, and I’m excited to think about a possible future working in the region after college. I had the opportunity to continue pursuing my interest in journalism while abroad by meeting top professionals in the field and researching media expression in the Middle East.

I can’t wait to come back and learn more about the language and culture I have come to love. When I first made my decision to study abroad in Jordan, I didn’t know what my experience would consist of and I was OK with that.

Looking back at my time here, I realize my attitude to try almost everything thrown my way really helped me experience multiple facets of a different culture. I was able to learn about complex and controversial issues that surround this particular region.

There are a number of things I worry about when I go back home to the U.S. I hope I won’t be expected to be an expert source on the topics surrounding Jordan and the people who call the Middle East home.

My worldview has expanded and I have different perspectives on issues than previously I did. I’m almost worried people I care about won’t understand the different opinions I hold now, in addition to the culture shock coming back to the country I call home.

One of the most important things I have learned by living in the Middle East is the importance of respect: respect for people, for the process and for a difference in opinions.

These lessons have helped me enjoy my time in Jordan and I know they will help me in my future endeavors, which hopefully will lead me back to the Middle East sometime soon.

Katelyn  Faubel  is a junior newspaper and online journalism and international relations dual major. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. You can email her at kmfaubel@syr.edu.


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