Program Trips in Jordan

Studying and living in Amman is a fantastic experience, and there are a ton of benefits to sticking to one place while living abroad and really making it feel like home. That being said, it would be crazy not to leave the city for the weekend every so often and explore the rest of the country. While some of my favorite memories have been traveling with friends on our own trips, the Middlebury School in Jordan also arranges a lot of amazing weekend trips for the students to go on.

These include a trip to Wadi Mujib, where we got to hike to the Feynan ecolodge, a small Bedouin run hotel, where there is little to no man mind light. At night, most of us slept on the roof and saw some incredible views of the Milky Way. Words (and phone cameras!) really can’t do it justice, but I can assure you it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. The following day, we hung out at the Dead Sea, which was also so much fun.

More recently, we went on a trip to Wadi Rum, which is hands down one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Also, as a quick bit of trivia, Lawrence of Arabia wrote a great deal on Wadi Rum, as he was moved by its beauty during his travels. During this trip, we rode around the valley in the back of 4X4 trucks, seeing all the incredible sights, views and prehistoric cave etchings.

Finally, to make these trips even better, they are generally heavily subsidized by the program and super affordable!


Highest point in Wadi Rum
Myself, and some of my Jordanian and American friends hanging out

Daily Routine and Classes in Jordan

Now that classes have begun and I’m finally getting settled here in Jordan, I figured I’d share what my classes and days are like here! Generally speaking, I wake up around 7 every morning, which is a tough adjustment at first, especially since I did everything in my power to not take 8 am classes at Holy Cross. That being said, it gives me plenty of time to shower, eat breakfast and get to Dakhliya Circle to catch my bus. The busses here, which are generally the cheapest way to get around, might be my favorite thing ever. I’m not sure if I have the words to describe them in all of their glory, but riding on them during rush hour is what I think my dad meant when he talked about character-building experiences.

After the bus ride, classes start at nine for me every day.  This semester, I’m taking Modern Standard Arabic, Colloquial Jordanian Arabic, Gender Issues in the Middle East, and Translation. Needless to say, it’s a full course load and its made even harder by the fact English is forbidden in class, but it is very rewarding. All of the classes are very interesting, and all of them utilize real-world material, which is great if you enjoy political science/ international studies.

After class, I’m usually doing homework at the library or a cafe near campus for around two hours. Again, its a lot of work, but luckily we have three day weekends which gives us plenty of time to unwind and explore the city! Speaking of, here are some photos from the past weekend.

Group photo from the Amman Citadel
Roman Amphitheater in Amman


First Days in Amman

Hello everyone and thank you for taking the time to check out my blog! My name is Matthew Kennelly and I’m an International Studies major at Holy Cross. Currently, I’m studying Arabic and Middle Eastern politics at the University of Jordan and I’m excited to share my experiences with you all!

So far, Amman has been interesting, to say the very least. The city itself is sprawled over a series of hills and the roads are lined with countless coffee shops, stores, and markets. In Amman, you will find there is a striking blend of both old and new; familiar and unfamiliar. Five times a day, the calls to prayer bellow from the mosques and echo throughout the city; it is impossible to forget that you are in an Arab country. However, at the same time, liquor stores and bars can be found all around the city and a quick trip to Abdali Mall will provide you with whatever goods you may need.

Since I am studying through a Middlebury program, all students are expected to spend the entirety of their time abroad speaking their target language.  I feel like my two years of Arabic at Holy Cross are serving me well, but there are some challenges as well. For those of you that may not know, there are dozens of dialects of Arabic. Each dialect has its own words, pronunciations, and quirks. To make matters slightly more confusing, everyone claims that their dialect is the most proper form of Arabic. Like most students from the US, I was taught Fusha (Modern Standard) Arabic, which while helpful, still is imperfect. When speaking Fusha in Amman, the best-case scenario is that you will be seen as just a little too formal. In the worst case, you will be met with a blank stare and a lot of ‘ahs’  and ‘ums.’ The latter being a common result.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted on all the amazing things Jordan has to offer, as well as what attending classes is like in the Middle East. As soon as I obtain a working burner phone I will be sure to take plenty of pictures also!

!مع السلام (maʿa s-salāma) Goodbye!

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