The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a relatively small, Middle Eastern country known for its incredible culture, hospitality, and natural wonders. Jordan is a semi-arid land with hills, sand dunes, and a young, bustling capital city. It is home to Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world, and offers endless beauty through natural sites such as the Dead Sea, Mt. Nebo, and the desert of Wadi Rum. The juxtaposition of ancient historical sites and modern buildings in Amman, add to its unique look. It is easy to use taxis and public transportation to get around this vibrant, cosmopolitan city. Amman has various museums, art galleries, theaters, cultural centers, and cafés. Amman, is known as a popular study abroad destination, which can be seen through the capital’s diverse population. Amman and Madaba should be at the top of your list for study, intern, or volunteer abroad. No matter your field of study, Jordan provides an excellent atmosphere of opportunities.
From Aqaba, the coastal city of beaches and resorts, to Madaba, a cozy, suburban city known for its mosaics and Christian history, to the hip, lively capital of Amman, you will be welcomed through Jordan’s warm people, traditions, and food. Jordan has a reputation for excellent medical care, safety, and hospitality. While Americans may feel tentative to visit because of perceived safety risks, Jordan is actually known for its security. Americans are warmly welcomed by the host community, and people will often go out of their way to help make a visitor’s experience great. As a neighbor to surrounding conflict, Jordan has been a host to refugees from surrounding areas for decades. People from neighboring areas also travel to Jordan to receive their high quality medical care. As a home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, it is clear that the list of must-see places in Jordan is long. Jordan is most definitely a land of adventure, history, and dynamic destinations.
In addition to the true Jordanian cultural experience and hospitality, there are many opportunities that draw students to study in Jordan. The highly social culture makes networking and communication a part of everyday life.
As the region's go-to study abroad destination, there are a number of potential career opportunities for students interested in economics, public health, international relations, public administration, language studies, history, and anthropology in both Madaba and Amman. Amman is a young and bustling city with 14 universities and an increasing number of students studying abroad. There are about 300 million Arabic speakers worldwide, and due to the growing demand of Arabic speakers in recent years, Jordan has become a key site for language study. Many students gravitate towards Amman’s energetic, upbeat atmosphere. While Amman has a dynamic population of travelers and students, Madaba is a smaller, more suburban town, with a strong sense of community. Both are good choices for those pursuing language study. Although English can be heard and spoken in both cities, it is not as commonly seen or used in Madaba, making the experience more language-immersive in certain aspects. However, Amman holds a larger number of centers for learning, giving students more flexibility when it comes to deciding on what institute to attend.
There are many scholarships to fund your study abroad experience. Here is a list of Diversity Abroad scholarships available for study in this country:
Also, the Arabic Critical Language Scholarship program is a language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students, designed to increase the number of students mastering critical languages and building relationships with other cultures. The Arabic language program includes sites in Jordan as well as Morocco and Oman, however students apply for the language and not the country.
For more scholarships, visit Scholarships for Study Abroad in Jordan
If you have studied abroad in Jordan, consider creating a profile and sharing your experience. What you have to say could help inspire another student considering studying abroad. You can also submit an article to be considered for publication on our website.
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Also, here are some links to potential opportunities for students who have studied abroad and graduates interested in work opportunities in Jordan.
*Note: These tips are intended to serve as an overview and are not exhaustive. Be sure to research your destination thoroughly as your identity can have a significant impact on your experience abroad*
Tips for Racial and Ethnic Minorities in Jordan
Jordan is home to a predominantly homogenous racial community. Non-Arabs are easily identifiable among the Jordanian people, and though the major cities are accustomed to Westerners, people of different racial backgrounds are clearly noted. Amman has greater racial diversity than less populated areas of the country, as it is a common destination for students to study abroad. Students of racial and ethnic minorities should be aware that people may make overt comments about your racial appearance, and often will question your American nationality. As any racial, ethnic minority outside of the capital, you may be the first Non-Arab that people have had actual contact with.
Culturally, colorism is present, and lighter-skin color is aligned with beauty standards in Jordan. Due to geographic location, and a small, but known population of African refugees, Black Americans are often assumed to be African. Due to limited engagement with American people, many ideas and concepts associated with African Americans have been taken from film and media without the understanding of America’s racial history. African-Americans in Jordan have noted overtly prejudice racial comments. South-east Asians, and Pacific Islanders make up a working, immigrant population in Jordan and face a specific sets of social stereotypes and challenges. As of 2015, Human Rights Watch (HRW) states there are 70,000 Asian domestic workers in Jordan. There have been cases of abuse throughout the greater region towards domestic workers, and while it has been said that Jordan has fewer cases than neighboring countries, there are strong social, prejudicial views surrounding Asians.
Tips for LGBTQ Students
Like in every country, Jordan has legal and unspoken, social rules governing public displays of affection and sexuality. PDA is frowned upon for heterosexual people, and the standard similarly applies to homosexual people. Hand-holding between the same sex, however, can be seen commonly, as it is accepted as a sign of friendship. Different from most Muslim countries, homosexuality is legal in Jordan. However, the legislation does not represent social acceptance. The LGBTQ community commonly faces harassment and discrimination. In February 2014, almost a dozen gay and lesbian Jordanians were arrested at a private party. The police allege it was to prevent a disturbance of the peace. In the capital, Amman, there is a growing underground LGBTQ scene, however, it is subdued. There are places in Amman known in the LGBTQ scene to be hip, young, and gay-friendly including Blue Fig Cafe and Books@cafe, located on Rainbow Street.
Tips for Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities studying abroad in Jordan will face a special set of challenges. In Jordan, as in other parts of the world, people may have a narrow pool of reference when addressing issues pertaining to people with disabilities. The government has began to make laws to enhance the lives of people in Jordan with disabilities, but socially there are still stigmas attached to people with physical disadvantages. Although it has been recently legislated that all new public buildings must have wheelchair access, the infrastructure is generally not wheelchair friendly due to high, broken sidewalks and crowded streets. Visiting tourist destinations like Jerash and Petra can be a challenge do to the rocky, multi-leveled, unpaved earth. Petra does however provide access to their main sites through horse and buggy rides for travelers with disabilities. For those interested in water diving, The Royal Diving Club is an associate of the Access to Marine Conservation for All, an organization that aims to enable people with physical disadvantages to delight in the sport.
Tips for Religious Students
Jordan is a Muslim majority country with a Christian minority of 6%, that mainly lives in the Jordan Valley and the capital, Amman. When many think of the Middle East, or an Arabic speaking country, Islam immediately comes to mind. Christian Arabs are often overshadowed, however Christians in Jordan, and other areas of the Middle East, have a long and strong history. Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity are the most common types of Christianity practiced in Jordan. Jordan has a reputation for religious acceptance and peace, specifically between its’ Muslim and Christian populations. Madaba is a city known for its Christian History, and has well known churches and museums. Jordan is home to many places important to religious history, including Mount Nebo and the site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. There are many mosques found throughout Jordan, and it common to hear the “adthan”, Muslim call to prayer, throughout the day. Jordan has a clear, strong Islamic culture, and the Christian population faces the challenges of being a minority group. It has been said that Muslim-Christian relations in Jordan are a great model for peace and acceptance.
Tip For Women Students
Women traveling alone in Jordan have become much more common in recent years. While it may no longer be a spectacle to see a woman by herself, it may attract less attention to travel in a group with other women, or at least one male. Generally, it is within the culture for men to sit in the front passenger seat of taxis, and for women sit in the back. On public transportation, women generally sit next women and men usually sit next to men. Catcalling is clearly seen as poor etiquette, and Jordanians find it more than distasteful, however it happens nonetheless, especially to women who are not native to the country. Americans in particular are seen as more approachable by men. Smoking is very common in Jordanian culture, and it is acceptable for women to smoke in public. While Jordan has made progress in female equality, it is still very culturally patriarchal. There are societal stereotypes, and clear gender roles within the country. In general, men and women both dress with longer sleeves and bottom garments when compared to common Western attire. Women are judged more critically on wearing skin exposing clothing, and culturally wear shirts and bottoms that show little skin. Many women wear hijab (headdresses), and many do not. Regardless, it is common for women to wear a scarf around the neck even when not covering her hair. In more city-like environments, such as in Amman, it is more common for women to wear shorter sleeves, but with a shawl or scarf as well.
Things to Do
There are always opportunities to enjoy the day and nightlife of Jordan, especially in its capital Amman. The city is home to a spectacular assortment of rooftop cafés and bars. Sekrab is a popular, edgey rooftop bar on Rainbow street in Amman. It is catered toward a college-age crowd, and it has unique seating. Most cafés serve fresh fruit smoothies, foods, and “argeelay”, or hookah. Smoking is common in the culture for both men and women. The view from many of these hot spots overlook the vast hills and beautiful night lights. Cafe’s are a popular spot to go to during both the day and night. It is not uncommon to see families with young children out at restaurants or in the city late at night. Amman is also home to many museums, art galleries, and interesting stores.
Rainbow street is a long, vibrant street in Amman filled with bookstores, restaurants, shops, ice-cream parlors, and usually a bazaar on Fridays. If you are studying abroad during the summer, there are usually summer festivals, which include concerts of both Jordanian bands, and musicians from abroad. During the summer festival, concerts may be held in the breath-taking, ancient Roman amphitheatre in Jerash. Jerash is a Greco-Roman city known for its ruins, and is a great place to visit for excursions. There are concerts hosted in a smaller, but similar style Roman amphitheater in Amman. More great places to visit include spas and resorts at the Dead Sea, beaches in Aqaba, camping in the desert at Wadi Rum, and Hiking at Wadi Dana. Madaba is a 40 minute drive, or bus ride from Amman, and is a beautiful place to explore churches, museums, and mosaic sites.
I studied abroad in Madaba, Jordan in the summer of 2015. While I do not appear Jordanian, my Afro-Arab, Jamerican blend caused Jordanians and Americans uncertainty in their initial attempts to categorize me. Jordanians commented on my obvious blackness, but were unsure if I was Arab, and Americans generally assumed that I belonged to the host community. While I stand out in America due to my head scarf, I found that I actually blended in slightly more while abroad! Religiously I did not stand out, but my skin color led many to disbelieve my American nationality. “Black is Beautiful” did not seem be apart of the Jordanian conversation, although it seemed that the topic about race ran a lot less deep than in the US. I tried to have open dialogue about race, which helped me understand the cultural perceptions more. Through this, I realized that Jordanians didn’t have the same racial history as America, therefore they didn’t understand the magnitude of certain racial concepts and terms. - Isra, DA Fellow
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