Jamie is a Junior at the University of Kentucky, who studied in Jordan this past semester! This is her last blog for ENKOMPASS about her experience.
Now that my semester abroad has finished and I am back in Kentucky, I can’t help but reflect on my time in Jordan and my personal growth over the last 4 months. While I expected to return with increased Arabic knowledge and a better sense of the region I study at UK, I didn’t anticipate learning so much about myself.
The main personal lesson I learned was that it is my gut reaction to run from obstacles, but it is so much more rewarding to conquer them. I learned this lesson time and time again throughout the semester, but I saw it most clearly with my experience with taxis. The most reliable, affordable, and convenient means of transportation in Amman is taxis. However, most taxi drivers don’t speak English, which was incredibly intimidating to me when I first arrived. After my first few solo taxi rides that went less than stellar, my reaction was to figure out how to get places without taking taxis (which is completely unrealistic and impractical). Rather than deciding to practice direction words (right, left, etc.) in Arabic in order to have better taxi experiences, I decided to avoid the challenge completely. I soon realized that I could not avoid taxis and was forced to face the obstacle head on by taking multiple taxis everyday. By the end of the semester, I became comfortable directing taxis to my destination and had my best Arabic practice from chatting with taxi drivers everyday. My semester would have been very different if I had remained stubborn and avoided taxis completely- I wouldn’t have had as much Arabic language practice, I wouldn’t have seen as much of the city because I could only walk so far, and I wouldn’t have ended the semester feeling as rewarded for conquering the ‘taxi problem’. It is so clear looking back on my semester that I was ready to run from this challenge, but conquering it is one of the highlights of my time in Jordan
This lesson could have been learned on UK’s campus, but I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to go abroad and learn it in Jordan. Being outside of my comfort zone was intimidating and challenging, but so rewarding and worth it. Even when I was discouraged by the language barrier and missing American comfort food, I was growing in my knowledge of the world and myself. I look back fondly on my times of frustration because I now know that those were the moments that I was growing and learning most. I am sad that my time in Jordan is over, but I am thankful for this past semester and can’t wait to return one day.
Written and photos by Jamie Love
Jamie is a Junior at the University of Kentucky studying International Studies. She participated in a semester long program in Amman, Jordan through the UK Partner SIT.