If you are of Arab descent, studying in Jordan may be the realization of a long held desire to learn more about your own heritage and roots. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience first-hand the country or culture that you’ve heard and read so much about and, of course, to improve your language skills. It may also be an important phase in developing your understanding of yourself. At the same time, some former students felt they were psychologically unprepared for the challenges to their self-identity that they encountered in the Middle East. There is often a feeling of being “caught between two worlds.”
You may be surprised by the assumption made by classmates, locals and even some teachers, that, since you are an Arab, you should speak the language well; when off campus with your classmates, some locals may mistake you as their guide. Or they may tell you how poor your language skills are while your non-Arab peers are complimented for their fluency! While being of Arabic descent will help you blend in and avoid the stares that your other classmates may regularly encounter, at other times you may be envious of the “novelty” treatment your fellow classmates receive—everything from photo requests to spontaneous invitations home for a meal. The vast majority of the time, however, people will simply be curious about your upbringing and keen to hear about your experiences as an Arab living abroad. Jordanians are proud of their Arab heritage, and will be pleased to learn that you have “returned” to study the language and culture.