Packing

Checklist of things to pack

  • feynan-riverPassport, valid for at least 6 months after the end of the program (and photocopy)
  • Airline Ticket/Itinerary (and photocopy)
  • International Student Identity Card (optional)
  • Insurance information (from GeoBlue and any additional health and/or travel insurance)
  • Certified copy of your birth certificate (in case your passport is lost or stolen)
  • Debit and Credit Cards (and photocopy of front and back so you can have the information on hand should you need it).
  • Medications in original containers

General Packing Suggestions

Plan your packing carefully, keeping in mind that you will have to carry all of your own luggage while traveling. This means TRAVEL LIGHTLY. We cannot emphasize this strongly enough.

Consider what you will use for luggage. Durable backpacks are lightweight and easy to carry.  As you pack for the flight over, keep in mind that you will be carrying your luggage by yourself, sometimes over distances or in crowded places. To avoid over-packing, try walking around the block carrying your bags, then re-pack.  It is also prudent to bring at least one bag or container that can be securely locked for storage of money or valuables, and a smaller bag that can be used for weekend trips out of town. You may want to bring a waterproof bag, if you already have one (may be useful during trips). Keep in mind that toiletries, household items, and clothes—including many familiar brands– are widely available in Amman. It is also possible to buy decent, inexpensive clothes in flea markets in Amman.

You should be prepared for extremes in weather. The following are average low/high temperatures in Jordan (in Fahrenheit):

LC in Snow

September   63-86
October        58-80
November     49-67
December     40-55
Jan-Feb        40-55
March           45-62
April             50-73
May              60-82

Bring clothing that is comfortable, durable, culturally appropriate, and suited for the climate. It is a good idea to bring warm clothes that can be easily layered during the winter months because of the fluctuations in daily temperatures, and because most flats and public buildings do not have central heating.  You will be surprised by how cold it can get inside buildings in the winter months!  Washing machines are usually available (you should bear in mind that water is scarce in Jordan though).  Choose permanent press, and drip-dry materials; durable fabrics are preferable. Bring a few items for different occasions: sports, classes, and dress occasions.

You will be walking a great deal, and Amman is a hilly city.  Comfortable walking shoes are essential.  Flip-flops are a good idea for showers, but are not a good idea for walking around the city, as they provide minimal traction and no support for your feet.  (The streets and sidewalks of Amman are likely dirtier than you are used to, as well.)

We recommend that you do not bring valuables, and do not store large sums of cash in your homestays.  If, for any reason, you need to have valuables/large sums of cash stored, please speak with on-site staff about it in order to find the most secure storage plan.

Other suggested items:

  • Overnight bag for program excursions and short trips out of town
  • Shoulder bag or backpack for daily use and hiking
  • Unlocked phone / any phone that can take a SIM card or an iPhone that you can set up and use while you’re there
  • Sandals and flip flops
  • Hiking shoes
  • Swimsuit
  • Zip-lock bags to use for wet clothes and other small items
  • Travel-sized sewing kit (in checked bag)
  • Camera, film/memory cards, batteries
  • Chargers for your devices
  • Multi-vitamins
  • Money belt
  • Tour guide of the region (Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, or other)
  • Plug adaptors – Jordan uses a variety of outlets, so a universal adapter is very useful. You can also purchase adapters in Jordan but they are not always of good quality. (Plug types can be found here, and a full list of which countries use which plug types can be found here.)

Clothing

Amman is not as conservative as other Arab cities and you will see all types of clothing, but norms of dress are likely more conservative than what you may be accustomed to. You may notice that norms of dress in Amman are generally a bit more formal than what you’re used to (Jordan University students wouldn’t go to class in sweatpants or pajamas!).

For men, it is improper to wear shorts that show the knees in most places in the city. You might bring one pair of shorts for wearing on trips to touristy areas.

For both men and women, it’s a good idea to be sure your midriff and back/waist are covered when you bend over, so bring long shirts or undershirts if you have a lot of low-waist pants. Bring a bathing suit (Aqaba and the Dead Sea are amazing places to be in the water, and pools are available in upscale Amman hotels and gyms). Be aware that, at public beaches (i.e. outside of private hotels, clubs, and gyms), a woman in a bathing suit may attract unwanted attention.

For women, bring comfortable, modest clothes that you enjoy wearing. It’s important to dress modestly, but also to feel good about what you’re wearing. You are likely to attract attention as a foreign woman, regardless of how “loose” your clothing is, but we encourage you to be respectful of local norms. You could bring a pair of both looser jeans and skinny jeans, and shirts that vary in modesty, but definitely bring at least one very modest outfit for more conservative occasions. In Amman and in non-touristy areas of the country, it’s best to cover your chest, shoulders, and your legs to the ankles in fabrics that are not see-through. On back-country trips or in very touristy areas, shorts and tank tops are ok. Also, bring modest nightwear and/or a light robe. This is especially important if there are males in your homestay house. Note that many Jordanian girls wear very tight clothes and a hijab, but they are held to a different standard and people often turn a blind eye as long as they have their hair covered.

Bed and Bath Linens

We do not recommend that you bring sheets, blankets, or pillows with you.  They are too heavy and take up too much space in your luggage.  Your host families will provide them for you, and these items can also be easily purchased in Jordan.

Toiletries

Toiletries are readily available throughout most of Jordan. If you are particular about brands, you may want to pack an appropriate supply of the articles you regularly use.  Many American brands can be bought in Jordan, although local brands are less expensive.  If you wear contact lenses, you may want to bring enough solution with you to last your entire stay as it is quite a bit more expensive in Jordan.  Sunscreen is also very expensive in Jordan.

Prescriptions

If you are taking any medication that is not available in Jordan, you should bring a full supply of what you will need with you.  (It is a good idea to check the GeoBlue website, after you’ve received confirmation that you’ve been enrolled in the insurance plan, to make sure that your medications are available and legal in Jordan.)  Mailing medicines across international borders is complex and often impossible or illegal. Prescription medicines should be left in the original containers. It is also suggested that you carry the original prescription or a note from your doctor to avoid questioning. Please also note that in the event that a prescription must be replaced in Jordan, you should have the generic name of your medication on the prescription, in addition to the U.S. brand name.  Some medications are available in Jordan without a prescription, but you should not count on this.  Contraceptives can easily be purchased and do not need a prescription.  However, emergency contraception (i.e. morning after pills) cannot be purchased in Jordan.

If you are under a doctor’s care for a specific condition, you may want to bring a copy of your medical history with you or sign a release form with your doctor in case your medical history needs to be sent to a doctor in Jordan.

Electrical Appliances

Most electrical current in Jordan is 220 volts/50 cycles, rather than the 110 volts/60 cycles found in the United States. It is not recommended to bring small appliances (hair dryer, electric razor, etc), as these appliances will burn out immediately without an electrical converter, which can be expensive. Most mobile phones and laptops do not require a converter (just a plug adapter, easily purchased in Amman), but always check your chargers carefully before plugging them in in Jordan to be sure they automatically adapt to the 220/50 current.

Computers

Most students opt to bring laptops to Amman, and we recommend this for keeping up with your coursework. If you do not bring your laptop, you will be able to use “cyber-cafés” or computer labs on campus. On-site staff will provide all students with campus wireless access.  Wireless is also provided at the Middlebury School office near the North Gate, and in some cafés around UJ.  Some students opt to purchase a Zain or Umniah USB internet modem (Zain seems to be the preferred network), which costs around 20 JD and can be refilled every month depending on usage (10-20 JD). All host families provide internet for the students. Internet access at your host family’s house is not to be used for streaming videos or other data-intensive uses, because this can quickly deplete your host’s data allowance. Stick to email and class-related tasks on your host family’s internet connection.

Please be aware that while many people in the cities carry their laptops around with them, and Jordan is generally very safe, you should be very careful as thieves target laptops.

You will want to bring a USB flash-drive with you for making presentations in class and printing homework assignments in copy/print shops near the campus.  It is always a good idea to back up important files, whether on an external hard drive, a flash drive, or online.  Be sure to have back-ups for any hard or portable drives that you take abroad!

Gifts

As students will usually live with locals (Jordanian or otherwise), you may wish to present them with a small gift.  You may also wish to have a couple small gifts with you for if you are invited to a professor or classmate’s house.  It is best to select something that has significance to you and is packable and light.  Consider the following items:

  • Books–with lots of photos.
  • Small souvenirs from your home country: postcards, buttons, stickers, stamps, small handicrafts.
  • Items representative of where you are from (i.e. Vermont maple syrup).