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"What I Didn't Expect about Jordan" by R. Michael Kolwitz

"What I Didn't Expect about Jordan" by R. Michael Kolwitz

For myself, I feel I went into this experience very prepared and had a good understanding of what to expect. This was not my first time going to the Middle East, I knew I at least had the language skills to get around town, and every time I go anyplace new I always take my time to research it first. Yet even with all this knowledge, Jordan still managed to surprise me.

One of the first things we saw (that I should have yet still really did not expect to see) was Roman ruins. Frankly while I was aware that the Roman Empire had spanned that far, I never put two and two together to realize there would be ruins there. And going to see them is both such a fascinating but also humbling experience. To think that these massive stone ruins, built by people's bare hands, have survived for so long is unbelievable. I have actually never had the opportunity to see Roman ruins before, and am so glad I got to experience that in my time in Jordan. Photo credit: Kolwitz, 2018

One of my favorite experiences throughout my time in Jordan was the handful of times I was able to participate on hikes with the group Masar. With this group I was able to see so much more of Jordan then I would have otherwise gotten to see. In the landscape I was able to see a great deal of diversity, wadis’ desert, but also some of the most amazingly beautiful and green places I have ever seen. And the people on these trips had always been so kind, welcoming, and encouraging. The memories of these hikes are some my most treasured experiences. Photo credit: Kolwitz, 2018

This may seem like an odd addition, but to me it was a very important day. Early on I went to the Royal Auto Museum, where I got to see the actual rover from the movie The Martian, which is my favorite.  I understand this may seem trivial, but for me it was a great way to get out into Jordan, but suddenly I was no longer in a foreign land. It’s not that I forgot or thought I was back home, but rather I had found an environment where I was completely comfortable, which I think is extremely important when living abroad. You need to try to avoid feeling homesick while also not trying to trick yourself into thinking you are home.  Simply find things you enjoy and love to do in the place and culture you are in, and it will never feel like you are living abroad. Photo credit: Kolwitz, 2018

R. Michael Kolwitz is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and spent the semester studying in our Area & Arabic Language Studies Program in Amman, Jordan.

"Breaking Down Barriers & Stereotypes" by Olivia Zachman

"Breaking Down Barriers & Stereotypes" by Olivia Zachman

"Breaking the Geo-political 'Bubble'" by Brian McCann

"Breaking the Geo-political 'Bubble'" by Brian McCann