August 31st, 2018- September 7th, 2018
I have officially been in Jordan for 7 days and have completed orientation into my program. I have taken these days of orientation to adjust to my new surroundings, fellow classmates, and professors. I have also taken a few moments to reflect on what it is that I expect from this study abroad experience. I know academically, I will become more informed regarding the politics of the Middle East, I will have the opportunity to learn Arabic, and take a course that will further my understanding of the psychology of peace. However, as I think about what other gains this experience will afford me I begin to examine my position as a study abroad student in Jordan more closely. Throughout this orientation period into the program I have been exposed to students from various backgrounds and educational experiences. My observation of my fellow students has given me a sense of pause to evaluate my own educational and social qualification and capabilities.
Despite my excitement to experience new places and people, I am aware that I am an introvert and considerably awkward when it comes to meeting new people. Through past experiences of struggling to socialize when meeting new people and typically finding myself isolated I have taken to a normalized state of solitude. This has lead to a hesitancy with regard to speaking to people in general. Unfortunately, that same hesitancy typically carries over into my academic life. I have allowed my failures at socializing to extend further in a fear of academic incompetency. I refrain from speaking too much too early in classes or really working others unless necessary. I prefer to work alone, and refrain from speaking in classes until I feel comfortable. This level of comfort is developed throughout what I have identified as an observational period of those around me.
However, the program structure doesn’t allot time for an “observation period” due to the classes only being ten weeks long and the last four weeks used for independent internships. In the midst of this I will be living with a host family, and traveling with my peers. The intent for this program is to be immersive and experiential. Upon further reflection I have come to realize that though my times of solitude have been helpful in avoiding uncomfortable situations, they haven’t necessarily been productive toward my personal growth as a student and as a person. This time in Jordan is an opportunity to find a personal balance, in which I can learn to understand myself and find contentment with the social interactions I have with my host family, and classmates, and by extension build confidence in my academic capability.
It is with this in mind that my expectations for this semester extend further than learning about geopolitics of the middle east, introductory Arabic, and the psychology of peace. My expectations for this semester now include a much needed growth in the extension of my social, academic and communication skills. Studying abroad offers a variety of opportunities to extend myself out of my comfort zone and grow personally and intellectually. I have resolved within myself to take these opportunities with optimism and embrace these learning experiences whether or not they are comfortable.