Diversity in Amman
CIEE wants all our students to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed while studying abroad. On this page, local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with specific identities might encounter at their location. The information below is just a broad overview so if you have specific questions or concerns not covered here, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be glad to have local staff share their perspectives, talk with you about accommodations, connect you with resources, and/or put you in touch with a program alum who could speak about their experiences navigating a program in this location.
No matter where you choose to study abroad with CIEE, our staff—all of whom receive regular and comprehensive training in diversity, equity, and inclusion—will be on hand throughout your program to provide advice, resources, and support regarding these issues.
It is very common for Jordanians to comment on people’s body size, dressing style, and hair; this might make you feel uncomfortable. These comments can be from people you know or people you just met. They might also use body size and image to describe/refer to people, for example: the tall one, the blue-eyed…etc. Most of the time it is intended to be a compliment. These comments can also be in the form of questions such as: Is your hair color natural? Why is your hair so short? Why is your hair so long? Why don't you wear make-up? Why do you wear flip-flops? These questions are driven by curiosity or intended as a compliment.
Students who use a wheelchair and those who cannot see or hear might face challenges in Amman because Jordan is behind the U.S. in providing physical accessibility features at public and private institutions. Nevertheless, people are generally friendly and eager to help.
Jordanian attitudes are certainly changing but still far behind US standards. Prince Ra'ad Bin Zeid has become the de-facto champion of the disabled in Jordan and has done a great deal, through various initiatives public and private, to change norms in Jordan. There is no legislation or laws comparable to the Americans with Disabilities Act in Jordan that imposes requirements and mechanisms to enforce requirements. However, A new initiative founded in 2017 called Accessible Jordan serves as a guide to all accessible places around Amman and other tourist destinations in Jordan -- whether a place to eat, a museum or gallery to visit, a tourist attraction to check out, and more! Hopefully this initiative, along with education, will have a long-term positive effect and lead to a change in the country's attitude towards disabilities.
While faculty and service providers are becoming more aware of and accustomed to accommodating students with disabilities, they still may not view access as a basic right. Students are encouraged to provide as much information as they can related to their specific disabilities (or related needs) prior to arrival so CIEE staff can assess potential challenges and arrange for appropriate accommodations.
Gender and Gender Identity
Jordan is a tribal society and with that comes a patriarchal system of values, which is the basis of gender roles that dictate the appropriate behaviours and jobs of women and men. Gender role that you might witness during your time in Jordan and while living with a host family will be different from the U.S. Women are the ones who are expected to take care of the children, cook, clean, and serve guest.
Women often experience particular difficulties adjusting to Jordanian sexual scripts and gendered expectations. During orientation and throughout your program, CIEE staff are on hand to provide advice and support regarding these issues.
People you meet in Jordan will be very excited to know that you have heritage ties to Jordan the region or the culture. However, this comes with certain expectations and assumptions such as mastering the Arabic language. They will ask questions, and sometimes personal questions, to understand, for example, why your parents have not taught you Arabic.
Don’t feel discouraged because you don’t meet the societal expectations from someone who has ties to the region. A lot of that comes from people’s curiosity and excitement to get to know “your story” and your family because family; small and extended, is treasured here.
Racial and Ethnic Identity
Despite the fact that Jordanians are very warm and hospitable, there have been instances where students of color have experienced discrimination or were treated differently due to their race and/or ethnicity. In general, the local culture tends to pass judgement based on socioeconomic background, ethnicity, religion and/or race.
CIEE staff are sensitive to these issues and will provide as much information and support as possible. CIEE’s onsite orientation includes a talk by a guest speaker about race in Jordan. The goal is to give context to what it is to be Black in Jordan and to create awareness among the group of how the political and socioeconomic status of people of color in Jordan plays into society. In addition, CIEE staff leads a session during orientation on navigating identity while studying abroad, as well as how being a student of color can affect a student’s experiences in Jordan.
Jordan is a majority Muslim (Sunni) country with Christians as a minority group and religion is viewed as a fixed identity. It is normal to be asked by a Jordanian “What is your religion?” Or “Are you Christian?” As a religion, Islam believes in Judaism and Christianity referring to them as “People of the Book”. However, given the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, for many people Judaism is associated with Zionism although some people would know the difference. Therefore, we recommend that you don’t discuss your religious views, including lack thereof, with people you just met.
Sex and sexual orientation are among the many issues that are rarely talked about in Jordan. According to local norms, there is no sex outside of marriage and marriage is between a woman and a man. Heteronormativity is the rule in Jordan and gender fluidity is unintelligible to most Jordanians.
Therefore, you must be prepared that you might not be able to share that part of your identity with everyone you meet.
Living in Amman is expensive and the cost of daily transportation via taxi and meals can add up. Around the center, there are many affordable restaurants with some great food. If you live in an apartment, you might want to consider cooking for yourself. Sharing taxi rides with other students is always a good idea, and, if possible, use public transportation.
CIEE Amman provides many excursions within Jordan and activities that students can partake in throughout the semester. Outings with friends and traveling can be another big expense for students who decide to do so. Plan your budget very carefully if you plan to travel while in Jordan.
Programs in Amman
Live from Amman
From the maze-like downtown to the many exotic souks, minarets, mosques, and coffeehouses, you’ll get a complete Middle Eastern experience in this unforgettable city! Learn more about programs in Amman