The cliché saying of study abroad goes a little something like this: " I found myself while I was studying abroad" or "This was the most life-changing experience of my life" . Thankfully, I do not like clichés and will not write about it, but instead discuss how finding balance while abroad is truly important and necessary to enhance one's ability to succeed; I do not see this being talked about during study abroad by peers frequently-rather it is just mostly focused on how many countries can one travel to so it does not affect the grade, being on the hunt for the best eateries and events in Amman, and figuring out how to accurately do the homework the hour before class begins( and to be quite frank, we are students so what else is new? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). These are all very integral to the study abroad experience and I am not writing to say one should not do the typical study abroad experiences, instead, I think everyone needs to find a balance.
CIEE- Middle Eastern Studies, thankfully, provides us students with the oppurtunity to complete an internship for credit or without. This is without a doubt an amazing oppurtunity. Interning and getting experience while abroad is indeed a superb experience to have and tell friends and family upon returning. For me, this sounded amazing. An array of fields-which were all of interest to me and fields I never considered but wanted to try out - sounded like the perfect way to dip my toes in the water for various fields while having minimal pressure to commit for life into X field.
Upon receiving the list of internships and their descriptions before the start of the program, I began to narrow down a list of what I would think to be the best fit of internships accoording to my own interests. I knew I would like to work in refugee health and/or for an organization that advocates for refugee rights. Next, I began drafting cover letters and editing my resume to tailor to my top three choices and deciding on dates and times for interviews; I was ecstatic, to say the least, because I could intern abroad and have this incredible experience to add onto my resume. Fast forward to my arrival in Amman and hearing back from my three choices, I decided to do the interviews, which were somewhat tough, and see which was the best fit depending on which ones offered me the internship. I received my first choice internship and my third choice which made me feel happy inside and that my time in Amman was off to a good start. Everything seemed to be on such a high note the first two weeks here and I guess that is also the first stage of culture shock giving me a rose-colored view. Fast forward to my third week, doing my first few days at my internship, and I felt immediately overwhelmed. The list never ended: balancing classes, exploring Amman, spending time with my family, hanging out with friends, and getting enough sleep. I immediately knew this was not going to be feasible if I wanted to have what I wanted out of study abroad so I amde the decision to not continue with this internship after the second day. Now, I have more free time and flexibility to meet more Jordanians, practice my Arabic, and immerse myself in the culture. That was one of the hardest decisions I had to make, but it ended up being for the best.
Only one knows what is best for oneself and that same balance that one may be able to deal with at home may not be the same balance achieved in one's home environment. That is more than A- ok. This is an experience that is very crucial and so important to a degree and rea life skills. This is one that should not be dicated or controlled by someone else nor should their expectation determine the outcome of this experience. This blog post is a little of the beaten path in lessons learned, but it is important. Sometimes we, students, get so entangled in doing the most and giving it with a smile without thinking if carrying all of these expectations is beneficial to us at all. Do what feels right, for you. Only you. No one else and while, yes, there may be some feelings disappointment or anger at first eventually you will see that doing what is best for you and trusting that feeling is the best thing.