Observations on University in Jordan

Programs for this blog post

Advanced Arabic Language

Authored By:

Riya J.

CIEE Amman offers us the opportunity to take a class at Princess Sumaya University of Technology. Wanting to meet Jordanians my age, I took the opportunity and signed up for Financial Management. I am grateful I did because some of my greatest experiences in this country have been with people I met there. Here are some observations I have made while taking a class at PSUT:

1. I miss green space.

I love Amman’s dusty hills filled with white, stone building, but there isn’t a whole lot of grass or trees. So, the university is an oasis compared to the rest of Amman. Before the weather transitioned to winter, my friends and I would often picnic and hang out on the grass outside. 

2. Podcasts are a great way to pass time.

The walk to PSUT from the CIEE Study Center takes about 30 minutes, so listening to podcasts has been my go-to time killer. Especially when I am trying to conserve data for the month, I will download a few episodes before I head out. For the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to Getting Curious with Jonathon Van Ness, Business Wars, and Freakonomics Radio (can you tell I’m an economics major??). Safety warning, however: crossing the street is always a dangerous game, especially when you’re paying more attention to JVN’s voice than to the madness of the road. 

3. No one carries a backpack. 

This one surprised me a lot because I can’t go anywhere without my water bottle, extra sweater, chargers, and all the other random things in my backpack. Guys on campus generally carry their notebook and a pencil; girls usually have a small crossbody purse. I already draw quite a bit of attention as a foreigner, but carrying a backpack makes me stick out even more. 

4. I am in a bubble. 

Because PSUT is a private university, the students that attend are generally wealthier and more liberal. Just a few hundred meters down the street is the University of Jordan, a much larger public school with students from far more diverse backgrounds. I constantly need to remind myself that I am only seeing one, very specific side of Jordanian society. PSUT is a bubble within West Amman, which is a bubble within Amman, which is a bubble within Jordan. 

5. Everyone knows everyone.

Sumaya is a small university. Amman is a small city. And Jordan is a small country. Everyone knows everyone, which for me, has been both a blessing and a curse. I have been able to form a community in Amman and develop deeper relationships. I often run into people I know and have mutual friends with people I meet. But, because the city is small, word travels fast and reputation means everything here.