Semester Recap

22 Dec

Tomorrow night I will be on a plane. Essentially I will be in the air or an airport for nearly 24 hours.

I woke up this morning to the bright Jordan sun in my face and normally I would roll over and deny the Sun but this time was different. I looked out my window view over the landscape I have become accustomed to knowing that it will be some time before we see each other again.

This has been an amazing expereince for which there are not enough words in english or arabic to describe.

Here’s a brief recap of my wonderful semester abroad:

I arrived in Amman, Jordan September 13 nervous, anxious, and unaware of anything. I didn’t know much about Jordan, the culture, and definitely the language. Some said I was brave some said I was stupid but nevertheless I was in Jordan now, on my own.

Orientation from CIEE persisted for the next few days and on the last day I met my host family. My wonderful host family that embraced me and let me share in their customs and answered all my questions no matter how trivial or political or awkward.

I went to the Dead Sea. I matted myself with Dead Sea Mud, I nearly gagged when some water got in my mouth but the serenity of a place called the Dead Sea was surreal. I saw mountains that seemed to be carved by artisans and the Sky shone extra bright to me.

First things I noticed in Jordan… the TRAFFIC and the driving. Let’s just say your car horn is your best friend, but I grew to love it.

I started classes at the University of Jordan of which over 40,000 students attend… talk about intimidation, but I learned my way around.

I took a 3 hour, YES 3 HOUR, camel hike through Wadi Rum. I denied a marriage proposal from a camel herder. I camped in both Wadi Rum and Petra. I hiked through Petra and nearly thought my legs were going to cave underneath me. I got a serious tan, I doubt I needed, and I rode a donkey!

I turned 20!!! At first I thought to myself how uneventful my 20th birthday would be since my friends and family weren’t with me… I was so wrong!

I had the best birthday surprises left and right. I spent my birthday weekend in the majestic city of Aqaba that rests on the Red Sea. I stayed overnight in a Bedouin Village where we all slept on the roof under wooden huts and even on hammocks under the night sky. I saw coral out of this world and fish species you read about in textbooks.

Then on my actual birthday I had a party at an Equestrian club (horses and all) *side trivia: the horse detail was added because I was born in the year of the Horse according to the Chinese calendar* complete with an oversize ‘A’ shaped chocolate mousse cake, sparklers, DJ, and fireworks… (pink and green fireworks might I add)

My grand adventure to Palestine and unfortunately Israel. This trip was both eye opening and heart wrenching. I stayed in my friends home, listened to family stories and personal accounts. Travelled to Tel Aviv, basked in the sun yet again and took a few dips in the Meditteranean Sea. Later Jerusalem, the Old City, and Ramallah.

Then of course Thanksgiving! Again, I thought it would be lame and again I was wrong. My friends and I had a grand feast much bigger then anything I’ve ever seen. (It was delicious!)

As the year started to wind down we all become slaves to Final exams but still managed to see each other and meet for ‘argelleh’ at a nearby cafe.

I went on a ‘Bibilical Jordan’ trip that encompassed ‘Madaba, Mt. Nebo, Jesus’ Baptisim site, and the Jordan River’. This was the trip I had been waiting for since I came to Jordan and it did not let me down. I saw things I honostly never thought I would see, at least not in real time, up close and personal.

Taking a photo break while we hike up this mountain to the site John the Baptist was beheaded.

That’s a quick recap. Of course, there is plenty more and trust me there are tons of stories. Common threads include eating, eating, and more eating. One thing I know I will miss is FOOD in Jordan!

Overall, Jordan has been so good to me and I truly hope to come back whenever I can, maybe in the summer insha allah God Willing.

I have made so many friends from all over the world and across the United States.

There is so much I will miss and I would type them all but in your best interest, I won’t, It’ll take too long to read.

My Contemporary Arab Women Writers professor and Arabic professor will be missed the most!!! They were the absolute best professors I have ever had in my life AND also to point out I’m a bit inarms because I did so well in my classes but the grades will not affect my GPA because only the credits transfer. Figures right? Good grades but they don’t count. Oh well, the experience was priceless and now I speak arabic! (well enough to hold a decent conversation anyway, but I can definitely read and write it!)

Dr. Muna (Arabic professor)


And I cannot wait to be back at MU and tell all these stories ten times over so if you see me on campus just come talk to me, I won’t bite I promise. That would be haram in the arabic language. (forbidden, shameful, not good so don’t do it)

Ashley Marie Phillips

My name in the sand in Aqaba.


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