#HowladerAbroad – The Value of Exploration

By: Howlader Nashara

I’m Howlader, a third year Arabic Studies major studying at the American University in Washington D.C, and I am spending my fall semester taking classes and interning in the beautiful country of Jordan. Through GoEnnounce, I will be sharing stories, insights, and advice about my time here. Feel free to follow along with my posts on Twitter using the hashtag #HowladerAbroad.

A few weeks ago, my program (CIEE) took all the Diplomacy and Policy Studies participants on an overnight excursion to Wadi Rum and Petra. This was, hands down, one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had. When I studied abroad in Morocco with the Arabic Language Institute of Fes, I also spent a night in a bedouin camp in Merzouga and rode a camel, so this was very similar but the scenery was completely different. In Merzouga, all you saw was sand dunes for miles and miles, but in Wadi Rum, there were humungous sandstone and granite rock formations. Wadi Rum, also known as The Moon Valley due it’s resemblance to the surface of the moon, is the largest wadi in Jordan. We were able to experience exactly how large the valley was while riding through the wadi in 4x4s, followed by what everyone had been waiting for: the camel rides. It was a really out-of-body experience to be riding on a camel through these huge valleys; I almost couldn’t believe what I was doing! At the end of our camel ride, we stopped to watch the sunset over the valley, and I was reminded of exactly how beautiful of a country Jordan is.
howlander camel
That night, my friends and I ventured out into the wadi, and watched the stars. We listened to some great music (Youth Lagoon is a fantastic band for star-gazing) and talked about life. It goes without saying that this was so very “college” of us, but I definitely made some memories that I won’t ever forget. If your study abroad program doesn’t organize trips like this, I would definitely recommend venturing out and organizing one on your own with your friends! Exploring the geography of the area is a great way to have some unique experiences.howlander sunset

The following day, we left bright and early for the Nabatean city of Petra. If you’ve ever heard of this place, then you know of its grandeur. The city was established in fourth century B.C. and has stood the test of the time until this day. The temple is Nabatean’s most famous site and the face of the Jordanian tourism industry. It was unbelievable being able to see and touch things that have been around for so long! Wherever it is that you decide to study abroad, definitely find historical sites to visit. They have a lot to say about that part of the world and it is surreal to walk in the footsteps of people that lived thousands of years ago.

It’s important to take in all aspects of a culture when studying abroad. Being in Jordan, I’ve had to work a little harder in order to understand the day to day nuances of living here. In addition to that though, learning about the history has really given me an understanding of where it is that the people come from and why they think about modern social, political, and economic issues the way they do! My classes have given me a really good orientation on Jordanian history, and Wadi Rum and Petra exposed two parts of Jordan that I normally wouldn’t have gone out of my way to see.
howlander ruins
I’ve been in Jordan for one month now, and my experiences have been wonderful. I keep telling my family and friends about how surreal it is, but words and pictures really don’t capture it right. Definitely come and study here if you’re curious enough.

Stay tuned for my next post and follow #HowladerAbroad on GoEnnounce and Twitter! Until the next time!


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