International Students Feature: Jordan

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Lin Amara is a first year computer engineering major from Amman, Jordan. Although obviously an immense change geographically, Amara thought that all things considered, the transition was very smooth. “It wasn’t easy,” she said, “but it wasn’t horrible.” Amara had heard stories of the struggles that some other international students had gone through, and in comparison, she thought the change was relatively peaceful. One of the biggest changes, Amara thought, was the sudden lack of proximity to family and loved ones. “I don’t have the support I’ve been given, the constant support from my parents. My best friends that I’ve grown up with, they’re not with me anymore, they have their own lives now. It’s hard to adjust, to face reality.” Out of everything she left behind in Jordan, Amara thought she missed her parents most.

Because Amara had previously attended a British school, she was used to a diverse environment. Nevertheless, Amara said that “definitely here the diversity is more. You get to hear stories, you get a taste from every single culture, I really like that.” The British school she had attended was extremely small, with a total of 30 students in her graduating class, and therefore Amara had to adjust to a school of much larger proportions. Additionally, she noted a teaching style difference in American and British schools. “I like both equally. The British style is more strict and straightforward, and the American style is more creative and fun.” The transition was tough, however, because some formulas would have one name in the British style, but another name altogether in the American style. Something that did not change, Amara said, was the gender ratio in her classes. “I took subjects that are very men-dominated. That did not change.”

In terms of weather, Amara described how disorienting it was to suddenly measure temperature in Fahrenheit instead of Celsius. When someone would say “oh, it’s 30 outside,” she expected it to be extremely hot, but instead it would be literally freezing. Secondly, Amara explained that it never rained in Jordan unless it was winter, and therefore Jordan had a serious water deficiency. Because of this, ads all around Jordan read things like, “don’t leave the sink on when brushing your teeth!” Amara also noted that it was much hotter and much less humid where she was from, and temperatures certainly never sunk below zero. This makes sense, because Jordan consists of approximately 75% desert, according to Amara. “I just miss the Jordanian dust,” she said wistfully.

Although her first language was Arabic, Amara was used to speaking English, and therefore did not experience a lot of trouble with a language barrier. However, she still found it a little off-putting. “I’m used to talking in English, but not 24/7, so it was hard for me to communicate my emotions in English. It was hard to make new friends, meet new people. The less you think about it, the less you’ll have trouble.”

The biggest difference concerning meals, Amara said, was the fact that more emphasis was put on dinner than lunch. For her, it had always been the opposite. “Our main meal back home is lunch. You chose to eat dinner.” A typical lunch, Amara said, was a dish called mensaf. It consisted of yogurt, mixed with broth, and serviced with rice and lamb.

Although Amara left many things behind when she moved to the US, she also found new things. In her words, “for everything that is not here with me anymore, I’ve been granted something else that did not replace it but compensated for it.” For example, while Amara no longer had her childhood home, she found a new one in her sorority, Kappa Phi Delta.