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Culture Corner

Monuments and Must-Sees

Jabal al-Qal'a
Also known as the Amman Citadel, this ancient ruin has seen the rise and fall of most of the civilizations that have inhabited Amman for the past 7,000 years. The first national Archaeological Museum is located here, giving visitors some insight into the Citadel's long history.

Roman Theatre
Located in the heart of downtown Amman, and visible from the Amman Citadel, this ancient structure is a monument to the reach and influence of the Roman empire 2,000 years ago.

Amman Citadel
From this breath-taking high point over looking the city, you can explore the Temple of Hercules built in 161 AD as well as experience remnants of the Nabatean, Roman and Byzatine periods all colliding in the same place.

King Hussein Mosque
Not only is the beautiful architecture of the mosque worth seeing, but the area around the mosque is a cultural hub of Amman. There are shops and markets galore in this central part of the city, allowing visitors to not only enjoy the architecture and culture, but also do some shopping!

Cultural Activities

Amman has endless activities for international visitors to enjoy. Listed below are some different cultural activities to do while in Amman. You can do many of these activities on your own, with friends, or they may be sponsored by ISA. Upon arrival to Amman, different sponsored cultural activities will be announced throughout your program abroad.

Souq Jara
This souq (Arabic for bazaar) is a great attraction for Ammanis and foreigners alike. Here you can buy many handmade cultural artifacts crafted by local artisans in the bazaar. At the same bazaar, bands from Amman and the rest of the region feature live music shows.

Film Festivals
Several different organizations in Amman organize film festivals all year long and focus on varying issues, such as human rights and social justice. These festivals are a great way for students to explore the booming cinematic tradition of the Middle East!

Book Fairs

Several book fairs take place annually in Amman, allowing students to experience Arab literary culture.

Museums
Among the many museums in Amman is the National Archaeological Museum, which houses artifacts dating back to the Paleolithic era. In addition to fragments of the world-famous Dead Sea Scrolls, the museum's impressive collection includes artifacts from the Persian, Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic periods in Jordan's history. For more information on the numerous other museums in Amman, click here.

Art Exhibits
The historic area in Amman has a number of galleries featuring works of local and international artists.

Go to www.calendar.jo for a calendar of upcoming events in Amman and the rest of Jordan.

Cultural Immersion

ISA Service-Learning
ISA Service-Learning takes students beyond the classroom by providing them with a unique opportunity to work at local non-profit organizations, municipal offices, schools, or clinics abroad. Students may choose to add service-learning to their Semester or Summer ISA academic program. Please see the ISA Service-Learning website for specific placement options offered in Amman.

ISA Student Blog
Stay connected while you're abroad and share your experience with your peers back home! Each summer and semester the ISA Student Blog features ISA students as bloggers and video correspondents who document their time abroad to share with their friends, family, prospective students and more. If sharing your study abroad experience through blog posts, videos, photos and other media while receiving professional guidance and feedback appeals to you, consider applying to be an ISA Featured Blogger or an ISA Video Correspondent! The Site Specialist for your program will email all accepted students to notify you when ISA is accepting applications for bloggers and video correspondents.

Cultural Blogs
We also suggest you check out the plethora of other cultural blogs available on the web to learn more about others' experiences in Amman, cultural happenings, and expat lives.

Language Resources

Diglossia exists in Arabic-speaking societies; in other words, there are always at least two dialects of Arabic in any Arab society. The first dialect is Modern Standard Arabic, the dialect of academia, media, law, and other official or formal functions, and linguistically binds the Arab World. The second is Colloquial Arabic (aka Derija or 'Amiyya), the spoken language which varies from country to country and sometimes even within countries.

Helpful Phrases

aywa - yes
la - no
mumkin - perhaps
marhaba - hello (informal)
marhaba or ahlayn (response)
es salaam alaykum - hello (formal)
walaykum assalaam (response)
m'a salama - goodbye
keefak (addressing a male) or keefik (addressing a female) - how are you?
min fadlak (to a male) or min fadlik (to a female) - please
shukran - thank you
afwan - pardon (you're welcome)
sabah al-khir - good morning
masaa al-khir - good evening
ismi - my name is
shoo ismak (to a male) or shoo ismik (to a female) - what's your name?

On-line Dictionary Resource

wordreference.com

Verb Conjugation
We suggest you look up some helpful websites dedicated to verb conjugations in Arabic

Listening & Speaking
Check out some different Arabic podcasts available to practice your speaking and listening skills. Jordanian Arabic language lesson podcasts from the Peace Corps are available on iTunes. Another online audio resource is Aswaat Arabiyya.

Beware of translation websites...much can be lost in translation!

Safety and Security

Jordan: Common Myths and Misconceptions

Student safety is ISA's number one priority when sending students abroad. And recent events in the Middle East have sparked some commonly asked questions and concerns by students, parents and advisors, who are interested in study or service-learning programs with ISA in Jordan. ISA's U.S. staff and, most specifically, Department of Health, Safety and Security, continuously monitor each country in which we have programs to stay abreast of the security climate in each program city, including monitoring the advisories by the U.S. Government and Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC).

By staying informed of current and on-going events through on-site staff, international advisors and news, we have a good understanding of the current environment and would like to address three of the most common myths about studying in Jordan. In addition, we also asked former ISA Jordan students about their experiences and to speak to some of these common concerns.

Myth #1- Americans don't feel welcome in Jordan.

Reality - The overall climate towards Americans within Jordan remains positive and students in Amman report feeling secure and enjoys their experience. In fact, Jordanians largely disagree with, and support action being taken against, groups with extremist ideology.

Jordanians are incredibly hospitable people. It's not uncommon for Jordanians to befriend travelers and invite them into their home to share meals and meet their family. ISA students often make friends with Jordanian students, language partners and/or other peers they meet in the city, and many remain friends long after they leave Jordan. Jordanian students and peers of ISA students are very interested in exchanging ideals, knowledge and language with Americans. Jordanians value making friendships just as ISA students do.

"Jordan is an incredible place to study abroad for its historical, political, and cultural significance in the Middle East. The people are very welcoming and friendly, I feel safe, and I have learned a lot inside and outside the classroom that has made me become a better person and student." -David, Fall 2014

Myth #2- Jordan just isn't safe right now.

Reality - Geographically speaking, Jordan is surrounded by political unrest; however, day to day activity within Jordan has been largely unaffected. While Jordanians continue to intently follow the news in countries throughout the surrounding region, there is an increased sense of distance between Jordanians and the conflicts going on throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Jordanians are voicing strong criticism via social media outlets that reveals consistent opposition to the violence and that they are against the Islamic State's agenda in the region.

ISA Jordan's Resident Director attends OSAC Country Council meetings in Amman to stay informed of the security situation and how it may impact the private sector. The report of those meetings has regularly affirmed the safety and stability of Jordan despite the surrounding environment of the region.

"One of the first questions many people ask when I tell them I'm studying in Amman is, "Is it safe?" While I have some personal beliefs that lead me to think sometimes we should be placing ourselves in more testing situations to truly experience the faithfulness of God; the quick answer is Jordan has a history of being a very stable country. Politically, it is seen as "middle-ground" country and hosts a number of refugees from its neighboring nations. Safety is the number one priority for the study abroad organization I am going to Amman with and they would never put us in a situation where they felt there was a serious threat to our well-being." -Chris, Fall 2014

"Jordan IS safe. It is common to group all Middle Eastern countries together when we hear about the violence and upheaval going on there right now, but that is unfair. Jordan is so safe that some locals are frustrated with the bubble-like feel the country has. Many students in my group went in smaller groups all over the country to do some sightseeing by themselves. I never once felt threatened or unsafe. My roommates and I often went out at night, shopped, and talked to locals. ISA's top priority really is to keep you safe. They have some strict rules, but they're for the best, and require you to keep an ISA-issued cell phone charged and on you at all times if they have to reach you. The entire staff is always ready to help no matter the time." -Sarah, Fall 2014

"Experiencing a unique and different culture such as Jordan is an amazing and perspective-altering experience. Gaining firsthand knowledge about a severely misunderstood region and learning to live in it is truly an unforgettable and beneficial life achievement." -Alexander, Fall 2014

Myth #3- It's unsafe to be a female traveler in Jordan.

Reality- While there are some aspects of Middle Eastern culture that differ from western culture, as it pertains to female travelers, most female students understand and expect this even before they decide to apply to a program in Jordan, and are excited and anticipate this challenge.
ISA is dedicated to ensuring that female students are equipped and aware of how to thrive in Jordan as a female traveler. Students are invited to pre-departure Webinar sessions where topics such as how to dress, act, and adapt to the new culture are discussed. Jordan Site Specialist, Cori Cummings, lived in Amman and has personal experience being a female traveler in the Middle East, leads the Webinar. Students are encouraged to ask questions and to reference their Online Orientation materials prior to departure.

Once on-site, students go through an extensive multi-day orientation called the Bridging Cultures Program (BCP) where they learn how to successfully navigate the city, the culture and the university norms.

"I had the same concern before I traveled to Jordan, but once I arrived there, I was struck by just how many strong, independently minded, and intelligent women there were, veiled or unveiled. As a woman, I was at first frustrated with the constant male attention, but it soon became funny and my friends and I would laugh it off. More often than not, men were kind to us and helpful." -Sarah, Fall 2014

"The knowledge, cultural awareness, personal growth and overall independence that I gained from my ISA program is something I would have never learned in small-town South Dakota. ISA is such a great program and I would recommend it to anyone that is looking to gain a great experience while abroad." -Amanda, Summer 2014