Pre-departure: Arabian nights…’Neath Arabian moons

By John Mitchell

There’s a sudden rush of anxiety, excitement and fear through my body as I glance over at a calendar declaring I have one more day left in the States. I continue to glance at my favorite book, “One Thousand and One Nights” (aka “Arabian Nights”), hoping that it would somehow come to life and tell me of the adventures that await me overseas. This collection of stories, originally written in Arabic, was what sparked my interest in the Arabic language and culture. Because I was captivated at a young age by this book, it inspired me to take the opportunity to spend the 2013 spring semester in Amman, Jordan, through the CIEE Language and Culture Program. Before I continue, let me formally introduce myself — my name is John E. Mitchell and I am a junior at the University of Missouri, studying international studies (with a Middle Eastern studies focus), political science and Arabic.

Now, I won’t give you the cliche statement that “all my life I’ve wanted to travel” because that wouldn’t be accurate, but I have always been fascinated with witnessing new perspectives this world has to offer — call me a kaleidoscope observer. From this interest, I’ve realized just how significant studying abroad can be. This opportunity gives you the courage to leave your comfort zone, explore a whole new world (cue the “Aladdin” song) and have an experience that will last a lifetime.

Currently, I am about to travel to this foreign land that I have heard so much about in stories, but never seen for my own eyes. There’s a certain je ne sais quoi to it — I understand that I’m traveling thousands of miles from my home, family and friends, but I haven’t fully grasped it yet (if that makes sense). I know not what awaits me, but I do know that I will take advantage of this auspicious moment in my life. What I hope to accomplish from this blog is not only share the adventures I will have in the exotic Middle East, but also inspire others hesitant of studying abroad to, just as Jasmine did in “Aladdin,” take that leap because it’s worth it.

Enough for now, I am readying to depart on my magic carpet ride, also known as the Turkish Airlines (haha). Once I find some Wi-Fi, I will tell you about my arrival!

The stars are NOT the limit.

~J. E. Mitchell

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