Category Archives: Cultural adjustment

Jerash and Umm Qais Photos


One of the many Greco-Roman remains in the ancient city of Jerash. This was a temple dedicated to the Greek God Artemis.

The ancient city of Jerash is sometimes misleadingly referred to as the “Pompeii” of the Middle East or Asia”, referring to its size, extent of excavation and level of preservation (though Jerash was never buried by a volcano). Jerash is considered one of the most important and best preserved Roman cities in the Middle East.


The sky was ominous and silent. It was such a beautiful experience. You could almost hear a bustling city from the silence.


A pathway leading to a once Greco-Roman temple.


Ancient ruins are scattered across this once vibrant city.


I thought the herd was a nice touch to the scenery, so I had to snap a picture!


Doesn’t this remind you of the Disney film Hercules? Except, this is definitely in the Middle East and not Greece. The influences are undeniable huh?


The nearly unique oval Forum, which is surrounded by a fine colonnade.


This area was once the market place of the city.


This is situated in the extreme north-west of the country, where the borders of Jordan, Israel and Syria meet, perched on a hilltop (378 metres above sea level), overlooking the sea of Tiberias, the Golan heights and the Yarmuk gorge. Crazy you can look in every direction and a different country is in the horizon.


The entrance to the ancient city of Jerash.


Touchdown in Amman, Jordan

By John Mitchell

After being on several planes for 18+ hours, I finally landed in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (اَلمَمْلَكَة اَلأُرْدُنِيَّة اَلهَاشِمِيَّة), in their capital of Amman, around 4 a.m. Sunday. Because it was so early, I didn’t really get the glamorous entrance I was hoping for where I would be flooded with Ahlan wa Sahlan, Marhaba or other forms of the word “welcome/hello.” It was probably better that way because I was exhausted! After getting my luggage from the slow conveyor belt, I headed to my first destination, the Landmark Hotel, where the people in my program and I would stay temporarily until we move to our homestays or apartments.


On Monday, we headed off to explore the city of Amman. One of my first stops was the Royal Automobile Museum. This was a museum devoted to the former King Hussein’s car collection an, boy, did he have one. The museum had every car you could ask for. King Hussein had great taste! I, of course, marveled at the light Blue Aston Martin (being a James Bond fanatic does that to you).


Our next stop was the Roman Citadel and Theatre. This was such a picturesque area. The Roman Theatre felt like I had just walked into the scene in “Gladiator” where Maximus looks around to the silent Romans screaming, “Are you not entertained!?” This theater was huge and the steps to go up were so steep, one could fall to their death. I made it to the top, but it was a traumatic experience trying to get down. The Roman Citadel rises above the city of Amman, overlooking the ancient city. I found it fascinating when our guide said that, just like Rome, Amman was built on seven hills. Due to expansion and laws on how tall buildings can be, Amman now covers more than 23 hills. You really felt like the king of the world gazing across the city at the Roman Citadel.


For food, we headed to a popular place in downtown Amman called Jafra. When we got there, several Arabic dishes such as kebab, hummus, and various salads and pita lay spread across the table for us. For those who don’t know, I kind of like to eat a lot, so I had a blast. Also, like many cafes around Amman, the smell of argeela (hookah in the U.S.) fills the air. It is a favorite past time here.


The next day, I moved in with my homestay family. The family, a lovely nuclear family, does not speak much English, which is good because it forces me to use the Arabic I know and improve on it. So, although sometimes it is difficult to get my point across, in the long-term, I’ll be very thankful. They have two little kids named Rami (6 years old) and Lara (9 years old). They treat me like an older brother, which is good sometimes and bad when I’m trying to study, etc. The family has taken me in as their own, so I have to visit family and travel with them, but they also give me the freedom I need to do my own thing. My house mom, Rania, keeps the food coming non-stop. A few days ago, she asked me if I was hungry and I said I wasn’t… well the next minute, she came from the kitchen with three huge burgers all for me and said eat! So if I get fat here, you all know why. Also, every 30 minutes she asks if I’d like shiae (tea) or qahawa (coffee), and won’t let me help out with anything. It’s definitely different.

Look out for my next post about my visit to the lowest point on Earth, Bahar al-Miiyaat (the Dead Sea), my first experiences with taxi drivers and being a student at the University of Jordan.


Positives and negatives

By Laura Hough

Despite Italy being a Western European country, there are some differences that seem pretty strange when you first arrive. A few examples:

  • Energy (electricity) in Italy is much more expensive, so they don’t use as much here. That means only keeping the heat in your apartment on for about seven hours a day. This makes your apartment pretty chilly.
  • Most Italians also don’t have dryers, because of the energy cost. My jeans took a week to dry in the chilly damp weather. That was a little bit of a setback for me.
  • Pizza is everywhere here. It’s acceptable to grab some “al taglio” (by the slice) or “da porta via” (literally, ‘to take to the street’) at lunch, dinner or anytime in between. Pizza is usually eaten with a fork and knife though, especially at dinner.
  • Italians eat late, by American standards. Most places don’t open for dinner until 7:30 p.m., and don’t get busy ’til 8:30 p.m.
  • Italians have excellent coffee  I mean way better than Starbucks coffee. But be careful when you’re ordering  “un café” will get you a shot of espresso, not a cup of coffee. “Un caffe americano” is a little closer  it’s basically watered down espresso, which is more like a cup of joe from Starbucks. But don’t order “un latte” unless you enjoy drinking warm milk!

Most of the differences are small, but they start to add up, especially when you add the language barrier. I’m really glad I knew some Italian coming in, because otherwise it might have been too overwhelming, instead of a (mostly) interesting challenge. It’s handy to know some food words, like when you’re at the grocery store or ordering at a restaurant. And just about the time you think you’re getting the language, someone speaks really quickly and you don’t catch any of it.

It gets a little frustrating. The best way to look at it, I’ve decided, is to concentrate on why I decided to come — to experience a new culture and learn the language. If everything here was the same as it was back home, then studying abroad wouldn’t really have a point, would it? Staying positive is difficult when you just want to microwave the tea, instead of boiling the water on the stove and waiting and waiting for it to get hot enough, or you just want some French onion dip to go with your chips. It’s even more difficult when people around you insist on being negative about the differences.

It’s definitely up to you, though. I have had to make a conscous decision and effort to embrace the differences, and take them as adventures, not awful experiences. Those are the reasons I came, after all. I think this attitude will get me a lot further and give me better experiences than being angry. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Ciao, ciao from Perugia!

Until next time

By Brittney Durbin

Well guys, this is it… My last blog post for the MU Study Abroad page.

I have to say that I am quite sad to be done with my adventures, but alas, it is time for another bright student to begin his/her travels around the globe.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI cannot believe that this time a week ago I was still in Spain… It seems as though it has been an eternity. You see, these past few months have been the most amazing of my life.

I have to admit, I chose to study abroad for a full semester just to get away. Sure, I had to complete a term (summer, fall/spring or academic year) for my international studies major, but my parents really encouraged me to do a summer semester. Needless to say, me being me, I decided to go the full semester route. Without a doubt, I think that it was the perfect amount of time. I feel as though after six weeks I would have wanted to stay longer, but a year would have been much too much time away from home. There were times, like Thanksgiving, that I really, really wished I could be home, but those rough times were outweighed by the great times.

I don’t want to diminish this point though: There will be days that you’ll want to go home. I felt really unprepared for those days. I think that a lot of people expect study abroad to be spectacular every single minute of every single day, but you have to realize that some days will be bad. Whether it be a holiday without family, or that you simply want to eat American food and sleep in your own bed, there will come a time that you wish, in that moment, you were home.

However, this should not keep anyone from going abroad, because you gain so much. The places you go, the things you see and the people you meet make it all worth while.

London, England

London, England

Within the past five months, I have been in five countries: the United States of America, Spain, England, Germany and Austria. If I had stayed at Mizzou, or just gone abroad for a summer term, I guarantee you that I would have never made it to all five places. I would have missed out on the opportunity to see Big Ben, or the Christmas Markets in Germany and Austria.

However, I have to say the things I saw cannot be compared to the things I learned.

I left America a very interdependent person. I don’t think that this is necessarily a bad thing, but as I embark on this last semester of undergrad, I think that it was time to be pushed out of the nest a bit, if you know what I mean. Living on a different continent gave me a new perspective on making decisions on my own, and especially on spending money. (That conversion rate is no joke.) Incidentally, it also proved how important it is to have a support system, and how much I really appreciate my loved ones. Like I talked about on my Thanksgiving post, it took being more than 5,000 miles away from my family to see how much they do for me, and how grateful I am for them.

Living abroad also reminded me of how great I have it in America, and more importantly, how I need to be more thankful for what I have. I had a rude wake-up call when I arrived to Spain. For me, one of the most annoying and difficult parts of living abroad was public transportation. In London and Munich the subways were fine, but in Alicante you had one option: the bus. Oh, the notorious 24 Line that seemed to always be crowded or late. The thing is though, I only had to tolerate it for four months, while the people who live there ride it whenever they need to go somewhere. Also, on a more serious note, many homeless people roam the streets of Alicante, and many others are without jobs. I was not expecting to see how much the economy of Spain was struggling, and how it affected it’s citizens.



Without a doubt, I can say that the visit to Dachau was a top five life-changing experience. Perhaps to some this sounds extreme, but if you have been to a concentration camp, or any other place of evil, you understand. There is no way you walk out the same as when you walked in. It makes you appreciative for the very breath you breathe in, makes you grateful for the life you have and the times you live in.

One of my favorite childhood characters, Winnie the Pooh, once said, “Goodbye? Oh no, please can’t we go back to page one and do it all over again?” I have to say that in this moment, I wish I could. Being back is wonderful, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences abroad for anything. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

To my parents, Cecil and Jeannette; my sister, Nickole; my boyfriend, Zach; my wonderful new friend,  Kelsey; my adviser, Miguel Allyon; the MU International Center as a whole; those who sponsor the George C. Brooks scholarship;  and many others who shaped my study abroad experience, I want to say, “Thank you.” Without you my time abroad would have been completely different, or perhaps not even a reality.

You each helped to give me the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to have the world at my fingertips.


Until next time.