By Darienne Cannao
Amman — the capital of Jordan which is surrounded by ancient ruins, lush mountains and Arabic culture — is a popular destination for students seeking to enhance their knowledge and understand the Middle Eastern way of life.
Studying abroad is a major part of the college experience for many students. From a period of three weeks to entire semesters in foreign countries, studying abroad allows students to gain experiences that are unavailable in the everyday classroom.
Rafiatu Nawuridam, a junior international studies major, is taking advantage of the many studying abroad offerings.
“Study abroad is an exciting opportunity for students to not only gain more cultural understanding of a given locale, but also complete academic requirements towards their respective degree programs,” said Jennifer Margherito, the College’s study abroad adviser.
Nawuridam embarked on her journey to Amman on Aug. 27, and has been living there since. She will complete the 2017-18 school year overseas and study with the Council on International Educational Exchange Amman.
“CIEE is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, CIEE is the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit study abroad and intercultural exchange organization,” according to its website.
Nawuridam wanted to study abroad to connect with new people and learn about the Arabic language and culture.
“I want to learn Arabic and more about the Arab world,” Nawuridam said. “Academic coursework alone would not have been sufficient in achieving my goal.”
Nawuridam grew up in Ghana and moved to the U.S. with her younger sister when she was a freshman in high school. She wanted to be with her mother who was already living in the U.S.
“Growing up in Africa and then moving to America made me realize that there is so much I don’t know about the world,” Nawuridam said.
Numerous scholarships and foundations exist to help eager students go on trips that allow them to travel internationally and diversify their cultural knowledge.
With the help of the College’s Center for Global Engagement, Nawuridam was awarded the Boren Scholarship and is living out her dream of studying in a foreign country.
“Boren Scholarships, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests,” according to the Boren Awards’ website.
Before she knew about the scholarship, Nawuridam doubted that she would be able to study abroad. She visited the Center for Global Engagement ready to apply for the Boren Award with Margherito.
Support from family, friends and professors made the process of planning a study abroad trip easier.
“I feel very happy and very fortunate to have this opportunity,” Nawuridam said. “I always knew I wanted to travel abroad.”
Nawuridam met Miriam Lowi, her advisor and a political science professor, in November 2015, and has shared a special bond with her ever since.
Lowi is constantly impressed by Nawuridam and her drive to seize every opportunity.
“Rafi will, as always, move out of her comfort zone, learn a lot, touch people’s lives and develop skills that will allow her to make important contributions,” Lowi said.
In Jordan, Nawuridam commutes to and from class using public transportation and has acquired new skills.
“I go to the market to buy my food and I have even learned to bargain,” Nawuridam said.
Certain factors like understanding a language and experiencing new culture can be better learned when leaving the U.S., and practicing it first-hand.
After surrounding herself with new people and improving her the Arabic language skills, Nawuridam has learned the different ways of life in Jordan.
“Unlike in America, people (in Jordan) approach new people with genuine warmth and affection,” Nawuridam said.
From holding an internship in Morocco last summer to spending six weeks in Lebanon, Nawuridam is no stranger to studying abroad. She keeps in touch with family and friends, but has also made new friends that “made it easier living away from home.”
For those looking to study abroad, Nawuridam encourages students to not hold back.
“Committing to studying in Amman for the year was the best decision I’ve ever made,” Nawuridam said.