I arrived in Jordan about three weeks ago and so far I have been having a terrific time. I will admit I was wary when I first heard that I would be going on exchange to Jordan. Jordan is a country basically surrounded by war. With all the news of warring and terrorism in the region, I had a stereotypical view of the Middle East as a whole, which only made me more cautious. In my first few days here, however, I quickly learned that my understanding of the region is very “Western.” Most Kings’ students were very surprised when they heard about my initial reaction to being given Jordan. While there are many issues in the region, Jordan is safe and the school is very safe.
While I am having a great time now, my exchange got off to a rough start as my luggage had been left at my connection in New York. For the first few days I found it hard to settle in or feel particularly comfortable, as my luggage had not yet arrived. With a lot of help from my mom, we were able to get a hold of where my luggage was and we were reunited. Despite not having my luggage for that time, I was still able to get to know the people in my dorm and began to make friends. The main issue I have found (which has not been big) is that practically everyone speaks Arabic, which can sometimes create a language barrier. So far I have not seen that much of Jordan, as in I have not spent time in the cities. I have gone on trips to the Dead Sea and to Petra. While I did find the Dead Sea a little underwhelming (and I got the salt water in my eyes, which was terrible), I thought Petra was amazing. The carvings in the stones were unbelievable. I had not realized that there was more than the one main carving/building. There are actually hundreds of carvings that go on for miles. The other cool thing about Petra is the natural rock formations that Petra was carved into. There were large caverns carved by water erosion from when the sea level was so much higher. It was truly an amazing experience and I wish I had had more time there.
In summary, I am having a great time. I have a bunch of friends and I am making more. I have already done a lot, but there is still more for me to see and do. I do miss my family and friends and cats back home. but I am still really enjoying myself. I look forward to what the future holds and I can’t wait for my next adventure.
Toby Cochran Leaves Jordan
My trip has gone bye so fast. The past two months feel like only two weeks. While I am excited to be going home, I will definitely miss the friends I have made at King’s. During my time at King’s, I have made many friends and many memories. Once I am home, I will try my best to stay in contact with most of them. Living as a full border at King’s gave me the opportunity to live with much more responsibility. I had to be more self-sufficient and find things to do on my own. The only real problem I encountered was on the weekends when there was not much to do in the dorms. Most of the students went home and there were only a few activities each day. While the weekends could be uneventful, I still had a great time and got to know most of the other full borders pretty well. As most of the borders were from all over the Middle East, it was very interesting hearing the students’ views on the region as well as the US. I learned a lot about Palestine and Israel as many of my friends were Palestinian whose grandparents had been displaced.
Being a full border, I was really able to get to know the campus. While it is quite an elegant campus, it also has many quirks. The thing that first stood out to me were its lawns of grass that are not unlike a golf course. This is very odd to see as the school is in the middle of a dessert as the lawns must require a huge amount of water. The other outstanding thing about the campus was that there were about twenty cats that lived on the campus. Originally strays, the cats are now taken care of by the school’s cat club. When you walk around the campus you see boxes full of hay that the cats theoretically sleep in (although I never saw a cat in one).
One of the best things about the dorms was that everyone was super outgoing and I was able to get to know everyone very quickly. Some nights, we would spend the time before lights out playing cards or chatting about the day. I believe I was very lucky. I lived in Meissa South which was considered one of the quietest dorms. The other dorms, like Nihal, were notorious for the lack of studying that happened. The only complaint I had was that there were several nights where someone set the fire alarm off in the middle of the night, which was less than ideal. (Usually it was students, but sometimes it was a teacher who was cooking something.) Besides the rude awakening every so often, some of my best memories from the trip are from that dorm. I really enjoyed the times we would all order a ton of food for everyone and have “a feed” or when a friend and I would watch a movie and order Dominoes. A lot of my best memories involve food.
While I didn’t spend a huge amount of time off campus, I really loved visiting Petra with the other exchanges and seeing Jerash and parts of Amman with a family friend. Walking around Amman, I loved the smells of spices and hearing stories about the different shops and restaurants. My family friend, Asma Khader, has lived in Jordan her whole life and worked on women’s rights in the region. She was very knowledgeable about Amman and it seemed that Amman was very knowledgeable about her– everywhere we went, someone seemed to know her.
Again, it is crazy to me that my exchange to King’s is over. I have had quite an amazing experience. I have learned so much about the region. I have made many friends who I hope to see in the future and keep in contact with. While this adventure is over, I will remember it for the rest of my life. Goodbye King’s, thank you so much and off to the next adventure.