Thanks to the Social Science Scholars Program, I had the opportunity of immersing myself in an eye-opening cultural and academic adventure that no textbook or documentary film would ever offer me. During the summer, I participated in the Intensive Arabic Program offered by the Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE). This experience allowed me to directly connect with Middle Eastern culture and to further develop my abilities in the Arabic language. I am really grateful for the growth, the memories, and the people that contributed to making this summer one of the best of my life.
My experience in the Intensive Arabic Summer Program lasted a period of 2 months and it was based in the beautiful city of Amman, Jordan. Throughout this time, I resided with a local host family, people that showed me the warmth and kindness of the Arab culture and helped me become more comfortable with speaking their native language. The names of my host parents were Naheel and Jamil. Today, I remain in close contact with them and I am grateful for the support and love that I received from them and their family. Throughout my time at Florida State, I have been committed to obtaining a Minor in Middle Eastern Studies, focusing a great portion of my academic courses in the Arabic language. The coursework of this program focused on the Levantine dialect, dedicating 3 hours every day to the teachings of formal Arabic and a total of 6 hours a week for the local dialect. The classes were small and the professors were extremely helpful, dedicating time to meet the particular needs of all students.
At the same time, CIEE planned several historic and cultural activities, which contributed to my knowledge of the Middle Eastern history and allowed me to gain a connection with the traditions and the community of Jordan. One of the most unforgettable memories was the visit to Petra, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, the pleasure of walking around a true archeological and architectural treasure is one sigh I will never forget. Through CIEE and with the guidance of their staff and professor, we also toured the ancient city of Jerash and the magnificent Castle of Ajloun. The excursions offered by this program provided all exchange students with a closer look at the history of Jordan and a taste of the traditional food prepared by a local family in Ajloun. Some of my favorite traditional dishes were Mansaf, Shawarma, and Kanafeh. The last-mentioned plate, I had the chance of personally cooking, which just made this dessert so much sweeter and special.
I am honored to be a Social Science Scholar, the opportunity of studying abroad and represent Florida State University has truly impacted my academic, professional, and personal life. This incredible journey helped me familiarize myself with the Middle Eastern society, build my intercultural competency, and extend my skills in the Arabic language. Overall, this trip assured me that this is the community with which I aspire to work throughout my life.
Laura Medina is a first-generation student from La Habana, Cuba. She is a majoring in international affairs with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. She entered FSU in the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE) Program. Laura has worked with the Center for Leadership and Social Change, organizing volunteer opportunities for students with Engage TLH. She also has been a facilitator for the Service Leadership Seminar. Her passion for different cultures inspired her to pursue a Global Citizenship Certificate and to work with international students through the Center for Global Engagement. Laura has been on the Hispanic Latinx Student Union’s board for two years and is currently the organization’s assistant director. In this position she represents and advocates for the Hispanic/Latinx community on campus. After graduating, Laura wants to pursue an M.A. in international affairs and to continue her work on global issues.