You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps.
Yet you are not evil when you go thither limping.
Even those who limp go not backward.
Gibran, Khalil. “On Good and Evil” from The Prophet. Albatross Publishers, 2015.
Time in Jordan seems to be speeding up as I enter the last few weeks of my time here.
I’ve been thinking about my goals from back when I started the program and whether or not I have achieved them. And, to be honest, there are a lot that I haven’t achieved.
Here’s a sample of some things I did NOT do:
- Learn to speak Arabic fluently or read Arabic poetry
- Achieve a complete understanding of the geopolitics of the Middle East. I still can’t name all the parties currently fighting in Syria or explain the factors contributing to Jordan’s high rate of youth unemployment.
- Learn to cook Jordanian food without my host mom’s help
- Get a gym membership or exercise consistently
To be honest, this can be a bit of a downer. It’s easy to blame myself for what I didn’t do while I was here.
But when I reframe these thoughts, I also need to remember everything I DID do that is worthy of celebration:
- Traveled outside of the U.S. for the first time in my life
- Rode a camel
- Took a bus to Irbid, in northern Jordan, all by myself to visit a new friend at her university
- Found the best bubble tea shop in Amman and singlehandedly kept it in business for three months (this is only a slight exaggeration)
- Wrote a 35+ page research paper about refugee identity (*technically not yet, but it will be done next week)
- Learned enough Arabic to read street signs, communicate with taxi drivers, and ask about prices in stores. And, along the way, made friends and cemented my determination to keep studying Arabic after I get home.
No two people experience studying abroad the same way, and it’s not fair to compare yourself to others. For me, some days it was an achievement just to get out of bed and make it to class. Sometimes practicing Arabic just meant using Arabic to ask my host mom how her day was, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone meant walking to a new park after school instead of staying in my room all afternoon.
Studying abroad is hard, and it’s okay if you don’t accomplish everything you wanted to achieve. In the end, simply making it out of the U.S. was an achievement in and of itself. Regardless of what happened or did not happen during my time here, I’m proud that I made it through a whole semester in a new country.