The Columns

Global Scholar, Global Perspectives: Alora Martin ’18 Alora Martin, who is participating in an intensive language program for Arabic in Amman, Jordan, sees studying abroad as a necessary part of a modern education.

— by on May 1st, 2017

“There is only so much you can learn while sitting in the classroom. Not even considering the gains you make with foreign language skills, the life skills and expanded perspective you develop are enormously important.”

Alora Martin ‘18 sees studying abroad as a necessary part of a modern education.

Q. Where are you right now and what are you doing there?

I am participating in an Intensive Language program for Arabic in Amman, Jordan.

Q. How many students are you with?

About 40, from various schools and programs.

Q. Where are you living?

We all live in the same apartment building and, in each apartment, there are two to three American students paired with a native, Jordanian roommate.

Q. How did you discover this program?

Assistant Director of Career Development Kip Brooks suggested it to me after she visited last fall. She was thoroughly impressed by their dedication to language development. Knowing I was looking to expand my Arabic skills, she recommended that I check it out.

“This is Jerash amphitheater. A Bedouin man comes to Jerash every day to play traditional and modern songs on his bagpipe. He even knew the Star-Spangled Banner!”

Q. Does your study abroad tie into your studies or major?

Absolutely! I have focused my classes on Middle Eastern studies and international politics since my freshman year. This has been a great opportunity to see many of the concepts I’ve studied play out in real life.

Q. Have you had any other study abroad or international experiences at W&L?

Yes, I had the pleasure of studying the Chemistry of Cooking with Dean Marcia France in Italy during spring term my freshman year.

Q. What has been your favorite thing you ate abroad?

There’s is a family-style, Yemeni restaurant down the street with the most amazing food! You order a couple of different dishes for everyone in the group to share and then you eat it all with pieces torn from this massive flat bread they bring to your table.

“This is me pouring out some pancakes with a gentlemen who has worked in this same stall for over 40 years! These pancakes are a little bit different from American pancakes though in that they are a lot less sweet and mostly eaten only during the month of Ramadan.”

Q. What is your favorite memory from the trip so far?

My favorite memory would be the first weekend I spent with the family of my language partner, Aareen. I was so absolutely overwhelmed by the love and generosity they showed me! It felt as if the second I stepped into the door I become one of the family. At this point in the program I had been feeling terribly homesick, so being in a family environment again really helped me to get through the rest of my time abroad.  

Q. What will you miss most?

Undoubtedly, my language partner and her family.

Q. What advice would you give to students who might want to study abroad but are unsure?

Do your research and talk to other students who have studied abroad in the region you are looking into. Also, it’s important to be very realistic about your expectations. When I went into this I had very idealistic expectations based on students’ experiences in other regions. The experience you are going to have in a European country is so, so different from the experience you are going to have in a Middle Eastern country or really anywhere else. There are certain luxuries that you need to prepare yourself to live without. Studying abroad can be a wonderful, fun adventure, but it can also be one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your life. So, in summary, have an honest conversation with yourself about whether you are open to growing in ways you didn’t know you needed.

Q. Why is study abroad important to the W&L experience?

First off, W&L is an amazing learning environment with an incredibly skilled and accomplished faculty. However, there is only so much you can learn while sitting in the classroom. Not even considering the gains you make with foreign language skills, the life skills and expanded perspective you develop are enormously important to being a competitive candidate in today’s increasingly globalized job market.

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