As of September 2019, I will commence my Arabic studies at the Qasid Arabic Institute in Amman, Jordan and will thus, spend the year abroad until June 2020. I intend to travel to Amman on the 25th of August in order to ensure enough time to settle into the country and secure a place of accommodation for myself and a number of friends who are also enrolled onto this course. This year abroad in Jordan will constitute a valuable academic opportunity for myself to become immersed into the Arabic society and culture as well as gaining fluency in the Jordanian spoken dialect.
I also hope to advance my knowledge of the Arabic grammar and syntax in addition to my reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, as this institute is known to be ‘one of the leading centres in the Middle East for Arabic and language learning.’ Therefore, this essay proposes to discuss the potential risks and hazards that I may encounter as an international student and the ways of addressing and avoiding such issues. The official definition of the word ‘risk’ according to The Oxford English dictionary is “a situation involving exposure to danger,” and the word ‘hazard’ has been defined as “a potential source of danger.”
The aim is to make the appropriate arrangements in order to mitigate such risks as far as is reasonably possible to do so, thus, I intend to address the following potential risks and hazards when travelling to Jordan in this essay; pre-travel arrangements, cultural and religious factors, and physical wellbeing. There exists a number of risks and hazards prior to travel which must be considered in order to prepare well for my year abroad. These include; healthcare preparations, legal documentation, and arrangements for arrival in Amman.
Having spoken to my local GP, I am aware that I will be exposed to potential health risks in Jordan and that travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended in the UK; hence I have obtained the Hepatitis A booster vaccination and will be vaccinated for Hepatitis B in the upcoming months without the need of obtaining further vaccinations. I was also advised about the need for insect repellent and safe drinking water in the Middle East, as well as the necessity of applying high factor sunblock, given the high temperatures in the summer months. Lastly, in relation to foreign travel, it is also necessary to purchase adequate travel health insurance; which I intend to obtain through the University of Exeter.
I will also ensure I have accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation in Jordan, however, in the case of an emergency, I would seek treatment in Amman and am aware of the emergency contact details to call for an ambulance. According to the Travel Health Pro website, a ‘yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers over 1 year of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission,’ therefore, I will ensure that I take my certificate to Jordan this year. A first aid kit containing my daily medication tablets with the prescription note and over-the-counter medicines, painkillers and bandages/plasters will be essential in minimising any potential health risk in Jordan. Such precautions will be beneficial in protecting me from contracting infectious diseases or ill health during my year abroad.
I may also encounter the risk of being denied entry into Jordan due to the lack of the necessary legal documents such as my passport, visa, and documentation relating to my studies at Qasid. Therefore, it is vital that I ensure my passport is valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Jordan and that I take it with me to the airport. According to Gov.uk, I will need a visa to enter Jordan, so I will purchase a single-entry visa which is valid for 1 month upon arrival at the airport for 40-60JD and can be extended for up to 6 months at police stations. However, if I decide to also make a visit to Palestine, I will purchase a multiple entry visa before I travel from the Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in London.
I plan to exchange £100 into dinars prior to travel regardless, in order to cover the cost of the visa so as to avoid denial of entry. I will also ensure that I am able to make appropriate financial transfers for the cost of accommodation and food with my Barclays bank account in addition to obtaining a Monzo credit card, which will protect my money in the case of theft by immediate deactivation of the card. Lastly, I will be travelling with my family to Jordan in order to ensure a safe arrival and I will inform Qasid of the date and time of arrival so as to obtain taxi/transport recommendations and the contact numbers of staff in the Institute in Amman.
Such precautions will allow a secure journey and arrival to my residence in Amman, avoiding any untrusted taxi drivers. I will also buy a Jordanian sim card at the airport and the undergraduate travel insurance from the University of Exeter to allow for a smooth transition into Jordanian life. During my year abroad in Jordan, there are a number of cultural and religious factors that I must take into consideration so as to minimise the risk of harm or threat or discourteousness. As a Muslim female, living in Jordan will not pose large cultural differences, as I do not drink alcohol and will celebrate Ramadan and Eid accordingly in this predominantly Islamic country. Also, I will wear the appropriate Islamic dress which will avoid unwanted attention or potential sexual harassment; however, I will avoid walking alone at night or deserted areas, having read about the current risks as a female living in Jordan.
Additionally, given the current political situation in Jordan where protests often occur due to war surrounding the region, Gov.uk has advised avoiding all political gatherings and demonstrations, particularly at night in downtown Amman and the centres of other major towns and cities after Friday midday prayers in order to evade violent clashes. I will also continuously follow the local Jordanian news reports and be aware of local sensitivities on Jordanian politics and the monarchy, so as not to cause offence. According to Gov.uk, crime levels are generally low, nevertheless, I will remain vigilant of suspicious behaviour and will alert the local authorities while keeping my money, passport, and valuables secure.
Additionally, if caught in a clash between tribes, I will leave the area and follow any police instructions given. If I decide to venture alone anywhere, I will ensure that my colleagues, family, and staff at the Institute are made aware of my whereabouts in order to prevent the risk of kidnap. These precautions will ensure my safety and security when living abroad in Jordan while minimising hazards and risks relating to crime. In preparation for my studies at the Qasid Institute, I am aware of the workload and the demands of this course, therefore it is vital that I also prioritise my physical and mental wellbeing in order to avoid the risk of harming my welfare. This could be through subsequent stress and homesickness; hence I will ensure that I take frequent breaks from the work and that maintain regular contact with friends and family as well as seeking help from my professors and tutors in Qasid if there are any difficulties relating to my studies.
Additionally, I plan to take regular exercise by joining the gym and taking daily walks in the local area of Amman with friends. This will decrease feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress by increasing brain sensitivity for the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which improve the overall mood. During my leisure time, I hope to execute more practical cultural pursuits by travelling around Jordan in order to immerse myself in the Arabic language and culture. This will ease my transition into living in Jordan and reduce feelings of unfamiliarity. This will also be enhanced by participating in extracurricular activities such as volunteering with an NGO in Jordan; however, I would make sure to conduct a mandatory orientation and safety briefing and carry a fully-charged mobile phone in case of an emergency.
The risk of becoming sick from unhygienic food preparation and drinking unsanitary water in Jordan is slim if I avoid tap water and problematic foods such as shellfish. It will, however, be necessary to stay hydrated when living in Jordan due to the high temperatures, therefore I will certainly stick to drinking filtered water to protect myself from infections due to parasites in the water systems. Another risk to my physical health is the impact of the drastic drop in temperature over the winter months in Jordan. It will thus be necessary to wear additional layers of clothing outdoors and to use thick blankets in the case of a power cut in order to remain warm and to avoid the risk of contracting an infection.
During the rainy season (November to March) there’s a risk of flash floods in parts of Jordan according to Gov.uk, so it’s vital that I check the weather forecast and don’t travel to places where heavy rain is expected and for at least one day afterward. Lastly, I have also been made aware of the risks and hazards concerning road travel, hence I will never accept lifts from strangers and if a taxi is necessary, I will ask the staff at Qasid for recommendations of reliable drivers. I will also be very cautious when crossing busy Jordanian roads and will ensure that my seatbelt is worn in vehicles so as to avoid causing an accident. This discussion considered the more widely discussed potential risks and hazards of studying and living in Jordan according to Gov.uk, these include; pre-travel arrangements, cultural and religious matters, and physical wellbeing. In conclusion, there are many potential risks to consider during this year abroad and I will be particularly prepared to address and minimise the risk of those relating to physical safety, legal documentation and arrangements for arrival in Amman as well as other foreseeable hazards and risks.