Introduction to Spring 2018 Blog Correspondent: Samantha Manno
Greetings! Salaam! Marhaban! My name is Sam Manno and I will be a Blog Correspondent for the Spring ‘18 semester in Jordan. I am a Junior majoring in Religious Studies, with a double minor in English and Arabic, and I am the secretary for Students for Justice in Palestine at my university. I attend Kenyon College, a school smack-dab in the middle of nowhere Ohio (seriously, we are surrounded by cornfields). Kenyon is very isolated and it truly feels like you are living in a bubble. Kenyon is proud of its bubble-of-a-campus on top of a hill, and I can understand why. Studying at Kenyon has been a great experience and I have made some amazing friends and have learned so much. However, as I enter the second semester of my Junior year, Kenyon has also taught me that I need a break from “life on the hill,” and am ready for the most amazing and challenging experience of my life.
Actually…I have no idea if I’m ready to study abroad in Jordan. In fact I am terrified. I sit here typing this intro post in the comfort of my home and I realize I really do not know what I’m in for. The only time I have spent abroad is in Amsterdam for two weeks with my best friend Minke. However, I recognize that part of the beauty of this experience is the unknown. The challenges I will face are what will make studying in Jordan so worthwhile. While I will probably be super homesick for a while, and will have moments in which I will absolutely hate being pushed out of my comfort zone (because honestly, who likes being uncomfortable?), I know these experiences will help me grow so much that it will be totally worth it.
While I have never traveled to the Mid-East, I have done my fair share of travelling within the Midwest. I spent this Christmas in Chicago, where my dad lives. My family bought me many skirts, dresses, and shirts that I can wear in Jordan, and I proudly gave them a fashion show to showcase my new “hey look I’m studying in Jordan” style. I am spending the rest of my time in Cleveland, Ohio, where I live with my mom and sister when I’m not in school. My boyfriend and I took the bus from Chicago and Cleveland and we were forced to stand outside in -6F weather while waiting for it. I swear my toes were going to fall off and if I had to stand outside for two more minutes I would have started crying. So it is safe to say that I will not miss the wind of the “Windy City” or the lake effect snow of Cleveland, but I will dearly miss my family, boyfriend, and friends .
But I also want to focus on what I am looking forward to.I believe that religious studies is great lens through which to explore and understand the world. I choose to study religion because I want to expand my understanding of different cultures and have the chance to travel and see how religion weaves its influence throughout different countries. I am compelled to study in a region where the majority religion is different from that of the US and to try to better understand the role it plays in politics and everyday life. In Jordan, Islam’s impact will be the most easily perceptible to me as a study abroad student, but the undertones of the Christian minority are other aspects that I wish to explore.Since I am involved with SJP at my school, I hope to work with Palestinian refugees and I am excited to live in a country with a stance on the conflict that is the opposite of what I usually encounter in the the United States. I can’t wait to bring this knowledge back home.
To sum up, I’m pumped and I’m horrified. More soon.