Personally, I think studying abroad is one of the best things you can possibly do while you are in college, and in recent years, many students have chosen to study abroad in order to gain a better understanding of the world and themselves. Surprisingly, the Middle East has recently become a popular destination for many of these students. Many students want to learn more about the Arab language and culture, so they are now flocking to this region instead of the more traditional Europe or South America.
However, after the recent Arab spring when many governments were toppled by rebel forces, there is now heightened violence and political instability in many of these countries. In November, three American students who were studying abroad in Egypt were arrested and detained. So it is no wonder that many parents and college administrators are now not as gung-ho for sending their students to study abroad here.
“We suspended our program in Egypt last summer,” said Jeffrey Cason, dean of international programs at Middlebury College. “But now we have a program in Amman. Some kids were worried Amman would be a less lively place, but for us it was the safest place.”
Jordan is not the only alternative country for students who originally wanted to study abroad in Egypt. Debby Brodsky is a junior at Bandeis University and she is studying Islamic and Middle Eastern studies. Brodsky originally wanted to study abroad in Egypt and was not at all interested in studying in Jordan. So, she decided to studying abroad in Israel and attend classes at the University of Haifa.
“There are a lot of Arabic speakers in that area, and frankly, I am relieved as it feels safer,” she said about her decision.
Middlebury College isn’t the only school to suspend their program in Egypt. The University of Connecticut, the University of Wisconsin, Michigan State University, and Washington University in St. Louis have also temporary stopped their programs to the country. Georgetown and Washington University are still accepting applications for students who want to study abroad in Egypt during the upcoming summer and fall semesters, but they have asked students to also identify a backup country in case the situation in Egypt gets worse.
So why would anybody want to study abroad in a country that is obviously having political and social disturbances that could put them in danger?
“The kids who want to go there are students with a really strong interest in peace and conflict issue,” said J. Scott Van Der Meid, the director of Brandeis’ study abroad programs. “They obviously see a new market need out there.”
Via The NY Times