School Friend


This little guy hangs around the schoolyard, looking for food. 


Biblical Field Trip-Baptism Site

As a self-proclaimed Religion nerd, I was thrilled to be taking this field trip with the CLS crew. I arrived bright and early at school and we took off on an air-conditioned bus (such a joy, ahhhhh, air-conditioning! All you folks in the US, do not take this for granted!). We were scheduled for three site visits and one lunch stop. In the interest of brevity, I will break this up into sections.


Jesus. Baptized by John the Baptist. RIGHT HERE.


Who is lucky enough to see such sites??

From what I understand, the water no longer flows to this particular area due to rerouting from a dam, although you can still see the spot of the baptism, which is fed by a spring.  It is surreal to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Middle Eastern archeologists have found many religious places in the area of Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan, including Byzantine churches, Roman and Byzantine baptism pools, and lodging for pilgrims. It was an important enough to make it onto the Madaba Map (more on this map in an upcoming post), indicating this is an important religious site. John the Baptist is said to have resided in this location.


This picture is another angle of the same site. Three incarnations of a church were built and rebuilt in this area, following earthquakes that destroyed them.

This is close to one of the lowest points on the planet. The air was hot and heavy, the ground dry, the sun baking the earth. I can only imagine what it would have been like to experience this area of the world without the cooling allure of our air-conditioned bus waiting for our return. It was quite a departure along the banks of the Jordan, though, stay tuned.


Further along, I found a modern Greek Orthodox Church.




And just a few feet beyond this church…the Jordan River.


You can see the plant life growing along the river, a far cry from the desert landscape only a few feet away. People still come here to be baptized within the holy waters of the Jordan. You can, in fact, see folks in the river doing just that. Across the river. In Israel.

Yes, this is the border between Jordan and Israel. The river is about 10 feet across, an easy crossing, if one is so inclined. I would not suggest it though, as there was a member of the military on the Jordanian side, no doubt making sure the border is secure.


As for me? I am always on the lookout for the Russian language. And I found some!


God bless/keep our home. 

Enough for this post. Still feeling incredibly lucky for the opportunity to come here. What a beautiful experience!



This was the first dinner in our new place. Delicious! Olivia would have been thrilled! Chicken, eggs, rice…definitely the way to start off our stay. And yup, we eat on the floor.

The Place


Host family gives me a place to stay!


View from our rooftop.

CLS in Jordan finds host families for their participants. Apparently, this is not always the case, sometimes students end up in dorms or even hotels, dependent on the site. I think host families are the way to go. You get a glimpse of real life in Jordan, how real Jordanians spend their days. And there is language practice all around. It is absolutely beneficial.

Our place is wonderful. Large, comfy, close to school, filled with interesting art and people, I could not have asked for a better location. Indoor pictures coming soon.

First Impressions…

I am exhausted. It has been an emotional ride, getting here to Amman. After an eight hour flight to Germany, an eight hour layover in Frankfurt, and another four hour flight to Amman, we finally arrived in Jordan around 2:30am.


First and foremost, let me tell you something about my husband. We have this ongoing contest over who has been to the most countries in the world. He has me by four. This, right here, is PROOF that I have now been to Germany. That brings the number down to three. Feet on German soil; it totally counts. And now, with my feet on Jordanian soil, he is down to two. I am gaining ground!


The first night, the CLS group was put up in a hotel, where I was finally able to get some sleep.


After a long needed (but not quite long enough) rest, we were picked up by our host families in  the early afternoon. Love, love, LOVE mine!!!  As per the program, CLS students are paired with a roommate and a host family. I am very blessed to have fallen in with such a wonderful family. Both my roomie, Isir, and the effervescent family of Sami, have been incredibly supportive and fun to be around. More on all of them to come.



Jordan Bound

News, news, I have good news! In a random turn of events, I have been selected as a CLS Scholarship recipient for the summer of 2016!!

Wow. Just wow. What an honor this is! I have such mixed emotions. I am thrilled to have been selected in this nationwide competition and have met many participants who are thoroughly impressive in both their language abilities and ambitions in life. We are all coming from different disciplines, different parts of the country, different cultures, and different language levels.

I would highly recommend applying for this scholarship if you have any notion of studying abroad. CLS truly takes care of its participants, as well as creates exciting opportunities both at home and abroad. Check out the details here:

I have been selected to study abroad in Jordan for two months this summer. I began studying Arabic ten months ago after arriving in Maryland in preparation for grad school. This trip is going to be an intensive study in language and culture. With hard work, I hope to be able to reinforce what little Arabic study I have done and make significant progress in the language.

As most of you know, Russia is usually what I can be found gushing about, so this is a departure for me. Ideally, I plan to study religion in Russia, with a focus on Islam. In studying Islam, it is beneficial to have experience in the Arabic language. This is what lead me to apply for the CLS Scholarship and, consequently, get selected for travel to Jordan.

Wish me luck, friends! This is a place in the world I have never been, so I’m not precisely sure what to expect. But being a person who loves adventures, this will be a fruitful and remarkable experience.