Saul Luna Vargas, Jordan, Middle East Studies, Amman (Political Science)

  1. What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?

My biggest fear was being homesick. It turned out that I didn’t really feel homesick because I was always doing different activities and surrounded by good friends that I made while abroad and my host family.

  1. What do you wish you had done to better prepare before going abroad?

I could’ve studied Arabic before I went to Jordan in order to help communicate earlier on. Also wish I would’ve done more research on internships in Jordan and applied to a couple.

  1. What were your favorite classes abroad? How did they compare to UCSB?

My favorite class abroad was “International Relations and Diplomacy in the Middle East.” I think a class like this would be harder to come by at UCSB just because it focuses on a specific discipline in a specific region.

Jordan_Luna Vargas, Saul_Wadi Rum

  1. What is one of your best memories from abroad?

It was when I went exploring and camping in Wadi Rum. The sand was very thin and red. It basically looked like Mars. Plus it felt really special to be in a place with so much history. At night, me and my friends slept outside under the stars.

  1. What was your biggest challenge abroad?

It was probably learning Arabic and constantly practicing it with the locals and with my host family.

  1. What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?

The fact that everyone is so hospitable in Jordan. Everyone was friendly and always offered tea! People felt sincere.

  1. Did you intern, volunteer, or conduct fieldwork or research abroad? If so, tell us about your experience.

I volunteered at a local girl’s elementary school in Amman. We were helping painting the entire school because it was covered in graffiti. What made this experience special was the fact that the girls wanted to help us paint and were very playful with us. They had never seen an American before!

Jordan_Luna Vargas, Saul_Jerash

  1. What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back?

While I was in Jordan, I did get sick of eating falafel and drinking tea all the time. But now, I wish I could eat a falafel from a small place I found in Amman. One falafel sandwich was less an a dollar!

  1. How have you changed since your time abroad?

I think I am much more patient now with myself and with others. While in Jordan, unexpected things would happen all the time. Now when unexpected things occur that are an inconvenience, I learn to handle them better and with patience.

  1. What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students?

Apply to as many scholarships as you can. I was awarded three out of the four scholarships I applied to. Also, look into different countries that you never thought of. For example, look into non-Western countries because they’re often cheaper and more culturally different from America.

Jordan_Luna Vargas, Saul_Dead Sea

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