Meet Anthony Ramsey (they/them)

Program and Location:

Summer, Critical Language Scholarship at the Jordan Language Academy: Amman, Jordan


International Studies and Arabic with French minor

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I studied abroad because I wanted to continue to improve my Arabic skills and also to experience Jordanian culture to widen my understanding of the world’s cultures and people. I think I was quite successful in my endeavors because I got better at my grammar and I also saw Jordanian culture and was able to compare it to Moroccan culture and how they differ despite them both being a part of the Arab world.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned that when in a situation where I have to reckon with my race I hurt and may also break, but I will persist, keep going, and seek help from those who can provide me moral support. I also discovered that even when I am extremely frustrated with something I still try to learn and persist and gain as much out of my studies as I can.

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

My favorite part of my program was all the historical spots I was able to go to such as Umm Qais, Jerash and Ajloun, and Petra. Although these places are old, they provide a look into how Jordan was created over the centuries and the empires and people that caused Jordan to be the country it is today.

What was your experience with navigating COVID-19 abroad?

During my program, Covid was a thing I worried about but I made sure to take precautions so I tested every week and made sure to protect myself in the settings that I was most vulnerable. The most scared I was to get Covid was while travelling on the airplane to and from Jordan because of the amount of people I was interacting with during those times.

How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at NC State? Did you take any field trips or do anything outside of the traditional classroom?

My classes were very intense and totally conducted in Arabic. Having that experience made it very difficult to learn and caused me to have to learn as quickly as possible and fake it until I made it. I struggled a lot because this was completely different from how my classes at NCSU were conducted, but despite this I was still able to grow and learn better than in a setting where English is the mode of teaching and I am also not in a host country where my target language is spoken.

In what ways did your identity have an impact on your experience abroad?

The main part of my identity that caused my experience abroad to change was my race. Due to Jordan being a very homogenous country I was one of very few Black individuals and due to that I faced ostracization. I experienced a few racist incidents and I had no one on my program who was Black that I was able to talk to so that significantly caused me to struggle even more when trying to emotionally process my feelings. Despite these hardships, I persevered and found people who I could talk to that listened and allowed me to work through my experiences in a safe space with them.

Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?

I would say find people who you can use as structure and support during your time abroad. Having people who you can talk to and who will listen to your concerns is invaluable because it can help you understand the things you go through and how they affect you. I would also say stay strong. Even though this is really cliché, it is how I was able to get through my experience, but I had to use others as a form of support to help me stay strong and persevere.

Where did you find support to navigate any challenges you faced abroad?

I found my support in my cohort. I was not able to go to everyone in it, but to those I did find solace in I talked to them, hung out with them, and used them as a rock in all the tumultuous experiences I faced that caused me to want to give up. If I was not able to have those few people I would have been suffering in silence and there was a big possibility that because of it, I would have given up and gone home. They were part of the reason I made it through and I am very thankful that they were willing to help me.

What advice do you have for future study abroad students?

I would advise them to keep an open mind but remember that things will be difficult. When things get difficult, consult your support systems and talk it out so that you can understand what you are feeling in the toughest moments. I would also advise you to remember that each day is its own experience. Even if one day is bad, the next might be better so stay mindful and enjoy everyday that is good and when there are bad days, do things that will help make the moments of a bad day better.

Would you do it again?

Frankly, my trip was a big struggle for me. I experienced a lot of unexpected ups and downs. Frequently, I felt like my Arabic skills did not get better and I felt as though the intensity at which I was being pushed was not conducive to learning at all. Despite that being said, yes I would do CLS again. Yes seems like the opposite answer to the impression those first sentences give but I have an explanation for my answer. There were days where I was so frustrated I wanted to throw in the towel and stop trying, but I persisted. I was under an intense amount of stress due to my workload, cultural pressures, and having to get along with 22 other individuals. Despite all this, I made small gains in my Arabic and although it’s not a lot, it is still something in the grand scheme of my linguistic journey. Rome was not built in a day and my linguistic skills will not be either.