Meet Michael Lewis – he/him
Program and Location:
Summer & Fall, Qasid Arabic Institute; Amman, Jordan
Master of International Studies
Why did you choose to study abroad?
Aside from my program’s requirement of having an international experience before graduating, I have wanted to study abroad in the Middle East for year now. Unfortunately, COVID restrictions had previously prevented this but, thanks to NC State and the Boren Fellowship, I was able to study abroad for two semesters with reduced financial worry.
What did you learn about yourself?
Whenever you’re exposed to a new environment your mind, body, and personality are tested by the new elements that surround you. A new city, state, or in this case, country, will test your ability to adapt in to a new setting — sometimes rather quickly. I grew up as a military brat so I’ve been accustomed to moving to and from but not in a individual manner i.e. Moving to a new country by myself. After six months in my host-country, I learned that I am able to accomplish my set goals so long as I dedicate my focus to them and remain open to new experiences. Adapting to the new setting was of course challenging but, with patience and an open-mind, I was able to adapt efficiently and call Amman one of “homes away from home”.
What was one of your favorite parts of your program?
With NC State, I was able to learn the language according to a well-curated course adapted to my speaking abilities. This factor was pleasant as the course-load was appropriate but still challenging. Outside of the classroom, we were taken on tours of the country’s most beautiful spots like Wadi Rum and the famous archeological wonder that is Petra. In combination, the in and out-of-classroom experiences coordinated by NC State and my host-institution were phenomenal and added a perfect touch to my trip.
What advice do you have to future study abroad students?
My advice to those looking to study abroad would be to keep an open-mind when traveling. We all know that the world is a big place and contains so many diverse cultures that are different from our own. That said, fight the urge to seek comfortable positions when traveling. Get out there into the world and explore what there is to offer with both an open-mind and a receptive heart.
How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?
I am focused on an internationally-oriented career so studying and living amongst other cultures is essential to cultivating such a path. I can successfully say that I have not only lived with others from other corners of the world, I have also learned some of their habits and customs. Altogether, this has fine-tuned my cultural sensitivities, something critical to a career centered on international affairs.
Would you do it again?
Not only would I do it again, I would consider it a core experience to my identity. If possible, I’d return to my host-country in the future to continue my studies or for professional opportunities.