Bayan Zeqlam participated in the 2023 Summer NSLI-Y Arabic program in Amman, Jordan. Bayan was excited to study abroad in Jordan to connect more with the language and culture of her heritage, as well as learn more about others abroad and their culture.

Once she arrived in Amman, Bayan was determined to put herself in new situations to test her adaptability and to make herself comfortable with her study abroad experience. Bayan made the decision to challenge herself to communicate in Arabic, even though this made her uncomfortable at times. However, these positive challenges led to her discovering the best iced coffee and croissants in her host community as she communicated in Arabic with baristas at local cafes. With the goal of fostering a connection with her language and culture, Bayan took advantage of her study abroad experience by making herself comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Reflecting on her experience abroad, Bayan recognizes how her outlook has developed now that she is back in the United States. Now, she feels more outgoing in her interactions with others, especially with strangers; her experience abroad forced her to break out of her comfort zone by reaching out to others. She notes a favorite memory of when she stayed up late with her cohort in Wadi Rum after spending a long day in Petra. She got to know her peers better, learning about their routines and how they differed from her own in Michigan. Another favorite memory was when Bayan and her host sisters visited a women-only pool together. As a Muslim woman in the US, Bayan notes that it is very rare to find spaces intended for only women to enjoy. This refreshing experience with her host sisters allowed her to swim with her hair out in a swimsuit, which she had not done in a long time. She will always cherish the experiences she had in Jordan.

Prior to studying abroad, Bayan already knew that she wanted to become a travel nurse in the Middle East and North Africa. After studying abroad, her resolve is even stronger. Bayan observed the effectiveness of MENA healthcare when a few others in her cohort became ill or injured. While they were treated for their issues, Bayan noted what improvements could be made to ensure that everyone felt more supported in their experience in the healthcare system. She is excited to see how she can help patients and fellow nurses in the future.

Overall, Bayan is happy to have cultivated a sense of community during her NSLI-Y program. She has made lifelong friends with people that she did not expect to grow so close to. Whether it was the other students in her cohort, language partners, or people she befriended along the way, Bayan treasures the deep connections she formed in the short time she was in Amman. Additionally, Bayan feels that the immersive learning environment has equipped her with the tools to dismantle stereotypes and misconceptions of Arabic, Arab culture, and specifically Jordanian culture. Being in a different country has also bolstered her confidence in her ability to learn to live and communicate with others in environments unknown to her. Bayan’s experience with NSLI-Y is more proof that she can accomplish anything that she sets her mind to.

Bayan Zeqlam Wadi Rum