This summer twelve college students spent seven weeks in Jordan on SIT Study Abroad’s Intensive Arabic Language Studies program. After being immersed in Jordanian culture through classes and homestays, the students spent the last week of the program exploring the historic sites and natural beauty of southern Jordan.

On the road south, the students first stopped at Dana Biosphere Reserve, the largest nature preserve in Jordan, which includes four bio-geographical zones and the most diverse array of plant life in the country.

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After Dana, the the students spent their first night outside of Petra, the ancient Nabatean city carved in stone. They visited the candle-lit Treasury of Petra after dark and slept at a Bedouin-style camp.

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The next day the students were free to explore the “Rose City,” which was voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. While the Treasury building is the most well-known and photographed site, Petra is an enormous city with miles of temples, theaters, palaces, tombs, and more.

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Some of the students decided to make the 800 step climb to the rock-hewn Monastery. They dodged tourists on “Petra taxis” (donkeys) as they ascended the stone steps and after an hour’s hike reached the massive façade of one of the city’s ancient temples.

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The next day the students traveled into the heart of the desert in Wadi Rum, also known as “the Vally of the Moon.” They took a jeep ride out into the sandstone landscape to watch the sunset over the dunes and rugged mountains.

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After a night under the stars, the students took an early morning camel ride through the desert led by Bedouin guides.

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Back on the road, the group visited the Ceradisi Ceramics Project, which gives women in the area opportunities to earn money by producing and selling locally-made ceramics.

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The final stop on their journey was Aqaba, a port city on the Red Sea. While there the students took a boat out onto the sea and went snorkeling over a shipwreck and a coral reef. From the water they could see four countries, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

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The next day the group headed back to Amman for the end of their program and to prepare to return home.

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