Gavin Turner Travels to Jordan on YES Abroad Scholarship for 2022-2023 School Year

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Gavin Turner, a student from Scecina, was awarded a YES Abroad scholarship for the 2022-2023 school year.  The merit-based award covers the full cost of an academic year abroad, providing Gavin a full academic and cultural immersion experience, including living with a host family in Jordan, attending a Jordanian high school, and helping him develop the skills necessary to be a leader in the global community. The YES Abroad program is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau.

Gavin is one of only 65 students selected competitively from across the United States who received a scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to participate in the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad program.

We waited for Gavin to settle into his school year in Jordan before we interviewed him about what he’s learned so far. Read on to learn more about his unique experience.

Q: How was your travel and arrival? Any challenges or things you learned along the way?

A: Travel was pretty easy; I took a quick flight to D.C. before taking a 13-hour flight directly to Amman. The hardest part was honestly being thrown in so quickly, and the jet lag, of course, but when you are forced to adapt, it comes naturally.

Q: Was it love at first sight when you landed?

A: Landing was cool because you cross into Jordan, and suddenly a huge city that goes on forever appears in front of you. It was definitely the moment that I felt this was the right thing to do.

Q: How have you adapted to the culture?

A: I have had to get used to learning a language I had no prior experience with, but luckily Jordan has a pretty large population of people who speak English, so I’ve been able to ease into it. In terms of culture shock, it hasn’t been big things but just shifts. For example, meals are typically eaten later here, and the weekend is Friday-Saturday rather than Saturday-Sunday as it is in the states.

Q: What’s it like living with a new host family?

 A: It’s been honestly really good! It’s been hard not to be around my family in the U.S. every day, but having people here who treat me as part of the family has helped me to settle in quickly. 

Q: Have you had any challenges as you get acclimated to school?

A: Yeah, the school is run through an International Baccalaureate program (I.B.), so I had to learn what that means. The classes are challenging, and not having friends I’ve known for years to help with work is also not the best, but the school’s culture is excellent, and I’ve felt incredibly welcomed into the community.

Q: When not studying, what do you do for fun?

A: When I’m not studying, I’ve been exploring the city and going to malls. Amman is super pretty and has very nice neighborhoods that allow you to see both the old and the new. For example, while I’ve been here, I’ve seen ancient ruins from Roman times and super modern shopping malls and skyscrapers. Speaking of malls, they are incredibly popular and well maintained here, making them an ideal place to walk around.

Q: How do you connect with friends and family at home?

A: It’s been tricky because of the time change and being careful with data usage, but I call my mom in the U.S. every day to talk. I have reached out to multiple friends on social media when they’ve asked how I’m doing or when I want to share something with them.

Q: Is there anything you want to say to your friends at Scecina?

A: I miss you all, Scecina has always been such a good community, and I can’t wait to see you all when I return next year to Scecina! If anyone is interested in what I’ve been doing or studying abroad, feel free to reach out to me!

Connect with Gavin! Gavin created an Instagram account, @gavin.abroad, to share his experience with his friends and family back home. So give him a follow and a hello!

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