Monday, 28 January 2013

Boulink: Bowling

I went bowling today! As some of you have had the opportunity to see, I am really quite terrible at bowling. Once a year for Christmas, though, I go with my family and bowl my heart out (Really, only two games barely equaling 100 points together. It’s a sad sight). In a foreign country, it’s not quite so bad, bowling at large that is. My bowling is still really quite terrible.

We went with a family. One of my roommates met an Omani, and we went out with their two sisters. They were all so nice. I couldn’t believe it. The youngest sister is nine years old and she was so happy and kind. She made me an origami cat. She was so proud :)

But really, anjad, they were so nice. Everyone is so nice. This may soon ridiculous, but it seems almost like a utopia, at least in this regard. It’s the kind of behavior people wish that people could act like. I think that if people acted like this, the world would be a much better place.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Al- Qawaneen: The Laws

I learned about a few different laws today. I’ve only been here for a short time, but I’ve been surprised by how relaxed everything seems to be here. I’m not sure which is the chicken or the egg, but I found out one of many possible reasons why this may be. Did you know that it is illegal to be confrontational in public in Oman? That means no yelling, no name calling. It’s so interesting!

Also, you can get ticketed for having a dirty car, so keep your cars clean! It's strange because the police seem so lax here, though. People don’t get pulled over for many things. People speed all of the time, and disregard traffic laws at large constantly.

It's been so nice to start using my Arabic again, though. It’s bit rusty, but it has been really nice. Walking into different shops, just saying pleasantries is really great. The culture can be difficult to adjust to.

When I am in the Middle East, I tend to be far shyer than I am in the US. It’s a fine line to walk between being appropriate and polite. Sometimes I know that I teeter toward one or the other. Things here are really a matter of comfort, though. If you make a social gaffe, I’ve been told time and time again, the Omani won’t correct or judge. Even in Jordan things were lax. Stres are the worst that it gets. They understand. 
Obviously, keeping with certain social norms is just expected. You shouldn't go out in a tanktop and short shorts. Judgement is certainly necessary. Showing any sort of leg is pretty frowned upon. It just attracts a lot of attention. Wearing a Hijab isn’t necessary by any means for foreigners, but today I did. I try to blend in as much as possible. It really all depends. I was so worried before I came. Much more worried than I was before Jordan.

My worry leads to difficulty in some interactions. I’m never sure how chipper to be, how friendly to be. When this is combined with limited Arabic skills, sometimes it’s difficult to interact. I love it still, though. It’s an adventure, and people are always so accommodating. For example, even though I know that it wasn’t the smoothest interaction, the husband and wife I met at one of the stores tonight were so kind. We definitely became friends :)

Friday, 25 January 2013

al yum al awel: The First Day

The flight went well. It was long, but I almost didn’t feel it. I met this really nice girl from Germany on the first flight to Frankfurt. She was still in high school and had been an exchange student this past semester in Michigan. We talked about English a lot. I hope that in this semester I’ll be able to reach somewhere near her English level. We shall see. It’s important to remember how short of a time I’ve been taking Arabic.

Getting into Oman was really great as well. Things have been really chill so far. Everyone seems so nice. It’s very relaxed. Getting into the airport was really great. When getting my visa, I swear that there were nearly five people that came up to the man I was talking with to just say hello and “shu lounak?” (“How are you?” Literally translated to “What’s your color?”)

I’ve been told that the driving is crazy, but it seems so much more organized that Amman (Jordan). Quieter, too, I think. We shall see. Oman is known for its traffic problems.  

Last night I sat out at a restaurant and talked with a few of the other guys from the trip. It was so great to finally have Middle Eastern food. It was really great. Zaki jeden for sure :). Other than that it has mostly been recovering from jet lag that I didn’t know that I had. I slept nearly the whole day! 

Then a cookout at our program directors’ house. It's right next to the school as well, and about a 2-5 minute walk from the Arabian Sea. It was so cool to see it. I really love water :) Excited to have things start up this week. 

Classes don’t start until next Saturday and that is when we move in with our homestay families as well. Until then we have orientation, and we’re staying in apartments.
But ma’ salaameh (good bye) until next time!   

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Tabda2 Boukreh: It Begins Tomorrow

As some of you may know, this semester I will be studying back in the Middle East. Last year, I spent my summer studying at the University of Jordan and then visiting some of the most lovely people I've ever known in Palestine. Unfortunately because of complications, I couldn't write in Palestine. If any of you are interested in Jordan, though, my Jordan blog can be found here:
Tomorrow, my plane leaves to embark on a new journey. I'll be travelling now a bit further south with a new dialect, a new culture and a new life. As the little tidbit of the day, Arabic is actually a very diverse language. Spreading from Morocco to Iraq, there  are five main dialects including the Modern Standard Arabic (fusHa) used in formal writings and settings. There are obviously similarities between them all, but some prove themselves to be virtually unintelligible to one another (unfortunate for the poor Meghreb...No one understands them.). Oman, though, is a little country in the Gulf, southeast of Saudi Arabia (You should google it!). It falls into the khaleeji (gulf) dialect (one of the main five I referenced before).

I'll be studying in a little international center. I'm an Arabic minor, and while I learned a tremendous amount during my stay in the Middle East last year, there is still so much to learn. I'll be staying in Muscat, the capital, located on the southeast coast, living with a home stay family. 
There is so much to say, but I'll be sharing it all over the next four months. Until then!