I haven’t really had culture shock yet, apart of course from adjusting to a new family and having siblings for the first time (that, however, has been very fun). The only real culture shock I have experienced so far has been about exercising.
When I arrived in Muscat, I was thrilled to find out that there was a gym just down the street from my house (the main chain of gyms here is called “Horizon Gyms”). To my extreme dismay, however, I found out that they are only open to women from 8 am to 12 pm and closed all day for women on Friday (men get the rest of the day since this gym is not a mixed gym). I’m at school from 8 to 12, and have Fridays off, so this gym was not an option for me. I tried to find out about other gyms (which have rather expensive membership, but I was willing to invest in the gym membership), but then there was the problem of getting a ride there and back. Every driver I found asked for over 50 Rials (some even asked for 100 Rials) per month! This price, obviously, is way too much. Taxis were not really an option either as it is not as safe. And I can’t go running outside because A) It’s too hot outside B) No one runs outside C) Especially not women D) It’s hard to find appropriate running-wear E) Where I live, there are no sidewalks. For the past month, I have been pretty upset about the lack of exercise I have been getting and hated the thought of that continuing for a year. So finally I decided to buy… a treadmill! Strangely, it is cheaper and easier than going to a gym.
I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to get a treadmill/if that would be ok with my host family, but I talked to my host mother, and she was all for it! In fact, she said she wanted it because she wanted to exercise as well! So today we went to Carrefour and I ordered a treadmill! It should arrive tomorrow or the day after (they deliver and set it up). I’m so so so excited and relieved that I have finally found a solution. Alhamduhlillah!!!
While at Carrefour, I managed to pick up some more tea and cheddar cheese– something I’ve been missing! Seriously, Oman has everything here. So you could say I’m pretty thrilled right now.
To talk about the last of the “other exciting happenings”, today after I came home from school, I went with my host mother to a neighbor’s house. The mother of the woman living in the house had just gotten surgery, so it is considered polite to visit the mother after to say hi. A few other neighbors were there and we sat and ate fruit, dates, coffee, and cake. The women made sure I tried everything, and kept trying to feed me even though I wasn’t hungry! The important trick is to eat slowly. Extremely slowly. They were all very friendly and excited to learn about the US. They were also surprised to learn that I am learning Arabic. Many of them had never heard of Americans learning Arabic and were pleasantly surprised.
Right now, I’m waiting for some brownies to finish baking as my host brother wanted to eat some, so I tried cooking in my new home for the first time. Besides having to convert all the measurements, it was a simple task. They will be done in 3 minutes; yum!