So awesome!

My host brothers just showed me the coolest thing! It’s like an electronic Quran. You buy the Quran with the gadget, and when you hold the gadget over text in the Quran, it reads it out loud (and there are lots of languages to choose from)!! My host mom told me it’s really helpful for kids (since they can hear the verses out-loud) as well as helpful for people who have trouble seeing or reading. You can even looks words up on this gadget! So awesome!!

Piece of Home

It’s true that home is where the heart is. I believe that you can make yourself at home no matter where you go… sometimes, it’s easier to do so with some decorations. I have made myself my own little niche in my host family’s house and finally feel at home (though the AC in my room just started working, so that probably helped a lot… it’s nice not to feel like I’m suffocating in my room!). Over the time that I’ve been here, I’ve received small gifts from various people as well have bought/made some decorations to take home with me to the US (like my painting I did of coffee when we went for the art class?). The picture below is my dresser, and it is my favorite part of my room. It’s all nice and decorated and jazzes up my room a bit. My favorite thing there is the jar with shells in it, because I have been collecting shells or small stones each time I go to the beach while in Oman.

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Weekend Life

Yesterday after school, I went with my host family to Fun Zone (the place with ice skating) and my younger host brother, Ali, went ice skating for the first time! I felt very proud of him and of how fast he learned how to go on the ice.

I then went with my host father and brothers to the beach, where we ate dinner (we bought chicken kabobs from a man grilling meat next to the beach). Then my host brother, Yazan, was feeling artistic and decided to draw portraits of everyone in the sand. Here’s me in an abaya!

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Today I’ve been working non-stop: I have a bunch of homework and my big final project coming up. So that’s what I will be doing tomorrow as well. Super exciting, right?

Happy Easter

I’m celebrating a bunch of holidays here for the first time! Who would have thought that my first two times going to Church would have been in Oman?

On Sunday, I attended an Easter service with the other NSLI-Y girls. We went to a Catholic church service, and it was interesting, because most of the people in attendance were Indian as was the Priest.

Everything was fine and dandy, until it was time for Communion. Everyone stood up to go to have the wafer placed in their mouth, and so I stood up with Mac and my Arabic teacher Humaid (we were sitting together). Humaid, as usual was wearing his dishdasha, and I was wearing an abaya. Suddenly a man came and shook his head at us and told us to sit. I understand if he did not want us to take the Communion, but I was offended at the manner in which he told us not to, and also that he assumed none of us were Catholic because of how we were dressed. Of course, this does not mean everyone in the church was rude, but this man in particular made me very angry.

Happy Passover!

Monday night last week I celebrated one of my favorite Passovers ever. Miriam’s American family was visiting Oman for the week, so they organized the Seder for the first night. And in none other than the house of the US Ambassador! Pretty fancy right??

The dinner was held in her house, so I got to see the downstairs of her house, and let me tell you, her house is very nice! It was a formal dinner, and everyone dressed up (I wore an Omani dress, so this was certainly quite different from previous Passovers I have experienced), waiters came around with trays of juice, and all the NSLI-Y girls, YES girls, some of the AMIDEAST staff, some Embassy staff, and Miriam’s American and Omani host family were in attendance.

We celebrated the Seder in a similar fashion that I am used to, but there was an added wonderful twist: the international-ness of it. When you think about it, it is amazing. We celebrated a Jewish holiday in a predominately Muslim country with such a diverse group of students in attendance (including Christians, Hindus, Muslims, and Atheists), all coming together to celebrate Passover. We even read the Four Questions in English, Arabic, French, and Spanish and Miriam’s Omani host family helped lead some of the parts of the Seder. To me, this was so amazing and represents the power of cross cultural understanding and appreciation and how religions should not drive people apart, but can in fact, bring people together.

Then of course, we ate the typical Passover galore including Matzo ball soup and gefilte fish. Celebrating Passover with such a diverse group of people, in the Ambassador’s house, and with some of my best friends? Definitely one of my favorite Passovers yet.

Strange Allergic Reaction

Well this was an experience for the blog! I’m not really sure what triggered my allergic reaction or what is was caused by. I’m allergic to nuts, but this reaction was unlike anything else I have ever experienced, so who knows what happened? During lunch, I ordered a coffee milkshake, and there were some suspicious crunchy items at the top of it, so I stopped drinking it after becoming scared they were nuts. I felt a little weird, but by the end of lunch, I felt fine and forgot about the event. About an hour later after swimming in the pool, Liz, Anna, and I went to the beach. My throat was hurting and I was wheezing a bit, but I assumed I was dehydrated, so I sat down and started drinking a lot of water. The wheezing only got worse, though, and after 20 minutes I started to get scared so I called Liz and Anna. Apparently, my face had swelled a lot (Liz said I looked like an Oompa Loompa!) so we ran to the reception to ask for a first aid kit (which they somehow did not have) but luckily, they asked an Omani man sitting there to drive us to the nearest hospital (also, it slightly concerns me why no one said anything on the beach when they could obviously see me having trouble breathing while my face was swelling…). We got there and the receptionists kind of freaked me out because they were very slow, but finally, I got to the doctor and she gave me two shots, attached a breather device to me, and measured my heart rate. It was very exciting; I’ve never experienced any of that before! So I got to experience an Omani hospital, and apart from the slow receptionist, the doctor was very nice and comforting (all the doctors I saw were Indian and spoke English), and I was out in an hour and a half! Also, three of the AMIDEAST staff came, so it was basically an AMIDEAST party in the hospital. Certainly quite the experience!

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Spring Break

I haven’t written a blog post in a while, and I’m sorry about that! I have been pretty busy, but luckily today was a bit more low-key, so I’ll try to update my blog a little bit. Last week was Spring Break, and it was my first Spring Break in a while not with my friends at the beach! Actually, I did spend many of my days this past week at the beach with friends, but this break was definitely very different from my past vacations on the beach in Florida. At first I was not looking forward to my break at all because my break does not align with my host family’s vacations (so they worked and went to school last week) and I was afraid that I was going to be under home arrest for 10 days (since I cannot drive here, no one would be home, and there is no public transportation). Alhumduhlillah, we talked to the man who drives us to school, and he agreed to take us wherever we wanted any day for 5 riales each day ($13, but since I went with Anna and Liz, we got to split the costs amongst ourselves). This development certainly made my Spring Break amazing!

  • Thursday I went to Mac’s house and slept there. Though I have to say that my life reached a low when I went to bed earlier than her 4-year-old host brother.
  • Friday Mac, Kirby, and I took part in another modeling photo shoot (for a different salon). Again we got lots of Arabic makeup and hairstyles! It was only for head shots though, so unfortunately, we did not get to wear elaborate outfits. I am still waiting for the photos from the photoshoot!
  • Sunday I met up with Anna, Liz, and Kirby, and we went to City Center (our favorite mall in Muscat) and hung out there during the day. Since I don’t really go shopping very much here in Oman, and I am a (since Oman, recovering) shopaholic, it was lots of fun to go shopping. Though I have to say, due to my lack of shopping, my shopping stamina and interest has gone down tremendously!
  • Monday I hung around my house and caught up on some homework and reading. In the evening, I went to the US Ambassador’s house to celebrate the first night of Passover! I’m going to write a separate blog post on this experience.
  • Tuesday we had plans to all go to Wadi Al Shabb together, but these plans fell through, so I hung out in the house and finished more homework and watched a movie.
  • Wednesday Liz, Anna, and I went to Shatti Al-Qurum (the beach area with restaurants that we so love) and we hung out in a cafe, went for a long walk on the beach, ate lunch, and then walked some more on the beach. The weather was beautiful and the beach was gorgeous; it was overall an amazing day.

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  • Thursday I went to Oman Dive Center with Anna and Liz. Oman Dive Center is the beach area that our program took us to on our first day in Oman. It is a gorgeous private beach that is visited mostly by expatriates, allowing us to be able to wear bathing suits and swim. There is also a pool, so that is fun too. We hung out there in the morning and swam, ate lunch, and then swam a bit more until our hurried departure when I had an allergic reaction and had to go to the hospital. I’ll write a blog post about that as well. No worries though, I’m fine now!

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  • Friday was our last AMIDEAST excursion. We went snorkeling and it was a wonderful trip! We met up (all the NSLI-Y and YES girls) and first went on a small motorboat to see dolphins. We had to go out in the water for a bit to see them, but we finally spotted a few of them and got to go pretty close! Then we went to a calm area of the water that has a lot of fish and we got to go snorkeling, aka, I got to check off an item on my bucket list that I have wanted to do for a long time! The water was so clear and we got to see gorgeous fish—even parrotfish! Then we went for a late lunch (by late, I mean late… it was 4 PM) at a yummy Turkish restaurant before heading home. It was an amazing day!
  • Saturday I hung out at home and finished up some reading and homework. My Spring Break was already over!