Friday, September 30, 2011

Fish Ate My Feet

Dear Readers,

Yesterday, I spent a good part of my day with some really awesome friends from school, walking around the mall. It wasn't just hanging out, because these girlfriends of mine are crazy!

Unlike in America, people in Oman don't usually come to the mall until after 5 pm. Because we got there at 2, we spent 2 hours playing Truth or Dare around the vacant mall. I won't tell you much, so no one gets embarrassed, but I will say this; record your friends when they are committing the dare.

You will deeply enjoy it later :)

(We recorded one of us crawling across a row of ten tables in the food court. It was hilarious.)

After the game of Truth or Dare, we walked around the mall some more, and stumbled upon this place called "Dr. Fish".

Dr. Fish is a place where you dip your feet in fish tanks, and have mini piranhas nibble away at your dead skin, and leave your feet perfectly soft. :) The real names of the fish are Garra rufa and Cyprinion macrostomusIt tickled a lot, but was a TON of fun. 

You enter the "spa", wash your feet, then get on a wooden platform with a place to sit, and immerse your feet into the glass tanks. Automatically the fish will swarm to you! You can have the lights dimmed, put on music, and just talk, or sing, and have a good time as you squeal at the little tadpoles tickling your toes.

Obviously I'm really enjoying Oman :)

Here's a clip from the travel Channel: Until I get my own video to work, this will have to do!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thank You Sultan Quaboos!!!

Dear Readers, 

I can't believe I missed this, but I thought you guys should know that those American hikers who were thrown into the Iranian jail two years ago?

Well, after the woman (who incidentally became engaged to one of the young men while in jail) was let out, the two men were still being held in captivity. Thanks to Sultan Qaboos, for working feverishly to pay the bail and establish transportation, they were finally released on September 21st, and reunited with their families in Oman. 

Here's CNN's newscast:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cute Moments

Dear Readers,

Today was Friday, the last day of my weekend. Not much took place, except my host sister and I baked cupcakes, while she ornately decorated them.

In the midst of it my little host brother popped in. Because he is younger, he doesn't like to use his english, so he'll ask my sister something about me, Quin (or sometimes "Coon"), while I try to decipher what he wants to ask. Or he'll ask what a certain word means in English, so maybe he can ask me his question.

On this occasion he asked my host sister a question, and she hesitated. Then he asked her what the word for "Heaven" was.

Now as I listened, I figured out that he was asking my host sister:      "Is Quin going to heaven?"

My innate thought was, "Yes, of course - I'm Christian."

I was raised, after all, a christian brought up believing in this: That all who believe Jesus was the son of God and died for our sins would receive eternal life.

It is the typical scene I grew up watching, only a Christian was the little boy, and an atheist was the person!

But this is the little boy being a Muslim, and the person being a Christian.

My host sister gave an ambiguous answer: that "everyone goes to heaven". But I know as well as her that that's not what we were taught.

I think ......... this search for God has been never ending.

All we can do now is love each other like brothers/sisters,
teach each other like piers,
and pray for each other like equals.

Because that is what we all are, after all. ;)

In the end, this moment will remain in my heart as a reminder of life's meaning. I thought you guys might like it ;)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Saturday Night in U.S. = Thursday Night in Oman

Dear Readers,

The weekend here is on Thursday and Friday. And this Thursday was fun.

After a day of shopping in the mall, which has all the high-end fancy stores you would expect in an airport, or big city, Juuj (my host sis) and I went to a friends house for a girls night.

It was my first Omani girls night, and it was awesome. After we all met up at M's house, we hung out until we decided we needed junk food, and a movie. Because the sun was setting, and the temperature turned low, we got to walk to the store. This was cool for me because I can't remember walking outside in Oman before this. :) Walking in a neighborhood in Oman is not like it is in America. There aren't any yards, and if they are, they're gated. All the houses are white or beige stone, and the ground is either the same color stone, or sandy dust. There aren't any sidewalks, but plenty of kids riding bikes, and people walking.

These girls were hilarious. We made a bit of a scene in the grocery store picking out a movie. When we got back to M's, we started to watch the movie I picked out, Morning Glory. They decided they wanted to change to Disturbia. (It seems most Omanis LOVE horror films)

After the ambivalence of movie decisions, we watched Hide and Seek, which I screamed at the whole night. It was awesomely scary.

But I think the highlight of the night was probably when M showed us the Neon Kitty video on Youtube. I don't know how I've never seen it before, but I'm glad I have now. :) Juuj and I cried laughing through the entire thing.

Just watch it and you'll understand:
Or don't watch, and save yourself a headache :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Notes on 9/11

Dear Readers,

Today as you may know from all the perturbation (hoopla), today is the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.

Although I was in 1st grade, I'll never forget that day. Being in a different country, however, has made me unable to feel the impact of the memory. I'm in Oman, how does this affect me now?

But when you really think about it......really, really think about it, you realize how history was altered.

How many lives vanished, and how many lives changed.

How many books were created, movies were made, tears dropped, and children left father and motherless.

All because of one day.

In total 3,497 people died that day. Including the people in the towers, terrorists, policemen, firemen, paramedics  NY residents, New Jersey Residents, Passengers on the planes, Foreign Nationals, people in the company Cantor-Fitzgerald, and finally the civilians and military working at the Pentagon.

More than 3,051 children lost parents.

1,609 people lost a spouse or partner.

Not to mention traveling by air would never be the same again.

This catastrophe affected every American life. And that includes Americans who practice Islam. When a great loss envelops us, its natural instinct to point to someone to blame. So I guess you can imagine who people blamed.
That was wrong. Playing the blame game especially when you are uneducated on the matter of fact, is hurtful and unjust. There are estimated to be 2.8 million Muslim Americans. .05% of the U.S. Population. And they had nothing to do with this. In fact, Most Muslims all throughout the world had nothing to do with it! And I'm pretty sure my Omani family had nothing to do with it either.

So, the next time I ask myself how it affects me, hopefully I'll remember.

Friday, September 9, 2011

First Day in Church

Dear Readers,

I went to church today. One of the teachers in my school offered to take me, so I accepted. It turns out they go to a presbyterian church right behind my house, so the car ride latest about 1 minute :). No I won't walk. Why? Because its 100 degrees outside.

The church service was really great. And exactly like one you would find in America! They even had a band (drum set, electric guitars, egg shakers, the whole shebang) and were playing Katina songs! I saw a baptism, heard a sermon, and watched in awe as 20 people danced around waving brightly colored flags :}. So, although it all sounds crazy, I loved it.

I pass this sign in the picture going to church ---->

I was introduced to some girls in the youth group. These were their introductions: Keep in mind I am still in Muscat, Oman.

"Hi I'm Jacomina I'm from South Africa."

"Hi I'm Peggy I'm from England."

"Hi I'm Kamala I'm from India."

I was again, in awe.

This church included people of all nations who live in Muscat, Oman. Because the majority of the population of Oman is Muslim, I didn't see any Omanis I could distinctly recognize.

Although, no one was wearing their dishdashas or abayas.

Quick Fact: All the Churches are in the same plot of area because the government will not allow worship of other religions outside this designated area. This is rule is generally respected.

P.S. Because the weekend is on Thurday and Friday, "Sunday" Church for me is now Friday Church.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What Omanis are Like:

Dear Readers,

So far on this trip I've noticed that Omanis love to travel, and most of them have traveled to Europe at least once or twice in their lives. In America kids at school share the number of states they've been to. Florida, California, New York, etc.. But if your neighbor a block away is Europe, all the school kids will be talking about going to England, France, Switzerland, Barcelona,....But mainly England. EVERYONE here has gone to England. My oldest host sister is going to England this Friday with her husband and baby girl to study for her masters or something.

These people who live in the desert they're whole lives are constantly drawn to the cold.

I however, grew up in Pennsylvania USA. Where winter is 3 months too long. Although I definitely wouldn't turn down any trip to Switzerland or England, I think I soak up the sun here for a couple months.

 <-------Omani flag with the English flag

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Video

Here, watch it!

What Its Like to Have a Housemaid

Dear Readers,

I woke up this morning late because my alarm didn't work. Thank God for Marie, for waking me up. She is a super woman! She does all the cleaning, and most of the cooking. Having a housemaid is the strangest thing I've ever experienced, my readers.

You will wake up in the morning with breakfast on a tray on your desktop. All your used clothes from yesterday will have been washed and ironed and set on your counter or dresser. You go downstairs and there is a packed lunch for everyone, made specifically to your requests. When you come home from school a hot meal will be waiting for you on the table. At the end of the day, all your trash is gone, and wants and needs are met. At least that's what its like for me!

Marie smiles a lot, and even though I don't think she always understands what I'm saying, my exasperation subsides.

Thanks Marie!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 3 With Host Family - First Day of School

Dear Readers,

Today was packed with new, new new. I started school today. Emma and I are going to Al Ibdaa International Private School. Noah, Jaira, and Bailey are going to Azzan Bin Qais. My school colors are green and white. I love my uniform but it was so, so hot. The uniform consists of leggings, a white dress shirt, and a fitted green dress. The leggings are important because they soak in your sweat instead of you dress soaking it in. After sitting in a room with 20 kindergarteners (orientation) I met my class mates.

They are a riot. If you are reading, girls, I love you all ;)

What did I learn today? : A few Arabic words, that Omanis LOVE chocolate...and all junk food :), and the mall is the social center of the world here.

Cool news: I met the US Ambassador today. :) ooooh yeah. All 5 of us (the Americans) went to the United States Embassy here in Oman. Every country has a group of Embassy's belonging to other countries they have relations with. It was very cool. We were told about our safety here in Oman. To keep it short: Oman is safer than even the US.

 Its in the stats.

I spent time with family today. It was really nice. I'm in the middle of the process of teaching my host brother how to solve the rubix cube. It might take a while, but this kid is pretty bright for his age :).

Well, I'm tired. Night!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day 1: With Host Family

Dear Readers,

I trust you've watched my "home video" of your trip. Unfortunately when I fist uploaded it some problems occurred, so it isn't as wonderful as it could be. In response to this I'm uploading the better version now as I write, so wait for my new post!

You've missed a lot, readers. Today all 5 of us met our Host Families. (cue excited squeal) It was very pleasant.

The whole timeline leading up to our meeting looked like this: Arrive in Muscat at midnight. Go to the Ramada Hotel and have some apple juice, upload cool video previously talked about above, and Sleep. The next morning (this morning) we woke up, got all our luggage, and went to a quaint British Breakfast-type Restaurant. It was very nice, and looked exactly like in the picture there ----->

After a British breakfast we toured Oman, went to the AmidEast office, and were fitted for our school uniforms, which are green dresses that go to the floor with white dress shirts underneath. The rest of the day we drank Brazilian coffee with a native Omani, ate Omani food, and went to another hotel to wait for our host families' arrival.

My host family is amazing, and surprisingly a lot like my own back home! We were told in ALL our orientation preparations that they would have different understandings of privacy, family, interests, but on the contrary, I culture shock, and no complete difference in routine.

But don't get me wrong, its still different here. They are much much more modest here. Modesty will depend on what tribe you are from...(who raised you, so to speak) though I don't feel as if it is so inconvenient to dress modestly.

However, the most important change is the fact that everyone speaks arabic, and we can't understand much of it. And I truly love it. I love not that I can't speak it, but that I have the opportunity to learn to speak it. Its just too bad that we don't speak multiple languages in America. On the plane to Frankfurt I sat next to a very nice man who put up with my excitement and even let me sit in his window seat when we landed. He spoke English, German and French. On the plane ride from Frankfurt to Muscat I sat next to the another extremely nice guy - who is probably reading this ;), who spoke 5 languages; English, Polish, German, French, and Arabic. And here I am trying to learn my measly second. Oh well, I'll be speaking it soon!

Anyways, my fist day here was amazing :). I'll write more when I have the energy, but here in Oman it is 11 pm, and I reeeeeeeally need to sleep.

Here is the better version of the video....Expect to see a new one with out first day in Muscat, later tomorrow.

Our trip!!! Its cool, so watch it :)