Sunday, October 30, 2011

Laughing With Emma

Dear Readers,

Today was a normal day, wonderfully so. Today for the first time I felt completely assimilated in my school. Today, I knew what classes I had. I didn't have to ask. I actually knew which teacher would walk into the room next.
(That's right, here the students stay in the classroom and the teachers move from room to room.) Some think its a way of controlling the kids. I say it makes them more comfortable with throwing pens at the fans and watching the ink explode onto everyone's desk. :) - Its been done in the past, I've heard stories.

Today I chatted with Emma, just like every other day before. The things we talk about can get really nerdy and plain, like: "What college are you applying for?"

Our conversations get dry when we talk about American History, and whether this or that is right.
"The Gold Rush was so NOT the reason for expansion in the U.S.!" -Emma's thoughts

But our conversations are never dry, when we:

  •  Try to correct the english teacher's grammar. (We usually can't figure out how to fix his sentences either, but chip away at it like a game :)  Try correcting this one: "We are the person today because of history." It seems right at first, but you have to think hard!
  •  Try to understand that "Fuuct" means "function" in math class.
  • Settle on the conclusion that "Maths" is OKAY to write on the cover of your math book, because mathematics is plural anyways.
  • Write down the conversations we have with Mr. Sir Math
  •  Give our teachers names like Mr. Sir Math, Mr. Sir Physics, Miss Media, etc. because we can't figure out what they're real names are. (And the students just say "Sir!" anyways)

I could go on and on.

Today was a fun day. I don't know why, but we were all just really silly.
Emma and I were having a conversation on German Youth Exchanges. Here's how it went:

Me:  "So, can you do YES Abroad in Oman, and then a German one? I'm really interested."

Emma: "Uhh, Yeah! Yea, Julianne did that I think. She uh, came here actually last year, and now she's in Germany. Like, right now she's in Germany."

Me: "Ooooohhhh cool! That's awesome. Wait........................(long pause)..(I blink at Emma)....awesome, what country is she in?"

Emma: "She's in Germany."

Me: (I look at Emma)....(Then a face of embarrassed humor comes to me).

Emma: (Blank stare of astonishment)

Me and Emma: "Bahahahahahahahahah!!!"

Well I guess you would have to be there. Though, hence the name: "Laughing With Emma"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Magical Night at the Opera House

Dear Readers,
Last night our group went to the Royal Opera House. It was like being inside a giant heavenly marble cake, with intricate designs all over the walls and ceiling. Then when we discovered the auditorium - our jaws dropped. WOOD. 
Everything was made of wood. Wood in Muscat is extremely expensive. In America, most homes are made of wood. Correct? If you're an American, think about your own home. At least the frame of the house alone is made of wood. In Gulf Countries, and Dessert countries, all the wood must be imported. Therefore, people in Oman (and many other countries) choose Marble over any other material. Its simply cheaper. (What a polar difference from America!) 
Being in Oman for a good 2 months now, we were shocked to see the entire area made of wood. Just look at the picture and see for yourself:

The Ballet, Don Quixote, was wonderful - and amusing. I was glad they added a few funny scenes of the bad guy falling off the stoop, and being hit by a giant fish by the father trying to marry his daughter off to him.

Most of the people attending were non-Omanis. Some looked to be Omani, but most were the foreigners, such as South Africans, English, Northern Europeans, and some asians and Indians. Quite a mix of people.

I was especially excited for the night, because we got to dress up. "Wear the fanciest outfits/dresses you have." - Mama Fatin told us.

We all ended up looking beautiful. But the people working in the opera house might've been the most impressive. Women greeters were dressed in sparkling dresses of all sorts. Some Indian traditional dresses, others gowns, some in Abayas you wouldn't believe were even abayas. Clothes never were so intriguing to me.

The ballet was superb. Not too long, and very colorful. We did need to buy a program in order to figure out the story line (2 rial each!) but that only made it more captivating for me. It was like a game trying to figure out what they were acting out. After it was over, we went home with smiles on our faces, and tutu's spinning in our eyes. It was beautiful! 

<-----That's me!

Its raining cats....but not so much dogs

Dear Readers,

Oman is filled with cats! Lots and lots of cats. But unfortunately not as pets. Cats are considered rodents in Oman, equivalent to rats. Driving down the road, its not out of the ordinary to see a skeleton-shaped cat diving into the dumpsters, laying underneath or on top of cars, or sitting on the side of the road with a gash in its back, completely helpless.

The problem is, the cats reproduce litters. The amount of kittens coming into the world outnumber the number of cats that it took to reproduce them. So the population of cats is rising!

When it comes to dogs, its hard to say much about them, because there are so few dogs here. Why?

Well, traditionally, dogs are considered unclean. Not many muslims have dogs as pets because, well it is sort of against Islam. But I say "sort of", because there are actual specifications. For example, its okay to keep a dog if its for the purpose of hunting for food.
There's a well written explanation on this link in fact: What Do Muslims Think About Dogs?

But the ironic part of all this?? All my Omani friends want cats as pets!!! All of them fawn over the rodent-cats! Even though the cats are skinny and gross, some girls still want to steal a kitten and raise it into a normal house cat.

I wish them a half-hearted "good luck" stealing a kitten from one of those Omani cats, though. They have little chance of sneaking past those vicious creatures!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another video from our trip to Nizwa:

The music ("The Cave" by Mumford and Sons) was chosen because of the memories we made, listening to Mumford and sons on the car ride up Jebel Shams. That was an adventure I will never forget. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Middle East Class at AmidEast

Dear Readers,

I haven't had internet for about a week, which explains why my posts have been cut so short.
From hearing about other YESabroader's lack of interent, I've officially decided that going without the interet is an inevitable feat I'm just going to have to accept. >:( Angrily.

I'm typing to you from the AmidEast office. Thankfully they provide internet to students. I'm a leftover from our arabic class. A.K.A. I'm the last one left and "insh'alla" (god willing) I'll get a ride home. ;)

We all met up at AmidEast for our MiddleEastern history class. Today we had a debate. This was cool.

We are currently learning about how Media portrays different sides of a story, but fails to deliver a true sense of what is really happening within politics. Today's debate focussed on Syria's President Bashar Assad. Its really interesting to see how news stations can so easily pin Bashar as the bad guy by taking statements out of his benign speech, and using them against him. In one example, a British News Station took statements out of Bashar's Public Address and made him sound completely different from what he implied within the surrounding context. (We read the full speech beforehand)
They used his words out of context. Many people do have valid reasons for calling him a dictator, but the way the media has tried to make their case has shown to be invalid.

Obviously this was a great topic to have a debate on. I bet you're rolling up thoughts in your head already, about how wrong I am on one aspect, and right in the other.

Either way it was a good discussion.

The video below is the one we watched in class. If you were to read the President's speech and then watch this, you'll find some of Assad's words were taken out of context.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lightning Storm

Dear Readers,

Today was an eventful day full of arabic class and lightening storms.

As Emma and I sat in the library trying to figure out what Ms. S was trying to say to us, a soft "bang" occurred.

"It couldn't be." I said

"It has to be!!" Emma started to freak out.

Because it only rains once or twice a year in Oman, we were dumbly hopeful.

"Ms. S!! What is that sound???!" Emma then went on to try to ask Ms. S if it was raining.
She apparently didn't care, and was more interested in teaching us the word for rooster  (which we thought was hilarious because she repeatedly chanted : Deek. Deek, deek!!) You should realize, the arabic version sounds a lot like a certain icky word in english.

Eventually Ms.S gave us a ten minute break to stick our heads out the window and watch the ominous lightening from the tall Omani mountains. As we stuck our heads out the window, we heard the kids outside screaming every time it thundered.

Bang! "Aaaaahhhhhh!!!!!"

Lightening visual: "Eeeeeehhhh" coupled with "AAAAAaaaahhh!!!"

We got a pretty good kick out of this, and Emma was just about to join the little kids in screaming.

Eventually Ms.S went to the bathroom and must've gotten lost in there because a good half hour went by. To say the least, today has been a pretty good day. With the exception that it DIDN'T rain.

Oh well. Welcome to Oman. ;)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

First Omani Party

Dear Readers,

Last night I went to my first Omani Birthday party. It was SO much fun. We arrived an hour and a half late, and were the first ones there. "Welcome to Oman" - That's the phrase I hear when I'm told something is "the norm" here. After about 5 minutes groups of girls in abayas arrived. And let me tell you, it was the strangest thing to see these black abayas transform into smoking hot ladies in short dresses and made up hair. It made total sense though! Of course you would want to cover yourself up when you look that pretty. ;)

 As the evening rolled along we started to dance.

 We danced all night. Mostly to the beat of American music. Pitbull, LMAFO, Shakira, and every other dirty dancing artist you can think of, we danced to. These girls were so much fun, and even taught me how to "properly" shake my hips. You can imagine the excitement that arose when the belly dancing skirts came out. Happily almost every girl got a chance to wear it. Even Emma and I. : D They said I was doing okay while I was trying to copy their moves, but I bet they were simply enjoying the comedy of the silly American girl trying to move her hips. Either way I didn't care how I looked, I was just having a ton of fun! (probably just as much fun as the little boys - who were supposed to be in their rooms- had watching us shake our hips) Naughty boys ;)

We may not have raised the roof last night, but we certainly broke the floor! In the middle of the living room, we managed to create a hole as big as a chair. It was hilarious, but what made it even better was the safety precautions the set forth. To prevent anyone from falling down into the basement, we used everyone's multicolored high heels to cage the hole, and create a "shoe fence". The rest of the night we danced around the hole like Indians around a fire. If you get too close - you'll get burned. In our case you'd lose your foot. ;)

The music was poppin, the food was delicious, and evening was just plain great.
 I hope to do it again!

 Happy Sweet Sixteen Juwana!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Boot Camp Video!!

Boot Camp on the Beach

Dear Readers,

Today I get to join the "Boot Camp" on the Beach exercise program. Thanks to Amideast! ;) This is going to be fun....hopefully. Boot Camp is basically an exercise group for foreigners in Oman. "Boot Camp" is a loose name though. Thankfully! Exercising in the hot sun makes the whole experience MUCH harder. But the fun part is I will be with other people foreign to Oman.

 I'm getting picked up by a friend in an hour, but before I do anything, I promised my host brothers that if they ate the skin of their apples (the healthy part of an apple) I would play soccer with them.

So I guess I get a double work out today. Wish me luck with boot camp!

P.S. : Readers, check in later tonight, or tomorrow. I should have pictures of the beach by then. Boo yahh