Thursday, November 17, 2011

I can't dance!

My awkwardness sometimes just seems to overflow into everything I do in Oman. I think a mathematic formula to describe it would be something along the lines of

awkwardness ×new culture= 〖awkwardness〗^∞

And yes, people, that is awkwardness to the power of infinity. I think any past and present exchange students will agree that this is a period of making a fool of oneself. It comes with the territory. We’re going to make mistakes.  And it’s going to be awkward.

One of the places, however, that my eternal awkwardness is most prevalent is at parties, where of course dancing is required. For those of you in the States who know me well (read: Heatwavers), I am constantly dancing. It’s just an Emma-ish trait. Well.

Yesterday, I went to a birthday party for a young cousin. However, he is still a bit too young to appreciate the merits of a good party. So the females of the party went into another room, closed the door, and pulled out an empty blue plastic water cooler (you know, the kind that you flip upside down in a machine and then there’s mineral water or something in there). Empty blue water coolers, when flipped upside down, make awesome drums, apparently. And these ladies are masters at playing all the popular songs on these makeshift drums. Then, of course, dancing is in order.

And, of course, exchange students need to take advantage of every learning opportunity and hey, why not learn to dance? I’m not too bad of a dancer. Yeah, about that. Every time I go to a party (I can think of maybe three where I have needed to show off my skills), I am pulled almost instantly to the dance floor and taught the proper way to shake my hips.

Here’s the problem: I can’t do it!

But I try. And to look on the bright side, my attempts cause fabulous entertainment for observers. And I have a wicked amount of fun in the attempt. So I would like to extend a thank you to all of the wonderful women who gamely try to teach me a skill that I have little chance of ever truly picking up. All I can say is Inshallah I will learn!

I feel like the dancing, along with everything else awkward that I do, will make me a stronger person. In fact, it already is. Being here is teaching me to laugh at myself. It’s teaching me to go with the flow, and to try something new. It’s teaching me to be a more outgoing Emma. I’m braver and more willing to try new things. And I’m so grateful to have these opportunities for personal growth.

This experience of being in Oman has been hard for me lately. I’ve had a very homesick last few weeks, and sometimes I’ve felt hopeless and just ready to give up. It’s sometimes to stay strong through an experience like a foreign exchange program. But it’s moments like these, when I feel completely accepted in the culture, that make me accept myself all the more. And the awkward moments teach me to deal with things, to be stronger. So thank you to everyone out there, here and at home, who are supporting me on my journey to discover both a new culture and myself. 

Another thing I’ve learned: How to insert an equation into Microsoft Word. Yay for technological skills!


  1. Great post - but what exactly is Omani dancing like?

  2. Umm.. Sort of like belly dancing. I can't really describe it any more accurately than that.