Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Almost there!

In 48 hours, I will be at the airport checking in for my first flight. These last few days have been an absolute flurry of activity and preparations. My family threw me a surprise party, and I honestly had no idea! It was great to get to see a lot of my friends for the last time until next summer! Even though I'll miss them like crazy, I feel like there's a bit of closure there. I also pretty much have everything packed up, and my suitcase made weight! In fact, it was only 40 pounds out of the 50 we can have! I'm pretty much sure I am forgetting something, but I guess there's a few days for me to figure out WHAT that is. I also have figured out my situation with getting credit at my high school here, and my counselor, principal, and registrar have made it clear that I will get credit! Hooray! Just a few minutes ago, actually, I received a phone call from a number I didn't recognize--I picked up and it was Lukaew, our Thai exchange student from this past year, calling to wish me safe travels! It was wonderful to hear from her!
I'll be spending today and tomorrow finishing up cleaning my room and spending time with my family! This honestly doesn't feel real yet, and it probably won't until I'm actually getting on the plane. I'm so excited and also so grateful for this incredible opportunity!

Ma'a Salamaa!
Emma

Friday, August 19, 2011

How to Pack for a YEAR in One Suitcase (and other details about my quickly-approaching adventure!)

Actually, the title could be somewhat misleading. I have no idea how this is going to work. But I assume that things will work themselves out!
I have officially began the packing process. My luggage includes one large rolling duffel, one small carry-on sized suitcase, and my backpack. Because United Airlines has changed their international baggage policy, into those three bags I have to fit everything that I will need for a year, plus host family presents (for 7 people)!!
Challenge Accepted.
(I'll get back to you on how that goes.)




Then comes a slightly more daunting challenge- saying goodbyes to everyone! I have now started that challenging process. Yesterday was the first day that it really hit me that I am leaving. In 2 weeks. Less, now. This whole adventure has always seemed like just a far-off fantasy to me... something that would happen far, far in the future. But now I see how quickly it's coming! Anyways, my next few weeks will be a flurry of activity for me... I have plans with friends... goodbyes. Which is a weird feeling. A year is a long time, and I'm just starting to realize that now! I also am going up to Minnesota for 2 days with my mom to see Carleton and Macalester. College tours already!!! But really, that seems fairly minute compared to the monstrous task of saying goodbyes to everyone and everything I know.

I also can officially say I have made arrangements with my American school to get credit for my classes in Oman! And I have finished all of my shopping--for me and for host family presents!! Clothing in Oman has to be a lot more modest than what would be acceptable here. We cannot wear anything low-cut and our shoulders must be covered at all times. Pants and skirts must reach at least mid-calf in order to not be considered promiscuous! Of course you have to keep in mind that Oman is a VERY hot climate and therefore lightweight clothing is best. Al-7amdelillah* for cotton! And shopping for host family presents is much harder than one would expect; I had to buy for 7 people who are virtual strangers, but I think I figured everything out!

Itinerary and Expectations- the first week-ish
September 1st- I leave home and fly from Chicago to Washington, DC. Upon arrival there, I find my gate and meet my group there. I'm flying with the 4 other YES Abroad Oman scholars as well as Jerry, our flight chaperone. From DC we fly overnight to Frankfurt.
September 2nd- We arrive in Frankfurt in the morning of the 2nd and have a layover there. After that, we catch a flight to Muscat! We arrive in Muscat fairly late at night and will be taken to a hotel--which hotel, I still don't know. I won't post my entire flight itinerary on my blog because anyone can read it, but if you'd like to see it send me an email or facebook message or smoke signal!
September 3rd- We wake up in Muscat and begin our orientation! That morning we get to go on a brief tour of Muscat and visit our Omani schools! We also will have lunch and meet the AMIDEAST Oman staff! After that comes clearly the most exciting part of the day... we meet and get to go home with our host families!! Very excited for that! Oh, and I think that September 3rd may be the third day of Eid al-Fitr, aka the end of Ramadan and a giant party! Don't quote me on that, but people seem to have been telling me this. And if it's true, this would be very exciting!
September 4th- A very jet-lagged Emma starts school! At 7 in the morning, I think! I hope no one expects me to be lucid, because that's unlikely to happen. Luckily, Quin is in my class at school as well and so it won't just be me! I'm not actually 100% sure about the name of the school, because I've heard 3 different names-- all with the same beginning part but either a Private School, International School, or International Academy as the ending... Anyways, I will be in class 11B, which has 18 girls in it, counting Quin and myself. There is another all-boys class in the school, and I don't know how much the two classes mix! Anyways, the girls of 11B are all quite nice and very welcoming... I can't wait to meet them all! My host sister, the 15 year old one, is in my class.

Note: the school/work week in Oman runs Saturday-Wednesday, with a Thursday/Friday weekend. Which is why I start school on Sunday!

After that, I hopefully will begin to settle into a daily pattern of Omani life!

I think that this is the last time I'll post until Oman, so here goes!

Ma'a Salamaa!

Emma


*Al-7amdelillah= praise be to God. The 7 is a throaty and rather stressed h sound.

P.S. Speaking of Arabic, I am not the most reliable source on this at the moment... this morning I was talking to one of my host sisters and I called her 7abibi, which is the masculine form. 7abibty is the feminine form of the word... oops! It means my dear, btw.