Thursday, January 26, 2012

Home Sweet Oman

My host family spent the last week in Saudi Arabia for religious reasons, so I stayed with a host aunt and uncle. Today, I came went back to my house. When I walked in the door, I thought (in the typical manner of someone returning home after a time away), "yay, I'm glad to be home!" And then I had this realization... Oman is home. Of course, it will never replace the place that I first came from, but I feel so comfortable here in my life. I feel at ease with my host family, in and out of the house. At school, I feel like just another member of the class, not the awkward outsider. And I have friends, people who are no longer just acquaintances.

I went through the typical phases of being an exchange student: First, there's an incredible high point in which everything is new and shiny. Next comes the hostility phase, where everything is just awful, and nothing makes sense, and all you want to do is go back to where you came from, where they understand them. And next comes  a gradual climb to a state of happiness. Not the bliss from the beginning, but a sense of belonging. Home, to me, is a sense of being. It's when you complain as much as you can about a place but honestly would never ever want to leave it. And when you're not there, you miss it. As Dorothy pointed out to us all: there's no place like home.

I think I've reached that sense of being home. My life here isn't outrageously exciting anymore (any more than I usually get excited about things anyways), but I'm happy. I'm no longer amazed by gliding through the lanes of Muttrah in an abaya or being cold in 70 degree weather or hearing the Omani national anthem every morning (here if you're interested) or listening to the call to prayer 5 times a day. Those are just the little bits of life that I cherish, but don't necessarily generate immense amounts of ecstatic interest in me.

I think what I love most about Oman is how well it blends old and new culture together. In Muscat, you find both this:

and this:

These two structures are perhaps a 10-15 minute drive from one another. The architecture is expressive of how Omani culture works, too. People both embrace modern times (women's rights comes to mind here) and  hold onto their traditions (eating with hands is definitely not considered taboo; in fact it is often quite polite). 

All of this and more are just a few of the reasons why I just love my life here. I just passed my halfway point on Tuesday, and I'm determined to have a wonderful next 4 1/2 months in this land that I call home. 


  1. Dear Emma,

    I am a friend of Woolsey and Bea's from Holderness living this year in Geneva. I found your description of the phases one goes through when living abroad for a year spot on! Very perceptive. Enjoyed the photos of architecture you used for illustration. Very effective. I also just voted for your blog in the contest. Win or lose, your are winning! Yours, Martha Macomber

  2. Stumbled upon your blog ! gud work and nice pics ! will follow it ! ( fm India )