It’s hard to understand how different Omani culture is from that in the United States. Everyone knows that women in Oman must dress modestly, but modesty is required of men as well! We were told that we cannot wear shorts outside of our room, and I’ve heard that I will need to wear long sleeves during Ramadan, so I guess I’ll need to buy some clothes! There are also a lot of rules: for example, we cannot leave our compound aside from planned excursions. Some rules are unclear because everything has been in Arabic! I can’t complain about anything though. I’m the foreigner here, and I’ll go with whatever they want for us.
I didn’t start the day of so well… There are a lot of bugs in Oman, and most of you know how I feel about that. Wasps are constantly trying to fly into our bathroom, so of course as soon as I got in to take a shower in the morning one flew in, and I flew out when I saw it. We took care of it though. This will wind up being a good thing I think; it will help me conquer my fear of bugs. In sha’ Allah (god willing).
After that, we took a bus to the actual Sultan Qaboos College for Teaching Arabic to Non-Native Speakers. Yeah, that’s a long name, so I’m just going to call it the College from now on. We met all of the workers there. I’m already bad with names, so I’m even worse at Arabic names. We took a tour of the school, and after that we had about two hours of lectures on various rules and Omani culture (all in Arabic). One interesting cultural rule is that those of the opposite gender do not shake hands when they meet. Then we took a two hour placement test. It was very difficult, but I don’t really mind since I won’t have any fun if I’m not in an appropriate level. We all have different skill levels, so it’s a very good idea to have us split up into classes with equal levels so that people don’t get upset and everyone has equal opportunities to speak.
After we went back home, we had a break in the afternoon and then went to visit Manah in the evening. We had a very cool tour. We started with a falaj, which is an Omani underground irrigation system. It’s really a pathway underground for water to flow through. I think the source for this one was about 25 kilometers away. We went to some ruins of a village in Manah around a fort, and then we went to the ruins of another city that are currently being restored. They are not open yet, but we were allowed in! I believe the village we saw then was over 600 years old. Not all of my facts may be accurate because all of the explanations are in Arabic!
It was a fun day, but I’m very tired now.
Also, this was outside my dorm building: