So these past few days have turned out quite differently than I could have ever planned. I initially intended Thursday to, more or less, be a day for metal health in order to get some serious memorization done on Friday. The weekend itself started quite well. I wasn’t feeling completely up to par, I was getting a sore throat, but I figured getting some rest would take care of that. Therefore I ventured out to one of the City Centers (name of the local mall) with two other girls from the CLS program. It was nice to just kind of wander around and I was able to get myself some real American food. This included a cheeseburger and fries and my first cup of Starbucks since leaving DC nearly a month ago. Needless to say I was really excited about this, even though it costs the exact same, if not slightly more, than it does at home for a drink. Either way it was very much worth it.
Thursday (like Saturday in the States) was intended to be my mental health day and started off by hitting up the Oman Dive Center with two of my roommates and another female student in our program.
Unlike many of the beaches in Muscat and Oman, the Center is located in a cove area and relatively westernized. Therefore we were able to wear our swimsuits without covering, go swimming, and layout in the sun at our leisure. The water itself was beautiful and felt like swimming in the world’s largest bath tub (plus quite a bit of salt). It felt great, although finding pockets of cooler water was always best. For the first time since arriving, I was also able to get a little bit of a tan. This may seem a bit contradictory, but in fact it is so hot and humid around here that no one goes outside, especially during the day. So in light of the fact that I have been getting paler while in Oman, I jumped on a chance to get a little bit of color.
That evening a majority of CLSers went to the Oman vs China soccer game at the Seeb Sports Stadium. Upon arriving we discovered that it was an Olympic qualifier game and kind of a big deal. I really enjoyed being able to spend more time outside that evening watching a sporting event although it was extremely hot as always. Oman ended up losing the initial game 0-1, but since they had won the game in China the week before, they continued into an 30-minute tie breaker in order to determine the winner of the series. Coming back in great fashion, Oman was able to score 3 goals during this extra time and won the series overall.
I believe this effectively kicked the Chinese out of the running for participation in men’s soccer in the 2012 London Olympics. It was awesome and all the fans were cheering loudly. We also got on one of the news sites again – making CLS Oman twice as famous as any other CLS program. I will post the link for these pictures below. Warning: the picture of me was taken when my roommate Allison (on the right side of the photo) and I were joking around about intensively cheering; I was not THAT into it. In addition, after the game 3 players threw their (soaking wet) jerseys to our group. We are guessing we were able to make this happen mainly because we were a large group of white girls, but no matter the reason it was still awesome. Unfortunately though, I did not catch one. On the plus side, my bus decided to have a dance party in it all the way back to the hotel and it was epic.
The next day was Friday and I had been hoping to get quite a bit of studying, particularly vocabulary, done as my class had not gotten a lot of homework over the weekend. But things seemed to take a down turn from this point on. My throat had begun to hurt really badly on Thursday and I though I may be getting strep throat. Friday it became much worse and became accompanied by a fever, ear pain, and tonsils so swollen I could barely swallow water. That night I finally went to the doctor with a staff member from the Center. The ENT doctor looked at my throat and immediately told me I have sever tonsillitis. This was just fantastic news to hear as one can imagine. I was prescribed 3 different medications and sent home. Not feeling in the least bit better and beginning to lose my voice, I have not gone to school for the past 2 days. Upon waking up this morning (Sunday), my condition had not improved and in some respects I felt worse; potentially due to the high number of medications I had been consuming on a nearly empty stomach as I could not eat much (extremely painful swallowing = no food). Returning to the doctor around noon, it was confirmed that I did indeed have severe tonsillitis and was prescribed an additional 3 medications. In addition (lucky me), I was also provided with a shot and IV that I was guaranteed would work to supplement the medications I was taking and help them to work faster. I am unsure on how much to believe this, but so far I would venture to say the result has been relatively positive. I was able to eat a mango and a tuna sandwich for dinner with less pain than before (as even this morning I could barely eat a small yogurt because it hurt so much). Inshaallah I will feel well enough to return to classes tomorrow and can go on the trip planned for this upcoming weekend which includes camping in the desert. For now, I will try to make up a bit of my homework while drinking extensive amounts of water and continuing with medications. Other than these rough past few days, I am hoping that my time in Oman continues getting better and better.
Continuing in my standard fashion, listed below are a few more things to know about Oman:
13. The easiest way to spot an Omani is by their dress. Men will wear a dishdasha (much like a white robe, but can sometimes be other colors) and either a kumma (a type of embroidered hat) or a massar (Omani version of a turban). Contrasting the bright white of the dishdasha, Omani women in Muscat will wear a hijab (headscarf) and an abaya (comparable to a black robe – worn over other clothing). I am unsure about for men, but for women abaya’s can be relatively cheap to extremely expensive. I have even heard of very wealthy women getting Swarovski crystals put on them. I don’t have pictures of these outfits, but I highly suggest you Google them. They are quite interesting.
14. Soccer games are one of the few places where Omani’s let loose and show much more emotion that normal. Since very few women attend these games, I came to call it “getting rowdy in their dishdashas.”
15. Although you may be in a place that is extremely crowded and feels relatively overwhelming, there is a small chance that someone with actually touch you. If they do it is probably on accident. This can largely be contributed to the social structure of the country and the strict adherence to gender separation.
16. Touching/contact between genders is nearly opposite of what it is in the US. Here, it is completely normal to see 2 men or women walking down the street or in public holding hands, etc, but you will almost never see a male and a female doing so. If you do, they can almost immediately be pegged at either foreigners or non-Omanis.
17. Taxi systems in which you barter the price are much better than those with meters. So far I have taken a taxi on 3 separate occasions and have managed to only have to pay for 1; a much better deal if I do say so myself.
Here is the link for pictures from the Oman vs. China soccer game, please don’t judge the look on my face: http://forum.kooora.com/f.aspx?t=28441961