Monday, September 23, 2013

Nantucket to Oman has moved!!

I'm now blogging at Please continue to read my blog!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Omani Recipe of the Day!

Just as Omanis always have time for friends, they also always have time for food. Omani food is heavily influenced by Indian cuisine, yet is generally less heavily spiced. Though the staples of an Omani diet are dates, rice, and chicken, one of my favorite dishes so far doesn’t include any of these ingredients. Beda wu Tomat, or eggs and tomatoes, originates from the Indian dish of egg curry. Usually served with chapatti bread for breakfast, beda wu tomat is extremely easy to cook, as Talya and I learned last night. Here is the recipe of beda wu tomat! Writing this recipe was challenging, as Omanis frequently do not use measuring cups or spoons, so getting it right is more a matter of trial-and-error than following the recipe exactly.

 7 small eggs
7 tomatoes
olive oil
1 teaspoon coriander
1 tablespoon churriputta (curry leaves)
salt and pepper

1.     Chop the tomatoes and put them in a pot. Cook over light heat until the tomatoes become soft.
2.     Turn off the stove and remove the pot. Pour in a few tablespoons of olive oil and mash the tomatoes until there are at a stew-like consistency.
3.     Whisk the eggs until mixed. Put the pot back on the stove and pour in the eggs. Add the spices and cook over light heat mixing constantly until the eggs have reached the consistency of scrambled eggs.
4.     Serve warm with toast or warm chapatti.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Week #2

I hope you enjoyed my last letter. I enjoyed writing it because it offered me a venue to simply purge all of my ideas. So much has happened! Since last week, I began school, met extended family, made new friends, slowly watched Talya (my roommate) and my room fall into a state of intense pigsty-ness, had incredibly entertaining rant sessions with Talya, talked to now to four boys at school, sliced up my feet and hands and quite possibly gave myself blood poisoning by following Mommy’s advice and soaking my feet in potentially bacterial-infested tap water (I didn't remember that she told me to boil it), spent hours in a school bus with a driver who drives like a bat out of hell, nearly gotten whiplash due to a combination of the aforementioned driver and the incredibly insanely large number of speed bumps, or mattabs, on Omani roads, stolen every last second of Wi-Fi from the AMIDEAST office, and so much more. Right now I am lying on my bed writing this and listening to good ol’ JT and other random assorted music. I just finished a blog post about expectations vs. reality which inshaallah I will revise and post tomorrow while stealing AMIDEAST’s Wi-Fi. (Note from later: we actually had Wi-Fi for about fifteen minutes tonight, so it is up !)
 I have now finished eight days of school at Azzan bin Qais International School (ABQ). That sounds crazy to say! So far it is going pretty well. I think it was the second day when I found myself frustrated.  Everything seemed so inefficient and, frankly, stupid to me. I remember thinking, “Why don’t Omani schools do it the American way? The American way is better!” I was frustrated with the students, the teachers, the information, and really most aspects of school. However, I have come to think that this only stemmed from the newness of it all – once I began to get used to school, it became infinitely better. I have made a few new friends, who I will hopefully be able to hang out with sometime in the coming week, and gotten to know the teachers a little better. At least now I know what to expect!  
Right now, I am taking Math, Physics, English, Business Studies, and Arabic for Foreigners (AFF). Math is going very well for me so far, as it is entirely review. Physics, while challenging, is understandable and always makes me feel very proud when I understand a new concept or get a problem correct. Fortunately, that has been happening often! English is also going well. So far, we have already been preparing for the exam – multiple choice, open answer, and reading comprehension practice. Business studies is my favorite course. Despite being the only girl who signed up, I enjoyed it right from the start. Since then, Quinn, the other grade 11 exchange student who is hilarious, switched from Biology to my Business Studies class. Also, the teacher is fantastic.  Swafiya, pronounced Sophia, was also new at ABQ this year, has befriended me and attempted to help me with chemistry, before I switched out, as I attempted to help her with math – neither of these worked very well. Anyway, my class is large and spirited, yet can be serious and studious when necessary. Most of my classmates are Omanis, with one American, a few Pakistanis, a Turkish boy, and Quinn and I. The dynamic between boys and girls is very interesting. Boys sit on one side of the room, with the girls mostly on the other. Naturally, there are a few students in the opposite gender’s side due to our large class size, but for the most part, girls sit with girls and boys with boys. Boys and girls generally don’t speak to each other much during breaks; however, of course some girls and boys do mix. One thing I have noticed is how polite boys are. They hold doors for you, let you go ahead in line, and move out of your way. The girls are also quite friendly and welcoming. Because YES Abroad students have been placed at ABQ for many years, I was asked repeatedly if I was “this year’s exchange student.” It was certainly helpful that most of my peers knew why I am here, and what the YES Abroad program is generally about. And (drumroll, please) they serve salad with lunch! I can finally have at least one meal, if not two, without chicken or rice in any form! It is like heaven on Earth. Once I arrive home to the US, I respectfully request that no one serves me rice or chicken in any form for a substantial period of time. Also, I never thought I would say this, seeing as though Oman is an incredibly hot country, but I miss hot or lukewarm showers so much. There really are few awakenings as cruel as an early alarm followed a cold shower.
  Our home life has been good, and we have met too many extended relatives to keep them all straight. Our host mom is one out of 10, so there are a great many aunts, uncles, and cousins to keep track of! We went over to their house on Friday, and spend the day with them. Our youngest aunt is 20 years old, and we talked with her for most of our day, then went to Muttrah Souq ( a large outdoor market) with her and our host family. The night at Muttrah Souq was great – we walked around at the busiest time of the day (around 8:15 or 8:30pm), went into alleyways we didn’t explore when we went with AMIDEAST, drank fresh coconut water from a green coconut which was cut right before our eyes, took cute pictures, had a delicious fruit smoothie, and returned home.

            This week has been great so far. Life is moving so rapidly that it is difficult to believe that I have already almost finished my second week at ABQ! After a stressful first week, I finally decided to switch out of Chemistry, as it is a second-year course. That is a huge weight off of my shoulders!
            All in all, life has been good. At times I miss normality and home, yet I do get through those moments and have learned to live each day to the fullest. I will continue to write these letters on a (hopefully) weekly basis. Obviously it may not always be exactly one week, but depending on how busy I am, my goal is to write them frequently. Tomorrow is more school, then off to AMIDEAST for Arabic and then to Carrefour (a hypermarket aka supermarket) with the YES Abroad girls for some shopping. Each Thursday I have a half-day, and this week one of my friends through YES Abroad is coming over to our house that night for a sleepover. Saturday one of my host mom's friends is coming over to teach us Egyptian raqs sharqi and cook a traditional Egyptian dish. Then, on Saturday night, all of the YES Abroad-ers are going to the Royal Opera House to watch an opera. Expect lots and lots of pictures!
The Royal Opera House

            Now I really should get to bed. Waking up to a 5:30am alarm is quite difficult!

For the week 1 letter, please see my mom's blog at

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Right now, so much is going through my head that at times the best way to explain it is by a quote from one of my favorite books, The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green: “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.” However, one of the latest clear realizations I have had concerns expectations. We all have them, in regards to every facet of life. Sometimes they serve us well and help us prepare for different experiences, yet sometimes they hinder us and cause us to be either overwhelmed or disappointed by the reality of the situation once it arrives. When I was preparing to leave for Oman, I honestly didn’t think I had any real expectations for my time abroad. After all, I had been told time and time again by YES Abroad to arrive without preconceptions or expectations – I was convinced that I had succeeded in that respect, but I have since realized that I in fact brought with me many expectations, which have already been proven false. However, I have over nine months ahead of me to correct my own preconceptions and expectations, and to experience a more authentic view of Omani life. 

I have already seen how my expectations may not have been entirely accurate. When I was still eagerly and anxiously awaiting my departure date’s impending arrival, I was subconsciously and irrationally convinced that every single second of my time in Oman would be jam-packed full of fun and interesting experiences. Obviously, this simply isn’t possible, but at the moment I was completely and totally positive this would prove to be the case.  Since then, so much has happened, and with that I have had both good and bad days. At times everything is as I expected – unbelievably exciting and interesting – and at others, I am miserable and feel frustrated and lonely, removed from everything and everyone I know. Fortunately, or alHamdullilah, as it would be said in Arabic, the good days have thus far outnumbered the bad.

I also expected Omani life to be astronomically different from American life. I don’t know why exactly I thought this, but I somehow was under the impression that every facet of life would be completely and totally different. Nevertheless, I have realized something I hope others can gain from my experience – we are all more similar than different. Despite differences in language, religion, and cultural context, everyone has similar core values: spending time with family and friends, good deeds, fun, and sharing knowledge. In Oman as well as in America, I have found that, though different people express it in different ways, we all hold in esteem similar values. 

I am sure that in the coming months I will discover many other expectations I had before coming to Oman, and look foreword to seeing what insights the future has to offer.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Preparing for Oman

This summer has been one of the best I can remember. Full of good friends, good weather, and lots of time at the beach, I honestly can say that I can't imagine a better summer. My family and I have recieved more information from YES Abroad since my last post, including flight information and... A HOST FAMILY!!! The Oman group received their host families last week, and I can't wait to meet the people who have generously agreed to take me in and teach me about Omani life and culture.

At the beginning of the year, all of the YES Abroad finalists went to Washington, D.C. for the Pre-Departure Orientation, or PDO. Finalists going to India and Thailand left directly following the PDO, and have now been in their countries for almost two months! The PDO was a busy four days, jam-packed with workshops and activities. As any YES Abroad-er can attest, we returned to our rooms each night exhausted yet fully educated on virtually everything we needed to know in preparation to live in our respective countries. One of the most helpful aspects of the entire PDO was having an alumni of the program who had gone to our country being there to answer questions and share insight. The Oman group's alum was Emma, who's blog is the reason I applied to this program. Emma was invaluable to the Oman group as a whole, and still is available to answer any questions we may have.
The Oman group, and Emma, our group leader, at the PDO!
Photo by Shino Yoshen.
Saying goodbye at the end of the PDO was difficult, as we may never see some of our fellow YES Abroad-ers again. However, I am excited to keep up with their experiences via Facebook and their blogs.

After the PDO, I returned to Nantucket, and decided I would have the best summer possible. As the end of summer nears, I can say that I was successful. My family has grown closer knowing that we will not see each other for more than nine months. Many beach days, bike rides, walks, and ice creams later, we have cried, laughed, been excited and apprehensive and felt almost all the emotions in between. Now that I only have three days before I fly to Washington, D.C., then to Zurich, and finally to Muscat, Oman, the excitement is returning. Nevertheless, it is difficult to think of saying goodbye to my family and friends for an entire nine months. As my father astutely noted, the key is to not think of this journey in its entirety; rather, focus on smaller amounts of time. First, I will arrive. Then I will meet my host family. Then I will begin school. Thinking about it this way helps to relieve some of the stress that comes with beginning what will surely be a challenging yet ultimately rewarding journey. As my departure date nears, I am getting more and more excited to see the great group of girls I am traveling with and to finally, after more than 24 hours of traveling, arrive in Oman. Right now, Oman seems a world away yet also so close I could reach out my hand and touch it. Fully packed, and as prepared as I could be, I am ready and excited to embark on the journey of a lifetime!
Packing nine months into two suitcases which can only be 50 lbs or lighter is quite a challenge!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wait... I'm Going to Oman?!

As the PDO approaches, and my departure day, which is not set in stone yet, draws nearer, the fact that I will be leaving my sheltered existence in Nantucket and traveling halfway across the world to live in a place I have never been, and with people I have never met, has become more real to me. The thought of a year abroad to Oman has seemed like a daydream for so long; something that would be amazing yet still not real. The reality that I will, in the end of August, be getting on a plane and hugging my parents goodbye in order to go to Oman, really only hit me a couple weeks ago.

With the realization that, yes, I am going to Oman in about three months, comes a bit of aprehension. I am not afraid that anything bad will come of this experience; on the contrary, I know that my year abroad will be a time of amazing growth and exploration. However, this doesn't mean I can't be a little nervous! I found out which school I will be attending next year, the Azzan bin Qais International School ( and am so excited. My excitement is now mixed with a little bit of nervousness.

About a week ago, I was very overwhelmed, unsure, and stressed. Am I ready to leave all that I know and live in Oman? I honestly don't know. I don't think that I could ever be ready without having already gone; I have never experienced anything like this and have little to no idea what to expect. However, my dad advised me to just "take it as it comes", and go with the flow. This advice has helped me a lot; I have realized that, while I should prepare as much as possible, there are some things I cannot prepare for, and that stressing over these would only waste my time and energy. There is really no reason to worry; this experience will help me in innumerable ways, and be an incredible journey for me to undertake.

This week is my last full week of school, and next Wednesday, June 19th, is my last day of school at Nantucket High School. The next time I attend school I will be half a world away, in a country I have never visited. This thought is more than a little daunting. However, I chose to see this as an adventure; no matter how difficult I foresee next year being, I have a tendency to worry about things way too much. They are never as scary as I foresee them being! Keeping this in mind, I will make the most of my last few months on Nantucket, and look foreword to all Oman has to offer me.