(Sixty) Arabian Nights – An Look into the Beauty of Oman

Emmett Potts, an AMIDEAST scholarship winner, studied with the Intensive Arabic program in Oman over the summer of 2014.  In his end of term scholarship essay, he reflects about some highlights from his time in Oman.  All photo credit goes to Emmett Potts.

Sunset over Mutrah

On the night of June 12th, I was about to land at Muscat International Airport on Gulf Air Flight 566 from Bahrain.  Although the past day of travel was not much more than a blur, a blend of unsettled thoughts and diffuse excitement enveloped my mind as I looked down from my window at the scarcely outlined coast of the Persian Gulf.  Did I bring everything the packing list recommended? Would I adjust to life in this new environment smoothly? Would I be able to communicate efficiently?  Trying to maintain a façade of composure, I discreetly tried to review my Arabic vocabulary words, although in reality my behavior was probably more frantic than I realized.

The man sitting next to me on my flight, an Omani citizen, apparently noticed my internal tension and offered me a drink of his water.  Without thought, I immediately responded (in Arabic) with “No, no thank you,” just as I was taught by my Arabic language professor in the United States; it was the proper, culturally sensitive response. I was, however, offered the water again by the man next to me: “My friend, please have a drink. I insist. It is good for you.” I relented, and with quivering hands graciously drank the water he had poured into my flimsy plastic cup. “Welcome to Oman, my friend,” he said, as the orange lights from coastal Muscat came into view below.

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Filed under Arab Friends, Arabic, Oman, Politics

The Perfect Portrait of Ancient Meeting Modern – Jordan in Photos

Lawrence Sinkewich, a student from the University of Cincinnati, studied with AMIDEAST/Jordan during the Summer of 2014.  This photo blog highlights some of Jordan’s most beautiful sites.

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Photo #1: Roman Citadel ruins in downtown Amman.

The first few days in a new country can be quite overwhelming with all of the surrounding amazement and unfamiliarity. A new culture, lifestyle, and friends all at once are what awaited me upon arrival in Jordan. After the first day of class, Amideast took all of us on an excellent tour of Amman, the capitol city of Jordan. At the very heart of the city stands a testament to humanity’s past: a temple to Hercules and a citadel built by the Roman Empire. Atop the hill, one can see the perfect portrait of ancient meeting modern that is Amman. From the powerful roman amphitheater and Umayyad Mosque to the wide avenues of bustling traffic and trendy shopping malls, Amman features a beautiful display of the many eras in time.

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Jordan in Photos – Intensive Arabic, Summer 2014

Keren Saidac, a student from the University of Wisconsin, studied with AMIDEAST/Jordan during the Summer of 2014.  At the end of her program she took the time to reflect on her experiences through pictures.

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The Little Things

 

Standing on top of the highest peak of Ajloun Castle provides one of the most unbelievable views of Jordan’s many wonders. Just taking a few moments to observe and absorb it is really something magical. 

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Adventures in the Souq – Morocco

A final essay from our scholarship winner, Isaiah DuPree, an International Relations Major and Arabic Minor at Fairleigh Dickinson University.  Isaiah studied with AMIDEAST in Morocco during the 2013-2014 academic year.  In this essay, he describes adventures in the Moroccan marketplace, locally known as the souq.

In Morocco, the main souqs are usually located in the medina, or the center of the city. I try to visit the souq in Rabat at least once a week if not more. It is the epitome of organized chaos, people heading in every direction possible, men and women yelling out the prices of their goods, incense burning, fruit shops, tannery’s, the souq is truly an experience.

 

Last Friday I found myself walking through the souq looking for fermented lemons a friend of mine wanted in Madrid. At first, as usual when I am looking for something in the souq, I couldn’t find them. I never get discouraged though, failing to find what I’m looking for represents the opportunity to explore and look simultaneously, a way to get what you need and make friends along the way.

 

During my escapades, I stumbled upon a spice/herbs shop that was possibly the biggest I had seen in the souq. Believing they may have what I’m looking for, I stopped to talk to the young man at the cash register. After he brought me everything lemon related besides what I was looking for, we laughed, and began to talk.

 

At this point most of his family and friends had gathered around the cash register, curious about the foreigner who had came in questioning in broken French and Darija. After I convinced them I wasn’t a WWE wrestler, the young man at the cash register, whose name was Anas, wanted to show me the chameleons he had collected and wanted to sell.

 

At first he and his family thought I would be intimidated by the small lizards, but after owning two snakes there aren’t many reptiles I can’t handle.    

 

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Fried Chicken Brings Families Together – Morocco

Another essay from our scholarship winner, Isaiah DuPree, an International Relations Major and Arabic Minor at Fairleigh Dickinson University.  Isaiah studied with AMIDEAST in Morocco during the 2013-2014 academic year.  In this essay, he reflects on a special meal with his host family.

Last week was host family appreciation week. During this week we can give tokens of our appreciation to our host parents or play an American game with our host families. We can do anything that both demonstrates our gratitude for what they do, as well as creates a basis of intercultural dialogue. After bringing them cantaloupe and dates from the souq, I decided it was time to take it to the next level. I would bring a piece of my kitchen, to theirs.

 

When I first asked if I could cook dinner, Hajja (what I call my host mom) gave me a hesitant look, which I took as an opportunity to explain to her that I know how to cook and am often required to when I am at home in the states. After Hajja laughed at my eagerness and agreed to let me use the stove, I was on my way to buy my ingredients…

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Morocco: Nothing short of Poetry — Reflections from a Semester Abroad

Isaiah DuPree, an International Relations Major and Arabic Minor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, studied with AMIDEAST in Morocco during the 2013-2014 academic year.  In this essay, he reflects on his journey through the Sahara.

For the first ten minutes I had to remind my mind that what my eyes were witnessing was real. The rust colored sand dunes that rolled into the horizon, the sky so blue the oceans would be jealous, the echoing white clouds that plumed into the sky, the landscape alone had such a potent beauty it probably left my pupils dilated for the next week. 

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We trekked through the Sahara on camel back for about two hours, the scenery absolutely breathtaking…

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Morocco in Photos – Reflections from Summer Intensive Arabic

The following photo essay was contributed by Summer Session 1 2014 participant, Mitch Oeler. A student at Duquesne University, Mitch has just returned from four weeks abroad in Morocco on AMIDEAST Education Abroad’s Intensive Arabic in Rabat program. Below, he reflects on some highlights of his time in Morocco.

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The first weekend in Rabat, a few of my friends and I made the trip down to Casablanca. After a fun Friday night on Avenue de la Corniche, we woke up Saturday and took a walk to see Hassan II Mosque. It was easily one of the largest things I had ever seen! (That little man in the grey shirt is me; needless to say, I felt tiny.) When we tried to go inside for visiting hours, we were turned away because, as it turned out, the King of Serbia was visiting that day!

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Filed under Adventure, Arab Friends, Arabic, Morocco, Photography