I was sitting in an Intro to Visual Communications class when my teacher told us that he would be the faculty advisor on a Maymester trip to Oman. The class was silent, we all clearly were thinking the same thing, “Where in the world is that?”. He told us that Oman is a country right smack dab in the center of the Middle East. He then showed us a video called “12 Days in Oman”. If you haven’t seen it, make sure to check it out because this video alone sold me on this trip.
When I told my friends and family that I was going to take the risk of studying abroad in the Middle East, they all pretty much had the same reaction, asking me “Why would you do that?”. My answer was simple, because I want to. I knew this was going to be an experience that not many other people would have the chance to take. To me, this was once in a lifetime opportunity that would probably never come again. I mean, it’s not everyday you get the chance to go to the Middle East!
Over the course of two weeks, we toured different destinations like the Grand Mosqque, the Sultan’s Palace, the U.S. Embassy, Oman’s public university, the beaches, and even the desert. The actual class part was a video project that involved us interviewing the people of Oman about something that they felt passionate about, which was extremely interesting to me. Some students chose to interview women about fashion which ended up playing an important role in our time there as well.
As it’s traditionally known, the culture in Oman is very different than anything in the U.S. In fact, Islam is the dominant religion within the country. As apart of that religion, men wear a robe called a dishdasha with a cap called a taqiyah. Women wear long dresses called hijabs and scarves around their heads to cover their hair called abayas. Oman is a very tolerant country when it comes to different cultures and religions, but they definitely expect you to be respectful. This basically means that pretty much anything that you wear in America, cannot be worn there. Omani’s can tell if you’re a tourist no matter what you’re wearing; however, it makes teveryone more comfortable when you’re dressed conservatively.
That being said, you need clothes that will cover anything and everything up. Which wouldn’t be that big of a deal if the temperatures didn’t reach a scorching 112 degrees almost daily. Makes life difficult, right? I probably spent more money buying clothes for this trip than I did while I was even in Oman because of the specific clothing restrictions. For example, you can’t show your elbows, you can’t wear shirts that are too tight or with a plunging neckline and you can’t wear pants that are too tight or too short. Anyone would agree, that’s a lot of rules! The key though, is to mix and match your outfits. Personally I bought bottoms that had bolder prints, so I could wear plain shirts with them.
Packing List:• 3 pairs of loose pants• 3 maxi dresses (no slits)• 2 cardaigns• 4 loose shirts• sandals• sunglassesI’m not going to lie, it’s uncomfortable to be that covered up at first. I kind of felt like a sack. Eventually I became more comfortable with it and I actually felt like people took me more seriously because they literally had nothing else to pay attention to besides the words that were coming out of my mouth.Going to Oman was something that I will never forget. Not only were the people extremely kind and welcome, but everyone we met was so excited to show us the country they loved so much. Like I said, it was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up and I will forever be grateful that I took this chance.