Ma Salama – Good-bye, Muscat!
Our “Letters from …” series is ending with Salome Bader’s farewell from Oman.
Feb 29, 2016
And then it's time: The plane takes off, and I look down on the lighted streets of the city that was my home during the past few months – Ma Salama, good-bye, Muscat! During the flight, I reflect back on my semester abroad.
I remember the initial difficulties in finding an acceptable accommodation and slowly getting used to Arab culture – for example, that "right away" means "maybe tomorrow." On our first trip outside Muscat, the photography project when we had to take pictures of the market in Muttrah, it was difficult to make the vendors realize that we were not there to buy anything, but just to take pictures. One early morning in the mountains, one of our tents collapsed. Another time we shared an Iraqi lunch with a group of young men – which makes me wonder again about why we have found so many male friends, but very few female ones. Or how it happened that we had to "camp out" in an empty apartment, sleeping in sleeping bags on the carpet – no tent was necessary, since we had a roof over our heads…the list of memories is endless.
My Expectations? Both Surpassed and Disappointed
Were my expectations met? Some of them were even exceeded, but in some ways, I was disappointed. For example, right at the beginning it became clear that the prospect of a modern private university equipped with the latest technology did not hold true. However, I do need to add that the college is currently in a relocation phase and housed in temporary quarters before it will move into the new building during the coming semester. Initially, the thought of spending six months without access to a fast, always functioning Internet was inconceivable – but I got used to it pretty quickly, and realized how much time I sometimes wasted surfing the Internet in Germany.
Much More than "Just Desert"
By contrast, the country, the people, and the culture all mesmerized me far more than I had previously expected. Because of these encounters with so many different people, the intriguing explorations of this wonderful country that has so much more to offer than merely desert, and the new friendships that I made, spending my semester abroad in the Sultanate of Oman was the best decision I could have made. It was not always easy, and I was often confronted with new challenges, but that is how you learn the most.
Settling in Germany Will Take a Few Weeks
The acclimatization back in Germany is not always easy. To start with, waking up in the morning without sunshine puts me in a bad mood. The German cold does the rest because in Oman I already froze when the temperature went down to 19 degrees (66 degrees Fahrenheit). The predominant colors are no longer earth tones contrasting with white houses and the blue sea, but rainy gray that is occasionally interrupted with a patch of blue sky or the first green buds. But I am sure that I will get used to it again within a few weeks, even though I will continue dreaming of the sun in the Middle East, the palm trees, and the Arabian Sea until my next visit.
In conclusion, I would like to thank everyone who has been following my journey to Oman by reading my reports. Maybe I was able to inspire some of you to visit the country yourselves sometime and explore it a bit. I certainly intend to return as soon as possible.
In our campus.leben series "Letters from ..." six students, two doctoral candidates, and an apprentice reported on their experiences abroad. Here we introduced the nine travelers, and here are Salome Bader's previous reports.
Did the series get you interested in going abroad as part of your studies, doctoral work, or apprenticeship? You can find more information here. The next Go-out Day at Freie Universität, which will present various opportunities for going abroad, will take place on June 29, 2016.