Birthday Fundraiser

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Where Am I Again?

Even though I have been in Muscat, Oman, for over 24 hours, I have alternated between being conscious of and completely oblivious to this fact. Before leaving it was hard for me to accept the magnitude of what I was doing. Perhaps I was too consumed with packing a bag of exactly 50 pounds (which I “accomplished” thanks to some rounding down and a generous tip at the airport). I figured that it would hit me once I got to the airport. Saying goodbye to my family, it did to some extent, but not fully. Even when I stopped in London and then Abu Dhabi, I felt like this could have been any old day. Luckily, on the third leg of the trip, as we descended toward Muscat, I felt it – the complete mixture of nervousness and excitement that one would expect when moving to an unfamiliar country for 7 ½ months. When I was certain that what I was seeing below was the real live Middle East, I stared out of that window like a little kid looking for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Then I arrived on the ground. After going through customs I easily spotted my “welcoming committee.” I was at an advantage, since I was looking for the familiar face of Irene, my friend from Uganda. We all quickly got into conversation mode and while talking to new and old friends, I yet again felt like I could have been anywhere. We drove to the AIESEC house, which is very spacious and nicer than I imagined.

I fell asleep pretty easily, but in the middle of the night I woke up in my big double bed thinking “where the heck am I?” As soon as I remembered, I had a moment of feeling very surreal. I soon drifted back to familiar dream world, but when I woke up at 6:15am (no jetlag recovery time for me!) and looked out the window at the mountains and unadorned-yet-elegant Omani architecture, I once again was aware that I was in an amazing place.

The reason I woke up so early was to attend an opening event for the English teaching program taking place in Muscat. I am not teaching in Muscat, but another intern is. It was a great intro to the program (the English Access Microscholarship Program, that is). Speakers included representatives from the Omani ministry of education, AMIDEAST (the nonprofit I am working with), and the U.S. Department of State (who is sponsoring the program). The day kept moving with a nice lunch at an outdoor restaurant with a view of the beach. I split a pizza with another intern (where am I again?). Then we visited the AMIDEAST office were I got a thorough tour and sat in on part of an upper-level English class. After learning more about the company and the program, I am feeling very grateful for the opportunity to work here!

Just as I was starting to accept that I was indeed in a new and very different part of the world, a friend drove me to the United States. I mean - to a nearby shopping mall. The first thing I saw was Sephora. The second thing I saw was Aldo (my favorite shoe store); and the third thing I saw was Forever 21. True - if you just looked around at the Arabic translations and the dress of men and women, you would notice distinct differences compared to the U.S., but just looking at the stores, I could have easly convinced myself that I was not just in an American mall, but one of the nicest one I’ve ever seen.

It’s nice to feel comfortable and natural here, but I hope to eventually fully appreciate where I am. I have no doubt that I will, especially once I leave the capital and start teaching – but it might take some time!

Thank you sincerely to all the people reading this and supporting me with this experience. I love you!



  1. Hi Meghan!
    So happy to see you are adjusting to your new surroundings so well. Put a girl anywhere in the world and as long as there is shopping, she'll be just fine!

    Just wanted you to know how proud we are. You are such inspiration and role model for our kids who just think the world of you .
    We are amazed by your sense of adventure and your desire to change the world.
    Through your experiences, you make it astonishingly clear that every single person can make a difference . It's not about changing the world in one moment, it's about changing people one person at a time. Making people more aware of the kindness and goodness that we each have to offer and then hoping they do the same. You inspire people to make the world a better place than it was yesterday and that should make you proud. It makes us proud of you !

    Enjoy your time in Oman. We will continue to look for your updates and will keep you in our prayers!

    Be safe , have fun and be safe . Did I say that already . Oh , ok - well, be safe.

    Lots and lots of love from us - Uncle Chip sends hugs and kisses !

    Love you so much
    Aunt Suzanne , Uncle Chip ,
    Brendan , Lexie Riley and Mikayla

  2. Hey Meg! I'm glad that youre doing the blog again so I can keep up with your adventures overseas. I'm so happy you made it to Oman safely, and are enjoying it so far. I'm sure you'll excel in teaching english and immersing yourself in the culture of Oman. Keep in touch!


  3. Hey sweetie,
    Facebooked stalked you. What are you teaching in Oman? Thats so exciting babe. We should get together when we both get back and swap travel stories. Good luck baby.
    Love Grace

  4. I know the feeling very well. It seems like most urban parts of the world these days has some refuge of Western consumerism. Kind of weird, but also kind of comforting. Thanks for checking out my blog. I'll have to follow yours as well! Looking forward to the adventures your travels will bring you. :-)