It feels like every time I write a post it's just a matter of hours before I take a deep breath and sit down to write another. But that's good, I suppose... It means that I'm keeping a fairly accurate sort of virtual journal about my life here in Oman.
Not much has changed in the last week, except that I've adjusted a bit more and the heat burns less. So, I'm dedicating this post to why YOU should apply for YES.
Now I say "YES", because whether or not you are an American citizen you have a terrific opportunity. For US Citizens, KL-YES Abroad is the way to go, but if you're from elsewhere in the world hoping for a year in the US, check out the KL-YES program to find out if there's a branch in your country. Without further ado, here's my top few reasons that YOU should apply for whatever branch of KL-YES you can.
1. You Have Nothing To Lose
This application is free. It is online, so it's not even costing the environment anything. All it costs you is a little bit of time and the decision that you might want to consider exchange. It's a free option... Take it.
2. You Will Learn A Lot From Everyone
Everyone who applies to this program is an interesting person. Yes, that's both a broad and sweeping generalization, but for the most part it is very true. So if you don't get in... No harm, no foul. You've lost nothing. But if you do, even if you only make it to the first selection event, you'll already be learning a lot about the world and the people who live within it, if only from those you meet at the event.
3. If You DO Get In, You'll Have An Amazing Time (Should You Choose To Accept It)
That's another thing. Even if you do get into this program, you have the option not to go. It's not like they give you an ultimatum saying that they picked you and now they're shipping you off. It doesn't work like that.
And to those who choose to stick it out through the year of exchange you've been offered... You'll have the time of your life. You'll learn amazing things. You'll meet amazing people, discover new cultures, become an incredible new person while still retaining the best parts of the original you.
Now, these are just a few reasons you should apply to YES. If you need any more, or you'd like to talk to someone if you're not sure about applying, I'm right here to talk to you. The reason I'm even tossing this idea out there is that the 2015-2016 application is officially open.
You can find it here, and I hope you at least take a look at the option of exchange.
🎶A Whole New World - The Aladdin Soundtrack🎶
If this was a cartoon I would begin it with the main character (me?) walking slowly across the screen holding a sign that says "4 Weeks Later" and that little sound effect that goes "wah wah wah"... To more clearly explain myself... It's been four weeks! Almost a month!
That realization is a bit scary to me. I always told myself that once I'd been here for a month everything would start to make sense. That being said, I think that this last month has really been an opportunity for me to realize how wrong I was about everything before I left home. In a lot of ways things made sense on day one, and a lot more things I have worked to understand and which now feel like a victory. But there's also a lot of things that probably still won't click even when I'm stepping back on a plane home at the end of this year.
But this month... This month is about the little victories.
It's about the way it feels to hug someone and know that they, too, have journeyed thousands of miles to be here. It's about the magic of the internet, which allows people 7014.22 miles (I checked) away to talk to you with only a few seconds of lag between parts of the conversation. It's about teaching your host sister to tie her shoe the same way your dad showed you years ago, and dancing awkwardly in your room to a beat only you can hear because you're not playing any music out loud,
It's about carefully planning the way to look least foreign when you're out of the house, and winding up looking totally American in spite of (and perhaps even because of) your best efforts. It's about the rice you eat constantly, the people you meet every day, the hot sun, the late nights, the thoughts that wander through your head even when the lights have been out for hours.
Exchange is never easy. People will tell you that over and over again but it doesn't really click until it's something you are going through yourself. Exchange is never easy, but within the shortest period of time you can feel yourself starting to change - to grow your mind, broaden your horizons, think differently to match the new person you are becoming.
When I left home I had a lot of people tell me "never change" or "stay the same". But that's not really possible. I am still myself in how I approach things, in the way my minds works to understand what is going on, but I hope every day that I am changing because to change would mean to do just one less thing that is oh so very wrong, to make one less social faux pas, to understand one more thing that someone tells me. To sum it up, to change would mean to get the most out of this year abroad.
So, Insha'Allah, when I come home I will be a different person, in the best possible way.
About this song... You never know how perfect Taylor Swift can be until you're smushed into a car with six other people singing at the top of your lungs and feeling like there is no place you'd rather be.
🎶You Belong With Me - Taylor Swift🎶
Believe it or not, I actually had trouble coming up with a post for this week. Not because Oman is boring or uninteresting (because I can assure you that it is not), but because I just didn't know what to say. How do you accurately express the fact that for the first time in your life you are starting to feel personal change occur, or the way that you greet your new friends every morning, or the stories you make up to tell your host sister every night...?
I'm not sure you properly can. But I'm going to try.
So this week has been crazy. I started Arabic at AMIDEAST last Wednesday, and Culture class (Women in the Arab World) yesterday. I'm starting to understand the way my school works, and I don't get lost on my way to the library anymore... Which is important.
But I'm going to talk about something far more important... The art of the bedtime story.
Now I mentioned earlier that I've begun telling my host sister a story every night before bed. Whether she actually enjoys them I cannot say, but I do know that I get a kick out of telling them and I think they're improving...? Here's what I've discovered.
The way I tell my stories is very simple. I start with a name and a type of animal (it could be a pig, or a donkey, or a person). From there I form a setting, and as I talk and talk and talk the plot begins to form. My sense is that normal stories don't have ultra-elaborate plots. But, as a friend pointed out to me this morning, mine do. Last night, for example, was a story about a farmer named Hank who lived in the woods with his 5(?) sheep, cow, horse, and chicken, and followed his adventures as they climbed mountains to get to the big city.
But anyway... There's a point to this story. I think that somehow in the last week things have started to click for me here. I've had some issues, and some amazing moments, and the rest has been a mix of both in the fabulous adventure called high school exchange. But telling these stories provides me with a connecting point. It lets me share something with my host sister, it lets me let out a little bit of stopped up creative energy, and it lets me take a moment to breath, to relax, and to remember that while learning is an important part of the experience, you have to enjoy the little things.
Here's to the little things. Today's audio clip is not a song, it is a recording of perhaps my favorite piece of slam poetry.
🎶Pretty - Katie Makkai🎶
As the title of this post might suggest, I've started school. Last Wednesday, to be precise. All new-student awkwardness aside, I've had a lovely few first days at ABQ. I made some friends, took some notes, heard some Arabic and discovered that school food here is a lot better than the stuff back home. I've only tripped over my uniform dress a few times, haven't lost my glasses yet, and managed to memorize my homeroom number.
All in all, I'd call that a good few days. Of course, school has its difficulties, as does every other aspect of studying abroad. But it's easier every day and I'm learning tools of the trade, so to speak. For example, something I've discovered is that students cover their textbooks and notebooks here with this sort of plastic laminate tape that provides protection from rips, folds, and marker smudges.
Also, turns out I'm not allowed to use my graphing calculator in either my maths or my chemistry class because I will not be allowed to use it on the exams - apparently due to some part of its multi-functionality.
So anyway, school's been good to me. This Wednesday Arabic class starts at AMIDEAST for the 6 of us exchangers, and next Monday we start our Womens Studies class. I'm really excited for both, and hopefully I'll be able to start picking up material.
All in all, it's been a good week. Not too many pictures this time, but that's largely due to the school policy on cell phones. Hopefully more of those soon.
This upcoming week, I am most excited for: Arabic class!!!
🎶Your Song - Elton John🎶
Hi! My name is Karla Cox. This blog is a compilation of notes, thoughts, and photos from my travels around the world.