So here are some long overdue pictures of my trip to Oman, like almost a month ago. Right after Oman, I was hit hard with a strand of the flu that left me out for more than a week. Since then it’s been a slow recovery interspersed with many adventures that distracted me from uploading Oman pictures. But basically Oman was breathtaking. The country is scattered with steep stone mountains that rise high up into the hazy atmosphere. The country has not forgotten its natural beauty or history. The following pictures were taken at Nizwa historical fort and Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat. The pictures seriously can’t do the places justice!
The Metro pumps hundreds, thousands of people…of humans through the the veins of Dubai. Most people take the Red Line, the central artery. As its doors open, people gush out, and others push in. Inside the vessel is tremendous silence and tremendous noise, in the same instance. Many passengers sit with hazed eyes, staring emptily out the windows. Others shout frustratingly into their mobile phones. All the silence and noise is wrapped together with the rhythmic drone of the train. Among all the people, you’ve never felt so near but distant to others in the same moment. Your proximity is incredibly close, and you are sharing the same journey for a short span of time. But you also realize that each person is spinning in their own universe, a billion miles from you. It is this vessel that carries me into and out of Dubai each time I visit.
The first week upon arrival to Sharjah was filled with orientation activities. It wasn’t until the Friday before classes began that I had a chance to steal away and spent some time alone in downtown Sharjah to watch the light festival. The Sharjah Light Festival is an annual one week event. Many destinations around Khalid Lagoon and around the city are illuminated with lights. This is much more a cultural festival than just a fancy lights show. The local Emiratis are proud of their UAE heritage and where they came from. The UAE as a whole is a relatively young country, so the amount of growth it experienced in the last few years was tremendous. To celebrate and commemorate, the light festival merged the traditional history of the region with rapid modern growth and innovation. The light show tells a story of Sharjah, the emirate with a bright future.
I’ve arrived at Dubai International Airport three days ago, and have not found the time to reflect upon my arrival in the Middle East until now, yes, conveniently at 3AM (thanks jetlag). However I snapped a few photos on my first night here at American University of Sharjah. My excitement and really good chai kept me up. In between social media and tossing and turning, I took time to just listen to my surroundings and notice how the light falls onto my dorm floor and walls. The culture shock of the UAE is not there, at least not yet for me. If and when it will rear its head is another story. It’s hard to feel like you are almost halfway across the world when you are in the UAE. The country is very Westernized. With many international expats, English is usually the common denominator for these immigrants from the UK ranging to those from Singapore. Also the history of British colonization of the UAE also lends itself to the Western feel.
But there are definitely differences, and they may appear in subtle and nuanced fashions. I’m a student here, both academically and culturally. Instead of being quick to make judgments or jump to conclusions, I feel like the best way for me to learn is to listen to the culture. In the loudness along with the quiet. I’m absolutely ecstatic for my four month journey here, and I look forward to more hot Arabian nights to come.