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Midshipman Shares Experiences Studying Arabic in Oman

Posted on: January 07, 2013 08:00 EST by Midshipman 2nd Class Matthew Morrison

As the midshipmen begin their spring semester and start looking at their options for summer training, Midshipman 2nd Class Matthew Morrison shares his experiences in Oman last summer. Morrison was accepted into a program with 11 other U.S. college students to spend 5 weeks studying Arabic at the University of Nizwa.

Arriving in Oman in June 2012, I immediately began to feel the energy coming from the busy streets of Oman's capital city, Muscat. We were greeted by our American liaison Dr. Larry Brown and sat through a briefing which explained our daily routine over the following five weeks before departing for the city of Nizwa.

Nizwa is one of the most authentic parts of Oman in that it is highly conservative, traditional, and does not attract many westerns or other foreign visitors. Word quickly spread around town that there were 11 Americans staying in Nizwa. Omanis have an outstanding reputation for being among the most hospitable people in the gulf region. From my experience of being invited over for dinner by complete strangers on multiple occasions, they lived up to their reputation.

When we were not out in town talking to shop owners, cab drivers, or anybody of the local population, we were studying at the university for 6 hours each day. After a 20-minute bus ride from our apartment to the university, we attended media class from 8 to 10:30 a.m followed by a 30 minute break after which we would begin grammar class at 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

From 12:30 to 2 p.m. we were allowed lunch break and then we would meet up with our Omani language partners - Omani students studying English at the University of Nizwa. This was the most valuable time during the school day because we were hanging out with Omani students our age. They were just as curious about America as we were about Oman and Middle Eastern life.

It was very rewarding to converse with them in Arabic as much as possible, and when we would make mistakes during our Arabic conversations they would laugh a little bit and correct us, and at the same time, we were able to help them improve their English.

The only great challenge I encountered was trying to explain lacrosse to them, but when I ran out of words to explain lacrosse I just went to YouTube or a lacrosse website to show them all about this awesome sport, and the amazing Navy lacrosse team.

Spending six weeks with eleven students from across the U.S. studying Arabic half way around the world in Oman - I could not have even imagined a better experience for my summer. Studying in Oman, or going on other great trips as a language major, or whatever you decide to study at the Naval Academy is just one of the many great opportunities provided to midshipmen for summer training.

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