In Sistas in Oman: Part I, our interviewees introduced themselves and gave you a glimpse of their life in Oman but they have much more to share! Ranging from novice to expert travelers, here are some general reflections and words of advice from our “sistas in Oman”. Enjoy!
What sacrifices have you made to live abroad and were they worth it?
Anya: For me, the number one sacrifice is being away from family and friends. Seeing my nieces and nephews grow up, missing graduations and family functions. My parents are aging, so I think of this. However, living abroad is best for me, my path, and my journey- it’s bigger than me. This is God’s plan. I wouldn’t change it but it saddens me at times. Otherwise, professionally I would not be where I’m at, nor as financially stable.
“Maria”: I cannot explain that. I’ve always wanted to speak English, and speak it without a Venezuelan accent. So, moving to the U.S. was never a sacrifice because it was something I wanted; a dream. Then, when I came here (Oman), I felt right at home.
Stephanie: My family has always been really supportive, so I haven’t made much of a sacrifice. Living abroad has been a totally, awesome experience. I have met other travelers and their experiences whet my appetite to see more. Traveling has always been my dream.
Deniece: I don’t think I sacrificed anything. Everything I did, I decided to do- it was my own choice. Overall, I’ve found that everything I need, I can access and I’m sufficient with that.
Ilwad: I love this place, so I don’t feel like I sacrificed yet. I miss my family, but it’s not a sacrifice.
What are your “can’t leave home without it” travel essentials?
Ilwad: Ultra Glow Cocoa Bar. No other cream works for my skin; it’s the only thing, so my family brings it for me.
Anya: My Lonely Planet and my Bible. My Lonely Planet is my travel bible. And, I always travel with a pocket calculator because it takes time to get used to the currency conversion.
“Maria”: My laptop. I can’t live without it and my internet.
Stephanie: My camera. I really love photography and since I love to travel, I’ve taken lots of pictures of the places I’ve been. Another thing is maple syrup because it’s really expensive here.
Deniece: I don’t know. There’s nothing that I need. Probably a camera but I’m very flexible. It’s not hard for me to adapt.
Are you the same person you were when you left home?
Ilwad: No way! I’ve grown in the past six months in ways that I never thought. I’m the youngest of a large family, so I’ve always relied on others and had a backbone. Coming here, I’ve had to ask,“Can I rely on myself?” I have to behave myself and be responsible for me.
Deniece: I’ve matured in the last four years. That comes with more knowledge and more experience with different people, walks of life, and faiths. As for me specifically, I grew more into myself, my spirituality and who I really am. There’s a lot of personal growth when you’re able to be outside of the U.S.
Anya: I’m more disciplined. There’s nothing to do in Oman, so I have my routines. I’m cooking more and eating healthier. I’m more disciplined financially and realizing that I don’t have to be a consumer. In America, we’re such a nation of consumers but I gave that all up. I don’t have to be “fly” all the time. I wear my abaya everyday and that’s fine. Also, I have a greater appreciation of Islam.
Ilwad: I love hearing the adhan (call to prayer). Hearing it makes me more spiritually awoken.
"Maria”: I’m not sure if it’s because of life abroad or life in general, but I’ve had to build a wall because people hurt me and betrayed me. This has made me more responsible about “letting people in” because I’m afraid of getting hurt.
Stephanie: Well, I’ve changed because I’ve become more flexible. Traveling from city to city makes you have to adapt to different cultures, traditions, and customs. I’m reminded to suspend judgment and this has made me more open-minded.
What do you wish you knew when first leaving home, that you know now?
Ilwad: Sort out any emotional conflicts before leaving the country.
“Maria”: I just recently realized how much paperwork is needed and all the bureaucracy involved when having things apostled from abroad. As far as life, I don’t think anything would have helped. You have to learn for yourself.
Anya: I wish I would’ve known that you can’t buy a children’s Quran in English here.
Stephanie: I wish that I had known and been smart enough to pack light and not pack too many unnecessary things.
Deniece: Yes! I took half of the stuff back home before coming to Oman. I also wish I knew to stockpile items and ethnic stuff that you can’t get outside of the U.S. For example, products for your hair or doing something with your hair that’s easy for you to keep up because some things you just can’t substitute.