Monday, April 16, 2018

Visiting the Arabian Peninsula

So sorry for the lack of posts over the past month! As I mentioned before, I had a pretty big trip out of the country planned. Over spring break I visited the Arabian Peninsula! I went with a group from my school to experience the gulf culture as well as learn Arabic. I had been considering taking this trip ever since last spring break, and this past fall finally put down my deposit to go. 

I'm so glad I went and so grateful for the opportunity to go. The farthest I've ever been away from the U.S. is Europe, so I was so excited to be in the Middle East. The culture was so different yet so similar. It was great to be somewhere so unfamiliar yet I found yet again that while we all have unique and equally special cultures, at the core we are so similar. Seeing parents eating with their children at a restaurant, young adults hanging out at the mall, and even just the clerks doing their jobs at the grocery store reminded me that no matter how far you travel you will always find someone you have something in common with. I hope everyone can remember this in efforts to have more empathy for one another and try harder to get along. 

That's my "world peace" speech haha. Here are some other things I learned!

1. To greet someone in Arabic you say "wa-salaam-alaikum", and they say back "wa-alaikum- a salaam"
2. There is a popular sweet called hallwa- which is basically a stiff jelly made from pure sugar. There were different flavors though that were really fun to try.
3. Just like we have cow farms in the US, people have camel farms in the peninsula. They milk the camels and some restaurants even serve camel meat (I didn't try it though)
4. Mexican food is internationally appreciated (no surprise- Mexican food is amazing). There were so many restaurants that boasted about their Mexican menu. 
5. The women know how to do makeup so well. Some friends and I were having coffee with a new friend and her cousin, and she asked, "So I noticed you don't wear makeup." It was so embarrassing to explain that I was wearing makeup, but "it just wasn't showing." Afterward we laughed so hard. 

I highly recommend taking advantage of any opportunity you get to see this part of the world. It was an irreplaceable experience and I would visit again in a heartbeat.