CHEMISTRY AND CAMELS IN OMAN
Our tutor Anna recently traveled to Muscat in Oman, on a six-month Flying Tutor Placement, teaching Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics to a brother and sister.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky this year to have had the opportunity to work in Oman, tutoring for a private family, through Carfax. The Middle East has fascinated me for a long time, and when I was offered the chance to move there for a few months to teach science, I didn’t hesitate.
Stepping off the plane in Muscat, I was greeted with the brilliant sunshine that draws an increasing number of Westerners here – from that moment on, I had little incentive to return to the UK! However, I soon discovered that many Omanis are equally fond of the UK for its ‘wonderful cool weather’ (rain in other words).
Muscat is a beautiful white-washed city by the sea, scattered with lovely tiled mosques from which the calls to prayer resonate across the area five times a day. Both Carfax and the family I worked for made me feel very welcome and supported me from the moment I arrived – I lived in a lovely apartment where I could see over the nearby mountains, dotted with palm trees.
I had no expectations of the tutoring assignment itself, but I found it to be far more rewarding and engaging than I could have anticipated. Getting to know my pupils, seeing them progress, and, most importantly, seeing them begin to enjoy and gain confidence in a subject, as well as their own ability to learn, was without a doubt one of the best elements of the job.
I was also able – through the generosity of the family – to see more of the city and of Oman outside of Muscat. Highlights were lazing on beautiful beaches on Fridays (weekends in the Gulf are Friday and Saturday), visiting the stunning Sultan Al-Qaboos mosque, and touring some of the breathtaking historic forts such as Nizqa. However, the best moment for me has to be my excitement at first seeing a camel, out in the countryside: passing a group of them in the car, I couldn’t help from shouting ‘Look, camel! Jamal!’ in a clumsy attempt at half-English, half-Arabic communication with the driver. Bemused at my reaction, the nevertheless very accommodating driver stopped so I could get out and take lots of pictures. It was then I realised that camels are actually quite large animals, and with stereotypical British concern about such things, suddenly wondered if it was safe to be wandering up to them. Luckily it turned out that camels are mostly lazy or just curious and have no interest in attacking people!
I feel very fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to live in such a beautiful, friendly country, and to have had such a rewarding job there. I shall definitely be returning to the Middle East at the earliest opportunity, and hope that I will be able to do more tutoring work in the future.”