Most students arrive to Muscat in the late evening after a long trip, are welcomed by CIL staff at the Muscat Airport and whisked to their accommodation a short drive away in our private bus. Whether this is their first time in the region or they have spent time in Oman previously, student anticipation and excitement upon arrival is palpable. Our staff is there to answer any immediate questions and get students settled for the night.
The following day students are brought to CIL for the first part of our two part orientation. The first part of student orientation is conducted by our Arabic language staff and centers on our Arabic program. Students meet their instructors and experience first-hand the warmth and hospitality for which Omanis are known. After the Arabic program orientation, each student meets individually with a member of our Arabic language faculty for an oral interview which, in conjunction with a written Arabic placement evaluation, is used to determine the appropriate class placement. Students are given their daily schedules and off they go to their first Arabic class.
As noted above, we ask students to let us know if any class does not seem to be at the appropriate level (too challenging or too rudimentary), so that we can quickly move them to a class with a better fit. One of the benefits of being a relatively small school is that we can be flexible and adapt to student needs which often is not possible at larger institutions.
The second part of the orientation happens after classes on the first day. It focuses on the non-academic aspects of their program and aims to ease their transition into life in Muscat. We give students the opportunity to briefly share their background and interests with the group. CIL staff address key themes pertaining to Oman’s history, practical and logistical considerations for Muscat living, transportation, health and safety, and cultural information about Oman. And of course, students have every opportunity to ask questions, and we encourage open dialogue amongst themselves as oftentimes, many are quite knowledgeable about Oman and the region.
We put a lot of effort into making students feel at ease in Muscat and with our programs so they can put all of their efforts into learning Arabic!