A student writes in the sand during their semester in Oman.

Oman Semester

The Oman Semester is a study abroad program offered by Northwestern College in partnership with the Al Amana Centre in Muscat, Oman. As a participant, you'll learn Arabic and develop cross-cultural skills through interactions with Omani Muslims. You'll also learn about Islam, with the goal of furthering understanding and trust between Christians and Muslims. Identified by international travelers as the "seventh friendliest country in the world," Oman is known for its peacefulness, modernity, hospitality and openness. The program combines cultural immersion with academic rigor, giving you insight into important questions facing a traditional society that is establishing a model for development other nations seek to emulate.

The Al Amana Centre benefits from more than a century of relational ministry in this unique country. That legacy opens the doors to people and experiences not available to others. In addition to spending time in Muscat, you'll travel beyond Oman's capital to discover the country's geographical and cultural diversity, as the modern city gives way to small oasis villages, date palm farms and Bedouin lifestyles. You'll have ample opportunities to engage and observe more traditional Omani life through various excursions and activities—including camel rides in the desert!

Application deadline for spring 2020 program:
NWC students: Feb. 10, 2019 
Non-NWC students: Oct. 31, 2019

Oman is one of the small Persian (Arabian) Gulf states that occupy the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula and that have economies based on the production of oil. Oman borders Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to the west, Yemen to the south, the Strait of Hormuz to the north, and the Arabian Sea to the east. Muscat, where the Oman Semester is based, is the capital of Oman and also Oman's cosmopolitan financial and trade center. The interior city of Ibri, where the program's Arabic studies are conducted, represents more traditional Omani society.

Rev. Justin Meyers Rev. Justin Meyers
Site Director
The director of the Oman Semester is the Rev. Justin Meyers, an ordained pastor in the Reformed Church in America (RCA). Meyers is also the acting director of the Al Amana Centre, an ecumenical center dedicated to fostering a relationship of understanding and cooperation between religions that builds on a century of positive relations between the RCA and the Omani government and its hospitable people.

Aaro Rytkonen Rev. Aaro Rytkonen
Executive Director, Al Amana Centre
The Rev. Aaro Rytkonen joined Al Amana Centre as executive director in 2016. An ordained minister in the Lutheran Church of Finland, Rev. Rytkonen has extensive experience working in the area of peacebuilding in the Central African Republic, Mozambique and Somalia. His previous experience includes working with the World Council of Churches, Conference of European Churches, Finn- ChurchAid, and the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers.

Christian-Muslim Relations (4 credits)

This course explores what it means to be a person of faith in a multi-faith world, and how to enter confidently into relationships with people of another faith. (Meets the Northwestern Core (NWCore) cross-cultural engagement (CC) requirement; equivalent to REL 385 for biblical and theological studies majors.)

Modern Arabic (6 credits)

Arabic is a critical ingredient of the Oman Semester, essential for cross-cultural communication and for appreciating Omani culture, history and society. Centered at the regional city of Ibri, three hours outside the capital city of Muscat, the Noor Al Majan Institute offers not only high-level Arabic instruction from Omani teachers, but also the opportunity for conversational practice in a place where English is not as widely spoken as in Muscat. No previous Arabic study is required, although students who have had basic-level studies can continue their studies at higher levels. One semester of Arabic through this program is equal to one year of university-level Arabic.

This course provides a strong foundation for students preparing for foreign service careers in Arab countries or for jobs with corporations that do business in Arab nations. It's also good preparation for pursuing a graduate degree in Middle Eastern studies, Islamic studies, or Christian-Muslim relations. (Meets the Northwestern Core (NWCore) language and culture (LA) requirement.)

Omani Culture and Society (4 credits)

This course consists of readings, lectures and cultural field trips designed to provide a survey of the history, social structure, politics, religion, economy and culture of Oman, a microcosm of the Arab world, taught by a prominent Omani official. (Meets elective requirements for graduation.)

Integrated Experiential Learning (2 credits)

This course is designed to guide students in processing their intercultural experiences, enabling them to integrate their discoveries with their sense of identity, their faith, their understanding of Islam, and the value system of Arab culture in Oman—as well as their own culture and its place in a global context. (Serves as a sociology elective credit.)

Northwestern's Global Education Center staff will assist you in arranging your airline ticket to Muscat, Oman, making arrangements that in most cases will allow students to fly together as a group. The cost of airfare will be your responsibility. Generally, all in-country transportation costs are covered by the program. Transportation is provided in private vehicles owned by the Al Amana Centre.

Oman Semester students are housed in modern apartments (men with men, women with women) in both Muscat, the capital of Oman, and the interior city of Ibri, where Arabic language classes are held.

Oman Semester camel ridingAccompanied by Omani friends, you'll make excursions around the country to ride camels, climb sand dunes, swim in the refreshing blue-green waters of mountain pools, and watch sea turtles laying eggs. Four weekend trips are planned during the semester to help you discover the beauty and diversity of Oman. Included will a journey into the interior via the coastal road. There will also be opportunities to learn from guest speakers, attend lectures at the Grand Mosque, and hear presentations at the Historical Association of Oman. In your free time, you can visit local museums, hike in the mountains, and go snorkeling and dolphin watching,

The country of Oman, like most of the other small Arabian Gulf states, is a peaceful society where violent crime is almost non-existent (far less prevalent than even smaller-sized American cities). It shouldn't be confused with other states in the region, like Syria or Iraq, where violent upheavals have unfortunately colored peoples' perceptions of the whole region.

The program fee for the Oman Semester is the same as Northwestern's on-campus semester costs ( tuition/room/board), plus airfare. Included is tuition for 16 credits, in-country transportation, housing, most meals (the cost of those that aren't covered are discounted from your meal ticket costs), orientation, and all program excursions and retreats. You will need to cover airfare, books (an estimated $100 to $150), your passport and passport photo, immunizations/vaccines, international insurance, and individual travel and spending money, among other items.

All applicable Northwestern College financial aid applies for Northwestern College students. Contact Northwestern's financial aid office for more information. Non-Northwestern College students should contact their own college’s financial aid office with questions.

Upon acceptance into the program, a $250 deposit (cash or check made payable to Northwestern College) will be required to hold your spot. This deposit will be applied to the final program fee and is due on Oct. 1.

Once you are accepted into the Oman Semester—and before you can travel to Oman—you will need a passport and travel visa if you are a U.S. citizen. You are responsible for applying for and obtaining your own passport. Northwestern's Global Education Center staff will help you obtain a visa. For more information, please contact Northwestern's Global Education Center. Complete information on entry and exit requirements for Oman is also available on the State Department's website.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that all travelers to Oman be up-to-date on routine immunizations. The Oman Semester program requires that you have up-to-date tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccinations and that you receive the Hepatitis A (Hep A) vaccine. Other immunization decisions should be made in consultation with your personal physician. Please plan ahead and visit your doctor at least six weeks prior to departure, as certain immunizations require several visits or need several weeks to take effect. For specific health threats for visitors to Oman, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

You must purchase separate international travel insurance that will provide basic, medical, medical evacuation and repatriation coverage (approximately $200). The Global Education Center will make the actual purchase when all payments are received. Insurance will cover you from the day of your departure to the day of your return.

An International Student Identity Card—which provides discounts for travel, insurance and various goods—is available for purchase from Northwestern's Global Education Center.

Northwestern College sophomores, juniors and seniors with a minimum GPA of 2.5 are eligible to apply. This program is also available to non-NWC students on a space-available basis.

You must complete all pre-departure requirements to participate in the Oman Semester. This includes attending a pre-departure seminar, which will be offered either as a one-credit course or as an intensive orientation session during the second half of the fall semester preceding the Oman Semester. There are no exceptions. Further information and orientation dates will be provided and confirmed in early September upon your acceptance into the program.

The Oman Semester application process consists of the following:

  • The Global Education Center study abroad program online application
  • 2 recommendations from your professors
  • 1 recommendation from your resident director (RD)
  • An unofficial transcript (for NWC students, provided automatically to the Global Education Center upon the submission of your application)

Non-NWC students must fill out a guest application to Northwestern and be accepted before applying to the Oman Semester program.

Applications won't be considered complete until ALL sections of the online application are completed and all other required documents and reference/recommendation letters are submitted. The application deadline is Feb. 10 for Northwestern students and Oct. 31 for non-NWC students.

You should review your answers carefully to ensure the accuracy of your application, You can't edit your application once it is submitted.

About the Oman Semester

Helpful links

Global Education Center
global@nwciowa.edu
712-707-7225

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