If you’re going to go to cricket, go to evening cricket. And if you’ve got to go to cricket, try to go with Aussies. They are a jolly good time!
I’m not much of a sports fan. I grew up watching Monday Night Football. I’ve been to plenty of baseball games. I kind of like watching March Maddness –especially when they are down to the final four. I love seeing all these guys playing with their hearts and souls. It’s pretty inspiring. But as far as my day-to-da life goes, I honestly couldn’t care less about sports.
But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to check out a cricket match in a place where cricket is taken so seriously.
Apparently it takes days to finish a match. Since around the time when I arrived in Sri Lanka, Australia has been here playing against Sri Lanka’s cricket team, which evidently is quite good. This weekend, they were at the end of the series (or whatever they call it),
and they were playing one final match against Sri Lanka. It sounds like the winner had already been established, and this was a final “good-bye” match. An abbreviated match played at night.
On a Friday night. Perfect for the casual tourist looking for an experience but not too much of an investment.
Well, it turned into a bit of an investment, but it was all part of the experience. We sat in traffic for a good hour. I was packed into a tuk tuk with two delightful Aussies. The traffic was pretty epic, but we made the most of it.
We had plenty of beer while we were there. We did want to fit in after all!
I didn’t end up watching much of the game. I was there to see what it was all about, and to have the experience. I didn’t try to understand the game. It was a bit too complicated for my little American brain to wrap itself around 😉
It’s a weird term for what I’m experiencing. I certainly don’t feel terribly shocked by the culture in Sri Lanka. In fact, I am still quite attracted to it. But it’s the most agreed upon terminology, so this is what I’ll go with. They say we can experience four phases of culture shock: Honeymoon, Frustration, Adjustment, and Acceptance. I experienced a very clear Honeymoon Phase. For the first month or so, I was pretty delighted. The house was new and the friends were new. The job was new and everything seemed shiny and neat.
But now, almost like clockwork, I’ve hit a wall. Things aren’t so shiny anymore. In fact, nothing in Sri Lanka is shiny. That may be the allure. But some things have started to get to me. I can’t seem to communicate with anyone. There are misunderstandings daily. Everything seems to take so long and when it gets done, it always seems half-assed. I find myself being easily frustrated by everything, and wanting to hide a little.
And then there’s the added element of being in a new school culture. They just do things so differently here. For the most part, I love working here, but there are frustrations almost on the daily that I find myself facing. They are fairly minor and easy to navigate. I find other frustrations that are not as easy to deal with though.
I’m frustrated that I have to put bug spray on every night unless I want to be in my bedroom the whole time. And the bug spray irritates my skin. I’m frustrated that I’m so dependent on tuk tuk drivers to take me everywhere. I’m dependent on them, but it can be so hard to figure out where I’m going too. So getting around can be a very frustrating experience. I’m frustrated that I can’t just step outside my front door and have a relaxing walk with my dog. I used to really take solace in long walks with Abby. Now walking her is a source of anxiety and fear because there are so many street dogs.
So many frustrations happening all around me. Maybe they are stemming from my American brain trying to compare everything to what it was like in America. And it’s nothing like America. That’s why I came here. Because I wanted something that was so very much not America. Isn’t ironic then that I’d be comparing everything? But I think that’s the natural thing to do. I know I’ll get over this. Things won’t seem so daunting. It is only September after all. I have plenty of time to adjust.
And honestly it already feels better just putting it all in words. In perspective. I’m headed to Bangkok in a few hours for a professional development. I was sad to send Abby off to the Dog Haven for the weekend. I miss her so much. But my god: I’m going to Bangkok for a PD! In what universe does that happen! In my old life, I’d have been lucky to go downtown to 555 Franklin Street for a PD. And here I am going to Thailand. There were some frustrations leading up to this PD, but in the end: I’m on my way to an all expenses paid weekend in Bangkok. Blessings are all around. And I don’t even have to look too far to find them.
This place is special. I’ve seen elephants in isolation. At the zoo mostly. Or in Thailand working for The Man. I think I even saw one in the circus when I was a kid. But those experiences made me feel sad. I didn’t really like seeing the elephants contained like that.
The Gathering is different. There’s a peaceful feeling when you’re out there among all those elephants. Every year between July and September during the dry season, herds of elephants migrate to the water reservoir in Minneriya to graze.
There are just as many humans there as there are elephants. All these humans flock to Minneriya every day between the months of July and September to view the elephants and catch a few (hundred) photos of them. Despite all the people and the safari jeeps, there is still a majestic feeling to this place. All these people are there for the same reason, excited by the same thing. It has a communal feeling. It reminds me of seeing live music. And similar to going to a show, try as I may, I can’t seem to capture it with a camera. There’s something about these places and these experiences that get woven into who you are. And then you have these photos left over to remind you of them.
I’ve been in Sri Lanka for about a month now. I think my stomach just figured out that it’s in Southeast Asia. I’ve had the trots on the daily all weekend long. Nothing horrible, just a bit uncomfortable. But it’s really interesting how it took a month for it to catch up with me! After a day of shopping with Erika and then a little lunch at our school’s Welcome Back Picnic, I went home to get ready to go out for our dinner club. I was putting some things away, when I got a bit of a feeling in my bowels. It didn’t seem to urgent, but then all of a sudden: I needed the toilet right away! But I didn’t make it in time. This hadn’t happened to me in a very ver long time. And I’m pretty sure it’s never happened to me when I’ve been 6 feet away from a toilet!
I cleaned up and got ready to go out, and all was good. But boy was that gross! Not exactly sure why I’m posting this on the internet…but no one really reads my blog anyways, and I thought it was pretty funny.
Anyways, It’s been a very interesting experience getting used to life here on the outskirts of Colombo. I am generally very happy here, but I do get these strange fleeting feelings of WTF!?! It’s not quite culture shock, not quite home sickness. But it’s not too far off from these things. I’m not quite sure what to call it.
I have been really stressing about making Abby happy here.
Sometimes I feel so badly that I took her from such a great doggy life and moved her to this kind of bad doggie life (in comparison). It’s hot here. I can’t walk her regularly. There’s no place to really let her run off leash. Most drivers won’t take dogs in their cars. I don’t have a very big yard. The yard I do have is covered in ticks. I freak out about the ticks. Not just having them all over the place, but all the diseases Abby and I can get from them.
I’m sure I’ll figure out how to make Abby happy here. Once I have that all figured out, I think I’ll feel a lot more settled. But there’s also been problems with my home. The oven doesn’t work. The washing machine has been on the fritz. My air conditioner doesn’t work. I’ve had difficulties with my housekeeper too. All these things wear on me. But I’m a pretty tough cookie and there are a lot of people here who are very friendly and very willing to help me figure things out. I certainly don’t feel alone with any of these challenges!
When I feel stress, I have a tendency to shut down a little and shut people out a bit. One thing I’m actively working on is reaching out and seeking support from people when I feel stressed out. I do feel so much better after seeing people and talking about things with people. I have to remember that and make it a part of my self care.
Adjusting at School
We are 3 weeks into school. It feels like we’re more like 3 months in though! I feel like I know my grade 1 team so well, like we’ve worked together for years! We all get along and gel really well, so it makes it really fun to come to work every day. That part is SO important!! After my experience at my previous school, where I worked with such a fantastic team, many of whom I considered to be very dear friends, I was worried I’d never be able to get that kind of thing at work again. But I really feel like I’ve found a very special school and a very special team to work with at my school.
And the kids. They are so much fun to teach. I truly enjoy them all. I’ve always loved teaching. But over the past couple of years, I was getting so burnt out on teaching kids with emotional disturbance, I think I was worried that I was burning out as a teacher in general. I’m so relieved that this is not the case. Sure it’s still hard work. But I love it. I honestly love going to work every day. What a far cry from my last job, where I literally cried on my way to work on most days for the past 3 years.
Although there are some definite challenges going on, and some days I do have some doubts, I am very happy about my life here. I think sometimes I put pressure on myself to be “perfect” and when I’m not (or things aren’t), then I assume I’m failing. That’s why reaching out and being social has been so important. The people around me take me out of my head, and give me perspective. And that’s what you need when you’re in a transition like this I think.