The Culture Shock

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.

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