It is funny how new volunteers tend to believe the first few months are the most difficult. Yes, you are living with HCNs, learning a new language and entirely out of your element, but the experience is exciting, new and different.
I am fast approaching the 17 month mark and while I can say I have never been as home sick I as was the first few weeks in Tanzania; I have never missed American culture more than I do now. I am beginning to believe the last few months of service will actually be the most difficult, not in terms of adjustment, but in terms of staying adjusted. As I texted my friend this morning, “When did I become bitter and cynical?”. I am not quite sure, but lately my patience has lapsed and my cultural appropriateness is at an all time low. Maybe this is just Monday speaking, but Tanzania and I may be at odds.
If I was extremely lazy I would just leave my situation as is, but I am not, so how am I going to rectify the situation? How am I going to make my last few months in country the best months? Like I said it is Monday, the left side of my brain is still asleep and I am preoccupied with how I intend on getting through the week to begin with, but here are a few things that I think may help my situation. (They may also help those of you out there who feel like their lives are a stagnant puddle as well... let's just hope yours are not breeding malaria-carrying mosquitoes )
- Bust outta my routineSeriously people, I do the same thing everyday. Heck I even eat the same food every day (stewed veggies! And oatmeal!). I really need to shake things up. I am going to try to workout/ do yoga in the mornings. Normally I just sit around, drink coffee and eat breakfast. Maybe if I got my body rockin' and a rollin' early I might just feel better during the day! I am also thinking of bringing back music nights. This is when I choose an artist, say Van Morrison, Billy Joel, Elton John or Styx (just kidding), and play their music all night. I am sure there are many other things I could do differently, but that's all I got for now. Suggestions welcome!
- Appreciate the here and nowThe one thing I promised myself I was going to do when I started this whole thing was that I was going to live within a reasonable time frame. While this is ideally day to day it some times stretches a few weeks in advance. At first I adopted this mind set because I was completely freaked out by the idea of spending two years of my life in a foreign country; now this mind set seems completely useless because the light at the end of the tunnel is shining in my face. I think by reminding myself to living in the here and now it will help time go faster and will keep me focused – two things I desperately need.
- Look backI have kept a running journal of my time here. It includes daily ramblings and things I could not write here for various reasons. One of my favorite things to do is to pick up one of the old journals and read what happened to me last year during the current week. It is funny to see how much I have changed and how much I have forgotten. I like to think of things to tell my past self and I also like to remind myself of how much I have gone through. As they say, hindsight is 20/20. This also brings with it a feeling of accomplishment – ego boost!
4. Work, work, work
Keep oneself busy. Thankfully this will probably be the easiest of the three above because I am teaching 4-6 periods a day and am in the midst of the library project. I can also always find something to clean in my house!
So there's four things I can do to solve the situation detailed above. Are there more solutions? Yes, there are an infinite number, but four is all my brain can focus on at once and still be effective. In addition, I also constantly remind myself that I may not be happy with my current situation, I maybe bored and that I may long for home, but when I am back in the states I will miss most things about this place. The grass is always greener, right?
In other news, school is back to normal. I graded around 400+ exams and helped the paint the new school library over my “fall” break. The library is now set to have screens put in the windows, the shelves and tables moved in and some books added to the mix; now if the fundi would only finish his work! I will keep you all updated with its progress and upload before and after pictures when it is complete.
This week, almost a year to the day that I decided I wanted to pursue law school after service, I accepted an offer at the University of Maine School of Law and I could not be happier! It is a small school in Portland that is unique because it is the only law school in the state, which will hopefully help the job prospects after school.
My mom and I are also busy making plans for her visit in June! I am so excited that she will get to see where I live and experience what my life has been like for the past two years. It was also her birthday yesterday, so Happy Birthday, Mom! Love ya! And Happy Birthday, Jordo! Big 2-0 tomorrow... no more teenagers in our house.
As always, I hope everyone is well at home! Spring has sprung, it is baseball season and summer is around the corner!
All my love from TZ