Since I have experience coming and going from this country in the past few years, it is usually not as big of a deal as it was the first few times. I have experienced a huge range of emotions over the years. Of course my first time leaving and coming back I despised America. I wanted out of here. I was ashamed of who I was and how I lived. Anyone’s first experience abroad, especially going a to a place so dramatically different that you are used to creates more culture shock coming back home than going away in the first place. The emotions are so intense because your eyes have been opened so wide and you heart is changed. The first few trips I took were all so different from each other those same intense feelings stayed with me (Eastern Europe, China, Ethiopia). But the last three years I have been going to the same few places over and over so there are less surprises and a bit more balance.
The first time I got back from Ethiopia I could hardly handle the order. Everything had a place and there were rules for driving and they were followed. It was so bizarre. I walked into Meijer and was so overwhelmed by the size, the amount of stuff and the bright lights I had to turn around and leave.
The second time I returned from Ethiopia I binged. I realized I had so many opportunities that others did not I should take advantage of them. So I ate and I shopped and I was lazy and I was cocky.
Now, I have learned to appreciate the beauty of both cultures. I love the people centered life of Ethiopia, the colors of Uganda, the work ethic of those who have to work twice as hard to do half as much as we do. I envy that they are building their systems and we are trapped in ours. And as much as I love the big city and people watching, I love more my country road commute to work. Knowing it will take me 25-27 minutes. Knowing that everyone will obey the rules and that order allows for predictability that is essential for everything we have on our plates.
I love my house and that I can take electricity and hot water for granted. I love knowing my children have ample opportunities. I love the proximity to my family and the comfort of foods I love. I love having the internet at all times.
I used to think it was all or nothing… I am starting to realize though, that it is a balance. We do have a lot here. We are blessed beyond measure. We have so much we have accomplished, and yet we have so much to learn. We have so far to go. And we can learn from those who live half a world away. Those who have not made the mistakes we have. Those who can live without. When our electricity goes out, or the internet is down, or a traffic light fails, we do not know how to function. We get angry and frustrated. We are so used to having that we can not cope when we “have not” As we travelled through the crazy streets of Kampala Uganda, I realized that there is a system in this chaos. These people know how to live with out the structure that rules our lives. They don’t need to be told when and how to make every turn. They work with each other. It is fascinating.
But tonight I am feeling blah and I am not sure if it is because the day was stressful and I did not get to sit at my desk for more than 5 minutes and my kids are fighting and my husband is working late and I still need to create a lesson plan for tomorrow and instead of eating dinner I just had a gin and tonic… or if I am unsettled in my ‘re-entry” not sure quite where I belong and how I want my life to be changed or impacted based on my last few weeks in Africa.