Sunday, September 30, 2007

Culture Shook

Culture shock does not really describe what occurs when moving to a new country. That makes it sound like something you are not ready for, or something you can’t handle. Maybe a better term would be culture explosion or culture gestation. It is so different that it seems like you are looking at a play - seeing something from the outside looking in. Even simple things here are difficult, but not impossible. I find that living here is not stressful, as I am sure it would seem, but it is like a puzzle or a game. Once you figure out the right move you continue forward.

There is a tremendous sense of satisfaction in accomplishing the small stuff. I absolutely love not being in the excess of American culture. I am still trying to get the house in order. This has made life hard, because I am not seeing all the great things around me, like going to the beach. Yesterday was a holiday, National Youth Day I think. I could not figure out why no one came to work at the museum. I was getting mad and went and opened the building. But then I remembered…

I finished painting the two bedrooms. I have the children’s bedroom all set up. I installed two of the televisions. Today, I am going to build the entertainment closet. I still have a ton of stuff to put away. Right now the kitchen is full of musical equipment and I can not get to any of the counters, just the refrigerator where I keep water now.

Two things I have been thinking about this week: One is, it is hard being alone here. I have lots of people around me, but at night it is not the same. I have heard from many people that to survive here you must have a partner, someone to share all the strangeness with. Most people who come down to work bring a partner of some sort. The young guys who come down to work in the dive industry do not stay long. They think it is going to be like living in paradise, but paradise is no fun by yourself.

Second: I went home over the weekend. Now, I hope no one will take this wrong, but I could not wait to get back. It has not been that long, but I feel very at home and comfortable here. And I have lots to do. I feel that I am a part of a larger experience, something bigger than myself. People are excited about the possibilities and the things I talk about and plan for. I have not had a single meeting where someone has said “we can’t do that” or “we have never done that before.” We have three weeks left to plan for 2008. This will be a busy time. We have to have budgets and projects and grants all lined up or completed. I then will begin to raise funds for our ambitious endeavors. The future is bright. Wear SPF 30.

Neal

1 comment:

Steph R said...

Dear Dr. Neal...
You don't know me, but we have a common friend through John Leistler. More importantly (just kidding John), I'm from Zanesville, so I know EXACTLY what you're talking about when you say you were ready to go back, despite missing folks at home. Paradise is tough alone, but there's a reason its called paradise.

You've a new fan! And thanks for including pictures. Please teach your Jordanian counterpart to do the same (lol).

Steph