I really don’t feel like writing much. I’m also not convinced that I’ll end up posting this. If you’re reading it, then clearly I did. I think I’m having some culture shock.
There are many great things about moving to a new place. There are also some downsides. Some I did expect and others that blindsided me.
What i expected
I did expect a bit of melancholy and a bit of loneliness as we are getting our bearings in a new country.
I envisioned us trying new things (we are!) Also, I saw me and the kids going places on our own a lot for awhile. The only place I’ve taken the kids by myself in the first four weeks is Walmart. And I find it stressful. Though each trip is getting easier.
Is this little bit of culture shock?
what I didn’t expect
I did not know that I would need to be on guard all the time, even at Walmart. Costco is a better option (especially because they have a larger selection of gluten free items). Of course, I can only buy gluten free bread at Walmart (if it’s in stock), so I do feel a need to go there. It’s also closer and an easier drive.
While I did expect to misunderstand things, I have complete confusion about much more than I expected. The language barrier is tough and I’m trying to learn Spanish as quickly as possible. Duolingo, Tinycards, and tutoring are my best friends right now.
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More of the Unexpected
There are a lot of bugs here. Yes, duh, I know I’m in a warm climate where insects thrive. The mosquitoes are out of control and that’s just inside the house. Outside is kind of crazy. The neighborhood has been fumigated twice in 3.5 weeks and I’ve had our yard and carport treated twice, as well.
Even so, the mosquitoes feast on me and my 4 year old all night long. It lessened for a bit, but now they are back in full force. The rainy season is coming. I expect the bugs will be worse.
I thought we had an influx of scorpions in our house, but thank my little pony, they were harmless things called camel spiders. Even so, I envisioned being covered with creepy crawlies for half the night until I finally fell into an exhausted sleep.
It is also expensive. As a foreigner, and possibly American in particular, I end up getting charged more for some things. Expats have told us about several things we are paying far too much for and we can’t do anything about it. It isn’t even because of the language barrier, at least not solely.
It has been in the 90s for the better part of our time here. Initially, it cooled down nicely at night and leaving the windows open was enough to make for decent sleeping weather.
Except there is a farm close by that has a rooster and donkey who have competitions in loudness from 3 am on.
We gave in and bought another fan. We were trying to hold out for our shipment to arrive. I’m glad we didn’t because it still isn’t here. The air is still at night and not cooling as quickly. The fan provides some relief from the heat and does wonders for muffling the outside world.
Our house doesn’t have air conditioning. Because you wondered, right?
Even during the low times, I don’t exactly wish we were at home. I’d be sitting there, wishing for adventure. I got what I asked for and I think growing pains are a part of such a big change.
Our dogs arrive soon. One dog enjoys catching bugs. The other will enjoy the cool tile. I’m thankful we are able to have them with us. I’m worried about them during their journey here, though.
I’ve started cooking a little more. The small expat group has helped out by lending me a few utensils until our shipment arrives. I had to buy a few things, too. It is quite a bit more work to cook here. Vegetables have to be thoroughly washed, either by washing with dish soap or being soaked with microdyn. Also, you can’t use tap water. You have to use bottled water for cooking and drinking. One positive: water is delivered here! Once you buy your initial roughly 5-gallon container, you give them the empty one and they give you one filled with water. You pay each time, but it is priced well.
Trash pick up comes nearly every day. One expat friend invites us to do things on no school days for her kids and weekends. She’s at least trilingual, so she is so amazingly helpful. I am sure I can never repay her for all of her help and advice.
Also, having a maid is commonplace and expected here, when you have excess.
Some days, I love it here. Other days are very difficult. The bugs are causing me more anguish than I expected. The stress of moving here has affected the behavior of everyone in our family. Driving farther than Walmart is still stressful. Sucking at the language is stressful and makes us feel really dumb. And there is no quitting. We have to keep learning and living here, even if we are feeling down.
I miss our friends and wonder if we will be grown apart by the time we return, even with texts, emails, and social media. I also miss our family. Again, these feelings are expected.
Have you ever made a huge life change? What have you done to make your transition easier? Did you allow yourself to feel low sometimes, accepting your feelings even if you felt that you should be happy all of the time? What did you do to ease your culture shock?