When I decided to extend for a third year, I gave no thought to culture shock. After all, I had been living in this country for two years, had traveled extensively, and felt prepared for what was coming. I was adjusted, integrated, and all those other Peace Corps words that meant I generally knew what I was doing. I wasn’t moving to a new country, so I gave absolutely no consideration to the possibility of facing culture shock.
And therefore, I was shocked.
Seriously, I don’t know how I never considered it. I mean, I was moving to the other side of a very diverse country. A new climate, culture, language, job description….basically everything was new, except for the rooster which likes to crow at 3am. I could have seriously moved to another country (Botswana) with less changes than I face now. No, having to take a bucket bath no longer filled me with trepidation, and I knew how to use the kombis. But I’ve certainly faced a bit of culture shock in the past two weeks, since moving to my new site. And I only recently figured out that this was the problem.
On the other hand, I am unreasonably annoyed at the amount of coddling I’m facing in my new village. I say unreasonably, because I really should appreciate the fact that my new community is bending over backwards to make me feel safe and comfortable. But after living independently in the village reality for the past 2 years, it’s a little annoying to be told to call someone after a short taxi ride from town to be sure I made it safe, or to be asked if I will get lost when I can see my destination up ahead. I suppose this might be a side effect of culture shock: being easily annoyed at things I should be grateful for. But it’s difficult to be treated much like a child when I feel comfortable walking around on my own or cooking food for myself.
I had assumed that moving to my new site would be pretty smooth, but it’s been a rough few weeks. Part of that is because I thought it would go smoothly….never have expectations in the Peace Corps! Dealing with culture shock when I’ve been living in a country for two years was unexpected and difficult. That was compounded by a situation at my host family which means I must move again (at least only within the village). So while I’m trying to settle in to my new village, I still feel very tossed about and my future seems uncertain.
At least my supervisor has identified a new house for me, and I’ll have a lot more answers come Tuesday next week. In the meantime, I am enjoying my new Peace Corps life as my culture shock turns into intrigue and curiosity.