Thursday, August 21, 2008

Culture Shock

I have never read my own blogs. I write em, post em, and move on. I have never felt the urge. I was challenged to today, so I did.

It is about year since I left for Cambodia. I started at the beginning with my first entry about leaving home and arriving in Phnom Penh. The first entry was mostly facts, the second entry made me want to cry. I had already slightly forgotten how painful it was. The first few blogs, I wrote about just staying for a month! I ended up staying 10 months! The reason why is still up for debate, but regardless, I did. I think going back and reading will be very healing for me. It has been this afternoon.

Today I thought about a few changes in me I've noticed since I've been back.

I spent a lot of time barefoot in Cambodia. So here I ususally find myself kicking off my shoes after a few minutes, if I can.

I walk much slower than I used to. I used to envy this in people, thinking they must be more at peace and able to observe things more clearly. During my time in Cambodia, there was just too much to take in, I had to walk slow to sucessfully absorb what I could. Now, I walk slow out of habit and I notice a lot more.

Everytime I need water, I am intrigued by the idea of clean water just magically coming out of this silver spout in the kitchen. Remarkable! Now, if only everyone had it so easy.

Any time I am out in public and see a person of Asian descent, I want to walk up and start a conversation with them really bad. It's as if just because I lived in southeast Asia for a few months, I feel like I can relate to all of them. Not true, but a nice wish. I just feel drawn to them. But I really don't think they are drawn to me at all. Sad. I guess it's not just Asians, but really anyone who is obviously a foreigner: Indians, Africans.

I am back in the college life full swing. I've completed 4 days of classes and work, nights in the dorm, and cafeteria meals. Four days and still, so much to say.

It's weird being back. It just feels odd. I feel a bit out of place, so I've been really intentional about not hiding in my dorm room to avoid making new friends. I have to do it, becuase so many are gone.

I'm taking several classes I think I will enjoy. Drawing, Editing, Psychology of Religion, and more. Sitting in class, I feel like maybe I never left. Did anything change from the last time I sat in this classroom? Uhhh, yeah. It's hard to be motivated to be back in school. Now it all just seems really pointless.

I work in a quite office tucked away in corner. I wish I could be around more people. But as I sat filing today I thought, "Well, this is a dramatic change from my last job!" No rats. No 98 degree heat. No yelling kids. I almost miss it. But not quite.

My kids have been emailing me religiously. Pov Sokagna wrote today,
"My dear Ms.Bo,
How are you doing in school!!!!!Is it everything ok?????? I tell you something i passed my drivers exam. i'll get drive's license next month. yesterday we drove in rain. It rained all day. YOU know everyday I feel so lonely, need someone talk with. i called my friends were bsuy, what can i do be happy? I really miss you. i want to talk with you and play with you. Whenver I talk with you i feel so good..........I forget to ask you, do you miss me? Remember I..............LOVE...............YOU......!!!!!!!!! Don't forget to take care of your healthy. Bye bye my dear. Kagna."

Well, let's not view this as a reflection of her English teacher. I miss her very much. Our relationship was simple, we made eachother feel good. Isn't that how it should be?

So with the Cambodian in me that seems to dominate all else, I dive into another year. Most of my thoughts about the reality in front of me is complimented with a, "Oh, I remember this one time in Cambodia..." Though I've stopped saying all of them outloud.


timari brower said...

It's okay to keep telling your stories - it's how everything settles into a whole you (vs. a fragmented you). I enjoy them. Have a beautiful day - timi