I have noticed a shift within myself in a week or so. All of a sudden, everything here seems familiar. I have begun understanding much more Swahili, the crowded streets that once overwhelmed me have started to feel normal, and sleeping under a mosquito net feels like second nature. The other day in the market, a salesman told me he would be giving me “local price” instead of the “mzungu price” (a higher price given to foreigners). I asked him why and he told me that he could tell from the way I walked in the market that I have been here for a while. This made me laugh at the time, yet now I look back at this interaction and remind myself just how far I have come.
Just a few weeks ago, this country terrified me. I knew very little Swahili, I had no idea how to lead a class of 30+ children, and I couldn’t bargain to save my life. Yet just the other day I was recognized as someone who has spent substantial time here.
In all honesty, I am kind of scared to be coming back to the state in just a few short weeks. Although I have an incredible support system who will walk me through my hard moments, I am nervous about the culture shock that I will experience in coming home. Will I feel overwhelmed in a mall surrounded my overpriced goods that no one really needs? How many times am I going to walk to the wrong side of the car before remembering that American cars are different than those in my new home? Although I will be unable to know the answers to these questions until I a back on American soil, these questions hang with me.
Africa has changed me in a way that nothing else ever has. As cliche as this may seem, it is the truth. I do not look at things the same way anymore, and while I am thankful for this, it is not going to make my transition any easier. I have fallen into a new “normal” here, and this new life does not contain many of the things it did back in the U.S. My new “normal” consists of broken English, sweet children exuding joy for things that I once considered to be incredibly simple, chickens and cows lulling me to sleep at night and waking me up again in the morning, and more love than I could quite imagine.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my life at home. But, I love my life here too, and I am just not quite ready to leave this life behind yet. However, I vow to not get hung up on this quite yet. As of today, I have two more weeks with the kids, and 4 weeks left in Africa and I do not plan on wasting one second of it.
Heres to loving every moment, good and bad, of my new “normal”.
Song of the Week: Home by Ingrid Michaelson