Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Culture Days

Ah, prepare to encounter the true heart of a person abroad on what we refer to as a "culture day". This basically means a day when the culture is especially hard to deal with. To be honest, I pride myself on being an adaptable, easy-going, culturally moldable individual, but I recently experienced a whole new array of frustrated emotions....

Long day.


Headed out to dinner with a friend I met riding the public bus. Was really looking forward to it. She came to the wrong place. I attempted to explain where, in fact, we were supposed to meet. Due to communication difficulties, we had to reschedule dinner. Frustrated, I decide to grab a taxi and head over to a coffee shop with wireless internet.

Taxi driver takes me to the wrong one. I realize this after I have gotten out of the taxi.

Grab another taxi. While waiting in traffic, driver next to us stares at me, open-mouthed, for 10 minutes. The novelty of people staring and pointing, whispering "foreigner" everywhere you go, has definitely worn off, and I clench my jaw, close to tears.

Arrive at internet cafe. Realize I forgot an adapter to plug in, and laptop dies. Not before I read a sweet update from my mom about my puppy, which, on an ordinary day would make me smile, and today makes me cry. I pout and pray. "Why am I here? I want to be home with my family and my puppy. And I'm tired of my feet being DIRTY"

Read some of Paul's letter to the Colossians. It makes me pout more because my heart is far from where Paul's is as he rejoices in his sufferings. I haven't eaven suffered really. But I still pout.


I have a good conversation with friends about a topic I love and the reason I'm here.

I hear some Arabic music in the street (I love Arab music) and run into a random Algerian (that doesn't really happen here).

I eat some dinner.

I remember why I'm here.

I put one foot in front of the other again

I laugh with my roomie as we try to get both of us back to our hotel on one bike.

On the way home we run into one of my students in a city of 2.5 million.

A man whose dog we stop to pet asks us where we're from, then loudly proclaims that Americans are the best people in the world. We awkwardly stammer thank you (how do you respond to that?) and get a laugh out of it.


I have learned on days that I want to scream because there are no traffic laws whatsoever, on days when no one speaks MY language and I am consequently frustrated, that my emotions are not to be relied on. A faithful Father, and finding the humor in life, makes all the difference.

Humor, for instance, in the form of noticing that all the trees here have IVs hooked up to them because it's so dry. :-)


  1. i laughed so hard at the "i want clean feet" comment! that's extreme friend!!! sounds like a semi-rough yet semi-good day... i wish i was there laughing/crying with ya... and good to know some things never change even overseas (i.e. electronics dying). love you!

  2. i love you jules. and i love thinking of you and leslie trying to ride on one bike. that is so you.