Growing up on the mission field I knew many first year missionaries. One in particular that I remember meeting when I was really young. I remember that she cried about ants. There were ants in the kitchen and this made her cry. I thought this odd. Ants are everywhere. Every kitchen is crawling with ants. Since I only knew Venezuela that was a fact for me. My young mind didn't comprehend that where she came from, kitchens didn't have ants.
I thought she was crazy. Who cries about ants?
Now I realize she wasn't crying about ants. Not really. She was going through culture shock and it just so happened that on that particular day the ants were getting on her last nerve.
No, she wasn't crying about ants. She was crying because she was lonely, homesick, confused, scared. Maybe she was crying because she was convinced that under all the intense heat her brain had actually turned to mush. She may have been crying because some days breathing felt like a chore and that's a scary feeling. She wasn't crying about ants. I'm sorry I assumed she was crazy, I didn't know any better, but looking back I wish I had helped her kill some of those ants.
I am now the "crazy lady." Just yesterday I cried....about ants. It was one of those Bad Days where this new city and I were not getting along very well. It has nothing to do with city and everything to do with me. I've gone through it before and I'll do it again. It passes, things become normal and everyone survives.
My first and worst to date experience with culture shock was living in the USA while going to college. It was horrible and I'm surprised I have any friends left from that year.
In order to deal with this culture shock I've adjusted a few things, simplified and made changes.
1. I will take a nap every day. I call them my "anti-meltdown naps" This means no exercising for the time being.
2. I will hire someone to clean my kitchen every day of the week. It's not very expensive here and worth every single penny.
3. I will go to bed early.
All you ex-pats out there that read my blog, I'm curious, what have you done in the past that has helped with your transition into a new culture?
(Because this city we are in is not very Paraguayan...it's like a hybrid culture. A mixture of everything. Kind of like an MK. I think I'm going to like it here.)