Sunday, June 8, 2008

Separation starting

So this weekend has been an interesting one in terms of Peace Corps preparation. I have been studying the language, although have been getting extremely frustrated with Rosetta stone and the speaking section. My newest preparations were entirely unexpected and not planned and thusly, I think, are all the more valuable.

The first incidence involves modern human comforts: electricity. Over the last week the East coast was first hit by a wave of poweful storms then a round of extremely high heat- high 90s. Being naturally from the Midwest, St. Louis in particular, we are used to heat and humidity. However, the heat here came out of nowhere fast and secondly there is currently no real way to cool myself in my apartment. Why is this you may ask? Well because my air is not currently working because it runs on electricity. The previous storms that rolled through knocked out power to multiple places and have thusly affected me as well. The weird part of all this is that I have actual power- lights, but no cool air. or hot water at times. Others in my apartment complex don't even have lights... and sometimes I'll have half my outlets that work and the other half doesn't... so who knows. So basically since Friday afternoon I have been without cool air and intermitent hot water. Ironically I find it humorous because I'll be facing a very similar situation in Kyrgyzstan, although I believe they don't have air at all. So it's been a nice way to see how well I'll survive and for the most part I've been okay. The problem is that I am currently packing to move which makes everything seem hotter. Again, kinda funny. I may even do the whole Peace Corps experience and boil water for a nice warm bath.. then again probably not.

The second situation involved the Baltimore Aquarium that I went to on Saturday. Two wonderful girls from church took me there as a sort of farewell trip. We had a great time and I loved seeing all the different types of organisms found within the ocean- it's such an amazing place and so untaped and hardly studied... a science geek like me loved it. Anyways, we go to the gift shop and here's this souvenior shop filled from top to bottom with stuff. Most of it is just stupid nonsense stuff that is found in any specialized souvenior shop and I suddenly just became so disgusted and overwhelmed by this blatant display of consumerism and materialism that is so rampant in our society. I walked through rows of objects wondering why anyone would want to buy them, the incredible waste of production used to create these items and I left the store fairly soon. I watched people buying multiple gifts and found myself thinking, "Are the people your giving this to really going to care?" Probably not... they'll probably just throw it away at some time in the near future. Also does buying a souvenior make the trip any more memorable... on the contrary, depending on the gift.. no. Maybe it's just my brain beginning the necessary steps of culture separation or maybe it's a look into the future- a vision of what it's going to be like those first few months when I return. All I know was that it was definitely a unexpected place for a lesson.

Therefore, although this weekend has been harder than some weekends... it has all been great preparation for what's to come. The great thing is it hasn't really bothered me that much... definitely not as much as some tenants. The view of consumerism is something, I know, will grow and change and I may always view it differently. Human comforts are just that... comforts... and some of them can be lived without. Until next time...

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