October 10, 2008
So having been in country for around four months now there’s several changes I’ve already begun to notice within me. Firstly, hygiene and the necessity of it quickly changes and is such a subtly done change that you at first don’t even notice and then one day you wake up to realize that you haven’t had a bath in two weeks and that four days without washing your hair really is not a big deal. Also, wearing multiple layers is not a big deal by any means and that sleeping under three blankets actually feels really nice. I’ll never starve and yet sometimes I crave the weirdest things and have realized some of the stuff I eat here I’d never really eat in the States. I never ate as much ice cream in the states as I did here over the summer. I’ve gotten used to onions in my food and realized that I really miss a nice cold glass of milk. Juice is sorely missed and is expensive to buy here but yet one learns how to cope and deal with the not haves. That leads to another point. It’s absolutely how amazing the technological conveniences that are available in the states are forgotten or disregarded. Sure sometimes I think having a microwave or washing machine would be great but it’s just a brief fleeting moment. Most of the time the thoughts never even enter my mind and I just deal with not having a stove, washing machine, English tv or a microwave. Even not having running water in the house no longer causes any big shock. People don’t have it, and they deal with it in other ways. So I, too, do. The interesting thing though is just how quickly these changes occur and how oftentimes we don’t even realize it’s happening. People just showing up whenever they want to is a natural part of life here and guesting (visiting other people’s houses for food and fun) can last until all hours of the night.
Yet there are still many things I struggle with, and probably always will. The primary one, besides language and general culture, is their attitude towards work. It is so completely different from anything I’ve seen before. They all claim work is important and want to have jobs yet they never seem to be taken seriously. Their jobs are the first thing to be thrown aside and there’s always days off for something. In the states we’d never get a day off because we were tired or family was in town or because we were celebrating the 100th birthday of a famous doctor. This happens here and oftentimes they happen for no obvious reason,they may just be feeling sick that day and so won’t work. This attitude is often hard to deal with because it’s so contradictory to what we have in the states. But again I find myself starting to take it all in stride and to realize some things are the way they are.
I’ve realized that even thought it’s extremely cold at 2 in the morning the sky is absolutely beautiful and is one reason why that trip to the outhouse is bearable. I’ve realized that I really do live in the best part of Kyrgyzstan with the second largest alpine lake in world to my south and the absolutely gorgeous rolling mountains to my north and prairie/desert land in between. I’ve realized donkeys really are an interesting animal and Russian tv is just as bad as some American tv. I’ve realized I really do have two great counterparts and an awesome family. Sure there are some parts that can be frustrating and other parts that are great. I’m sure we can all say that to some extent. Look around you and see what you can learn. Until next time: