Adjusting

Getting adjusted to the homestay lifestyle and the culture of things here have been a little difficult. Dinner is often at 10pm or later, after a tea break at 8pm, and usually I head to bed right after eating (uncomfortable, but necessary I suppose). Sleeping has also been a struggle, often waking up every couple hours because of the heat, the need to pee, or just restlessness. I have come to learn the way holding my pee in though, as at night every door in the house is locked (with the key nowhere to be found) so that I am unable to make it to the latrine outside and just have to wait until morning. Other adjustments that I have yet to come to terms with include the notion of time here and the pace at which people do things (walk, talk, and more) here. I am not even over-exaggerating when I say that the normal pace with which I walk to class at home is at least 4x the pace at which Ugandans leisurely walk here. As it gets dark here around 7 pm, I cannot be out, the importance of which was strongly communicated by a recent event that occurred to one intern. The reality is: it is in our own best interests to do so.

Any foreigner who has ever been to Uganda, or probably any country in Africa, will know the feeling of being spotted from a mile away as a “mzungu.” The attention that being a foreigner yields is both exhilarating and tiresome, as one might imagine. Kids stop what they’re doing and either 1) stare with blank faces (but whose faces light up as soon as we wave to them first), or 2) smile and wave and yell the few English words they know, like “How are you?” and “Bye bye!” Other more rare occurrences are the kids who cry in fear of us mzungus, or the kids who ask us in Lusoga: “buy me a bouncy ball that lights up” or “give me your money.” The children here are very much different from the kids I am used to seeing in the states; here, you rarely see a child cry, and there is something very beautiful (but also a little shocking) in seeing a 5 year old girl carry her younger baby sister or brother in a blanket on her back. These kids shown below had a lot of fun just watching us for hours yesterday. My roommates the next morning told me that I had slept-talked and dreamt about them all night, calling them “beautiful” and “precious,” unusual not because of the fact that I slept-talked but rather because I would not really say such things out loud, haha.

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The kids in the home next door never seem to get tired of it. Every day they will gather around and wave at us, no less excited than they were the time before. You can tell some of the older volunteers are not so entertained by it anymore, but I guess I am not yet at that stage. Seems like being a foreigner is something that will perpetually define your existence here, so I really don’t know how the peace corps (2 year) and the global health corps (1 year) volunteers do it, apart from, of course, being away from home for so long a time…

The food here is not bad, but just lacks variety. When you ask the locals what their favorite foods are, they all say “rice and beans” or “rice and meat.” Every restaurant here will serve these foods, plus the usual potatoes, bananas, cassava, and cooked greens. The fruit here is wonderful though, especially the mangos and the huge avocados. Still, I miss the variety of food that I am used to and spoiled by at home. Mmm…

I’ll end with something humorous regarding the television programs that people here watch. It seems that many enjoy the asian soap operas, all dubbed both in “simple English” and “Lusoga.” The funniest part, though, is that the same man does the dubbing, so you will see a woman on screen but a man’s voice speaking.

Everyday is a new adventure here, and everyday I am learning more about myself and my passion. Stay tuned for more updates!

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