Hitting the wall – culture shock, and what I’m learning from it

We have all hit the wall.

It seems to be the collective agreement among the American students on my program that the infamous “honeymoon” stage is over (although I never felt like I was on a honeymoon, by any means) and the down-and-dirty work of fully adjusting to life in Ghana is kind of kicking us all in the butt.  For me, communicating with my family has changed drastically now that I have a Ghanaian sister living in the house; figuring out family roles and relationships has become even more challenging. The war on cockroaches continues (I think I killed #6 last night?) and my shower drain is clogged with my oburuni hair, which has created a fantastic scum pond that smells to high heaven and in which I have to stand to bathe. Even daily transportation, which has been my favorite part of Ghana, has been getting frustrating when the traffic and the smog and the dust and the heat just won’t let up.

And yet Ghana continues to reveal her beauty to me in new and wonderful ways everyday, too. I appreciate the red dirt roads, the thick trees, the vibrancy of the marketplace, the colors of the fabrics, the birds that look like they’re straight out of Lion King, and the warmth of the people. I have started making friends with the neighborhood shopkeepers and families, and they refer to me as “Sister Sara.” I have gotten to know my way around town very well, and I’ve started receiving mail from home (thank you to all of you!) Even though there are new challenges and frustrations every day, I know that it’s part of the process and that I am learning incredible patience, perseverance, and non-verbal communication skills. (It’s amazing how much is communicated without words here! Maybe it’s the same in the States and I just don’t notice it.) All in all, I’m seeing what people have meant when they’ve told me Ghanaians highly value other human beings on a very fundamental level. Even when I am treated rudely and overcharged and snubbed for being a foreigner, those occasions are in the minority and I have been welcomed and blessed by so many others here.

May the journey continue, as we all work to knock down the wall.

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2 thoughts on “Hitting the wall – culture shock, and what I’m learning from it

  1. It is so wonderful to hear that you are able to see a brighter end or side to the negative! Reading this came just in time, honestly! I love reading your blog when I get a chance! You have a very calm and rational perspective that I just love reading!
    Keep on truckin’ my dear!

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