I get it, everyone goes through a transition when you move somewhere new. Whether it’s a new city, new country, new continent. Hell even new jobs you have a ‘transition’ period. But everyone experiences this differently. I cannot stress this enough. Your experiences are your experiences, they aren’t others. You can share your experiences (hey I have a blog, that’s what I do!) but that doesn’t mean everyone will relate, not everyone transitions in the same way.
I thrive on change. Does that mean that moving somewhere new doesn’t affect me? No. It just means I enjoy the discomfort of it all. This life I lead, moving new places, creating a new life every year or two, it’s not for everyone. But I enjoy it because it’s not easy. I may complain about my skin itching from being so dry moving to the desert, or how my stomach is hurting getting used to food, water, so on, in my new home, but that doesn’t mean I am sitting here miserable wishing I was back home in Canada. It’s all a part of the process. Even if your mind is fully prepared and ready to deal with the ‘culture shock’ or the lifestyle change, your body has it’s own plans. No matter where I have moved, I have gone through this.
Australia, lived there 10 months, got my period 4 times; my body was completely out of whack, and to me, that wasn’t even a place where I felt like adjusting would even be that big of a deal. Was it the climate change? Diet change? Lifestyle change? So many things can affect the way your body works, and I still haven’t got a grasp on how that all works.
Every other place I have moved; Thailand, Marshall Islands, and now here in Niger, my stomach has given me problems within the first month of living there. Why? New foods. New water system. It doesn’t matter that I am now eating healthier here than I did in the islands, my stomach isn’t used to couscous and veggies every day. That’s just the way it goes. What I have noticed though is that being healthy (physically, mentally, emotionally) goes a long way.
Transition doesn’t have to be a dirty word. It doesn’t have to be looked upon as this negative time that you will dread. Embrace the changes. Go with the flow. If you are getting headaches, don’t place blame on words like transition, think about what is really happening. For me, I am dehydrated a lot. I am not used to living in a dry climate. I lose water and don’t notice. I don’t drink enough water. Never have. As soon as I recognized that, I upped my water intake, and what do you know, headaches gone. You have to be flexible, learn to adapt, embrace the changes or you will allow the negative to take over and moving somewhere new won’t be as enjoyable as you hoped it would be.
Is living in Niger better than Marshall Islands? That’s entirely subjective. I am eating healthier; is that because the grocery stores are “better” than they were on the islands? Not really. In fact, groceries stores may even have less options for general food here than they did in the islands. But the fresh stuff I can find, is cheaper. Pineapple is eaten daily. Fresh cucumber, avocado, eggplant, tomatoes, for merely a few dollars. Everything I make, I make on couscous instead of rice. Cheaper fresh food is helpful, no more hot pockets cause they are easy and available.
There is still very little to do on the daily basis aside from working here, but does that mean I am bored? Was I bored in the islands? “If you are bored, you are boring”, as some have said to me in the past. We came here to be teachers, so that’s what we are, first and foremost. Down time is spent working on lessons, finding new ideas for the classroom, doing extracurricular stuff. I also have started working out, editing old photos of travels, working on my own projects that make me happy. One of my favourite things about so much down time, is having time to read. My whole life I have been an avid reader, and having the time to pick up a book every day makes me happier than I can describe.
So I live somewhere exactly on the opposite side of the globe from where I lived a few months ago. Everything is different; there is change, movement, passage. So many words. I prefer the word metamorphosis. We need to embrace the changes in our life and allow it to change us.
How true is this? Places change you. You can try to fight it. You can combat the transition and allow it to surface negatively in your life. You can try to live your westernized middle class life in the poorest country in the world, but you’ll learn quickly it won’t work out so well. Stop thinking that there is this external locus of control on your life and your emotions. You have more control than you think. Find what makes the changes difficult for you, and make it work for your life. Drink more water. Eat more pineapple. Walk to work more. Shower more. Shower less. The most important thing to remember is you need to find your own way, figure out what works best for you. What’s the point in moving to new countries, experiencing new things, if you can’t enjoy it and let it those experiences change you?
I am excited for the metamorphosis ahead of me. Bring it on Niger!