Culture Shock

A question frequently asked by my friends is, “How was Africa? Culture shock?” Shockingly, no. Yes, everything was different. Yes, it was incredibly uncomfortable. But nothing compared to coming back to the United States.

We’ve been back for almost a whole week now, and I can confirm that jetlag is NOT to blame for my crazy mood shifts. I have discovered that I am most at peace with the group of students I went to Uganda with, and least at peace with my friends and coworkers who didn’t go with me. Everyone has asked how my trip was, what I saw, if I got sick (thanks IBS reputation.) Every time I try to explain what I did or saw, it comes out wrong. I almost wish people didn’t even ask. 

I have shared pieces of the heart-wrenching experiences with close friends and family, but there is one experience I have yet to vocalize and write about. Sorry, not going to happen here either. It took me a while to figure out why I couldn’t communicate it, but I think I’ve finally figured it out. The things I did and saw can not possibly put in words. The English language is too limited and to try to break it down into words would diminish the truth. The only way to know what I went through is to see it yourself. 
 
Uganda is always on my mind. Yesterday, I mentioned needing a new pair of flip flops. I immediately regretted my statement. I do not need a new pair of shoes. In fact, I need fewer shoes. Now when I hear people casually mention being low on cash or needing groceries, something bubbles up inside of me and I want to tell them they really don’t need anything. All of our needs are met. But I usually keep these thoughts under wraps for fear of sounding as crazy as I currently feel. 
 
I never thought I would be so uncomfortable with being comfortable. It feels wrong to sit in front of my TV and eat a bag of chips in air conditioning. Life really isn’t fair. I did nothing to deserve comfort, and Ugandans did nothing to deserve discomfort. If there was one message I could relay to everyone that hasn’t experienced the developing world, it would be that YOU ARE BLESSED.  

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