Sunday, January 11, 2009

Still in Stage 2

I've probably mentioned this, but I'm still hanging out in Stage 2 of culture shock... everything sucks. Not really, but I am homesick... and also sick sick.

I picked up a stomach bug in Cambodia but thought I had more or less kicked it. Alas no, it or some new bug has taken up residence in my digestive track making it, once again, unwise for me to be more than 50 feet from a bathroom at any time. I took some pepto... it helps for a little while, but ultimately I just need to let nature take it's course. On Saturday I was so pooped (pun intended) that I came straight home from class and was in bed before 5pm.

Today I didn't feel quite up to the beach so I went to the mall. I ate at McDonalds, which I know is both immoral and probably unwise given the state of my tummy - but sometimes you just need western food. A fair number of places offer "western" food - but it's always just a bit off, the mayonnaise is wrong, or the cheese is fake, or something. The cultural homogenization of McDonalds can be a welcome thing at times!

Especially when you're hanging out in Stage 2. I remember reading someone else's blog at about this stage, and I'm right there. Everything that was once new and amazing is just ordinary now... ordinary and somewhat annoying. I see elephants walking down the street on a regular basis. Seeing 5 people on a motorbike is not really a big deal - you know because two of them were kids and one was a baby so really - it's equivalent to like 3 adult sized people, and that's nothing at all. And when teenagers on motorbikes scream out to us "Hello - where you go?" it's no longer charming. My pathetic attempts at the language are no longer fun adventures, but rather another frustrating road block to accomplishing whatever I want. But the longer I'm able to function here without speaking the language, the less motivated I am to sit down and learn it.

Ugh. I'm homesick too... for a home that doesn't exist anymore. I want nothing more than to be back in my old apartment, sitting on my fluffy blue couch next to Sally under a pile of quilts, watching DVRed episodes of Ace of Cakes while munching on bakery bread & three different kinds of cheeses. Even though I was lonely and at times miserable... it was a comfortable existence. I'm tired of not having a comfy space here. I'm excessively tired of my whole bathroom situation - the shower over the sink and the lack of hot water particularly. It's finally getting 'cold' here, dipping down into the 70s or possibly the 60s overnight. Which I realize isn't actually cold - but the prospect of a cold shower is only even tolerable when the weather's been a consistent 80 something.

And as much as it's cool to say that I had Christmas in Thailand and New Years in Cambodia, I have never felt less of the holiday spirit than I did this year. The whole season has felt surreal and every Santa poster or Christmas tree display (which are still up for some odd reason) mocks me - they don't even believe in Christmas here! Don't even get me started on the morning wake-up brigade of dogs howling, cocks crowing, and the music blaring advertisement trucks.

I feel like my contract is too long, and my salary is too low, but I'm not sure what on earth I'm going to do with myself when I do decide to leave. Ye olde anxieties are back - I don't have much savings to speak of, and while I can live comfortably in Thailand on my salary, I'd have to be extremely careful (or stay here for quite a while) to save up enough to actually return to the States. And when I do go back, what kind of job will I be able to find - will I find one at all with the economy in the toilet as it is? Double ugh.

I'll stop here but suffice it to say I'm not doing especially well today. I managed to hang on to some level of the Honeymoon stage of culture shock for about 3 months. I really hope stage two doesn't linger quite that long.

TAG: Code Sticky Rice


Cate said...

I hope stage 2 passes soon...I'm not looking forward to that, but I guess it's something we just have to go through. Good luck...hang in there!

Exuberant Color said...

It's easy to see all of the bad stuff when you aren't feeling well. I can sure understand being homesick though. I can't imagine a cold shower every day either. I wish you could find a little more comfy apartment.

You need probiotics, like acidophillus so the intestinal bugs dont' get you.

Karin said...

You're doing great, actually. All systems normal, except, I suppose for your digestive system. In Senegal we'd just go to the pharmacy and ask for worm pills, take them and get on with living.

You will make it out of this stage, really. I promise.

Doug Anderson said...

Immodium worked for me on numerous occasions in many countries.

My small apt in BKK also had no hot water, but I bought a flash water heater and installed it without screwing into the tiles. A flash heater has no tank; it heats the water with heating coils wrapped around the water pipe that is curled inside the heater for a couple of feet. All heaters are small, HomePro has more than 30 models. Tesco probably sells them as well, or Big C. They all have 4 screw holes on the back for mounting. I bought 2 expanding shower curtain rods, and 4 plastic C-style pipe clamps/brackets. I screwed the C brackets to the back of the heater, slipped the shower rods through the hole in the C, then expanded and tightened the rods against the wall. Because the existing shower was too close to where the heater would go, I also bought 2 shower hoses (metal) to extend the cold water and hot water hoses. Works fine. If you need a better description, e-mail me. The heater needs a power feed so I also bought a long computer-type power cord, cut the female plug off one end, and bared the 3 wires, which insert into 3 screw sockets in the heater. Voila, instant hot water.

Rebel said...

Thanks Cate, can't wait to start seeing *your* updates!

Exuberant, it's true, but I tried some of the yogurt here and it was a strange flavor (young coconut) and now I'm afraid.

Thanks Karin too, it's good to hear that from someone who's been through to the other side.

Doug - LOL your idea of "instant" and mine are completely different! I've been reassured that it will be hot again by February and it's not worth the hassle to me. Let me complain until Feb. then I'll be fine. ;)

Jeannette said...

Oh yes, good ol' stage 2. I think my company went bankrupt around the time that one hit. So I was unemployed in a new country.

I rented the entire Lost, Sex and the City, and O.C. series, something I wouldnt usually do, but it reminded me of home.

If you wanna make money teaching English come to Japan. With the weakness of the American dollar you can save a lot earning yen!