It’s the Little Things

Coming over to live and work in a culture that is alien was always going to be a bizarre and challenging experience. I remember clearly my first weekend and working week in Opuwo; wandering around thinking “what the hell am I doing here?”, certain that I’d never fully adapt to this alien environment and totally confused by the seeming chaos going on all around.

Of course you do adapt, you have to.

After a while you slowly find less things openly bizarre. Fewer daily conversations or interactions leave you dazed and confused. You do things that scared you in the past easily and without thinking.

Because this is a slow and continuous process sometimes it can be hard to judge how far you’ve come and how much your attitudes have changed.

There are naturally the big things; being comfortable and effective at work, meaningful interactions with people and just being comfortable living within this culture that was once so alien.

But for me it’s the little things that help to sum up my integration (to be buzz-word friendly).

A few from the last week amongst many:

  • Sitting in a MoHSS office having coffee while following (and understanding) the conversation about politics. Being able to interject a joke of my own.
  • Helping the security to chase goats out of the hospital gate (rather than previously standing around wondering what the hell was going on)
  • “Queuing” in a shop, waiting in the random hustle and bustle for my turn which I now know will come. Eventually.
  • Being content to sit on the step of a shop and pass the time of day with one of the assistants while a colleague’s heater is changed rather than running off to try and go to the bank at the same time (and so finding the exchange no further along on my return)
  • Taking it as granted that a quick trip to Oshakati will involve buying a windscreen (and trying to fit it in the back of the car without proper padding or packaging), exchaning a heater and a million other little bits and bobs
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