Culture Shock

I think over the past few years, I have understood that being overseas is not easy. I never tried to romanticize or exoticize it in my head, and especially tried to avoid any expectations of being away. But somehow, I still had this amazing driving force to be overseas, to live and work away from Canada.

Living in Rwanda, I am finding very exhausting so far. I work each day to keep my energy level at a neutral place, to be able to manage my emotions and function effectively. A good example of why things are exhausting is this: Yesterday, we needed to buy gas for cooking. Our new landlord, Christiane, was helping us, so we were in her car. We visited 3 places, all of which were out of gas. Finally, we were told that there was a “new gas system,” so we had to go to this special place to buy a new gas container. Two hours later, we are still sitting at this special place waiting to actually buy a gas container. By the time we had it all sorted out, we had been in the process for about 4 hours. Exhausting.

The bottom line is this: I knew Rwanda would be challenging, and still had the drive to come here. Each day, I wonder to myself, why would I subject myself to these challenges, when I could just stay at home and get a well-paid job? Why am I really here?

Deep down I know it is because I will not settle for less than the most personal development I can attain during my lifetime.

Even though I have that knowledge of my purpose, I’m still struggling with the day to day culture shock and adjustment. The dust, the mosquitos and bugs, the lack of power and water, the loud noise at night, the fact that I have to stay indoors when it’s dark for safety, the language barrier at work, the loneliness, the constant confusion…

Meg tells me to find beauty in moments each day. It’s so true. It’s in these moments of beauty that I remember my purpose here, or I start to reframe and redefine my purpose in a way that makes sense to me in the present moment. So, I am here. I am getting through and I’m learning.

And I miss all you guys and I can’t wait to get home to digest all of this!

Kelly in Kigali


~ by kcanderson on August 20, 2005.

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