When someone moves to another country, they are forced to awkwardly navigate their way through a foreign culture, stumble through the process of learning another language, and learn about local politics and government. While coming to understand another culture, it is natural to compare it to the one from which they came. What many do not realize (until their first trip back home) is how differently they will view their mother country after becoming used to another one. Of course, this concept is called reverse culture shock.
I think that life, God, fate, whatever you want to call it, gives us only what we can handle. In high school, the most I had to balance was homework, friends, choir, and swimming, and it felt like that was a lot. While in college, I juggled a part-time job at a restaurant and my studies, and felt like that was plenty. Then, after graduating, I managed to hold three different jobs, which kept me on my toes. I thought that my life in Ecuador would be relaxing, that I would learn to live like a Latino and enjoy more leisure time, but it turned out I had gotten involved in a well-intentioned, but under-staffed and unorganized, non-profit that needed a lot of administrative assistance, so I stepped up. Balancing my own teaching there with helping out the organization, trying to improve my Spanish, carefully interacting with my infamous host mother so as to not unintentionally upset her, spending time with friends, and traveling around that lovely country took up much more time than I ever imagined it would, and yes, I felt busy. However, nothing can compare to the busyness I have felt in the last ten months of my life. (I say this knowing that some of my friends tackled the first year of teaching while being mothers, wives, and even taking Master’s level classes. I honestly don’t know how they do it!) After a year like the one I’ve had, I am appreciative of summer break.