Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Water Festival, Fatigue, Family and Fire {Time Capsule}

A cold rainy day, the last drops of rainy season are falling!

The kids are busy building rockets and reading new-to-us-again books. We stored some kids books in a packing box for the last few months, opening it again this week felt so exciting.

So glad they can keep themselves entertained a bit more independently. I've been feeling so tired last few months (and I think there is a medical reason). Last week we had relatives staying and they did all the cooking and kids stuff so I just rested, mostly even too tired to read.

While family were here Soeun made a bonfire in the yard and the kids enjoyed cooking bread on sticks.

We totally missed all the boat race festivities in town, but we did have a couple of homeschooling families over one morning.

Friday, November 16, 2018

6 Types of Reverse Culture Shock Incompetence

“Going “home” was one of the most successful failures of my life.

Not that repatriation is a competition, but had it been the summer I moved back, I would have been a shoo-in for the win,” writes Jerry Jones of The Culture Blend , in Arriving Well*.  

He had more than enough know-how, being a cross cultural trainer and all, plus he had some amazing friends. I almost fell off my chair with emotion when he described the way they set up his apartment and met them at the airport. And I say ‘emotion’ as I’m not sure if I was laughing or crying. Talk about attention to detail- even the cat had a welcome sign. Everything was set up so they could have a smooth transition, and yet it was still hard.

““It’s hard to feel incompetent, isn’t it?” Yep. That’s the word. It echoed for a while. Maybe it still does.
I despised feeling incompetent, but at least in China it had been expected. One look at my face set the bar incredibly low and anything I did to surpass that was met with shock and high praise.”

So after I read Jerry Jones’ chapter in which he so competently explains his incompetence I went back and looked at the re entry post I wrote a few months ago;

I realised that 1-6 are basically all incompetence. (#7 is Loss)

So here I adapted the original and turned it into:

6 Types of Reverse Culture Shock Incompetence

1.You look like everyone else so drivers assume you will know how to cross the road; people in the supermarket expect you to be able to put a box of corn flakes in the cart trolley and the line up to pay for it. (The Cereal Aisle had to get a mention.)  
You can’t do stuff people expect you to be capable of doing.

2. You've lived there before so you (think you) know how to do all those simple things. Like feed yourself and participate in conversations. Like buy and wear shoes after wearing flip-flops thongs for many years. Like speak Australian English.
You can’t do stuff you expect yourself to be capable of doing.

3. “Have you settled in yet?” It sounds like a perfectly reasonable question to ask but sometimes sounds like “You should feel settled now that you have been back for almost a year.”
You can’t be settled in like it seems people expect. 

4. Every little thing takes so much more effort so you are extra tired. But the bed is too soft, there is no hugging pillow, and it’s so cold you need to use a blanket. Even sleeping needs to be relearned.
You don’t have the ability to sleep as much as you need.

5. In a new environment your hobbies and habits that kept you sane can’t happen.
You aren’t equipped to have fun and relax.

6.Feeling like your arms have been chopped off is such a huge part of your thought life but you don’t know how to communicate this to anyone. 

Incompetence is going to be part of reentry, so get the tools- like Arriving Well. My favourite description of the book:

“The difficult but necessary topic of re-entry is approached so eloquently through five honest, raw, healing personal stories we are all certain to learn from. The co-editors/coaches neatly sum up the useful lessons learned from each story and ask the readers pertinent, reflective questions to help them through their own repatriation journeys. This is one book I will keep handy along with all my other favorite expatriate resources.“

Tina L. Quick, author of The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition and Survive and Thrive: The International Student’s Guide to Succeeding in the U.S. and founder of International Family Transitions.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Expanding in October {Time Capsule}

It feels like everything got bigger in October. Well, by everything I mean the town and our health issues.

The town is expanding out to us. A few weeks ago the electricity company installed these huge concrete poles on one side of our street. They totally dwarf the homemade wooden sticks we have been using to hold up our cables.  Sorry no person or moto for scale but in the centre of the photo you can see a pole almost as tall as the palm, while on the right you can see our maybe three metre toothpick holding the wires.

Also our pin on google recently changed from 'unnamed road' to a string of letters and numbers! Exciting times. I have no idea what they are referring to though.

The kids had some one off days of fever, tummy upset etc etc, and I also was feeling really tired from late September. No matter how much I slept and tired everything, still exhausted. So last week I had some blood tests and turns out there are at least 2 reasons for that. Both treatable, seems straight forward, although for one I will need to travel out of town to find a doctor.