It’s been three weeks to the day since I returned to Davao. The “culture shock” is undeniable and both appealing and exhausting at the same time.
Getting up at five a.m. to avoid the heat for a morning run is now an accepted ritual. Daily rice meals, a given. Being shout greeted from afar with “Hey, Joe”, a routine occurrence. Realizing this place will be home for a considerable while – not fully sunk in yet.
Most days you’re somewhere in between feeling totally in control of the new normal and having absolutely no clue what’s going on.
Of course, you have your safe havens: the house, favorite coffee shops and restaurants, giant shopping malls, expat friends’ said safe havens. All of those provide some stability that I guess is nice to have in the early stages of life abroad.
But you have to leave the nest occasionally and embrace what’s around you. You should accept pretty much any invitation that takes you out of your comfort zone and slings you into the orbit of Filipino people. I’ve been lucky to have had some of these encounters already. I look forward to many more.
The “culture shock” is undeniable, appealing and exhausting at the same time
Is it still weird going to bed every night with a choir of bugs, birds and other native species harmonizing in the background? Yes. Does the instant profuse sweating brought on by the slightest form of manual labor put a damper on your spirits? Sometimes. Is the surrealistic sense of shame cruising in a climate controlled taxi past dirt poor people living in shanty towns a reality check with unsettling effect? Every time.
But despite the awkwardness, I feel privileged to be here and experience a once unknown life firsthand. I traveled in the U.S. for three months last year. It’s gratifying to yet again change perspective and discover a new part of this world that we all inhabit together.
If you think that sounds a little philosophical, you’re probably right. But that’s what a total disruption of the familiar does to a person. I’m pretty sure it’s a positive thing. I will keep you updated on my state of mind.
I took the picture below this blog’s headline at Green Coffee, a coffee shop where I have my weekly Cebuano language classes.