The first week of March I discovered the English speaking expat community and that changed my stay here a lot. Without a little bit of familiarity or people that make you feel like home, it’s so hard to be here. I choose to come here by myself, and I do not regret that decision but without people that understand North American references and English you go crazy. Finding them has improved my stay a lot because they all went through my emotions. Being here is so up and down. Because sometimes you feel so happy and that you are doing exactly what God wants you to do and then other times you feel lost and almost angry at God because I came all this way, why isn’t he making his purpose or will for my life more clear?
Every consequence of my emotions can be dealt with, but it is so much more effective to talk to people that know both cultures and help me balance out their differences in my mind. There are so many little and huge things that I have to deal with all the time but I can’t really react to them outwardly, so I just am constantly suppressing all of this contrasting culture blaring in my mind.
There is an English Church and on Sunday I will be visiting it for the first time and I have tentative plans of returning here to Dominican next year and would like to start making connections with members at the English Church.
Also in the first week of March there was the English singing competition at the school for five female students. I was honoured to be a judge for this occasion.. and also did voice training and worked will all of the contests in the month before, but that was a lot of fun.
The second week in March was when my parents came down which was a different way of life for me because the three or so times I visited them at the resort I was reminded how Americanized Resorts are. They are a terrible representation of the culture of the country they are located in. It is also one of the times I have been most embarrassed by my culture. Middle aged people getting plastered and speaking super loudly and tipping over, they looked like a bundle of dizzy lobsters, was not a highlight of my week. The funny part was being able to hear the staff insulting them. For the most part I agreed with their comments.
I have forgotten so much of my north American culture, little things and big things. It doesn’t take me long to remember but I realized that I had forgotten soup existed and most of the brand names of foods hold no relevance in my mind. Being at the resort I remembered so much, but it was a little bit of culture shock because I would rapidly go from being in an area where I am the only white speaking English person to the resort where I am just another white speaking English person. And suddenly everyone is talking about new music and English shows and drinking all the time. Everyone is talking about money and travel and plane tickets and it was very overwhelming to have to be put in that environment. Most things that are important in North America.. I couldn’t care less about.. and that is just more amplified living here.
Having my parents here was really nice and I didn’t realize how nice it is to have them there. My parents are people that will unconditionally love and support me and I have the luxury of having incredible parents that will do that. It meant a lot to me, even though I was hesitant about it, that they wanted to see my world in Dominican. Even though they will probably never understand all of Dominican culture, they now know more than someone that has never been here before.
It was interesting seeing them interact with my Dominican world through my translations.
They saw the house I’m living in and the little church and school that I call home and they brought a piece of home with them in their presence, but in their absence after they left, it brought new emotions that I hadn’t experienced here. One thing that I had forgotten was how much I like to be really busy. I thrive on never having down time and running around like crazy and to boot st patricks day was the day right after my parents left.
That holiday isn’t very significant to me, but the not seeing green everything and not being at my university for that event made me feel extremely homesick. Most of the things I had been helping with had slowed down and I found myself with so much time on my hands thinking that I should just go home and get a job. I was seriously looking at plane tickets and thinking that my time here had ended. It seemed like everything had no meaning and life itself was a chore. The temperature started rising that week and I couldn’t make myself happy. Even my friends that work at the school could tell that I was depressed. Everything about my demeanor changed and when they asked me what was wrong, I didn’t even know what to say or how to begin to explain that I wasn’t homesick I was just depressed for a different lifestyle, confused about my purpose and lonely.
I think I had this idea, that once I came to Dominican that I would just magically figure out the rest of my life. For some reason I believed that my answers would be solved here. Especially my religious questions, if anything I have more questions now, but I also have more answers. I think that is the ironic about knowing more in general, it just generates more of a curiosity for life.
My depressive week was broken by a church service that stirred so many emotions in so many people that almost everyone was crying. It was such a strange and beautiful sight to see. I left the church so confused and especially mad at this God I believe in that never seems to give me clear direction and found a friend of mine that happened to be outside of the church, who agreed to walk with me (because it isn’t safe to walk alone at night) around the block. He said he was too tired, but when he say the tears streaming down my face… he didn’t protest to much. That release of raw emotion and then walking around the block to clear my mind somewhat ‘fixed me’.
Every Friday night, a group of young expats get together to talk and eat food at a house in Sosua which is 40 minutes from Puerto Plata. In the car ride I found it really comforting to talk to the two girls with me that are in their late 20’s because they have experienced all of my same emotions before. And helped me feel normal about my predicament. At the end of everything I felt more peaceful about my future but still had lots of extra time on my hands.