An Update of Sorts

by theadventuresofbeka

One of the aspects of living in a foreign country is that one feels less confident. In general, a foreigner feels more vulnerable. This is for a multitude of reasons that boil down to the differences in culture and the large distance between everything that you have previously known and your current life.

This week, I have felt fragile.

Sometimes, it is the small things. I started the week out with a phone call from Movistar, my internet company and the bane of my existence. I promise, I speak Spanish, but when I am talking to someone on my cheap Colombian cell phone and they are talking 1,000 miles a minute in technical terms, I have no idea what’s going on. Eventually, I figured out that my internet bill was due the next day. After they hung up on me, I muddled my way through my online account (which I didn’t know I had to activate, I was waiting for an email), and confirmed that yes, my bill was due the next day. My roommate and I figured out how to pay it, but I spent the morning trying to not stress over it. Many Colombians have comforted me, explaining that they don’t understand these sorts of people on the phone either. I know this, because the same thing happens to me in the US. It just feels more humiliating when you are the foreigner asking someone to repeat themselves again and again.

Then, last night I had an argument with my taxi driver. He refused to listen to me when I told him to take me through the “exit” in order to drop me off at my house. I have navigated UPTC for over a month now and I know that the official entrances are closed after 10PM on the weekend and neither a taxi nor a pedestrian can get through. The exit is the only way in. Plus, this is Colombia. Nobody is going to stop us or fine us for  going through an exit. This is why I was in the taxi in the first place, because I can’t just be dropped off at the entrance and walk in. This specific driver ignored me and insisted on taking me to the entrance – only to find that it was closed as I told him it would be. It was only then that he would drive through the exit. I had to just breathe and let the whole situation go. In the end, I got home.

I am not homesick. I simply feel vulnerable. Due to some administrative difficulties, my housing situation is unstable, and my roommates and I have spent the week trying to deal with this in addition to our usual responsibilities. Every little thing has been more likely to frustrate me because of this underlying feeling of insecurity. Hopefully, this will all be resolved within the next week or two, but for the time being, it is emotionally taxing.

The thing is, I paid my internet bill on time and I got home after my argument with the taxi driver and no matter what happens with my housing situation, I’m not going to be homeless. Even if I have to move, it won’t be a tragic situation. Yet, these things seem so much more concerning in a foreign place. I have to remind myself of this.

It’s not all bad though. I’ve had a couple really great classes this week. I’ve found a running buddy, I signed up for a 10K and I found gluten free pasta and cookies that I can buy in Tunja. Sometimes, it’s those little things that make things more bearable.

Today, I had a quiet morning to myself that included a gluten free chocolate chip cookie, and my spirit is calmer. I feel ready to face another week and all that it will bring.