Monday, November 29, 2010

3 Weeks Ago...

I left the US exactly 3 weeks ago. Many friends asked me, "how do you pack for 6 months?" It was difficult, and yes, I did a lot of it last minute. So for those of you wondering how I got my stuff over here, I thought I'd show you some pictures of my packing experience. And you better enjoy it, because it took me a really long time to upload them!

 This is all my stuff- books, journals, clothes, a 6 month supply of contacts and solution, and other really important things that help make being overseas a bit more like home. My clothes consisted of a little of everything- shorts and t-shirts because of the hot weather, and pants, skirts, and long sleeves because whenever I go out, I have to basically be covered from wrist to ankle. And all of this needed to be packed into two check-ons (weighing under 50lbs), a carry-on, and a purse!

 Here's a better picture- things were strewn all over the living room. Good thing this was about midnight so no one else was trying to do things in there, right? I knew packing last minute had its advantages!

A while later, almost everything has a place. Except for the coco puffs.

Are they really neccesarry? Yes.
1. Cereal is my favorite food. Nothing beats a bowl of this vitamin and mineral enhanced sugar in a bowl of milk.
2. It's not easy to find cereal of any sort in Africa, and what is here is uber expensive. (seriously-as in add a buck or two to what you pay for the largest size at King Soopers and that's what you could pay here for a little bitty tiny box!)
3. I'm counting on this to keep me from a complete breakdown when I culture shock.

So yes, I had to find a place for them, no matter what!

SUCCESS!!! The suitcase weighed 48lbs, just barely under the limit!

And here's a picture for the sake of my mom- this is how her living room normally looks when I haven't destroyed it . And, this is how I left it at about 1pm that evening- I still had 5 hours left to sleep!

And that is how you pack for 6 months. I did a good job too! The only thing that I noticed I missed was nail clippers- oh well, I think I should be able to find some here, and if not, I'm an expert nail biter anyways!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Reflections on Thanksgiving

I had an epiphany about Thanksgiving this year. It is only an American holiday (well, and maybe Canadian, but it's not even on the same day). In fact, I had to explain what Thanksgiving was to my Egyptian roommate. I didn't do a very good job of that. What's Thanksgiving about again? Oh yeah, the Pilgrims and Indians- wait, no, the Native Americans and thanking God for making it through the winter. But then why do we celebrate in the fall? So much for knowing my American history- Ms. Langford must have not taught that part, or else I would have some little song or ditty to remind me about it!

Anyways, when you're overseas you feel that every white person you see comes from the same culture as you. And it's partially true. They usually speak good English, even if it's not their native tongue, celebrate Christian holidays and think it's hot here. So it seemed really strange that many of the white people that I met thought that Thursday was just a normal day and weren't going to be preparing food for a Thanksgiving meal. It makes me so thankful to be American. Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the Christmas season and without it how would we know that it was time to begin decorating and having Christmas parties. Seriously, the holiday season wouldn't be half as great if it didn't start with Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving overseas was really different, but good! The day was a pretty normal day until the evening. Then we headed over to an American family's home. And here's the great thing- I didn't even know this family, or most of the people there either. But that's what happens when you're part of a small minority. Simply because you're part of the minority means you are part of the family. It's great. We had almost all the traditional food and had a wonderful time. There were a few things I missed about Thanksgiving in the states though. Like family (obviously) and watching the football and eating pie at half-time. We had pie, we were just eating it with the call to prayer in the background instead of commercials for black Friday deals chattering away. Despite it all, I had a wonderful time meeting new friends and enjoying a tradition- even if I don't quite know what we're celebrating :)