The Three Month Mark

December 6, 2012

Traveling has its costs. Being away from friends and family, missing important events, and remembering the very different life I led only a few months ago can sometimes make me homesick. So why travel? Why go to the places that American media only writes gruesome stories about? Why go to a place where comforts that make life a little more convenient are not always easily found? Why put myself under the extra stress and fatigue?

I travel because of the three month mark. Without fail, the first three months are socially isolating, emotionally tiring and physically uncomfortable. But with the passing of my three month anniversary and a third of my program here, I can say I feel like myself again. I have found some community in Kibungo, my body is growing used to the new diet and physical demands and even just creating my own routine has brought back some happy equilibrium back to my life.  At work, Olivia and I are also starting several projects including an English Club, and a Language Center that are showing promise. Olivia has been working with numerous mental health and clinical psychology groups. I am even attempting my own side project. Though it is still in the very earliest stages, I hope to help produce a literary journal written in both Kinyarwanda and English. We will be busy, but I am hopeful.

This same phenomenon occurred during my stays in Cameroon and Suriname. The three month mark is when that nagging “What am I doing here?” question fades a little and a small, fluid sense of belonging slowly replaces that doubt. And in another culture with its own rules of social and professional interaction, the emotional and physical change is thrilling. But unfortunately for my beloved friends and family at home, I also find the transformative three month mark hopelessly addictive.  The change is, by no means, a sign that I really “know” Rwandan culture, that would take much more time than I have here, but I am learning. Nine months is the longest that I have ever spent in another culture and I’m curious what the next six months hold (or at least the next month, I will be spending Christmas on the beach in Zanzibar, Tanzania!).

The coming months will not always be easy, but at least now I do not doubt that I am growing, somehow, some way.

8 Responses to “The Three Month Mark”

  1. uncledavethegoodguy Says:

    Well written and very expressive. Keep truckin’. Memories are being made, lessons learned, and perspectives broadened. You are continuing on your path of becoming an exceptional woman.

  2. Kiwi Says:

    Interesting that you feel this way, I’m exactly the opposite, for me the first 3 months are the honeymoon period where everything is new and exciting, however now I have gotten to 3 months and I have never felt more homesick.

  3. Lynne Kasey Says:

    I love your bravery, and commitment to getting past that “three month” marker. I’ve been afraid all my life to step out of my comfort zone. You inspire me.
    Merry Christmas Katie.
    Aunt Lynne

  4. Lyla Kirsch Says:

    Oh Katie dear, love your updates and can not believe you have been gone for 3 months, where has the time gone??? We will miss you over the holidays, we will be in Santa barbara with Genna, Mats and Luke. Nick did make a trip home in Oct., to see his folks and I still need to go see my Mom in Minnesota sometime. It is like summer here in AZ, really enjoying it! Nick is still trying to find work………pray!! got another letter from Kwizera, my sponsored daughter , in Kibungo, not sure she gets or understands my letters, as I sent photos of you, & us , and told her of you being over there, but, no mention that she even gets these photos, as she is always asking me to send some????? anyways, I do look forward to the day you can meet her! Hope she can use the money you have awaiting her! Love you!!! Aunt Lyla

  5. Sandy Pants Says:

    Katie, you are a rockstar. Few people have the courage to even consider traveling on such a journey, and even fewer actually do it. I am so proud of you and can’t wait to hear about what you accomplish next. Lots of U.S. love! 🙂

    -Sandy Pants

  6. Lisa Keller Says:

    Oh katie, I am so thrilled for you! What an amazing life you are living. My son Christopher served in the Peace Corps in Mozambique for 2 1/2 years; such a difficult life but he loved his experience. Stay safe and enjoy! lisa Keller (Good friends of your Aunt Nancy and uncle Dave)

  7. Kiwi- Thanks for your comment! I feel like my honeymoon period is much shorter, like the first few weeks. Also, I don’t think any real growth or adjustment is actually done during that beginning period. I take many of the events at face value because the cultural change is so overwhelming at first. I can only start to really reflect on that change after several months in country.
    Thank you for all your support!

  8. sjuniperj Says:

    I’d like to nominate you for the Liebster Blog Award! You’ll have to follow me back to my blog to pick up the questions that accompany the nomination, but congratulations on being one of my (and doubtless many others) favorite reads!

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