So I think my inability to keep anything a secret has led most of you to the conclusion that I will be extending my time in Cambodia, but now it's official. I'll be staying until June. I'm not sure whether to be excited, nervous or content -- perhaps a combination of the three. (Actually, I think I'm less nervous about staying and more nervous about what I'm going to do when I return to the States... but no need to worry about such things now.)
To answer some of your questions, the job is going... OK. I'm not sure if it's the Cambodian way of doing things, or the UC way of doing things, or the way things go in a developing country, but I get frustrated a lot. There's a lack of organization and effective management at the university, despite it being ranked third in the country. Often actions are implemented on a whim and everything must be performed on an elaborate scale, but there's little follow through. I've found myself working on and completing projects that are never used and being asked to do things that have no clear goal or purpose. Then there are days when I have nothing -- NOTHING -- to do, and those might be some of the most frustrating days I experience, as I get antsy and create work for myself that, again, is never implemented. Three steps forward and two steps back, as they say.
My decision to stay, though, has a lot to do with the fact that there is still so much of this culture I want to explore, but it's not all fun and excitement all the time. Actually, someone told me the other day that Cambodia is for depressed people, and that pretty much puts things in perspective. I practically live with people who don't have a home and who make less money in a year than the meager amount I make in a month. It tears at my conscience and heart and really forces me to put some of the menial things I tend to complain about on a day-to-day basis into perspective. It's hard to go to bed happy when you have relatively so much more than your neighbors.
Another thing fueling my desire to stay, despite what I've made sound like an awful place to live and work (really it's not so bad), is that I'm hoping to take at least one more trip out of the country. I get a lot of my energy and motivation and creativity from getting away from my normal surroundings, so I've got my sights set on Malaysia or the Philippines. I'd like to see both, if possible, but we'll see how finances go. (If I can stick to a budget of $5 a day for food, I might be able to make it work. We'll see.)
So yeah, I'm jumping into the deep end. It's scary. For everyone who says I'm brave, I'm not. I'm pretty much just lost and taking a really long and bizarre detour to find my way. But thank you to everyone who writes and posts comments to the blog. It's your support that gets me through some of the more frustrating days.
One last thing, many of you asked about a mailing address where I can be reached. I've warned you that the mail system here is unreliable, but if you'd like to give it a go, you can reach me at the university:
143 Norodom Blvd.
P.O. Box 166
Phnom Penh, The Kingdom of Cambodia 12000
(I know posting addresses online is usually a no-no, but it's already on the UC website, so I figure no harm done.) Just be sure to put my name at the top, and write somewhere on the package "For Personal Use" so no one opens it before it gets to me.
I'm told that FedEx is the most reliable form of mailing service, but even that has been known to fail in the past. So there you go. Send at your own risk. (And e-mail me if you have questions.)
Ok, so more adventures to come. And give me ideas for things you'd like to know more about Cambodia. I'll custom tailor my adventures just for you.