In the past week or so, I've felt myself spiraling into what I can only describe as a sort of a post-holiday, cultural exhaustion. A friend of mine who recently returned to her homeland - wait! I'm really beginning to talk like a Cambodian. A friend of mine who recently returned to Canada (that's better) after 11 months here reassured me that these things happen and that she herself fell into these slumps, especially around months 5 and 7.
Well, here I am just past the 5-month mark and the novelty of living life in Southeast Asia has definitely worn off.
At my job I feel sort of useless. Yes, I'm putting together the newsletter, which takes up a good chunk of my time, but it's not exactly a 40-hour a week task. While I could dig up more work for myself, I've already given that a try and the effort is more exhausting than the work itself could possibly be. The President of the university, apparently recognizing my capabilities after the publication of the first newsletter, approached me with ideas of giving me some additional responsibilities. While I'd embrace the chance at more work with outstretched arms, his thoughts of me starting some sort of program, like a Women's Studies Center, seem above my realm of capabilities and knowledge. Plus, given that I'm only here until June, the idea isn't quite sustainable. (And yet instead of being proactive, all I can seem to do is make excuses.)
So while I'm in my office feeling like a bump on a log, still struggling to figure out the Cambodian work pace, about 100 meters across the street sits my home. I can see it from the window by my desk.
It's too close.
Yes, I'm feeling that the line between home life and work life is a little too wibbly wobbly for my liking. I'm normally a pretty private person, and here I have WAY too many eyes focusing on my every action - from my language lessons with the university guard to my Christmas holiday in Kep to where I buy my water. I know I should just acknowledge the Cambodian way of socialization and use this as an excuse to get away from the confines of these grounds more often, but I'm inclined to do just the opposite. In fact, last night I holed myself in my room from 4 p.m. on - made some dinner, put in a DVD and fell asleep at 8 p.m.
For the last bit of my "oh-woe-is-me" melodrama, I'm finding it really hard to relate to people here. Given the in-and-out nature of expat life, the few people I manage to connect with are on a plane within a few months. Everyone else I meet is a zealously passionate do-gooder or a full-blooded Cambodian (or in some cases, both). Each is fascinating in his or her own respect, but the relating doesn't come easy as I'm lacking in both passion and Cambodian blood.
So to wrap up my current state of mind, I'm feeling drained of motivation, creativity, privacy, energy, passion, vision, happy thoughts, patience, understanding, WORKING INTERNET... the list could go on.
Living in Cambodia has proven to be quite the emotional roller coaster and I'm hoping to lay low and try to figure out solutions to the above problems until the bad spell passes. (I keep trying to remind myself that these feelings are fleeting.) My friend also suggested getting out of the country to gain some perspective, so I think I need to start figuring out when I can take that trip to Malaysia I've been planning.