Sunday, June 30, 2013

6 months

Despite being a very 'Peace Corps type of person' I never joined the Peace Corps. I didn't even apply. It wasn't so much because I worried that I would be sent to deepest, darkest Africa (clearly). Or that I worried I would miss my family and creature comforts. After all, I've lived overseas a number of times. I've slept under mosquito nets without AC, I washed clothes in a bucket, I lived without TV, internet and other Americans. Hell, I even made toast over a candle. I definitely know how to rough it.

No, what scared me was the whole commitment thing. I didn't like the idea of living in the same place for two whole years (!) Now, of course, I've had to make peace with the idea of spending a mini-lifetime in some far flung corner of the globe. And as I hit the 6 month at post mark and realize that my tour is already a quarter finished, I concede that 2 years doesn't seem so bad after all.

On the path of adjusting to culture shock (see below) I think I'm right on track at the 'at home' stage. I can't say that I've spent this time adjusting to Nigerian culture exactly, but rather to life in Lagos*. Around March-early May I was definitely at my low point at post. We were understaffed, my friends had either left already or were in the process of leaving, I'd been carless for three months, and several really tough things happened in the consulate community.

But now? Now life is pretty good and I feel 100% settled in. I am the most experienced person on the line (at work) pretty much all the time - and I can actually answer people's questions now! I never thought the day would come... I run into people I know all over the place - at the grocery store, at restaurants and clubs, at parties. My apartment is as decorated as it's going to get and I've finally started tapping into the stash of consumables I brought. Best of all, my schedule is pretty full these days with invitations and events to keep me out of trouble.

That doesn't mean I'm bored with Lagos yet - I'm still finding new places to explore and new opportunities to take advantage of - but it does mean I've stopped being a tourist in my own home.

I'll try not to let this lead to boring blog posts, though you have to cut me some slack too. I don't have any kids or cute pets to tide me over when nothing 'exotic' is happening.

So here's to 6 months of life in Lagos, may the next 18 been just as sweet, challenging and surprising.

 *I should explain that compared to all my other expat experiences we don't get a great deal of exposure to local culture here. Part of it is security related. We're allowed to travel to about .05% of Nigeria freely because of the risk of kidnappings and other violence. Part of it is also just due to the fact that Lagos (especially the part that we're limited to) is full of the wealthiest Nigerians - who have often lived and studied abroad - and other expatriates. If typical expats live in a bubble, it's even more true here in Lagos. So when I talk about adjusting to Lagos it's more about adjusting to things like traffic, work hours, internet speed (or lack thereof) and movement restrictions than to true cultural differences.

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