I write from Puebla, Mexico. I have spent a week and a day here. It’s strange, though, because I feel like it has been both longer and shorter. The overarching theme has been:
Just go with it.
This has been a big adjustment for me as everyone seems to be relaxed and not really concerned about anything. I arrived a week later than my fellow adventurers and before even getting here I was in touch with the international advisor about what I would need to do my first few days to make up for what I missed. “We can talk about it when you get here,” she told me. The Sunday before I was due to arrive, I emailed her again and asked when a good time to come into her office would be. She never answered, so even though I wasn’t due for class until 1:30 I went in fairly early the next morning. When I introduced myself, she warmly greeted me then said, “I don’t really have time right now, come back around 4.” I went back around 4 and she handed me a few things, explained some stuff that would need to be done, and then said of some other things, “I’m not really sure when we’ll get it done, but I’ll be in touch.” For someone such as myself who is very Type A and obsessed with my planner, this was stressful!
To add to this, Mexico runs on polychronic time. I didn’t know what that meant at first. My roommates explained it that where in America we run on monochronic time- if your meeting is at 3:00 you get there by 2:45 and might possibly be considered rude if you show up exactly at 3:00. Whereas, if you’re meeting with someone in polychronic world at 3:00, then 5-15 minutes late is the usual. Even classes here start about 10 minutes late. No one is ever in a real hurry and deadlines or arranged times are fluid. Once you adjust, it can be nice, but for an anxious person like myself who is often 30 minutes early it is frustrating.
Off the cultural approach to just go with it, being a student in a foreign country where your language skills aren’t the strongest you pretty much have to take that approach too. We still don’t have a washer and dryer- Just go with it. We didn’t have hot water until tonight-Just go with it. Myself, nor my roommates, know what the waiter is saying- Nod your head, smile, and go with it. Have absolutely no idea how to properly get an extremely heavy five gallon jug of water onto the water spout, so you end up spilling it everywhere and everyone has to donate a towel to the clean up process- Laugh it off and go with it. That last one definitely did not happen about two hours before I wrote this post, no way.
The first week of studying abroad has challenged me to learn that theme. It has reminded me to sit back and enjoy the views- seriously, one day I had lunch in my apartment by myself and just spent the entire time staring out at the expansive city below me- because I am currently in the middle of a once in a lifetime adventure, so honestly, I’m just going with it.