We’ve officially lived in the Dominican Republic for just over a week and so far, we are adjusting great. The culture shock here isn’t as bad as it was in China. I don’t know if it’s because we knew what to expect this time around, or if it’s because the time change and life changes aren’t as extreme.
I don’t think it’s hit me yet that we are here for 3 and a half months, but I know from past experience that it will eventually. I’ll get home sick, I’ll get my separation anxiety from Harvey, I will miss certain things and certain people, but right now I am just taking it all in and enjoying this beautiful chapter that Derek and I are lucky to experience together with 30 strangers.
A few things that are different here than back home:
The humidity! On Monday, it was 90 degrees with 60% humidity. We don’t have AC in our house or schools, so we are all constantly covered in sweat, and we’ve just accepted it. I am glad we are all here to stick together through it all (literally and figuratively). My hair and nails are thriving though.
Our water and electricity situation. Without fail, one of them is always off every other day for a couple of hours. The area our house is in doesn’t have city water and power, so our house runs off of a back up system. (Batteries and cisterns) It feels like we are all camping, but in a very nice house.
In addition to not having water sometimes, we never have hot water or good water pressure. With that being said, showering is a whole new experience. Since we are constantly hot and sweaty, cold showers haven’t been that bad. But I know I’ll probably cry happy tears when I get my hard water pressure back (in 90 days) 😉
We also can’t drink the tap water here, which is a habit that Derek and I got used to in China, but I do miss having the luxury of constant access to water. Especially here, where we are always thirsty from the heat.
Our house situation is similar to what it was like in China. Our “home” is like a larger hotel room with our own bathroom, but we share a kitchen and laundry room with the other 30 volunteers. Since we are the head teachers this time around, we have our own “hotel room” but the other rooms in our house are filled with 6-9 volunteers who all share a bathroom together. (props to them!)The good news is, we can walk 20 minutes from our house and be in the ocean, which makes all of the “bad” and different things worth it. I’ve also learned that most of the dogs and cats that we see on the street are people’s pets, and not strays, and that has eased my emotions and culture shock a little bit.
Unlike our first living abroad experience, the language barrier here isn’t too bad for us. I love being able to read the Spanish words in the restaurants and grocery stores which I was never able to do with Chinese characters, and Derek loves practicing the Spanish he knows with our personal taxi driver/ neighbor, Papi.
We also have pretty skies, good food, a comfortable bed, and regular toilets which were all things we struggled with our first week when we lived in China. If you want to read the post that I wrote back then, here is the link: https://thestellarstories.com/2017/09/09/ni-hao-from-our-new-home/
In the last 9 days, we’ve adjusted to our new living situation, we’ve made some new friends, we’ve organized all of our groups’ teaching schedules, and we’ve started teaching the kids. Being greeted with a million hugs and hearing “teacha Wren and Teacha D” again as we arrive at the schools almost makes me tear up.
We’ve also explored our city center (with the best architecture), ate the yummiest food, spent some time at a beautiful country club, and have been to the beach three times, which makes me the happiest little soul. I am so excited to see what accomplishments, experiences, and adventures we have in the next 13 weeks.
Like I’ve said before, with adventure comes change, and with change comes growth. And I am so ready for all of it.
Onto the next adventure, Wren