The trouble with the internet is that it allows me to stay attached to my job back in the states. Sure, I could ignore all my emails, and just let that “out of office’ reply do its trick, but the internet is a magic tether. I have solved staffing issues, student course issues, completed letter of reference, submitted a grant proposal, and course schedules for Fall 2014!
Yet, the internet, email, access to American newspapers and even radio stations is not the same as actually being in the states. All the sensory elements of a culture are reduced to bytes and images. When I leave my house, I am suddenly in the middle of a different place, with all its own unique tensions and rules. The internet connection remains a sort of illusory contact with America culture. When you spend your morning doing as much laundry as possible so it dries before the next rain, you can’t really think about course enrollment. The immediate needs are of more critical importance. Will your sweater dry in time? Or will you need to leave it drape over your single heater? You have to buy slipper socks before the next cold snap. The current warm trend won’t last, and you can’t be left unaware. Grocery shopping is a daily task. You have to go to many shops to collect what you need for living. Some shops don’t carry some items like cat litter while others have the sauerkraut you like. Small jars of honey in one shop, and cat treats only in the drugstore. After a while, these chores become your main occupation, and you forget about the convenience of dryers, overnight delivery of books, and so on that allow you the time and space to not worry about the future. You now just live in the moment.
You can live in the moment here. You have to. Things change here so quickly. Nothing is for certain.
That, and not the sudden return to the land of plenty of Big Box stores, is what will be the difficult adjustment.