A feeling we all crave
7 AM. The alarm clock woke me up after a couple of long tiring dreams, which I could never remember. Being tightly filled by millions of unclear thoughts, my head was spinning with such a huge mess inside. But something I never failed to be aware about myself was that this “morning frustration syndrome” happening to me was not due to insufficient sleep, unfamiliar food or awful nightmares. I was just craving a little thing called “sense of belonging”.
Thirteen hour difference in time zone is more than enough to separate me from daily life in Vietnam. While I am sleeping, people are busy working or hanging out in the other side of the globe. We hardly find time for a conversation since they may be totally awake when I am suffering the sheer exhaustion. I left my team, departing for US while it is the most important stage of our organization in a year. Even though we still keep working as usual via emails, I am sad, realizing how a midnight talk which is full of jokes and laughter are important to me.
Having arrived here for about one week, I am alone here, trying to adapt and integrate. Those cool guys around me actually are all strangers who I have no clue about. The combined difference in both cultures and personalities makes it take time for us to really understand and get on well with each other. On the very first days, I locked myself behind the door, wrote blog and did not stop wondering when I would feel as a part of this small but diverse group.
Couple things lighted up my day
7:45 AM. The warm bathing could ease my headache a bit, but then what really gave me a broad smile and relieved all my stress was some phone calls asking me out for breakfast. The connection among people in YSEALI which I would like to see gradually became visible from the smallest things. A thought did cross my mind that while you were alone abroad, just a little care or tiny support could absolutely amaze and make you feel safe more than anything.
During lunch time, we who were people from different countries finally found various things in common. We created our funny inner jokes and laughed out loud. The boredom of pizza, hamburger … in the Food Zoo was mostly forgotten. These guys started to share with me about their friends, life and concerns toward their future. At a very young age, we – dreamers all had the similar questions for which no one seemed to know the answers. But it was no longer a big deal since more importantly, we could be listened and understood, especially in a place which was about 30 hours flying away from our motherlands.
I started to learn new languages. A strongly held belief of mine was that a culture could only be known until the food were tasted and some words were spoken. Few basic slang taught by Laos friends reminded me of my eagerness to explore lovely cultures which were being so close around. It was written by my sister that we only asked when we saw the difference. And I would like to add “we only understand when we are willing to ask”. Some presentations might help us know a little bit more than nothing about each other. But only the open interaction with respect and wholeheartedness is able to make these people truly and fully connected.
Miller Hall, UM, Missoula – 1:08 AM, 8th July 2014