Tuesday, 7 August 2012

OH, the Flailing: 5 Cambo-living 'Works in Progress'

Even up until this morning, I've been telling people that I've been in Cambo for 3 weeks - my voice containing a hint of self-satisfied glee with all that I've figured out in that short time, I'm sure. But, as it turns out, '3 weeks' isn't actually even true!

Rather, this time four weeks ago, Partner In Crime and I were sitting, knees cozy by our chins, on our squashiest cross-the-globe flight yet. Thus, we're just about four weeks into living in a country that's already offered us so much in the way of happiness... and (Dun, Dun, Dun) in challenges. 

Reckon that the 4 week mark is a pretty good check-in time to get a view of a few expat challenges and triumphs that I've encountered in my new home of Phnom Penh. I'm certain that at least some are of a slightly universal nature, so hopefully I'll be able to spread some empathy across the internets. I'm of a mind to begin with the humbling bits, perhaps to negate the overestimated self-pride mentioned above. Shall we then?

Five Things That Are Very Much Still Works In Progress:

  1.  Drinking Enough Water
    Talk about ongoing battle! Partner In Crime and I have each taken a liking to different bottled water brands here, and we can regularly be spotted carrying our 1.5 L jugs around the house by the little plastic handle. Even so, I definitely get the feeling that it's not enough! I'm not usually a sweaty kid, but (as further discussed below), Cambodia can really bring out the perspiration in an unaccustomed gal!

    My tag-along friend. And apparently my feet veins. Why do I have old lady feet?! Eeep! Non-delightful self-discovery moment! 

  2. Not Sweating Through My Fancy Pants Business Clothes
    Before coming to live in Cambodia, I'd heard from friends already here that business clothes were required for most gigs. I don't know if I was in denial or what, but I really couldn't believe that one would actually be made to wear blazers/ blouses for ladies and ties + long sleeved dress shirts for guys. Don't know if you know this about Cambo, but, especially for the not-yet-acclimatized, it's really hot! Currently, before I head into the classroom, all suited up, I stop to do a blotting paper and powder retouch, along with a swipe of anti-perspirant. Non-negotiably necessary. Who wants to be known as the sweaty teacher?! And I'm still on the quest to find breathable business duds... being uncomfortable while teaching is definitely not on my 'Super Fun Things' list!

    Feminine yet authoritative? I like to think so. Breathable? Eff no!

  3. Drinking Beer Instead of Wine
    Logically, it's easy as: beer is very cheap here. Very cheap. Wine is about the same as at home. Considering, however, that our wages are actually much less than at home, wine actually becomes relatively expensive. But I just can't bring myself to drink beer! The taste, the inevitable bloat... it's terrible when compared to the crisp tartness of a chilled sauv blanc! Shall be checking the finances in the upcoming months and will hopefully be able to adjust the necessity rating of this (most dreaded) of changes.

    One makes me bloated, the other makes me poor. BAH.

  4. Taking Pictures 
    I definitely find that it's very easy
    for me to revert to my 'expat frame of mind' when it comes to taking pictures. Previously, I've always had the attitude of "That's so cool, I should really take a picture of it, oh well I'm sure I'll remember it or see it again..." Not the best attitude, and I've certainly missed out on some cool shots because of it! Now, however, this is an especially self-sabotaging way to operate, considering how excited I am to fill my blog with storytelling-snaps of my new city. Step one: get into the habit of carrying a camera. Alright - I'm on it!

    (Please note that I spent a large portion of the afternoon
    trying to take pictures of my camera. Then I realized that was silly.
    Please use your imagination here. Txs.)

  5. Remembering to Eat in the Heat
    Sounds silly, right? Especially when I love to eat! I'm sure this will change when my poor body is better acclimatized, but right now both Partner In Crime and I are having a tricky time remembering to put the food in our mouths. My body's been screaming for water, not food, and the thought of having something heavy in my stomach isn't a comfortable one. Add to that the recent (inevitable?) tummy troubles... yikes. I guess it's a good time to re-evaluate our eating habits, though, and go totally Matrix style: right now, food is fuel and might as well focus on the nutrition science. But please, body, hurry up and get used to the heat! I want to want the delicious foooood!

    I want to want you! (Actually, in this case that's not true - these cookies are pretty rubbish. My treasures for some Tim Tams?)

    Ta-da! I've definitely got a few more major things to figure out before I start feeling really comfy, and a few important ones at that! Lest you think it's all trials, though, tune in later this week for a rather immodest declaration of all the tricky bits that I've finally started to get a handle on!

    Do tell:

    Do you know of a magic (and legal!) hunger-inducing serum? Have you invented fans that can discreetly be worn in the armpits of dress shirts? Perhaps you have knowledge of a brand of beer that tastes exactly like wine? I BEG of you to share in the comments!

    xx Lady Expatriate