This year, I spent the holiday season a little differently than in years past. This December marked the end of 2018, six months in Rwanda, but also the first time leaving Rwanda since arriving in June. Upon arriving in Amsterdam, subtle reminders of reverse culture shock came up, of western development and modern convenience, the importance of consumerism, how I had been living in Rwanda for the past six months. The bright lights, the bustle of a well organized airport, the fast and free wifi, was a welcome change of pace.
Though life isn’t easy living in a small village, I am appreciative of the challenges I am faced with daily, with regards to language but also the ability to develop problem solving skills, and to be okay when things happen not according to plan. Life throws hurdles, some big, some small, but being able to face them and to see alternatives as they come, is something I was not proficient in before coming to Rwanda.
In Germany, spending time with family and friends was a much needed respite, with hot showers and lots and lots of cheese, I wouldn’t ask to do it over in any way. I even learned about how the German people celebrate Christmas—on the 24th and not the 25th. They light candles on a tree and sing carols. They exchange gifts on the 24th, so my family and I partook in this new Christmas tradition, talking of all that the next holiday season will bring.
While coming back to Rwanda was hard, and I questioned a lot of my reasons for being here. I am confident that these road blocks, these challenges are meant to be faced head on, and that while my reason for being here isn’t always crystal clear, these are challenges I would face anywhere, at any point in life. Shying away from them isn’t necessarily the easier route.
I am thankful that my parents and friends are so supportive of what I am doing, that they push me to think about life differently, that they admit while they don’t understand what it’s like to live in a small Rwandan village, they can empathize that this is life, and these are common challenges that anyone at age 24 faces.
Now, it’s back to the rice and bean life. And I am okay with that.
(see the newest gallery titled Alpine Adventures for more photos of the Germany/Austria trip)