Well, now I am ready to write...and I will tell you why......
I have now spent a week (7 days) in Tajikistan. It has been quite an adjustment and I was preoccupied by getting settled in my apartment (which I share with two other girls from my program), running errands, and starting classes.
[ BACKGROUND INFO: Due to the complete change of travel plans (I'll explain later...), our bags were not on the plane that we arrived on. "It's alright," we thought... "they should be on the next flight here in 3 days," we were told. We went to the airport on the designated day, after a few days of in the same pair of clothes we all traveled in to find that only three of the 20 some bags had arrived. *sigh* Long story short, they are supposed to be arriving on the flight into Dushanbe tonight. My bags, instead of me, got to spend a nice week lounging in Istanbul. We'll see though, I'm trying to prepare myself for disappointment followed by a long-overdue Tajik shopping trip. Unfortunately, besides the beautiful traditional Tajik "mou-mou" like dresses, the clothes are all tight, synthetic, and shiny/sequined/revealing. If I have to buy clothes, I will opt for making some clothes from the beautiful patterned cloth they sell here. ]
I wanted to address something in particular in this post which, as I was going through my "obligatory first week adjustment period," dawned on me as important to convey in travel writing: dealing with disappointment, culture shock, feelings of inadequacy. I will be candid and reveal that this past week has not been very smooth. I found myself unusually irritable, cautious, almost paranoid about the tap water (which, granted, is to be completely avoided), and emotional. Many things could be attributed to these feelings, but what I find interesting now, with a bit of distance, is that it was as if I was not myself but I was fully aware of my transformation. Most importantly, I began to become frustrated with myself and my own capabilities. My inner dialogue kept saying "why can't you just calm down and adjust??" I consider myself open-minded, adventurous (to a certain degree of course), social, well-traveled. Why then was I reacting to this new place in this way?
I realize now that this initial rough patch in travel is very often overlooked by travelers, who prefer to wait until the "honeymoon stage" of their journey and analyze all the wonderful things about their new environment. It is easy to look back at the good times for forget the equally important times that tested you and made you stronger. There is also an element of shame (at least for me) at the idea that I am struggling with travel, the very thing that I love so much in my heart.
I wish to therefore acknowledge that I had a rough time adjusting and that this period ultimately ended with me breaking down in tears (sobbing) over the phone to my parents late one night. The next day, it was as if a cloud had been lifted (sorry for the cliche) and I was seeing my situation with new eyes. For the first time in four days, I took an actual shower with the tap water (as opposed to bucket showers with bottled water which leaves you feeling as gross as you felt when you went in). It ended my resistance to "what is" and began my openness to "what can be."
Now I more or less know my way around the city, feel comfortable going out alone to run errands etc., recognize and even greet some people in my neighborhood, and appreciate the slower pace of life here. I just needed time and a good cry.