(Keeping watermelons cold in the stream...)
When you're in your 'comfort zone' however (which is different for every individual), the bad days are usually brushed aside. I have found that my bad or "off" days while traveling often stem from an unexplainable feeling that has most of the time been gestating inside of me and finally decided to sprout leaves. The result is that I often have an out-of-body experience where I am fully conscious of my feelings and yet I have no idea where they stem from (ha, stem...pun not intended). These occasional bad days cause me personally to disengage from my surroundings. During these spells, I find myself walking down the street, staring straight ahead and thinking that if anybody tries to mess with me, I will just lose it. It's as if a barrier comes up and I momentarily give up empathy, curiosity and patience with cultural clashes/differences.
(a Tajik woman teaching me how to tie my headscarf)
On the other extreme, however, the good days are really wonderful. There are days (and I would say that they definitely out-number the bad) when I step outside of my apartment door and take in all of the sights and smells of the city. I put on another "lens" and see things that differ as curious, beautiful, and exciting. I engage with all of the people that I come across and feel as if I am truly living here. It is on those days that I count my little successes and store them for later. Little successes such as the stern cashier at the grocery store warming up to me after many shopping trips, or the little girl who was walking beside me and asked where I was from in Tajik. When I replied in Tajik that I am Iranian-American and studying in Dushanbe, her face lit up ("Ahm-reekah!") Even the simplest things like taking the public transportation here alone (and without giving away that you're a foreigner) makes me feel accomplished.
("Plav" the national dish, common in Central Asia....savory rice and carrots with pieces of lamb and homemade yogurt on the side)
I have learned to be aware of my state of mind while abroad and to give myself what I need, whether it be a little bit of alone time or a phone call to a loved one to keep me focused and maintain perspective.
On another note, I cannot believe that I only have 10 more days left in this country....I feel as though I am just now socially and culturally adjusted!