I have been in Jerusalem exactly four weeks today. It sounds like nothing when you say it that way — scarcely enough time to adjust to the time difference and locate the bathroom. But from a different perspective, that’s about 10% of the academic year. Hmmm…10% seems more substantial, like we should have something to *show for* our time thus far. (Something other than a tan and blisters on my feet).
I find myself anxiously examining “how things are going.” Why can I never just live through something instead of benchmarking, evaluating, and processing it to death? No matter the experience, I always want to know the expected trajectory and then where I fall relative to that expected. For instance, my job used to involve working with a group of college students. On any particular day, I could have told you where exactly we were in the group dynamics cycle of “forming, norming, storming, performing.” Or when I showed up at the Birth Center in labor, I said to my midwife: “ok, based on my progress so far, exactly how long until we have the baby?” (It drove me crazy that the answer was, “it depends.” It always depended with pregnancy and childbirth).
I know there are “normal cycles” for cross-cultural adjustment. (I just Googled it and found a million graphics). But I have no idea where I fall on any of the graphs. My perspective on myself feels very murky these days. I’m watching myself and our little family adjusting to life here, and at some moments I’d say we are doing a pretty damn amazing job of it, and at other points we are just scraping by. I can’t even put my finger on what accounts for the difference. I guess, as I always still need to tell myself, that is “normal.”