3 Lessons in Life from Week 3
MalawiMalawi — Student Volunteering
This week I learned a lot about living and adapting to a new country. Here are three main lessons.
- Fake it till you make it
This was a reoccurring theme throughout my week as I was hassled by different people on the street for money. Feeling nervous or anxious in a situation is okay but don’t let it show because it puts a target on your back. Just like they say animals can smell fear so can people. Most of the people I’ve encountered here have been kind and welcoming, however there will always be those looking to take advantage of you. As a visible minority here, I will always draw more attention. Therefore no matter how you are feeling inside, try to act as confident and comfortable as possible. If you are hassled it’s important to remain calm and keep faking it because once you let them see they can get to you, they won’t leave you alone.
- Know your boundaries
This week I found myself in some stressful and uncomfortable situations. At the start of the week I found myself in situations where I went from being uncomfortable to overwhelmed. Although it’s important to know your boundaries it’s also important to challenge yourself in order to grow. You’re never going to progress or grow inside your comfort zone. Facing new experiences and fears are going to be uncomfortable but a certain level is good as it challenges you. As you grow your boundaries will change as the level of discomfort you can deal with changes. Therefore, while not all uncomfortable situations are bad it’s important to know where to draw the line.
- Go with the speed of traffic
As someone who often sees things as black or white this is something I’ve always struggled with. When you go to a different country especially a developing country the laws and the ways things are not the same. Everything is not transparent. For example, there are many markets and street vendors selling food, textiles and other goods. Do all these markets and street vendors have a legal permit? It’s almost impossible to tell but it doesn’t mean you will be arrested if you bought some bananas from one on the way home from work. I’m not suggesting you break the law but you need to learn when to go with the flow because if you keep sweating all the small stuff, you will wear yourself out and may miss lunch in the field.