I’ve spent 7 months of this year in Uganda. So hard to believe. Here is a list of somethings I have definitely been missing since moving to Kampala.
- My family and friends- Not to start this list as a downer..but….sorry not sorry. This first one nearly goes without saying. I have spent so many nights alone in my house over the past four months. Nights when I feel lonely and I wish calling home didn’t make me feel even farther away. I’ve spent a lot of time remembering all the nights I used to sit in the breakfast room with my mom talking and complaining about how there was nothing on tv. I have missed when I could call up a friend and ask if they wanted to get Thai food and watch Netflix. One day I’ll be able to do something similar here in Uganda, but friendships like that have proven difficult for me to cultivate so far. So I have found myself missing my friends and family back home so much. I miss those relationships that came so easily, without cultural or language barrier and I am so so grateful for the two weeks I will have with them, praying it will somehow be enough time.
- Bailey: I have three dogs on the compound I am now living on. But none of them are even close to being as great as Bailey. I cannot even wait to snuggle up with that furry log of a puppy when I get home. She is the greatest dog companion and I have no idea how I’ve lived seven months of this year without her.
- Running Water: Maybe you would think that living in the city I wouldn’t have problems with water, but you would be wrong. It’s hard to explain the defeated emotion that comes when you have to wash your feet after walking home from work barefoot through mud, but when you turn on the tap in the bathtub, absolutely nothing comes out. My whole life I absolutely took running water for granted. Now I’m thankful for rain water that I can use to fill my toilet and public showers at my job. I didn’t notice how much my life had truly changed until I realized how I excited I was to go home to America to have the promise of a hot shower.
- My Cello: I am so grateful to my job for purchasing a cello for me to play and teach on. This year I’ve learned a lot about how much of my identity I put into a piece of wood rather than the actual person God made me to be, but I know how much of a blessing it is to have that part of my life back. However playing on a student cello after spending years crafting my talent on a beautiful, fine instrument, proves to be difficult. I now have to work twice as hard to play while trying to keep the cello from squeaking. I can’t wait to play just anything on the glorious chunk of wood I left in the States. I might even practice scales just out of sheer joy.
- My Car: I had access to a car here in Uganda for one week while my friend Sally was out of town, and it was crazy. Because of the British influence on Ugandan culture, nearly all of their cars are set up the English way. That means everything is on the opposite side. And I mean everything. I spent that whole week in Sally’s car turning on the windshield wipers every time I was intending to switch on a turn signal. And driving in Uganda is STRESSFUL. So along with missing my car, let me add in, driving on the right side of the road, roads that don’t have a million pot holes, roads that don’t disintegrate every time it rains, cows not in the road. Maybe you get the picture. It’s possible I could be going back home to driving on ice (though not likely with the record breaking weather you’re having), but let me tell you, driving on mud is EXACTLY the same.
- Snacks: It’s not so much in Ugandan culture to snack, the portion sizes of their meals are usually pretty large and starchy, so they’re filling. I know it’s not the greatest part of American culture, but I miss my snacks during the day. I don’t miss the super unhealthy stuff, but I have been known to eat three granola bars throughout the day at home, which is not the case here seeing as granola is not so easy to come by. In America we definitely take for granted the access we have to choice. Here, I’ve been eating the same brand of digestive biscuits for a snack every day since August.
- American Terminology: I live with four British neighbors and work in a British school. I feel like I’m learning two languages at once: Luganda and British English. I’ve lived next to these people for four months now and still struggle to understand each of their unique accents and word choices. It took me so long to adjust to the British school system and what everything is called. I miss people understanding my accent (which I don’t feel like I have) and understanding what people are saying around me, even when they’re speaking English.
- Water Pressure: This goes along with running water, but when I am lucky enough to have water at my house, often it’s very little. It takes me about five minutes to get all of my hair wet in the shower. Oh, how I’m looking forward to showering in America. I might just do it three times a day. Not kidding, I have completely missed things people have said to me at work because I was honest to goodness, day dreaming about a hot shower with proper water pressure. How sad is that?
- Washing Machine and Dryer: Even when I lived in the village in Uganda earlier this year, I was spoiled. Oh the luxury of a washing machine…Yes, now I do my laundry by hand, and sometimes come away with embarrassing scabs on my hands afterwards, displaying my weak skin. True I could hire a maid to do it for me but I just never got comfortable with the idea of some random woman having a key to my house and coming in and organizing my house and cleaning my clothes while I’m at work. However, I am lucky to have friends that have given up their time to teach me to wash my clothes by hand. I wouldn’t say I’m great at it, but I’m getting better. I’m sure I’ve been wearing at least partially dirty clothes for the past few months. But if you’ve never tried it, you should. It’s a very humbling experience.
- Not Standing Out: I can sit in a taxi and know everyone there is talking about me, but have no idea what they’re saying. I hear “muzungu” a handful of times and hear snickers and I know something is being said about me. And I can’t go anywhere without getting the price jacked up for whatever it is that I need, just because I’m white and they assume I don’t know what it should be. I draw attention wherever I go, and really, I’m just looking forward to fitting in again.
- CHEESE!: Good cheese is such a rare commodity in Uganda, and not a normal part of the diet at all. I normally only eat cheese when I order pizza or a burger at a restaurant, so I’m missing mac and cheese, string cheese, parmesan, cheese ravioli, and tons of other things that I can’t even think of because it’s been so long since I’ve had cheese! Ah!
- Unlimited Data: I am so so grateful to have data on my smart phone, two luxuries I did not have when I was last here in Uganda. But now that I’m spoiled having data on my phone, I miss not having to worry about how much I’m using. And I hate kicking myself when I accidentally leave my data or internet on over night. Seriously, we’re way too blessed in America.
- Microbrew Beer: I don’t drink very much at all, but I sure do miss the variety. We are so blessed in Michigan-nearly every city has its own microbrewery with its own signature beers. In Uganda we have about five kinds. So sad. I’m looking forward to getting some tastes of the flavors I’ve missed.
- Being Clean: I am seriously never clean. The shower head in my house is shorter than I am (I would love to have a talk with whoever designed that) so it’s difficult to clean myself. Seriously, I find an ant on me around 2 times a week; I have no idea where they come from! And my feet get so dirty just walking around my house, it’s insane. When I get back, one of the first things I’m doing is taking a very long, very hot shower. On a daily basis I’m no where as dirty as I was when I lived in the village during he dry season but it’s still pretty bad for a teacher who spends most of her days in a classroom.
- Going to Biggby with my mom: Oh how I miss those excursions. Tea is plentiful in Uganda but Iced Chai Lattes are not. I somehow managed to get one once after doing a lot of explaining, but it wasn’t easy. I’m sure when I’m back, several Biggby trips will happen. Gotta love those buy one get one free coupons.
- All my friends being in one place: This will be my first Christmas season after most all of my friends have finished college and made a life for themselves. With Alyssa in Asia, Megan in Miami and other friends scattered around the midwest, this will be my first holiday season without everyone by my side. Feels a lot like growing up.
This list may sound sad but’s it’s not because in 24 hours I will be reunited with most all of these things (except Alyssa, boo) for two glorious weeks!
So a Merry Christmas to all of you! See you soon!