Living in another culture keeps you on your toes – it is exciting, it is interesting, it is entertaining.
And sometimes it is tiring.
There are times that I really have to gear myself up to take Macy outside to play. In the US, I would just take Macy outside to play. I may see another mom or two and some other kids – and we’d smile at each other and maybe say a polite “hello” and that would be that.
It is not like that here.
I live in an apartment complex that has about 15 buildings. Each building has 31 floors. Each floor has two or three apartments on it. Each apartment could have from two to possibly six people living in it.
That’s a lot of people.
So when we go outside to play, I will see someone that has never seen me. Or my girls. We are quite the novelty.
And out come the questions –
What country are you from?
Why are you here?
How old are your kids?
Is that a boy or a girl? (directed at Selah, fortunately we have figured out Macy is a girl)
Do you speak the national language?
Do your children speak English? (Yes, they really ask)
Do your children speak the national language?
Does Macy go to school yet? (It is common for two-year-olds to go to “school” here since most moms work full-time six days a week)
How many children does your country let you have? (There is a one-child policy here)
How much money are you paying to rent your apartment?
Do you like living here? Are you used to the food? Are you used to the weather?
I could go on forever, but I’ll stop here.
Most of the time this is great because I have no trouble making friends or starting conversations with my neighbors. Everyone is just so curious about us that it is easy to strike up a conversation.
But some days this can be a little overwhelming.
I figured I was the only one that felt this way because I’m the foreigner. But the other day I went outside with both girls and Ayi. Ayi was holding Selah and I was making sure Macy didn’t fall off the playground (it’s actually tougher than it looks). I looked over and realized Ayi was surrounded by five other women holding babies asking her questions. If I thought I got questions, I was wrong – she was getting some questions.
About 10 minutes later, Macy decided she wanted to go to a different part of the complex and we all took off – with a relieved Ayi.
“I don’t like going to the playground when it is so crowded,” she said.
“Oh, really?” I asked.
“Yes. Macy and I normally go in the mornings when it is not so crowded. I don’t like it when there are too many people. They ask a lot of questions. Don’t you think so?”
I stifled a laugh.
“Yes, I feel that way too. But sometimes they assume I don’t speak the national language and so they don’t ask me as many questions.”
Guess I’m not the only one who feels overwhelmed sometimes.