Blogging and photography comes top as my favourite hobbies while reading other people’s blogs, makes my day. I try my best to create time and visit FK-World, to read at least 3 to 5 blogs everyday, especially blogs from my fellow Fredskorpset (FK) exchange participants. By doing so, I keep in touch with how other FK participants are doing in their host countries.
Many of them are stories of how hard each one of us are coping with culture shocks abroad. It is always a great chance to learn from others all the time. For instance, I haven´t been to Bangladesh, but I feel like I have been there, courtesy of one Norwegian who is currently in Bangladesh and everything for him seems to be a culture shock. I am his number one fan in secret.
Once a time he wrote about his experience, seeing people in Bangladesh slaughter a chicken and for sure, I could feel his torture as he explained the incidence. I laughed with tears rolling down my cheeks and I remember my boss found me laughing and said, “I hope you don´t mind sharing the joke.”
I explained the story and he said, “I pretty understand where he is coming from. Even at his age, I am sure he has been raised like most Norwegian children who do not know where chicken meat comes from and they will always say, the meat comes from the fridge at the supermarket. Ask them, where does milk come from, and the response will be, from the fridge.”
With such cases, it very important for FK Norway to continue having exchange programs because after a year or so, many of us will go back with lifetime lessons. We change our worldviews and broaden our view on the reality of life in the diaspora. Most of us in Africa always imagine that life in Europe and America is about glamour and glitz, forget it. These guys here, work extremely hard to make ends meet. I am always giving an example of this word “expensive” . I never knew that this word is so strong and is such a common vocabulary until I stepped in Norway. I will tell you for sure, this is one of the most used words in Norway on a daily basis. The Norwegians will always remind us- the foreigners, “ Don´t buy that, it is very expensive, do not do it that way, it is very expensive, do not eat from such shops, it is very expensive, and the word expensive continues. I am always reminded, “Yes we have great wage system, but the living standards are too high.” You only need to bring an African abroad and the reality dawns. It is not glamour.
For the Norwegians heading to Africa, they come back to Norway totally different people and most of them keep telling me, “If only I can get an opportunity to go back to Africa, then I will create a base back there. I love the people and the life there.” I hear such comments and I am happy, especially from those who have been to East Africa and to Kenya to be precise, they all want to go back and live there!!
“We come back from Africa and naive Norwegians keep asking whether we slept in a muddy house, or slept in grass thatched houses or even slept in the same room with animals like goats and sheep. Weird things they hear about Africa and I wish everyone could go and see for themselves, then we will respect what Africa is all about,” said Marita who has lived in Uganda and toured Kenya and Tanzania.
Last night I read a blog post by a new FK participant from Ethiopia, who has just landed in Norway and I laughed. I understand his predicament, but I wish I could tell him you know what, you are yet to see the worse. This is what he wrote in his blog, “Fredrickstad, a town with nearly 60 thousand people, of course without me and our group members. A beautiful area with amazing eye-catching places. But the windy weather is literally slapping my face everyday. The cold weather here doesn’t make me feel cold, it makes me feel like am in a refrigerator. I hope I will adapt this irritating weather, since human being is the most adapting animal in the planet.” He wrote.
You know why I laughed, it is because this is spring, the best season ever and summer is around the corner and here he is, complaining about the wind and cold in Fredricsktad. I actually commented and told him, my friend embrace yourself, this is nothing, the temperatures now in most days are +10 degrees, which means it is getting warmer every day though occasionally with strong winds. But I am happy that he gets to experience this and I just can´t wait to see what he writes when winter officially sets in.
With such stories to read every other day, life gets really interesting. There is always a reason to laugh and smile and of course FK-World is the best platform to have FK participants keep in touch with one another. Creating long-lasting friendship, is one key achievement of a successful exchange program.
Wherever you are as an exchange participant, enjoy it!!