• John Ryan

Day 55: Cliché sad day abroad

Updated: Jun 15, 2018

10 April 2018



Today has been a tough day. Few times in my life have I felt so defeated without anything that bad really happening. I am sure, in the grand scheme of days humans have lived, today was actually pretty great. But, in my all too often short-sighted brain, today was a blip of unfruitful actions and frustrations.


I went to bed early the night before, proud of myself for being so responsible… But alas, the mosquitos found me particularly delicious. During one 3 a.m. 40 minute session hunting the little suckers by flashlight, I came up with an equation for the # of mosquito bites per night:


# of bites (mosquito)=

[a (temperature C) + b (smelliness) + c (times since bath)]/

[d (# of screens in windows) + e (# of fans on) + f (# of sheets)]


… and today, the numbers did not equate in my favor.


The best thing I did today was to give a presentation to 40 middle school students about my research on hurricanes and being an anthropologist. They asked a lot of thoughtful questions, which I loved.


My biggest regret in all this though, is that I am not solid enough in my Creole to explain things the way I would like. I wish I could just press a button and understand Creole & French… & Spanish… & Romanian.


I guess it is just something we must earn. And that makes it all the more special. It is not something that can be purchased or given, only earned.


But still… the amount of time… hours & months & years… that I have spent trying to learn what is only my second language, it makes me feel inadequate. Some days I feel pretty good at it, but today is not one of those days. It makes me feel foreign, so different, and so very alone.


The rest of the day flirted between dull mental fatigue and the frustration that I have not felt more connection with people here in a while. After years of just trying to fit in and to contribute what I can, I feel unwanted here today.


Tomorrow is a new day, I guess. What a cliché answer. But, then again, today is just a cliché sad day in a foreign country. Tomorrow, indeed, is a new day of opportunity to try to connect and contribute.