Being here has often reminded me of Africa. (I’ve said that before.) However, something that I learned there has helped me to remain relatively calm in the midst of seeming chaos.
I remember one day when we registered for classes it literally took the entire day. It was a blur. We just followed our director to room after room signing this, filling out that, etc. At the end of the day, we were exhausted. As it turned out, there were still things that we needed to do to be enrolled in our classes. (From what I understand, there is an extended process for foreign students, similar to the U.S., I’m sure, but for the Ghanaian students, it is much more straight forward.)
At the end of that day, it was difficult to feel like you had accomplished anything. After chatting with others about the process and thinking to advice my parents had given in times I felt overwhelmed by schoolwork, I learned to give myself a little bit of break. In the U.S., we so often want to do 10 things in one day. Have a jam-packed to-do list. Rarely keep up. For an American who unfortunately can’t break that habit…getting one thing done in day was a tough pill to swallow. It made you feel like you were treading water, but not swimming any closer to shore.
Many days followed where things simply didn’t go as planned. It wasn’t that the processes were backwards or less efficient than those you’d find in the U.S., I just didn’t know what I was doing. I was wandering, sometimes a little aimlessly, and stumbling along the path.
The acceptance of getting just one thing done in a day is an attitude, a skill, I am re-learning in France. Again, the processes, the paperwork…it’s not wrong. It’s just different.
Today, I am looking at the paperwork for my visa, my healthcare and directions to the post office for something with my bank (I hope they know what it is when I get there). I feel overwhelmed. With the joy of texts from dear friends in the U.S., I took a minute (many minutes) to laugh. It helped me recalibrate and remember. Maybe I’ll try to just get one thing done today.
And as I learned to do in Africa…trust that it will somehow work out.