This is a tough one. In some ways, I’m celebratory at the fact that I’ve been back a month already. Because it means I’m just that bit closer to being back in Cambodia. But I’m upset at the fact that I’ve been gone for a month. People lives move on. They start to forget. The edges blur. The fog descends. I hate that fact. I remember the parts that will stay with me forever. But it is the day to day you lose. The routine you were in, the worlds you were a part of. Nothing can replace that daily grind. It’s plastic here and controlled. There is a hole that I thought the university would replace. I felt as though it will all be alright when I get there, the day to day schedule would mean I don’t think about it is as much. Though as I’ve talked about it with people here, I realise it’s what defines me. It is me. How can I not be with me? It’s nonsensical. Now it’s all I think about. It’s a constant war in my head. What would I be doing there? How would I phrase that in Khmer? What would my friends think of this? It’s like a block in my head. I have to mentally move it out the way before functioning.
This blog isn’t a slight in any way whatsoever to the people I’ve met. So far I have enjoyed myself thoroughly and enjoyed their company. However being here has made it glaringly obvious the difference between me, my peers and my countrymen. I’m not in the same mindset anymore, I’m out of place. I feel as though I’m a square peg trying to shove myself into a round hole. I’m not an academic; I haven’t been since I went to college. And yet here I am trying to push myself through it. I told myself I’m doing it for those less fortunate than myself, I’m doing it to help Cambodia when I get back. However, the tug of my Cambodian heartstrings means I’m more desperate to return than ever. That although they can function without me. That country saved me, I can’t function without it. I’m homesick.
When I was out there people would call it the ‘wild west’ I never really understood. I always looked around and saw safety and peace. Now that I’m back in the west I realise how little freedom I have. I feel as though we constrain ourselves by how others may end up perceiving us. The crippling thought of doing or saying something wrong that will end our social lives. I hate this. We are thrown into the pot, put together and have to make it work. I’ve dealt with this already at secondary school. On the other hand in Cambodia, I had the freedom to not see those people I may not have liked or agreed with. I could leave situations I was uncomfortable with. In all honesty, I could run away, it’s not healthy but I was happy. Now I have run in the wrong direction and I feel like it’s a farce when I mention the degree will allow me to burst through a glass ceiling. I was happy, I could trot along doing what I was doing with no problems.
Yes, there are things I miss massively: food, people, attitudes and language to name a few of them. These can’t be replaced. The language is the only one I can possibly sort out. But how does one move on from these things when you don’t want to move on? Is it unhealthy? Yes, probably.
Now at university, I hate how unbelievably stupid people think we are. The other day we had a compulsory fire safety talk that lasted at least an hour. I thought it was ridiculous that at this age, they thought we were going to play with fire. Naturally, I didn’t go. Fire is hot. Don’t play with it. You would just not have that there in Cambodia. Some may say it is to their detriment, that they could use a little more care and forethought. I don’t; carry on carrying on Cambodia, you’re perfect the way you are and I miss you.