Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Commute

When I first arrived at my college, the leaders said, "The old campus will move to the new campus because our school has been sold to a middle school."

Seniors said, "Oh they've been saying that since I was a freshman."

The first year went by, then the second, and finally in the last semester of my third year, I no longer see students on my campus.  Everyone is in the countryside, 5 kilometers away, in a dust bowl surrounded by farmland.

There is a public bus that stops running at 7 pm.  There is a school bus that shuttles teachers to and from their flats to their classrooms 4 times a day.  The last two buses from new campus back to the living quarters are at 5:40 pm and 9:30 pm.  

Because of the inconvenient bus schedule, I am biking to and from campus every day sometimes twice a day.  Some days like on Monday I will leave my home at 7:10 am, arrive at 7:30, have 4 hours of morning class, eat lunch, hang out in the Tree House, have 2 hours of class, then head home arriving around 5 pm.  

If the Tree House English Community Center had been open on Monday, I would have stayed till 7 pm on new campus.  Unfortunately all freshmen and sophomores from all departments are rehearsing performances from 4:30-6 pm which means the Tree House workers are busy.  The new hours of the Tree House are 6:30-7:30 pm.  I need to bike home before dark which makes the new hours a bit difficult.

The commute is physically easy:  20 minutes down the incline pushed by the wind then 30 minutes back home pedaling up the 5% grade against the wind, eating dust, and closing my eyes as the air becomes full of particles.

Psychologically the commute is stressful.  It is a new lifestyle.  Instead of leaving my house five minutes before class, I am leaving 30-40 minutes early.  I am spending more time away from my flat than in my flat.  I am spending more time surrounded by students, having lunch with students, having dinner with students, resting with students between classes as they visit the Tree House whenever the door is open.

It just takes some adjustment.  I remember the first few months at site in Africa feeling the emptiness of having nothing to do.  Leaving the fast pace of America where you do a million things in one day in order to feel like you have done something, I had to adjust to the slower pace of a new lifestyle.  I learned how to feel a sense of accomplishment if I was able to do instead of 20 things in one day to do one thing per day like sweeping and mopping the floor. I am once again faced with a change in pace, a change in lifestyle.  It is exciting, a bit stressful, and tiring as I have to adjust to my new commute.  I have faith though that soon I will be feeling at peace again.

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