By Farah-Roxanne Stonebanks
A couple days ago, I came to the realization that I was already two weeks into my five week experiential learning trip. Along with wondering where the time went (I still feel like it’s May and no one can convince me otherwise), I found myself thinking back to the first few days that I had spent in this new environment.
I realize how ridiculous that must sound. That I’m sitting here “thinking back” to a time that had only passed a few weeks ago. I sound like an 11 year old who, while telling a story about an event that happened a couple years ago, starts it off with a statement such as “back when I was little…”. But as ridiculous as it sounds, it honestly does feel that way. Even though time seems to be racing by, it also feels like we’ve been here a lot longer than we actually have. My concept of time has been completely thrown off; when I return back to Canada, my friends and family will find me clutching onto a calendar in one hand and a watch in another.
Back when I first arrived here I felt like I had been thrown into a city I had never been to before during rush hour and was told to find my way out of it without a map. I wasn’t sure what it was I was supposed to be doing, who I was supposed to be talking to or where it was I was supposed to be going. The hostel we’ve been staying has been dubbed the Chicken Coop, which accurately describes how I felt during that time. Running this way and that, squawking confusedly, flapping my arms and occasionally snacking on corn and various types of seeds.
Now that I’ve been here for a while, as short as that may be, I feel much more grounded and confident in my surroundings. What’s helped me the most in achieving this is my newly created routine. Routines do a very good job at making people feel more comfortable and settled (okay not everyone, but a good chunk of people). Being confused and unaware about what it is you’re going to do during the day or week or month can have serious consequences on your outlook towards how that day (or week or month) is going to turn out. You’re stuck dealing with a bunch of surprises that you never asked for. And not the nice ones either like snow days or when you open up a compartment in your car and find a bag of Jolly Ranchers. No, you’re stuck with surprises like:
“Why hello there, don’t mind me, I’m just a giant terrifying spider who has decided to watch you while you shower. Would you like me to hand you that bar of soap over there?”
“Top of the mornin’ to ya, I’m the wind and I’m going to make sure I’m really strong and loud throughout your entire interview so that you really hear me while you’re recording, since I have so many important things to say.”
It really just leaves you unprepared and slightly anxious about everything in your day-to-day life. Is this what’s going to happen? Is that what’s going to happen? Who knows? I don’t!
Now that I’ve managed to get into a more concrete routine, my life has become a lot easier. I no longer wake up wondering if this is an appropriate time to wake up or if I’ve either slept in too late or woken up too early. There’s no point during the day where I’m completely lost as to what everyone else is doing and where I’m supposed to go next. And the interviews that take place don’t fill me with thoughts of “what am I even doing here?” I now know how to introduce myself and my project to the individual I’m about to interview, where I should set up my camera so that I get the best picture possible, how I should go about my interview and the types of questions I should be asking.
Who knows, maybe after spending five weeks here with the routine that I’ve created for myself, I’ll be going back home to sleep at 8 pm every night and waking up at 5 am every morning to watch the sunrise.