Thursday, December 16, 2010


Darwin had a theory. Only those who can adapt to their surroundings survive. With my new life in Samoa I couldn’t find this theory to be truer. The part I didn’t realize was how much adapting I am and continually doing. One of the first things and biggest aspects is the environment. For example, the weather here in Samoa. Hot all the time and no air conditioning. Luckily, my body is taking care of this one so I don’t have to consciously think of it. Then of course there are the apparent aspects that I’m adjusting to like: food, people and culture. These take longer than most and require both a conscious and unconscious effort. However, there is a type of adaptation that I have not really come across until coming here. This is adapting to things that you yourself have already said you would never be able to do. First thing that comes to mind…bugs! I have bedded with cockroaches, showered with spiders the size of fists, and allowed lizards control of my room. All of which would have sent chills down my back before, now just seem like second nature. In the beginning I wanted every one of those creatures killed, and killed by anyone else but me. Now two months later. I’ll either leave them be, or kill them myself. Then there are things like your skin. My skin back home was properly taken care of. Pampered with expensive soaps, clean H2O, and lathered with lotions and medicated with moisturizers. Here my skin has taken an unfamiliar hit for the worst. I have not used any of which I did before, including the clean water. My skin has developed painful unusual bumps, rashes, and a new state which includes a high level of sweat, dirt and unsanitary water. And even though I find it annoying, its not debilitating. Talking to other PCV’s who have been here longer confirm this by telling and showing their run-ins with skin infections, and boils. But as one volunteer stated, “you get used to it.” In other words you adapt. In order to survive in a new environment you must adapt quickly. It’s no coincidence that volunteers who leave usually leave within the first 3 months of their service. Because whatever the case, adaptation was not successful in areas that were mental, physical, or environmental. Obviously there are certain things that are easier to adapt to then others. The areas I find the most difficult is not the food, my new house, the bugs or new illnesses. For me, its letting go of my old life, and habits to realize and embrace my new life to form new habits. Breaking old habits takes a conscious effort. This is obviously difficult to do. However, with each day I find myself working a little less hard, and consciously thinking a little less. Lesson I’m learning… it’s amazing what one can adapt to.

1 comment:

  1. i love this post lindsey! :) my situation is different than yours but i understand about adapting and realizing things that used to bother you, don't really anymore. back in the states, i stressed about EVERYTHING! worried about EVERYTHING! here, i am so relaxed. i realized i need to be more patient! things at home that bother me, here, they are no big deal. i also realized i can do things on my own! i am brave and can handle situations better than i thought i could! i will send you a postcard sometime okay? :) good luck girl!