It’s been exactly a month now, and it’s hit me that I’m really, truly, living in Sri Lanka, employed and getting paid to do something that I love – teach. It hit me somewhere around lesson number eight of Sinhala lessons where I found myself talking about my far-away family and berating my Sinhala teacher with grammar questions (can you believe there is no conjugation for verbs in this language?!) It hit me when I bought a cell phone, opened a bank account, and signed a lease on a beautiful, breezy, Sri Lankan house (which I fittingly moved into about an hour ago). It hit me when I got paid my first month’s stipend and held thousands of Sri Lankan rupees (which, like most currencies from around the world, look like colorful Monopoly money) in my hands. It hit me when I was sick and recovering from severe sunburn after a weekend at the beach – there’s nothing like getting sick in a foreign county to make you pine for your caregivers and comforts from home – and then again when I was sick for a day from some bad vegetable kottu and my roommate Sean brought me medicine and made me tea (and then it hit me again when I realized how much I enjoy the little family unit I have belonged to for the past month, living with my fellow Fulbright ETAs, sharing happenings and hardships and food and every day together). It hit me when I got my residence visa. It hit me when our bungalow’s caretaker Siva showed me how to sauté pumpkin the Sri Lankan way – with coconut, onions, and curry powder, the three staples of any Sri Lankan dish. It hit me when I had tea at my Sri Lankan amma’s (“mother”) home (Amma is a wonderful woman who is the mother-in-law of one of my most dear Elon professors and who took Jesse and me under her wing when we were in Sri Lanka last fall). It hit me when I found myself buying homeopathic ayurvedic medicine in the forms of oils and eucalyptus balm for headaches and muscle pains (no more Tylenol for me!) It hit me when my fellow Fulbrighters and I watched Chicago — and half of America — erupt when Obama was re-elected. It hit me when I told a tuk-tuk driver, in Sinhala, that I live here. It hit me when I bought an iron (and when the male store clerk had to give me tips on how to best use it…) And it hit me when, in a recent email, my mom used the word “ensconced” (describing a pillow in a box that is on its way to me) and I realized that I am here, in Sri Lanka, for nine plus months,
and becoming ensconced.