Recently, I was talking to someone and they asked me "Who got used to the other first? You or your host family?" (not exact wording). I replied, " I think we're still getting used to each other." It was weird because part of me was hesitant to admit that. I've been here for almost a year and a half and I should be use to it by now, right? I should just understand how everything works and be one with the culture. Part of our bi-annual report to Peace Corps includes a question that asks us to self-rate ourselves on how integrated we are. I think the options are: Not integrated, Somewhat integrated, Integrated, and very integrated. I think most people are not really sure what that means. I think maybe you can tell the difference between someone that is NOT integrated at all and someone that is VERY integrated, but other than that it's a totally subjective measurement. And yet, I feel guilty admitting that, after 1.5 years, I am not an expert on Khmer language and culture.
I still do strange American things that make my host family raise their eyebrows at me and they still do weird Cambodian things that I then blog about. For example, today I was sitting in my room on the comp and I smelled/heard someone spray painting something. It was really close to my window, which I thought was strange because it wouldn't be somewhere you could put a bike or car or something. So, I looked out my window and my host brother was spray painting his jeans black. I guess that's the secret to keeping your black jeans from fading in the Cambodian sun. A few hours later I went to a Health Center meeting that was supposed to start at 1:30pm. At around 3 pm one of the commune chiefs shows up. At about 3:30 pm, 3 village health volunteers stroll in yelling really loudly about why they were late in the middle of the meeting. They saw nothing wrong with it and the only person that did anything about it was my midwife. She 'shushed' them really loudly from the other side of the room.
I've learned a lot in the last 1.5 years, but certainly not an entire culture.