Friday, September 28, 2012

Culture Shock

Hello there, readers.  I must apologize for not writing for so long.  Most of the time I have been here I have had limited acces to the internet and didn't even have a phone for 3 weeks.  It's been a rough start.
I think in my first post since I moved to Kimmirut I want to talk about culture shock.  I had been under the mistaken assumption that because I worked in an Inuit village before, I would not have to go through the same culture shock.  However, I am discovering that you DO have to go through it all over again when you come back.
Things are tough here for several reasons:  First of all, there is a complete lack of access to things you are used to being able to access.  Alcohol is prohibited or severly restricted, all goods are limited to what can fit into the small stores up here and a lot of companies either charge exhorbitant prices for shipping or simply refuse to ship up here at all.  A second challenge is the lack of respect students show to teachers.  I wouldnt even say it's a lack of respect, it's more of a contempt.  For someone who has mostly gotten along with students and classes, this was a tough one for me.  Things I say in class are largely ignored and when I explain how inappropriate this is, they laugh at me.  Thirdly, it is shocking what kids do here on their free time.  The other day I went to the daycare to drop off my son and the kids had stomped holes in the steps and the patio of the daycare. Of all buildings to destroy, the daycare?  My cultural assumption is that this behaviour is disgusting.  Not inappropriate, disgusting.
So I should say that not everything is bad.  I have been holding back on writing this blog because I didnt want to come across as ranting or putting down the culture I have chosen to live in.  I guess that didn't work out very well, did it?  Back to the good things:  I find that you develop different interests up here.  I have become interested in tea since wine tasting is largely unavailable.  Since I don't usually have the internet I have decided to buy movies and watch what everyone else used to talk about.  I didnt watch movies before because my attention span is too small.  Another good thing about this particular village is the people.  They have been very welcoming and friendly.  The arctic is very silent and clean too.  The air is without pollution and when you go outside you hear silence instead of the steady hum of traffic and people.  I was hoping to go out on the land more often but that has been difficult because polar bears are all over the place and we are advised to only go out with a rifle.  I dont own one so I havent gone too far.
This last two weeks have been difficult as the realities of teaching a grade 7 class  in an Inuit village set in.  I have even, for the first time in my career, seriously considered leaving before my contract is over.  This week was so difficult that I told the principal I was considering leaving!  Since then I have gotten some more support and a lot of suggestions from my colleagues and all of that has helped tremendously (which is why I am typing a blog instead of packing my boxes).
Well...I should get to preparing for the day so that I can finish my friday.  You know what would be nice?  A beer at a pub after work today!  Ha!  Happy friday to all.


  1. I had a dream last night that I came to visit you! I brought boxes of presents like teas and dried pineapple, and stayed for a few days to help you at school, explore the landscape, and wait for the next flight back… In my dream, I surprised you because you weren't expecting me, but it was a good visit, except for a minor skirmish with a polar bear cub's mama… It was cold, constantly blowy, the year's snow just beginning to make piles -- enough to use Skidoos. In the end, just before I left, there was a tornado warning and I had to be shown how to use a special "chute" leading underground, just in case a twister came by before the plane was able to land and pick me up… But it was a great visit, even if it was only in my head. Somewhere, on some level of consciousness, you had a friend give you a big squishy hug!

  2. That is a weird dream! Thank you for the squishy hug. A lot happened this weekend and I really needed it.