Tips for a Successful Adaptation + More Dance!
These crossed my mind after Adam told me he & another staffer had been discussing successful adaptations to Woodstock/India, and especially staff spouse adjustments… so I started to think about what exactly it is that I’ve been doing that have really helped me.
- Look for something you’ve never done before, but wanted to – or you’re not sure you wanted to do – and find an opportunity for it. Here in India, I’ve had opportunities to learn two different types of classical dance (Kathak, and on Wednesday I’ll be attending a Kuchipudi master class); I never would have found them if I hadn’t pushed myself and tried. I also never would have thought I could enjoy dance this much!
- Look for an opportunity to share a skill you have with others. I’ve been tutoring ESL – despite the fact that I have no training as a teacher, nor do I really want to ever be a teacher in my lifetime – and I’ve made lots of friends and connections through it. It’s also a reason to go up on campus, interact with people, and do some personal professional development.
- Take time for yourself: don’t force yourself to be inundated with the culture every day. I’ve found that taking a day every couple of weeks not to go into the bazaar—or even to the school— has helped me keep myself grounded and not feel as if I’m drowning. I also think our decision to *not* have an ayah has really helped us, because while we’re not getting in-the-house Hindi exposure, we’re also not suffering some of the cultural hiccups and stresses I’ve heard other people dealing with (theft, clothes being damaged or ruined, damaged electronics, etc).
- Be open-minded: don’t think your home country/culture is the Best Place Ever. We joke that I’m a terrible American for a variety of reasons – so maybe it helps that I never thought the US was the best place on Earth. Acknowledge that there are cultural differences, and that you won’t be able to do everything just like you did back home – and that there are certain things which may be better than where you came from. It could be healthier food options, clothing, or cultural aspects – while women still struggle here in India at times, the women’s-only metro cars in Delhi are certainly a benefit! There are things Adam and I both miss – but there are some amazing things India has that America and Canada don’t have, and might never, and if I kept pining for “the best place ever”, I’d never want to get out and experience them, or be open-minded enough to do so.
- Look at it as an opportunity for re-invention. No one here except my husband knows about my life before Woodstock, or only as much as I wish to share. If someone has always been labelled as the bookish introvert, now you can change that view – if you want to. If you’ve been pushed to be outgoing and would rather just sit at home or in a park and read – you have that opportunity, too. You are what you want to be, what you want to make yourself – and no one has any preconceived notions about you as a person (though perhaps stereotypes will exist), so you can live up to stereotypes or choose to avoid them.
Additionally, here are some pictures from the Kuchipudi dance performance last night. Performing were: Srimati Bala Kondala Rao (the premiere Kuchipudi guru in the form), her son Aditya Bulli Brahmam, and Woodstock’s own Dr. Roxanne Gupta (who has been studying Kuchipudi for over 20 years).