Friends and family, this is Matthew. It is probably the first time that you have heard from me since I was in the States. Seeing as such, I thought I would tell you some impressions I got of Zambia so far. On arriving the contrast from here to the States, culturally, was quite surprising. In other words it is culture shock, when some thing that you never thought could be different is not the same.
The most apparent difference in my opinion was how polite every one was. Random strangers would say “hi how are you?” Every one has been extremely nice and understanding and helpful as we adjust. It was not just our other American expat friends, but the people in the grocery store, the veterinarian, and the plumber. There is a general idea that people help one another.
Another thing was that people expected me to know more stuff and to have had more responsibilities than in the States. The plumber asked me what to do, instead of asking to talk to my parents, and there is this general idea among the other workers that we have had that if Dad is not around then I am the one to ask.
There has also been a lot more noticeable poverty on the street here. There are kids asking for money or food. There are also a lot of adults asking for money or food. Also, people also will go to unconventional ways to earn money. When we went to the capital Lusaka, there were people selling toilet plungers, clothing, and puppies on the street to people in cars. There are small farms on the side of the road growing either corn or maize.
But I would have to say that my favorite thing about Zambia is either the welcoming manner of every one here or the scenery. There is nature everywhere. Very little of the grass is mowed, there are great big beautiful looking trees all over the place, and a plethora of exotic looking insects and reptiles. There are challenges living in a third world country. Water, electricity, and internet are not constantly guaranteed. But the people here are very nice and the natural world is very close.