3 Surprising Observations about living in Ethiopia

Sorry for keeping you all in suspense with these posts, PST takes a lot of energy out of us all. I’ve also been having trouble finding phone cards large enough to buy a data plan, so I’ve been having to go the inefficient way of going without a plan. Pictures tend to eat up a lot of data too, so I will have to minimize my use.

 First of all, I have decided to change the name of the blog to reflect upon living in a region that speaks Tigrinyan, not amharic. Same meaning, different languahe. Nonetheless, here are three surprising observations so far in living in Ethiopia/Tigray. 

1. Prevalence of popcorn

If you were to ask me before leaving for Ethiopia what would be the most popular snack in Ethiopia, I definitely would not tell you popcorn.  Popcorn is everywhere, mainly because it is served with coffee, which Ethiopians also love to have. Popcorn with coffee? I still don’t understand it, but it works, I guess. Take the jebena off the coals to cool and replace it with a pot of popcorn kernals, oil, and salt. In a village where chips are non-existent (we have all been suffering), popcorn will have to suffice as a salty snack of choice.

2. Turkish Soap Operas

KanaTV. 7:00pm comes around (1:00 at night in Ethiopian time), and my host family’s eyes are glued to the TV to watch their favorite soap opera dubbed in what I believe is Amharic. TV in general is pretty interesting. A lot of channels in different languages that are either dubbed or have subtitles. JTV is like what MTV used to be. And of course, who doesn’t love to sing along to the theme for Nahoo?

3. Young Male-Male Interaction

One thing that has surprised me the most being here, is how young men interact on the street with one another. It is common to see men holding hands, wrapping arms around waists, or just any form of touching while walking together. Seeing as how it is considered culturally inappropriate to conducr homosexual acts, this was surprising. “Aren’t they worried about their perception?” Was my first thought.  In the USA, that is sure to garner some stares and opinions. However, it is just seen as a sign of friendship here. What makes this most surprising, is that men and women are not to engage in public displays of affection, such as simply holding hands. 
There are some other small things, like children referring to their parents by their first name, but these are three big ones I figured you’d enjoy. People have been asking me about care packages, and I think the answer to that is to wait until I leave my host site and go to my permanent site. I think it would be rude to receive foodstuffs while with my host family. Plus, it would be annoying to lug around any extra stuff to my permanent site. 

But to answer your questions, suggested items include:

  1. Chips (Doritos or some type of Lays).
  2. Candies (More for classroom use. Jolly Ranchers, Starburst, etc. My favorite is Sour Patch Kids).
  3. Baby wipes (Have to bring your own tp to the shint bet and sinks aren’t a thing in public places, so yeah). 
  4. Hand sanitizer (Kids love to hold my hand. Problem is, I don’t know where their hands have been).
  5. Spices (While the food is good, it gets a bit repetitive, so it would be nice to mix up the flavors a bit).
  6. Any other thing you think I’d like! I’m not too picky. Bonus points if you can send me the new Rick and Morty and GoT episodes.

That’s all for now! Everything has been great so far. As always, feel free to ask me anything about my experience so far!


One Comment Add yours

  1. Seren says:

    Did you ask anyone about the affection shown between males at all? Do women show the same with other women? How long are you in Tigray/when are you expecting to be in a more permanent location? 🙂


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