"Are you German or American? Ah, Norwegian, all right. Are you going to work at the hospital? Oh, really, you are going to work here every Monday? Right...""Oh, are you starting to work here today?"
All these questions have been asked either by my employers or my coworkers at the places I have been working this week. "Attending Hald", I thought, "is a safe and structured way to go (which it is), where the programme is set and the people I work for and with are prepared for my arrival."
What I have been learning this week, is the meaning of the term exchange programme. We went here to be part of another culture for half a year, not to live the Norwegian way in another country. And we do learn how things are in Cameroon. One of those things is that the planning mentality does not work the same way here. "But why couldn't they just start planning?" one could maybe ask (especially if you are from Norway, where organizing often seems to be of utter importance).
They are not lazy. They do not lack practical intelligence. They just have a completely different starting point for their lives. You cannot plan in details an expensive trip if you do not know whether there actually will be enough money for it. You cannot always expect things to be ready at a certain date, because maybe there is no money to buy the supplies needed in order to finish it. You do not order new medicines for the pharmacy if you still have something left; maybe you need the money for something else. And this hand-to-mouth way of thinking and planning life affects the whole structure of society. So that even the things you actually could have planned, is not regarded urgent to organize. You take life as it comes.