Why Our First World Problems Aren't Really Problems

Why Our First World Problems Aren't Really Problems

The autocorrect on my iPhone always corrects word I don't want corrected. Ugh!

The other night, I went upstairs to my warm, cozy bed, threw on some slippers and reached for my phone charger that wasn't there. I had to crawl out of bed and walk all the way downstairs to get my iPhone charger. So annoying, right?

Let me give you a few more common examples of our "big" problems:

The remote is too far out of reach, so I have to stretch out just to grab it.

The autocorrect on my iPhone always corrects word I don't want corrected.

The heated seats in my car don't warm up fast enough.

The computer doesn't "save your password", so you have to type it in for yourself.

I need a nap, but it's too late in the day.

By no means am I saying that those situations (and others) are not annoying and frustrating. I am definitely guilty for sometimes being so wrapped up in things I want or how I want a situation to pan out; but at the end of the day, does it really matter if my college class ran 5 minutes too long, so I was late for my massage appointment. No, not really.

But, I am suggesting that next time we order a Starbucks and they put whipped cream on it when you said you didn't want it, think about the people in the world who would love to live in your shoes. Honestly, the poverty and hardships in other countries are completely out of our control; any donation helps, but you and me, singlehandedly, aren't going to fix this huge problem.

There's one, easy thing that each and every one of us can do. It takes little time and little effort: GRATITUDE. Say thank you to God when little or big problems happen in your life, because He purposefully picked you for your life and your path. But say thank you with empathy, because there are millions of our brothers and sisters living a challenging and arduous life in which we can't comprehend.

About 2 months ago, our paster was speaking about gratitude and how, every single day, we can express our gratitude through a small, unprompted deed for our brothers and sisters. I decided to take on the gratitude challenge our pastor encouraged us to do, and since then, I write a nice note of a quality I loved about them on the receipt before I leave. I mean, I have no idea how any of the waiters/waitresses react to it, but it's my way of expressing my appreciation for my life, the food I eat and for the person who gave me the service.

Again, there is no immediate fix to the devastating conditions across the world, but together, through small acts of kindness, through more patience, and through prayer, we are diminishing the phrase "first world problems".

Whether you live in the United States or of slowly developing countries, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

I challenge YOU, next time when you can't reach your charger, have to wait an extra 2 minutes for your coffee or a parking spot; take a moment and be thankful that those little situations are you're biggest problems.

Please watch the link below! It is only 1 minute long & I assure you, it will change how you view your current situations.


Cover Image Credit: Google Images

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Two Weeks In To Living In A Water Crisis In Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa is in a serious water crisis and critical measures are being taken to avoid a Day-Zero.

Cape Town, South Africa is having the worst drought ever recorded in its history, stretching over the last three years.

As dam levels reach a critical low there is cause for concern over the lack of water for municipal use (i.e., showering, hand washing, drinking, cooking, washing, etc.) As of right now (February 7th, 2018) the dam levels for Cape Town sit at 25.2 %, noting that the last 10% of dam water is unusable due to the amount of salt and debris. So the City of Cape Town has noted a "Day Zero", in which the dam levels will reach 13.5% and all municipal water will be turned off except for vital services.

In an effort to avoid a "Day Zero" situation the city has implemented level 6B water restrictions as of February 1st, 2018. Meaning that every person in Cape Town is now limited to 50 liters (13.2 gallons) of water per day.

A stark comparison to the typical American who uses an average of 80-100 gallons of water per day. As well as the average Cape Town usage has been dropped to the target of 450 liters (119 gallons) per day for a city of a little over 400,000.

As a study abroad student I have been living in Cape Town for 2 weeks and have felt the effects of the water restrictions since day one.

Within our house in Observatory, we are all limited to a 3-minute shower and are advised to only shower every couple of days. Those showers consist of wetting our hair and body, turning off the water, then shampooing/conditioning and washing our body, then turning back on the water to rinse off, done!

A far cry from the relaxing steamy shower in the United States, filled with sudsy bubbles and singing. Going through this process had made me appreciate the privileges we have in the US, most we don't even realize.

Recently we have put a bucket in our shower to catch any excess water that would be going down the drain, we refer to as "grey water". This will be used to flush toilets in the case of our water being turned off. Above the toilets, we have signs that read, "If it's YELLOW, let it mellow. If it's BROWN, flush it down."

Translating to, if you just peed don't flush, but if you did other business, flush. Which would seem gross to most, but in actuality has become a habit since living here. I think as humans we quickly adapt to situations we are put in, and for most of my group, this has been the case.

We also do not wash off our dishes before they go into the dishwasher, once the food is scraped into a trash can the dish goes directly in the dishwasher as to save water. When boiling water for pasta or other foods we recycle that water to be used a grey water in an effort to increase our supply.

In the event that an actual "Day Zero" happens, all municipal water will be turned off in Cape Town, excluding vital services. Meaning residents will have to collect water from one of the 200 collection sites around the city, which limit 25 liters (6.6 gallons) per person. With security and law enforcement deployed at each site to reduce possible violence.

If "Day Zero" arrives it is likely the restrictions will last for months. "We should be prepared to live with very little water for at least three months and possibly up to six months after Day Zero, but it all depends on when rain falls in the water source areas that feed the dams," said WWF in a statement.

Recently there has been fluctuation in the actual date of "Day Zero", two weeks ago the date was moved up from April 29th to April 16th, but within the last few days, it has been pushed back to May 11th.

As for life out in Cape Town, most restaurants and bars have signs out that state they will not be giving out water unless it is specifically asked for, and in some cases, a bottle of water must be purchased. When waiting in the line for customs at the Cape Town International Airport there are giant signs displayed regarding the water crisis, and reminding tourists and locals to save water.

The University of the Western Cape, where my group of study abroad students attend, has been publically posting signs all around campus regarding the severity of the water crisis. Even going as far a to place large signs depicting where the dam levels sit currently as a way to reach students who do not understand the current situation.

While the water crisis has been widely covered by national media outlets, it's hard to understand exactly what's going on here until you're on the ground living it. That's just my experience from two weeks! For people who have grown up here, and dealt first hand with the current three-year drought they would have much more to say than me.

In retrospect, coming here I was scared of the water crisis and what it would mean for my experience. But I shouldn't have been.

While living a sheltered life in the States it was very easy of me to be scared of things I did not know or understand. When in real life this is just another way of living, a normality for hundreds of thousands of people. I think what the media fails to cover is the resilience of the people of Cape Town and the reality of the situation.

I'm grateful for the people of Cape Town and their hospitality since I have been here. I have nothing but amazing experiences from my short two-weeks here, and I cannot wait for the rest of my adventure to unfold.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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My Dinner in Morocco

A story of interacting with a North African Family

In picking a college, there are a lot of factors that can make or break the decision. One of the coolest things about Tennessee Tech is that their study abroad program is really strong! Every semester, there are multiple faculty- and student-led trips that Tech supports. The best thing about this, though, is that my school has an exchange system where 10 hours of campus service, like telling people about the Study Abroad programs, can be subbed for airfare up to $1,000! Not only does this make getting foreign language, history, and humanities credits easier, it also helps ease any wanderlust you may have.

I have always been a big proponent of traveling, both domestically and abroad, because life is about so much more than just the little bubble you live in. Talking with someone from and learning about different places is one thing, but to be able to experience life in a new city or country can broaden your scope of thinking tremendously. With traveling, knowledge of other places is gained, but so is an understanding of different ways of life.

A favorite example I have is from my trip to Morocco almost a year ago. I didn't speak either of the primary national languages, Arabic and French, and was totally lost when it came to communication. The only words in French I learned were from ordering food on the airplane, and even then it was only poulet and café -- the essential food groups of chicken and coffee. What's more interesting, though, is that while in Morocco, I had the chance to eat dinner with a family that was a completely different religion than my own.

I'm not going to lie, this situation was extremely uncomfortable. I was sitting barefoot in a home with an Islamic family who fed us a traditional Moroccan meal just because they wanted some white Christian kids from America to learn about their customs and traditions. The family passed out forks for our convenience, noting that they usually just ate using their fingers and the ever-present khobz bread. But I was one of the lucky ones who didn't get a fork to eat with. As my stomach rumbled, I reached onto the dinner-table sized platter and ripped the breast from the chicken, stuffing it into a piece of white bread and shoved it into my mouth. No one even gave me a second look as we all savored the North African spices.

As I tried to keep up with conversations around me, my eyes darted back and forth, from face to face. Ultimately, I realized that even though I couldn't understand the words coming out of their mouths, I felt like I really knew the family that had so graciously welcomed us into their home. They had offered us a warm meal, showing their kindness and tradition of hospitality. By looking around their home, I saw the things that mattered to them -- pictures of family members, verses from the Quran, graduation certificates. Honestly, this family was a lot like mine, but in a different country.

Traveling doesn't have to be some kind of grand adventure around the world, but it can definitely be done that way. Traveling is just looking at the same life from a different angle, making sure you can see all the sides, facets, and perspectives so you can more clearly engage with the things you've been given.

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