Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Start of the Next Two Years of My Life


I’m here. I made it to post. What’s it like living your first week as a Peace Corps Volunteer? Weird.

About 30 minutes have passed as I ponder how to accurately describe the weirdness. If you really want to know what it feels like, go to peacecorps.gov. The application process takes 6-12 months. Otherwise, I’ll do my best to give some of the reasons.

The first is the stark contrast with training. We used to have mandatory classes 6 days a week; now we can make our own schedule. We used to have trainers and staff hovering over us to answer our questions and look out (a little too much) for our safety; now we’re on our own. We used to hang out in big groups of Americans speaking English; now it’s me, my post-mate 10 minutes away, and a lot of French. We used to eat the food our Cameroonian family served; now we make our own and do the dishes. We used to live in a family where there was always someone around; now there’s a lot of alone time.

The next thing that makes it weird are the expectations. While I’m good at not setting specific ones, I do kind of expect the overall experience to be great and to change my life. But when is that going to happen? If I were to go home right now, would I say my experience was great? Would I say it changed my life? Is there a specific time when that happens? I don’t really expect to write on my blog sometime over the next two years - Aha! It happened. My life is changed and my Peace Corps experience has crossed the line. It is now great! There’s a cheesy saying that no two Peace Corps experiences are the same - yours is what you make of it. If that’s true, then what could I be doing differently to change my experience, or what would someone else in my shoes be doing differently? Too many questions. Too few answers. It’s just weird.

The other thing that’s weird is feeling the weirdness start to slowly wear off. Is it really going to feel normal living in Africa? …Weird.

I’ll try to give some more specifics on what my life is actually like next week. I need to go to bed now because I start my first day at the bank tomorrow morning.

Stay Well,

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