Thursday, September 26, 2013

The toilets still scare me...

Who knew flying could be so fun?? It all started when I was dropped in Philly and thrown into a room of 50 other teachers roughly my age for a series of ice breakers, rules and policies, and literally LIFE don't step on a land mine. I can honestly say I arrived with one fear...ONE fear, leaving my friends while they move on and I live in Africa. Well, so much for only one fear. But after 24 hours, I feel comforted knowing I am not at all alone, I now have quite a few amazing new friends with whom to share the ups and downs for the next 2 years.
After our 7 hour orientation into the Peace Corps (I promise it was much more fun than it sounds) we managed to literally spend our last 7 hours -- mmm we left at 2 am -- bonding, eating out last favorite American goodies, drinking our last favorite brews and taking a few seconds to be irresponsible and play Cards Against Humanity.
Promptly at 2 we loaded our bags of clothes, teaching supplies, cookie supplies, and 2 years worth of toiletries onto buses to JFK airport, only to arrive about 2 hours before the check-in opened. (God there are a lot of 2s in that paragraph, I apologize.) AFter finding a place to unwind and befriending lovely bartender who alternated music from Rocky Horror Picture Show and Bon Jovi while we enjoyed our last American treats, we finally boarded a giant South African jet heading to Johannesburg, South Africa.Complimentary drinks, movies, free meals, and new friends seat hopping...absolutely fantastic. Alright, in the middle of the flight I woke up and honest to God thought I was on my college flight to India. but suddenly I remember I am NOT in college, I'm instead moving to Africa to teach science with my college degree.
Needless to say, I still hate to fly, I'm still scared to flush an airline toilet, and I'm still a little unsure what I've gotten myself into but I now know I am not at all alone in my fears and there are just absolutely amazing people and I've alrready made so many friends.
Don't worry. I still miss: My brothers!, my parents, my adorable baby Porter Dog -- the trouble maker he is, my friends at home, CRABS (good thing I packed Old Bay), and Evo beer

JFK at way too early in the morning

Stretch break! I still feel bad for all of the other passengers

Landing in Africa :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Time Has Come, The World Has Said, to say I love you all.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind.
I started my preparations for Africa by visiting my Alma Mater for a day. In May, when I packed up and left Salisbury, I was so ready to be gone. I had stopped attending the school activities I had once been heavily involved in, I rarely went to parties with friends, and even my work was a struggle by the middle of senior year. For so many emotional reasons, I was ready to be far gone from the Eastern Shore of Maryland...So I thought. Returning to Salisbury a few weeks ago reminded me that at one point, there was a reason I stayed in Salisbury for school rather than transfer. Former professors were eager to catch up, old friends were excited to spend time with me, and even the groups I had left in the dust welcomed me with open arms for the night. It was wonderful to feel the love and support as I prepared to say goodbye for a few years and to know that I will always have a home in the Seagull nest and people routing for me even after the past year.

Yesterday was my Godspeed service at church. It brought tears to my eyes to see my family sitting around me. I had 10 people laying their hands on me in prayer as my time grew closer. People who have been in my life since I was baby, and people who only recently became a pillar of support for me. But either way, it was family holding me up. And a whole church backing me and sending me off with the hand of God by my side.

Last night, I was getting ready for bed and I realized that I just hugged my best friend and my big brother for the last time for a while. I think during this journey, as excited as I am, it is hardest to leave my brothers and my best friend. Those guys have always been around for everything and every smile, tear, hug, and laugh from each of them has been pivotal in my life. Separation from them will be such a struggle. But I know they are always there, and with that, I may have a tear in my eye but certainly also a smile on my face as I board the plane tomorrow and head off on this adventure.

So the time has come for me to actually pack and actually say "see you later" and actually face the fact that within the next 48 hours my home will be in Mozambique, Africa with a bunch of strangers who share the same mission as me (and thus can't be all that bad!) who will quickly become a new family. But with all of that said, much like the Girl Scout song, I will make new friends but keep the old. And it makes all the difference in the world to know I have such a big team at home eager for my stories and excited that I am fulfilling my greatest dream.
Thank you all.
And to each of you, know I love you so much.

My beautiful Sisters-in-Christ supporting my every step

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Time Is Coming

1 year ago in front of the Peace Corps Headquarters in DC, and now I'm finally getting ready to go!
I have reached less than a month with only 21 days to go until I move to Africa for 2.5/3 years! I can't believe the time I have been waiting for since I was 8 years old is coming! The next few weeks will surely be spent with final preparations as well as many tearful goodbyes. As excited as I am, I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit scared to leave all of my friends and family. It's not going to be easy to not have them around me.

Meanwhile, I have started collecting my education supplies to teach Biology!! It's daunting to think I will be going somewhere where I won't really be supplied with anything, but I am so blessed with a family to support me and help me collect supplies that I will need over the next 3 years (some will be shipped or brought along in a year...I definitely won't be fitting all of this in my suitcase to take with me lol)

Enjoying time with best friends
Word of advice given to us by current volunteers was to enjoy good liquor and beer as well as lots of quality time with close friends. I certainly have been trying to follow such advice! My best friend surprised me at my favorite happy hour after I thought he had already returned to school!
Some of my friends also put together a picture book of memories for me to take with me. I know I will be grateful for the book and thinking of the memories with my best friends when I get lonely and miss home.