Sunset is Gaborone
Sorry for the lag in updates! I’ve been having such a hard time getting my internet to work.
Staging was pretty much a blur of emotions and exhaustion. It was really great to finally meet everyone and to have this big departure we’ve all been imagining for months become a reality.
A lot of what we did involved going over expectations and anxieties about training and moving to Botswana. I found it reassuring to see that most people had the same concerns and aspirations. We’re a diverse group of 75 and naturally, I’m still struggling to get everyone’s names. After we finished registrations and orientation, we had some time to walk around Philadelphia for a while to get one last dinner in the US. From what little I’ve seen, I’m a fan of Philly. I liked the architecture, the lively restaurant scene, and the artistic leanings of the city.
Anyway, at 2am we all crammed our bags into two buses and headed for JFK. Then, there was waiting. A lot of it. We were there long before we could even check in our bags. And after our 15 hour flight to Johannesburg we had another 5 hours to wait for our flight to Gaborone. Needless to say, we were a sleepy mess by the time we made it to our hotel.
Here’s a photo of the whole group in Gaborone!
We’ve had two days of Setswana lessons, history lessons, and cultural instruction. So tonight we’re just enjoying our last night of ample wifi, hot showers, and endless buffets for quite a while. Then tomorrow we’re taking a 5 hour drive to Serowe where we will be matched to our host families and begin our 10 weeks of training.
After a very hectic and stressful morning (I’m a last minute packer, it’s the worst), I said goodbye to my parents and flew to Philadelphia. My bags weren’t overweight! That was one of the issues I was most anxious about. My big bag was 49 pounds and the little one was 30. I can’t even believe it, I’m well within Peace Corps limits. And I still felt like my arms were going to fall off after dragging everything through three airports. Thursday will definitely be interesting.
Here are a few pictures of the pre-staging experience; I’ll be sure to update again after I meet everyone tomorrow. It’s all finally happening! I’ve been working towards this moment since I started my application in September, it’s hard to believe I’ll be a Peace Corps Trainee (PCT) in a couple of days.
My last glimpse of Florida skies:
Exhausted me demonstrating my carrying process:
And finally, the after: packed, heavy, and ready to go (sorry about all the reflectors)
bea-drinks-tea Staging is kind of like orientation for the Peace Corps. All 60 of us will arrive in Philadelphia and we have something like 5 hours of introductions, paperwork, health and security briefings, and icebreakers. Then we fly out all together the next day. I’m very excited to finally meet everyone! If I could just finish packing…
For my last night at home my parents let me choose what we had for dinner. Champagne and pizza, of course.
After a long and stressful day of trying to pack my bags and organise my life, I decided to call it quits early. I took a lavender scented bubble bath and read my book for a while, then sat on the couch and spent time with my parents. No regrets.
|mom:||honey why do you stay up so late|
|me:||because sometimes Beyoncé releases raNDOM SHIT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND I HAVE TO BE PREPARED FOR THAT|
This whole packing thing is exhausting. I managed to get everything I’ll need by Friday, but now it’s a question of weeding out what I don’t need/don’t have enough space to take with me. I’m making good progress, but it’s taking forever. I also had to pack up all the stuff I’m not taking with me into boxes that I’ll be leaving at my parents’ house (thank you Mom and Dad!)
Anyway, here’s my updated picture of the ‘during’ process. I can’t wait for it all to be done! I found it really helpful to check out the blogs of other volunteers for packing lists and ideas, so I’m going to post my packing list in a few days. After about a year of living in Botswana I’m going to go back to that list and highlight the items I found incredibly useful and cross out the ones I never use.
Three days until I leave for staging, four days until staging actually starts, and five days until I leave for Botswana. It’s crunch time.
So here’s during:
One week… It’s still hard to believe sometimes that I’m moving to Botswana next week. It’s just such a surreal sentence. Someone asked me what I was doing next week yesterday and that was my response. Just.. what? Anyway, last week I was feeling really panicked and anxious about going, but so far this week I’ve been feeling optimistic and thrilled to be starting this new part of my life. I know that no matter what, even if I don’t buy every single item I want to take with me or have the perfect packing list or manage to fit everything in my bags, I will still get on a plane and join the Peace Corps. It really takes the edge off of all the obsessing I’ve been doing. Hopefully I’ll manage to keep this calm and positive outlook until my departure, but who knows. Peace Corps isn’t called an emotional roller coaster for nothing.
So, I’ve decided to post a before, during, and after of my packing process. I’m hoping to have almost all of my shopping and packing done by Friday so that I can have the weekend to just relax and hang out with my family. (I really hope I can pull that off).
Here’s my before of my bags and some of the things I’ve been buying over the last few weeks: