After taking the oath, the other new volunteers and I only had an evening and morning to say goodbye, not only to our first host families and training staff, but also to each other. The morning after swear-in, Peace Corps drove us to various bus pick-up points so we could travel to our sites. We aren’t supposed to leave our sites for the next 3 months. It’s a dramatic change, especially after having so much time in training to chat with each other about our daily challenges.
When I arrived at my site I was numb. I’d stayed up late the night before wishing other volunteers in my group good luck. I’d also gotten up early to say goodbye to my family before they left for school and work. My new host family kept asking questions—about how I was, about my trip—it was so sweet of them to care, but I wasn’t ready to think of answers. I said I was tired, that wasn’t really the case, I didn’t know what I was.
Recall how you felt the day you finished high school, the day you moved to college, the day after you got your college diploma, and the first day of your first job after college, combined all those feelings, that is what it felt like to finally move to my site.
Top 10 thoughts while traveling to my site:
- How on earth am I going to bring all my stuff to my site using a commuter bus? Considering that I’m living here 2 years I don’t have much stuff, but I can still hardly lift my large suitcase.
- When will I see the volunteers from my group again? How often will I see them? During training I saw them daily (and that was comforting).
- Am I ready for whatever is waiting for me at my site? I hear I’ll have down times, up times, slow times, busy times, fun times, sad times…that’s a lot of times.
- Am I going to accomplish anything? Will I learn the language and get to know the community? Will people work with me? Will I be creative and come up with good projects to help people improve their health?
- No really, what are the next 2 years going to look like? They say every volunteer’s experience is unique, so what’s mine going to look like?
- Am I going to get sick? I don’t want a parasite or dengue. Actually, I don’t even want to have a cold while in Paraguay.
- How are the rent and other money conversations going to go? Paraguayans tend to be comfortable talking money, however I feel trepidatious.
- What am I not anticipating that’s going to be a challenge? Sometimes the unknown is the most stressful.
- Am I going to make friends in my site? Two years is a long time, in-site friends would make life more enjoyable.
- Who will I be 3 months from now? A year from now? Two years from now? I already feel like I’m a different person than the one who left the US (and that was just 10-ish weeks ago).