Staging, Spending, and Stuff

Staging — Today I received my much-anticipated staging email! Here are the goods:

  • Check-in is at 12:30pm on December 1st, 2013 in Philly
  • December 1st: workshops 2:00pm – 7:00pm, business casual attire
  • December 2nd: 8:00am check-out, 8:30am departure for airport
  • Flight Itinerary: Air Brussels departing from JFK  (7 hrs, 25 min) and arriving in Brussels in the morning. Air Brussels departing from Brussels after a 5 hr layover (8 hrs, 30 min) and arriving in Conakry, Guinea at 6:55pm on December 3rd.

The hotel and flight is all paid for! Luckily for me, I live close to Philadelphia and won’t have to take an additional flight but I know off the top of my head that a few people in my stage are from California — sorry guys, but sucks to be you ;). I look forward to spending my last night in America (for a while…not forever!!!) in Philly. This city means a lot to me. I spent a good chunk of my college years at house parties and concerts, underground and big name, in this city and I’ve eaten my fair share of cheesesteaks. One last night on South Street topped off with a steak (wiz wit) sounds perfect.

Spending — I’ve been a good girl and have done as I said I would in my last update… bought the frickin’ world! Well, maybe that’s over-exaggerating, but as the boxes begin to pour into our house it may seem that way to our neighbors. Some things I’ve bought:

  • hammock w/ rain fly and mosquito net for those hot Guinean nights and travel adventures
  • chacos — sandals and waterproof hiking boots
  • solar charger, 4 watts
  • portable speakers, rechargeable
  • drakon 45 by marmot aka awesome hiking pack
  • 2 lightcap 300s aka water bottles with solar panel LED caps that transform it from a bottle by day to a lantern by night (AWESOME, RIGHT??)
  • alert whistle / compass / waterproof matches / lanyard combo
  • sunglasses to go over my regular glasses (gonna be a real fashionable look y’all)
  • freeze-dried meals…because who doesn’t go crazy for re-hydrated beef stroganoff?

As you can see, I’m doing good in the crap department! I still need a few small items — knife, battery fan, kitchen supplies, clothing items — but for the most part I am done shopping. I feel like a little kid at Christmas waiting for these packages to arrive, but I guess it almost is Hannukah so it’s pretty fitting. The next task is to pack it all!!

Stuff — My mood is pretty good these days. Mostly, I’m excited. This is my last week at work and… I never thought I’d hear myself utter these words… but I’ll really miss it. I have some awesome co-workers who, aside from their inability to understand my desires to join the Peace Corps, really make my Monday – Friday pretty awesome. So, here’s to you Sheehy Glen Burnie! I’ll miss you guys! And if any of my readers are looking for a car… we got some fine salesmen! 😉

The next few weeks are probably going to fly by and be somewhat of a blur. I’m trying to pack it all in, though! The week before Thanksgiving, my mother and sister and I are traveling to Florida for my cousin’s bar mitzvah. That will be a nice family adventure and a good way to get my mind off of my upcoming trip — plus it’s gonna be gorgeous and I’m totally hitting the water! Thanksgiving / Hannukah / Thanksukah / Hannugiving is going to be a blast. Turkey and latkes, at once? I’m super glad I’ll be home to enjoy that with my family.

Basically, I’m excited. And ready. Well — as ready as anyone ever is in these situations.

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Mon français est horrible!

On February 7, 2014 I will be sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer (upon successful completion of PST, of course!) and I will end my service on February 7, 2016.

Currently, I’m afraid. There’s a lot going on now; tasks to complete, languages to learn (aidez-moi!!!!), specialty items to order, bags to pack, affairs to get in order. It all seems like SO MUCH and the days keep on ticking away. I’m finding it rather tempting to slip into a panic mode. I am making a huge life-changing move — I’d be kind of worried about myself if I wasn’t worried! But worrying is one of my largest flaws and something I am constantly trying to improve. So, we’re kicking the panic to the side and focusing on the amazing adventure ahead.

That being said, I’m slacking hard. I’m going to buckle down and get my stuff together.

My plans for the last week of October :

  • practice French every day
  • buy all the things I am getting online for Guinea
  • participate in a conference call with my CD and stage
  • try not to worry and instead happily spend the time I have with the ones I love

Souhaitez-moi bonne chance!

Part of this process involves a lot of reading about what’s to come. I will leave you all with a few tidbits I’ve selected from these documents:

At this point, you should not count on having access to anything qualifying as “high speed” in Guinea, though technological changes are underway.

You will be arriving at the beginning of the dry season. It will be hot and generally dry, so be prepared to wear light clothing with the appropriate degree of coverage…Long skirts, dresses, or trousers and light, sleeved cotton shirts are appropriate for women.

45 days.

Tomorrow it appears as if the government shutdown will be over. October 17th, 2013.

It’s been easy for me to put things off. After all,  I did have four years of excellent practice in procrastination (oh, college!). Pushing aside orders for solar chargers and hiking backpacks — “oh, I’ll get that next week” — only felt like a natural reaction to such a huge, daunting challenge that lies in my wake. The shutdown of our government only assisted these matters. In a time when I should have been taking online safety courses, practicing French, acheiving final medical clearance, and eagerly checking my e-mail for updates from our CD, I was instead staring blankly at a government in crisis and wondering if I would even leave on time. I still am not sure how this shutdown affected my stage and what is to come in the next 6.5 weeks, but I am sure about one thing — time always marches on.

October 17th. You once sounded so far away and yet here we are, face-to-face. I’m working on getting things together. Ordering the necessary items, beginning to cross things off of my packing list, thinking about the loose ends I’ll need to tie up — taxes, elections, bills, cleaning my dungeon of a bedroom, oh, and my disaster of a car. But there’s one thing that I am not sure how to prepare for; the reality of leaving.

I’m an adventurous soul. I’m also plagued by extreme Jewish guilt — sorry, Ma. Those years of religious school got to me. I look forward to the strides I will take in the next two years but I also look back with regret and anxiety at all those I have to leave behind. It’s unnerving to pack up from everything you’ve ever known and walk off into uncertainty. However, I have always chosen to live my life with a certain distinction. I would much rather regret a decision I made than to instead live with the mental possibility of “What if…?”

So, America, our time together is nearing it’s end. I’m not sure where I will be two years from now, or who I will be. The “ALL OF IT” is almost too much to even contemplate. With 6.5 weeks left, I plan on celebrating the love in my life. I am lucky to have a family, friends, and a girlfriend who all love me and support me in my journey. They will miss me, as I will miss them, but their support is extremely important to me. I feel extremely grateful for the opportunities in life I have been given. I cannot even begin to imagine all that I will learn in my 27 months of service in Guinea. I do know that, no matter the hardships, it will be worth it and I will return to you all a better person more capable of making real, beneficial changes in the world. I hope you all will continue to support me in my journey — even when I call you, crying, about how much I miss real cheese. Even when I lament to you that I miss my mother and I feel like I’m not getting anything done. Even when I miss my lover and friends so much the sobs ache my body to sleep. But, especially when I tell you about the young boys I’ve befriended in my village and taught English. Especially when I tell you about the older women who have taken me in and taught me how to cook. Especially when I tell you about the new bee-keeping project I have initiated with my village, or the new community garden, or the 100 trees I planted last week.

This will be a difficult journey at times, no doubt, but one I have chosen and one I look forward to with immense joy and excitement. I hope you will join me alongside my journey and continue to support me through all the ups and downs. And, you know, a package or two would be nice!!!

Thank you, reader! Until next time (where hopefully I’ll have progressed more in the packing department — yikes!),

Sara