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Monday, March 17, 2008

Philadelphia Orientation

Today marks our official service as Peace Corps Volunteers!
We began orientation in the afternoon, after almost everyone arrived from the airport (although I arrived with Chris last night), filled out registration paperwork, and began getting to know the other G11 volunteers who will share our experiences abroad for the next two years.

I've been absolutely frantic this week; suddenly realizing how unprepared I am to go live in the potentially freezing weather (especially in the north!) of Albania, and to leave all my friends and family whom I've only just recently returned to.
My brain and heart are being torn with anxiety-- anticipating the trials of a life lacking electricity & water, adjusting to dramatically different cultural values, and pressure for the job I've signed up for are all being swiftly realized... Most of all is the emotional stress of leaving everyone I love-- in this last week I felt like I didn't know how to savor all of those seemingly insignificant moments with them.
Am I ready to move away again so soon? Am I able to learn Albanian? Will I be able to contribute anything to my community?
I don't know... But time is up and I guess I better sink or swim.

[Continued on Mar 17]

Actually, after finishing both days of orientation I feel more confident than ever that Chris and I will get on that plane tomorrow and have a great time. I know I can learn the language; I will create friendships with my counterparts; I will find my niche. I think everyone has the same fears, questions, emotions, etc., and we will help each other be successful and fulfilled with our experiences.

Tonight we went to a Japanese restaurant with Cam, Donna, Tom, and Arlene-- maybe the last time I get to eat something besides beans, who knows! I wonder what the food will be like and if I will be forced to eat lamb. I wonder if they will have as much fried foods as Asia...

Chris and I still haven't finished rearranging our luggage (the airline allows 100 lbs in two luggage pieces totaling 107 inches) so the hotel room remains a chaotic mess of clothes, books, toiletries, etc. Our last night in America!! I must take advantage of the English-language TV and sparkling hot shower... My body hasn't yet reset itself from Asian time so I can't sleep until early in the morning anyway, but perhaps we should really stop procrastinating and try to get some rest before the sun rises. [Truth be told its already 2:30 am] Tomorrow we'll check out by 9:30, leave on a bus for JFK airport, board a plane to Munich at 6:45 pm, and eventually arrive in Tirane, the capital of Albania. I haven't really absorbed much about what will happen in the next few days, but I trust PC has a well-practiced methodology to herd us along. :)

OK I'm signing off-- goodnight! Or, natёn e mire!

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