Friday, February 25, 2011

An Amalgam of Stress, Nostalgia, and Excitement

A little over a week left in Seattle!  I fly to DC on March 6th and then to Senegal on March 8th!  It's still hard to believe how fast my departure date came up.  My last few weeks have been pretty stressful, but it's all starting to come together.

I had the bright idea to sign up to take the GRE a week before I leave for the Peace Corps.  At the time, it seemed smart to take it before I leave and give myself the option to apply to grad school while I'm abroad.  Guess I forgot to factor in all the other stressors I'd have going on the week before I leave.  Up until a couple weeks ago I was working full time, which left me only a week and a half of cramming, although I had memorized quite a few GRE vocab words on lunch breaks over the past couple months.  Stress levels were high last weekend when I realized everything that needed to get done before I left, so of course I got the stomach flu on Monday night to add more to the mix.  Then snow started dumping on Wednesday, and the fear set in that maybe I wouldn't be able to take the test on Thursday after all my studying!  If I wasn't able to take it before I left, I'd have to fly to Ghana to take it, since they don't offer the test in Senegal.  With a little luck and magic, it all worked out, and I am very relieved to be done with the test!  As anyone who's been around me the past week can attest to, I am visibly calmer today than I was earlier in the week.

Before any big change in my life, I always get that feeling of being warm in bed and not wanting to get up to bear the cold.  The concept of leaving my friends and family for over two years is more real than ever now, and it's a very uncomfortable thought.  I worry about all the things I'm going to miss out on in the lives of people who I care so much about.  I find myself clinging to comfort in my last couple weeks at home, whether that's watching Biggest Loser with my family, going to my favorite yoga class, or hanging out in familiar places with friends.  It's hard to imagine leaving, but I know that the time is fast approaching.  Stepping outside my comfort zone to begin this journey is something I know I need to do, and deep down, I know this will be a defining experience in my life.  It is comforting to know that I've felt this way before and survived through whatever challenge I had to face.  The people I met in Thailand left an indelible mark, and looking at pictures from my time in Southeast Asia makes it easier to realize how happy I can feel in Africa.  The initial adjustment is always hard, but it doesn't take long to form a new routine and feel comfortable in a new environment.  The unknown of it all is the hardest part right now!

Now that the GRE is over, I can focus more on getting everything I need and get more excited for the adventure.  With all the stress and nostalgia, I sometimes forget how exciting it is that I will be in Senegal in less than 2 weeks!  I recently met with two incredible women who work in the field of public health, and they made me realize the kind of impact I could make with the projects I create in my village.  I'm about to get real, hands-on experience in global health!  It's also exciting that I'm going to be meeting a whole new group of people in training who could become great friends.  And I can't wait to start making local friends as well!

There's a lot to do in the next week to prepare, but I know it'll all fall into place before I get on the plane. It always does.  I'm not looking forward to saying goodbye, but I am very optimistic about this journey.

1 comment:

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