On the night before the beginning of my Peace Corps service, I reflect on my upcoming journey – my emotions, expectations, and hopes for the next two years.
Welcome to the first post in my Peace Corps Albania series! I’ll be sharing my experiences these next two years through select journal entries and topic-specific posts.
I promise do my best keep things as real as possible. From the good to the bad, it’s all a new adventure for me, and I’m grateful for every minute!
Friday, March 3, 2017, 11:54pm
Well, the time has finally come for me to say goodbye to my comfortable vacation in back home. I tried to keep things as normal as possible today, so apart from a flurry of packing in the afternoon I mostly just lazed around the house like usual.
I’ve been hit by moments of anxiety randomly through the day. When I first woke up and took a shower, my hands were shaking. I felt almost short of breath as I began to pack. And now as I’m trying to fall asleep I can’t get comfortable until I write down my pre-Albania thoughts.
For some reason, I’ve half convinced myself that I’m going to get all the way to staging only to be turned away at the hotel for some ridiculous reason (my passport was lost, it was all just a mistake, I was never actually invited). And so I’ve been in a state of semi-denial about leaving.
Before my China trip I felt completely out of my element, but now I look at long term travel in a totally different light. I feel reassured that I’ll be in a semi-structured program and surrounded my Americans (at least for the first few months). I feel pretty confident that I will avoid homesickness, especially since Mom’s already talking about a European trip a year into the future. And I feel cautiously optimistic about being able to face all the challenges ahead with an open mind and positive attitude.
I’m definitely still nervous about a lot of things, though. I’m anxious about being one of the younger volunteers and having limited experience in the workplace. I’m worried about being Asian in a country unused to diversity. I’m worried about learning a brand new language after struggling with Mandarin for what feels like my entire life. I’m nervous about making friends and truly connecting with people. And I’m terrified that this is all one huge mistake.
Still in spite of all my doubts, I feel ready to take this next step. These past few months between graduation and the start of my Peace Corps journey have been wonderful. I’ve loved spending so much time with my sisters, and I’ve also treasured this time with my mom – analyzing movies, talking about books, and trying new recipes together.
But as much as I’ve enjoyed being home, I think I’m ready to start this new chapter. I’m ready to devote my time and energy to a cause I believe in. I’m ready to engage my mind in problem solving. I’m ready to see where this unpredictable journey will take me.
I have no idea who the Laurelin of the future will be, where she’ll live, or what she’ll do. My life after the Peace Corps is still a blank slate. So I’m excited to face every new day with a smile and and in two and a half years, I’ll be able to meet the new me.
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