About to head to the airport…

…and I can’t believe this day is finally here. I’m insanely nervous, of course, as are some other people I’ve met and talked to. 

The last couple days we’ve been in Philadelphia for “Staging,” which is basically a time for us all to go over basic expectations and get to know each other. 

I’ve loved getting to meet my fellow volunteers (and prepare them for the inevitable One Direction documentary nights) but I won’t lie, those sessions were LONG. 

Especially when we spend a lot of the time talking about safety and security. It’s definitely important, but it brings to the surface all of those internalized fears, which are even more prominent being a woman going to a different country. 

It definitely will be a huge adjustment, but at the end of the day this is something I’ve wanted to do for years, and I’m ready to just get started and start to adapt and integrate to the culture of Botswana. 

Even more difficult was getting my luggage together. One suitcase I had was 70lbs and the other was 35. I’ve definitely done some moving around and am planning now to have two suitcases and two backpacks. 

Yup, I’m going to be rockin’ a backpack on both sides of my body. Wish me luck (and don’t laugh at me). 

Until next time! I’ll be in Africa! 

Two weeks away!

I can’t believe how quickly staging is coming up! It really is insane to me that I’m about to be leaving for Africa, and it’s even more insane how many things I still have left to do (ie. actually packing my bags).

I’m incredibly excited, but the closer I get the more I’m starting to have some nerves too. As I pack up my house in Bloomington and make sure my cat is settled for when I leave, I realize how much my life is going to change, and I think it’s finally hitting me what a huge thing this is.

The anticipation is always the worst part–there’s such a combination of nerves and excitement about what the experience will actually be like, so I’m excited to just get there to Botswana and start my PC adventure!

 

The packing struggle…

Figuring out what to pack for the next two years is insanely difficult, especially since a lot of the advice I get is to “pack for a two year business trip.” I have been on zero business trips, let alone one lasting for two years, so thanks for that advice, everyone.

I’m lucky since I have access to other Peace Corps Volunteers and their blogs for information, but at the end of the day I’m deciding how to pack my entire life into two bags.

Since Peace Corps is paying for our checked bags, we have to stay within the very specific requirements airlines have for luggage, which adds another dimension to the process: not only have I not figured out WHAT to pack, I also haven’t figured out what to pack it IN.

I’m allowed to have two checked bags. Seems simple on the surface. These bags must not weigh more than 50lbs each. Again, not bad. But then we get to the dimension requirements. The combined dimensions of the bags (length + width + height) can’t exceed more than 107 inches, but the larger bag also can’t exceed 60 inches. So of course that means that the suitcase I already have is too big and can’t be used.

I’ve spent a lot of my day calculating what combinations of bags I can check under these requirements and it seems like the optimum situation is this:
*Large rolling suitcase–26″ (comes to about 57″ total, just under the 60″ maximum)
*Rolling duffel bag–22″ (brings my checked total to 97.5″, perfect)
*45L Osprey hiking backpack (carry-on, can’t be filled up all the way or it won’t meet the carry on requirements because nothing about flights can be easy)
*One personal item to carry on (probably a tote bag)

What exactly will be packed in each bag (and what of my packing list I’ll actually be able to FIT) is yet to be seen. Wish me luck!

First blog post

I’m fairly sure that if you’ve come across this blog you’re a family member or one of my friends hoping to see what’s going on with me in Botswana. If you’re anyone else, welcome! I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer leaving July 21, and I’m getting this blog together so I can keep a record of my experiences not only for the people in my life but also for me.

I booked my flights through PC yesterday, so it’s definitely real. I’m going to Botswana for two years. Scary and very exciting.

I’ll probably write a few posts before I leave, as I prepare by packing (what a monstrous task…) and starting to learn Setswana.