Alright, I’m at the two week mark now! Life is really speeding up. The to-do list in my head has become a constant companion and it’s difficult to fall asleep at night as I keep remembering “Oh, I need to do this, I need to buy that, I need to talk to this person” etc. As I am currently suffering from another night of list-inspired insomnia (oh and maybe that evening cup of coffee has something to do with my lack of sleep as well…) I figured I would blog. As I’ve been having conversations with friends and family, there’s some questions that have been coming up again and again. Some of them are expected, some are amusing, and all have made me think a little more about this crazy adventure I’m about to take. For those of you who are curious, I decided to write up a little FAQ about Peace Corps, Indonesia, and the next 27 months of my life.
1. How long are you going for? 27 months. Easy answer. (This question is usually quickly followed by…)
2. Wow! 27 months! Are you going to come home during that time? I don’t know. The plan right now is to be there the whole time, and seeing as the Peace Corps doesn’t fund a trip home in the midst of my service, that’s probably the most financially feasible option. I would love to travel around Indonesia and possibly other parts of Asia with my free time (will I have free time? Good question – we’ll see! I should have some school breaks at least, and I do build up vacation time with Peace Corps) but I’ll be playing it by ear, as they say. And any visitors who want to trek out to Indonesia are welcome, by the way! 🙂
3. How do your parents feel about that? This is seriously one of the most common questions I get, which surprised me a little at first. (Also, how do I answer that? Mom and Dad, feel free to chip in.) My parents are supportive. They’re excited that I’m going to do something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. They know how much I love to travel and experience other cultures, and they’re proud of me for pursuing my dreams. Sometimes I suspect this question – especially when coming from adults who are parents – is a veiled question meaning, “Wow, I’m putting myself in your parents’ shoes and imagining they will miss you like crazy if they don’t get to see you for 27 months. I can’t imagine my child being halfway across the world in a foreign country for over two years. Are they ok with that?” I guess my answer to that is simply, “Yes.” They are ok with it, and they will miss me, and I will miss them right back.
4. Do you know where you will be living? Yes…and no. I will be in East Java (Java being the most populated island in Indonesia and home to the capital – Jakarta, although Jakarta is on the west coast) in a village somewhere. I’m not sure exactly where my final assignment will be, but for my three months of training in-country, I will be in the Malang area (or so I’ve heard).
5. Do you know what you will be doing? Yes! I will be teaching English to 10th and 11th graders, and I am really excited about it.
6. What will your living situation be like? I’ll be living with a host family…actually, with two different host families. For my first three months I will be living with a host family in my training village, and then I will move to a different village where I will live with another host family for my remaining 2 years. I don’t know who my host families are yet, but I’m looking forward to it (and fingers crossed that we get along really well).
7. Will you have internet access? Hopefully yes. The volunteers who are currently there have pretty good access, either at home or at school (or both). It sounds like one way or another, I should be able to be connected, even if it’s not as frequently or easily as it is at home.
8. Is there a limit to how much stuff you can bring? Yup, an 80 lb limit. Right now my life is consumed by figuring out what items to pack and what to leave behind (and for the items I am leaving behind, figuring out where to put them). Packing light is not a natural strength of mine, but somehow I will make it work. 🙂
9. Will you be blogging while you are there? You bet, right here on this blog. Like I mentioned above, assuming I have good internet I plan on blogging and keeping up on email, facebook, etc. I would most definitely love for friends and family to keep in touch!
10. What are you concerned about/what can we pray about for you? Great question. I’m really excited to go, but I have a handful of concerns (who doesn’t when they’re about to move overseas, amiright?).
1) I’m hoping to click really well with the other Peace Corps Volunteers going with me (there are about 50 of us leaving at the same time and around 40 who are in Indonesia right now – we will overlap with these volunteers for awhile before their service ends). I am also hoping/praying for great host families.
2) Going along with this, a concern for me has been isolation. It’s scary to go somewhere where you don’t know anyone at all – talk about leaving your comfort zone. After training I likely won’t be in the same village as other Peace Corps Volunteers, so being far away from family, friends, my church family, and other Americans is a little daunting. I’m praying for connections and community in my new home. 🙂
3) Being able to adapt quickly to the language, culture, customs, etc.
4) I recently discovered I have a mosquito bite allergy, which could be problematic in Indonesia. I’ve been researching all kinds of ways to stay away from the little buggers, but it will likely be impossible to avoid bites. I’m hoping that the combination of my insect repellants and allergy meds will keep a bad reaction at bay.
5) And the catch-all: prayers for peace, continued growth personally and professionally, and encouragement to remember that I’m where I’m supposed to be in good days and hard days alike.