And I thought the application process was lengthy and stressful! Turns out it's nothing compared to what I'm going through now. Don't get me wrong – the peace of mind that comes with having my invitation in-hand and knowing I really am joining the Peace Corps is awesome, but planning to live abroad for two years is not so awesome. It's stressful, anxiety producing, and seemingly never-ending, despite my relaxing days at the beach!
First there's the paperwork… buying life insurance, personal property insurance, supplemental health insurance; designating power of attorney and having it notarized; registering with U.S. Customs; opening new bank accounts that don't have international transaction fees; changing my address, driver's license and voter registration to SC; tracking down copies of my immunization records… just to name a few.
Then there's the packing… oh, the packing! Luckily I've connected with some of the current Volunteers, as well as a few of my fellow Trainees, and have been able to ask them questions and get their feedback. But every time I cross something off my list, three more items appear in its place. The hardest part is really not knowing what to expect… not knowing where I will be assigned and therefore not knowing the weather of that particular region… not knowing if I'll be in a town or city and therefore not knowing how rough the roads will be when I'm walking to work every day… not knowing where I will be living and how often I'll be able to shower. Plus I've read that Georgians take great pride their clothes and shoes, and often dress nicer in the workplace than Americans. So I know I need to pack my business clothes, but then I worry about looking too American or too wealthy. Then there are the decisions of wool vs. silk long underwear, mid-weight vs. lite-weight socks, down vs. wool jackets. So many decisions… so many unknowns.
Assuming I'll be able to buy everything I need in the next few weeks, then I have to figure out if it will all fit in my two checked bags while still weighing less than 100 pounds. If not, then I'll have to decide if I want to ship a box of winter clothes to myself or just eliminate a few items in order to make it all fit now.
And just when I think I can't handle any more stress, my Georgian language lessons stare me down, just begging to be heard. So I listen. And then I get completely overwhelmed by these words that start with tsgvk and the fact my mouth just can't – and I mean CAN'T – make those sounds. My fun lesson yesterday: mama means father, and deda means mother. I am determined to master this language if it's the last thing I do but right now, it's not looking so good! Still, I have learned an important phrase: minda erti botli ghvino! (I would like a bottle of wine!)
Luckily the Peace Corps handles some of the bigger details like flights, health insurance, jobs and housing – and for that, I’m extremely thankful. So for now, I'll continue to plug away at my massive to-do list, learn an insanely difficult language, enjoy time with friends and family, and be grateful knowing it will all work out in the end. Or maybe I'll just go to the beach…