Saturday, January 16, 2010

I have inconveniently long femurs and other things I've learned from Peace Corps

The obvious first thing I've learned is that I'm not a blogger by nature. I've just been so busy having my life-changing experiences, you know?

Things I learned in November:
  • Transitions are hard. Okay, maybe this is more like a re-learn, but it always feels like the first time.
  • Having a bigger room can make you hate your husband less. We moved into our new bigger, nicer, permanent rooms which was a life-saver. Now if only the Department of Education would deliver our furniture...
  • Church is fun and you can sing whenever you want to.
  • Contact is actually a good movie even though it has Matthew McConaughey in it. It holds up after a decade.
  • Weddings are so much less about the people getting married and way more about communal memories. Also, they're sweet and fun no matter where you are.
  • In the same vein, Holidays are such a huge part of culture. I never realized how much until they were coming at me quick and all I wanted to do was watch the holiday episodes of shows and think about how ridiculous it was to have Christmas in summer. Luckily, Thanksgiving was unbelievable and we were treated to this wonderful meal by a local B&B lady who googled Thanksgiving recipes and even made green bean casserole! All arranged by Jonelle, one of my favorite people on this planet who said the most touching grace. She reminded me once again to be thankful for the opportunity I have to be here, the amazing friends who support me, and my family-both for supporting me and for raising me to be socially conscious and to fight the good fight.
  • Being 26 rocks, especially when you can turn a birthday into a birthweekend.
  • Naming a band is hard, but turning life into an album cover shoot is easy. Also, all you have to do to win a Garage Band competition is write a ballad with a round.
Things I learned in December:
  • Kindergarten graduations are internationally adorable.
  • I have a much higher boredom tolerance than most and can entertain myself within 10 by 12 room for longer than one would expect, but even I have my limits...
  • It gets REALLY hot in Africa, but you do find a way to make it through. Even if that way is just lying around in front of a fan wetting yourself down with a wash cloth every hour or so and sucking on giant, fancy Mr. Freezes simply called "ice juices".
  • There's a bug in the Genesis emulator Jeopardy that automatically gives the boys an advantage. Not cool. However, if you're with the right people, even village life can make for a really good time. Thanks K & T.
  • I have inconveniently large femurs that interfere with my comfort in taxis and buses. I need extra leg room.
  • Everyone should take three week vacations. In fact, many Europeans have already discovered this and I met them and they're really cool. They also taught me Americans have nasally voices. I didn't realize.
  • Surfing is really fun and quite the workout!
  • Twilight is the universal language for girls. I read all four books in 3 weeks, saw New Moon twice, and talked about all this with a girl from the U.K., an American missionary, a South African, an awesome volunteer from Peace Corps Lesotho, and the Edward to my Bella, Kim. We are unconditionally and irrevocably in love...
  • You can fit a lot of stuff in a backpacker's backpack and they are so much more convenient than luggage.
  • I don't really like talking about Peace Corps. A Brit that I met in Durban helped me come up with the best deflection, "I do work like you do work. It's long winded. It's boring." I have a feeling it will be like that when I come back to the states which I know will be frustrating for me and for the people that have to deal with me. But seriously, it's just a thing I did. It's long winded. It's boring.
  • You make the party, even if it's New Years at what could only be described as a family reunion at the VFW.
  • Though I am enthusiastic to get into a fistfight, I am not able to hold my footing.
Things I've learned so far in January
  • The South African bus system isn't-how should I put this-customer friendly.
  • Though I never would have guessed, I have a high threshold for B.S. Translation: I'm not nearly the brat I thought I was. Suck it, mom and dad!! Okay, maybe I'm still kind of a brat.
  • Vacation end blues are much bluer when life takes you back to the village, but once you get back, it's not so bad.
  • Teaching 10.5 hours a week is a lot better than full time. Plenty of time to plan and work on other projects. I'd say it's the perfect balance of stuff to do and free time.
The Serious Lessons:
  • I've entered a new phase of homesickness. I don't quite feel like I belong here yet, though I feel further down that path than ever. However, I also don't feel like I'm ready to go back to the US either. I've reached no man's land. Or no land for this woman.
  • Doing what you've always dreamed of is such a rush. It also calms the soul like nothing else I've found. I highly recommend it.
  • This experience really does change you, or maybe change is the wrong word. This experience makes you a mega version of who you were before you left. To quote a message I sent to a friend, "I have confidence now that I could have never imagined, strength coming from out of nowhere, more patience than I could have hoped for, and perspective. Oh man. Perspective."
Happy 2010! I can only imagine the lessons to come this year, not to mention this decade. Crazy to think that no matter where I am 10 years from now, in 2010, I was in Africa. You can't beat that.

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