I leave for Peace Corps staging in San Francisco in 71 days, and then China itself two days after that. Thoughts?
Obviously there are nerves, but I’m starting to get more and more excited, and feeling more and more ready. In the fall I couldn’t imagine leaving DC as soon as the spring, and although I continued to go through the Peace Corps motions, perhaps in my heart of hearts I doubted that I would be for real doing it. When I got my China assignment at the beginning of December, the Real still hadn’t quite kicked in. China, in almost seven months? Sure, we’ll see.
For whatever reason, I think my change of heart occurred around February. In January I got back from fabulous xmas vacation, I celebrated New Years with new friends in my new town of DC, and I began to see the world through new eyes (no really, new vision-corrected eyes). And once all the bustle of all that excitement calmed down, and I got underway with the work of my second semester of school, I kind of woke up one week and realized that I was actually going to do this. That I would be ready to go some four months hence. I do love DC, and am sorry to be leaving my friends here, but it’s going to be OK to go.
So, am I preparing with Mandarin lessons and Chinese histories? Um, no. But I am preparing mentally in my own way: I’ve been thinking a lot about the Stuff I’m Bringing, and have started an elaborate packing list! And I read a piece of chick lit about a Chinese-American girl who loses her job and boyfriend and goes to China to be a writer and find herself through Chinese food. Oh, and I’m stalking the blogs of a handful of current, former, and future Peace Corps China volunteers. Of course.
The big Stuff question in my mind right now: do I bring my favorite/best Stuff, since it’s what I love and what I use, and so what if it doesn’t make it out of China alive? Or do I bring other worse/new stuff specifically aimed at making it only as far as China, and save my favorite things as something to come back to in 2012? Choices, choices.
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This weekend I’m off to Boston with a couple of DC friends to visit a handful of old Stanford bffs and, you know, the Freedom Trail. The last time I was there was 1996, at the height of my youthful interests in American History and paper doll books (I think I bought about a half-dozen on that trip and began my love affair with Tom Tierney paper dolls in particular). So I’m excited.
Also trying to figure out what’s next–I’m waiting to make final DC-exit plans until I figure out who’s taking my spot in the apartment when. Further travel plans are also in the works–ideally I had been hoping to do Birthright Israel with a friend in May, but May quickly approaches and I remain on the annoying wait list. Peru in June is now an option. We’ll see. I have like nine weeks between the end of my school (May 4) and my ship-out date, so if you have any ideas for ways to spend some of this time, send them my way.