Monday, April 19, 2010

Less Than 2 Months Away!

Almost three months have passed since I received my acceptance to Peace Corps allowing me to come clean to all my friends and co-workers about my plans. The most asked question I get has now switched from "What? Why??" to "So are you ready?". I have always been ready in the sense that I could jump on the plane at any moment and get this adventure started. But in terms of feeling prepared...not so much. Sorry, this is a long post. So grab your sweet tea and settle in.....

You Mean I Need to Research?
I figured I would have done a lot more research on the people and statistics of Tanzania at this point. I freak out a little when I realize I have not even done any language studies yet! But most of that will occur during the official training. And since this experience is suppose to help me relax and be better at not needing to have every detail planned, it is nice to remember to sit back and wait for the final word from Peace Corps. Plus, in an initial book of essays they sent me last summer, there was one by a guy who was suppose to go somewhere cold but then that program got cancelled, so he ended up being sent to a Pacific island. 

My grandfather has been doing a lot of reading and has given me several interesting articles about how the agriculture industry is starting to search for ways to create better farming practices in Africa because so much of the land in more developed countries is getting used up by real estate and such. More on that after I get a chance to read it more thoroughly.

The time that should have been spent reading more things like that.....has actually been spent blog stalking. You may have noticed on the right column of my blog is a link to Peace Corps Journals. This is a wonderful site that allows you to read blogs by Peace Corps Volunteers in specific countries. I have also found that there are a ton of videos on YouTube posted by PCVs. I have found lots of good stuff that give me a better idea of what to expect as well as some things that I would have preferred not to now being showing up in my dreams. But I figure my subconscious cannot be nearly as bad as reality....right?

Geek Squad Wannabe
I have decided that moving to an African village which most likely will not have electricity is the perfect time to buy my first iPod and laptop. Give me moment and this will make perfect sense! I have been fortunate enough to be able to email with a few current PCVs. All of them recommend bringing  at least a laptop because 1) I will be surprised by the availability of wireless access;  2) Even if I do not get internet at my village, it is handy to have the laptop to type reports, emails and blog entries. Then when I am able to access wireless, I can just send or post these things; 3) It will be much easier to find a place that offers wireless and not have to find a place that offers computers (there is no telling what kind of shape that computer would be in). I am currently researching laptops vs netbooks, Eees vs Linux and a bunch of other things, so I will look somewhat intelligient when I go to Best Buy and have to deal with their Geek Squad. 

On much more fun note, I have already gotten my iPod and I am in love! It is so sleek and shiny and green! I decided on the iPod Nano because it video tapes which will keep me from filling up my digital camera's memory cards. My iPod has lead to my other new love of iTunes. All you have to do is click and presto! You have the specific songs you want without having to buy a whole cd. But this has also lead me to realize how quickly $1.29 adds up. So I am doing a Stock the iPod, like Stock the Bar Showers. If you have any songs in your iTunes that you think I should not live 2 years without, fill free to "gift" them to me!

I have also found out about Solios. These are solar panel-type devices that store up solar power and uses it to charge electronics! I cannot wait to get one of these ordered so I can play with it too!

Two Weddings, a College Graduation and a Funeral
I am not the only one in my family facing new challenges. My little sister is graduating college and getting married in May. Thank goodness it has all worked out for me to be here for both big moments. Unfortunately, luck did not carry on for my good friend Maria's wedding at the end of the summer. But I am at least getting to have a fun girl's weekend with her and others to help celebrate!

Though I do NOT expect it to happen, I have had to plan for my own death or becoming too ill to be able to convey my wishes. It was actually more depressing to realize how little I own of much worth. Though as I was working on my living will and will, I started thinking of what songs I would like played at my funeral, who should say what, who would be the pawbears, what flower color scheme would look best in the local funeral home.....then I realized my love for party planning should probably not include my own funeral?

I'm Just a Girl
One of the things that I am most looking forward to is not having to wake up every morning and put on make-up. That said, it has been funny how many girly preparations I have had to do....some down-right vain considering where I am going.

First, Peace Corps requires you to take two pairs of eyeglasses AND they do not provide contact cleaning solution so it is recommended to only wear your glasses. If you have had the pleasure of seeing me in my glasses, you know I am blinder than the bats that will be eating the mosquitoes around my African hut. When my eye doctor recommended thicker frames to hide the thickness of the lens, I jumped at the idea. Thankfully, they are much better than expected. But I am still planning an order to 1-800-Contacts to stock up.

Second, I got a permanent retainer for my teeth. This may be TMI but I am so excited by the results that I have to tell you about it! Even after having braces TWO times, my front two teeth would constantly shift apart. Since I don't want to deal with a retainer over there (or any more, in general), my dentist suggested having them basically bonded together. Best thing I have ever done for my teeth!

Third, having tried to save money by doing my own hair coloring for the last couple years, I ended up with red hair. So my hair stylist has colored over it in a way that will fade away without giving me roots. Layers and angled bob are now gone so it will grow out even. I realize this all seems completely shallow, but when you are not sure of the frequency or quality of future haircuts, you have to plan out these things!

That pretty much catches you all up! I only have two more weeks at my job. Then I will have six weeks to really do more in preparation!


  1. This was fascinating! I loved reading about the little "vanities," things you had to think about as far as your appearance going forth. You are so on top of things! Can't wait to read more...! - Dusty

  2. Hujambo Jessica,

    I found you on PC Journals- I think I'm in your staging group. Leaving June 14th?

    We should get in touch. My email is lauren.fink (at) gmail (dot) com

    See you in 53 days!


  3. Za kwako rafiki?

    Hi Jessica. I was in the last training class here in TZ (Education sector), don't sweat the language or the Rosetta Stone; they've been testing it out to see if it helps trainees make the adjustment, and I think our group single-handedly disproved its usefulness. Even if you don't complete a single hour of Rosetta Stone, you'll be speaking plenty of Kiswahili by the end of training because the LCFs are THAT good.

    Bet you're excited! Congrats on your acceptance have a blast during your last few weeks in the States!

    And of course, Karibu sana Tanzania!

    David Berg
    Education PCV, Singida Region

  4. Thanks you all!

    Lauren, I am in the June 14 staging group! I have been wishing there was a way to connect with others before we leave. Glad you commented!

    David, Thanks for the reassurance! Glad to hear the Rosetta Stone isn't that helpful. If you have any advice, please feel free to share!