“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.”

Pictures

(post dated)

The Flight

Our first flight stopped in Frankfurt. It was about 8hrs and we cheered was the plane took off. This was for sure the biggest plane I had ever been on.

Retreat

meal time for 100 volunteers

view from our room

Foreword: I left San Antonio Sunday March 21, on a 1:45 PM flight to D.C for staging. Was at staging (like an orientation) Mon & Tue. We flew out of D.C. for Ukraine Tuesday at about 6PM.

I’m here, I’m alive, and only a little cold. The trip was so so so so long! My time in D.C. went by very fast. Between trying to get all my paper work finished, the actual orientation and trying to find a new backpack (because mine tore), it was like I got there then was soon boarding the plane to Germany. The plane was huge! The people at the airport ended up not weighing peoples’ bag and checked third one for free. Everyone was relieved because their carry-on was super heavy.  When we were in the check in line my big carry-on started leaking! Turns out my snow globe busted – glitter water everywhere. When I reached into my bag I sliced my finger on a razor. So there I was, in a line that was inching forward, trying to drag my very heavy bags, one of which sprung a leak, bleeding, and trying to locate my missing puma sandal. Good times. On the plane my two travel friends (are tickets for both lights were alphabetical) had never seen Usual Suspects, so I made them watch it with me. On the plane to Germany everyone was so excited and few people slept on that 8 hour ride. However, on the connecting 2hr flight to Kiev and 2hr bus trip to hotel, everyone was out, like out out!  As we were arriving to the hotel, I turned around and everyone was asleep.

Don’t get to excited when I say hotel, it is more like “hotel”; think dorms with lower quality beds. But such was expected; as soon as we left D.C I knew I would be grateful for every hot shower and comfortable bed. I shared a room with 2 other people, Sara and Amy. They would end up being my clustermates. In the restroom in our room, the sink and the bathtub shared a faucet. You moved it from side to side depending on which you were using. The night we got there we had dinner and then were in bed before 10. In the morning we had breakfast, a short orientation, and our first language session.  I did not study nearly as much Russian as I wanted to, but I’m glad I did the little that I did because it is tough! It’s so, foreign- the alphabet the sounds, tough stuff.  With the jetlag, the two days were a bit of a blur. All I remember lots of info sessions then eating and more eating.  The retreat ended with us meeting our host families and moving in with them.

 

I Miss You Already

Goodbye to you, goodbye to everything that I knew. You were the one thing that loved, the one thing that I tried to hold on to. Goodbye to you…….my DVR. These past few weeks, my shows have been doing their spring finales. They will be going on a break till April, which means I have seen the last of them for a while. I will miss all the season finales. Makes me sad. I have always loved T.V shows. Back in the day, before Tivo, DVR , or HULU, I would record my shows on VHS in different rooms of the house. I watch the good the bad the lame the new the “that show is still on”, dramas, fantasy, comedies, and procedurals. What I don’t watch is reality TV; it sucks and I get pissed that they replace quality shows because they are cheaper to make (I could go on but I won’t). I like sitcoms but I mostly watch the reruns. Before I list the ridiculous amount of shows that I watch, I want you to know I am not a friendless loser; I just really like TV, movies and music too.

These are the shows I watch:
90210, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, Life Unexpected, Supernatural, Smallville, Nikita, Vampire Diaries, House, American Idol, Bones, Fringe, Glee, Friday Night Lights, Modern Family, The Mentalist, Fairly Legal, Harry’s Law, Lie to Me, The Event, V, Off the Map, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Being Human, Justified, Shameless, Greek, Pretty Little Liars, Secret Life of an American Teenager (worst show followed by OTH), Boardwalk Empire, True Blood, Weeds, Dexter, The Closer, Southland, and a little Psych, Law & Order and some CSI. I’m also watching Chuck and Mad Men on DVD.

Favorite shows of all time are Buffy the Vampire Slayer (it is a good show so no talking shit) and West Wing. Veronica Mars, Alias, Lost, Sopranos and OZ were also great shows. And I wouldn’t call (old) 90210 or Dawson’s Creek great shows, but I have seen every episode.

I will also miss watching my Spurs; I’m assuming NBA is a bit hard to come by. They are having a great season so I hope I will be able to catch some playoff games. I’m sure watching soccer will be easier but I doubt I will be able to catch every Arsenal and Real Madrid game like I do now. When I do they will be at night. I will miss rolling out of bed Saturday and Sunday mornings to watch EPL and La Liga action. And most importantly I will miss watching with my brother. When we don’t watch games together, we text each other with commentary. I’m sure I will have no problem finding a place to watch El Clasico or the Champions League Final, but watching with out my brother, it won’t be the same.

Side note:
I will be bringing many TV DVDs with me. If any current volunteers have missed the latest season of their favorite show, let me know and maybe I can bring it. I understand your pain.

Less is More

I emailed my aspiration statement and resume and mailed my passport and visa application to Peace Corps. My aspiration statement ended up being 676 words. Hope that’s cool. I am very brief.  I was extremely annoyed with the directions that came with the Visa and passport stuff. There are directions on the folder, a direction sheet for the passport, another one for the visa and then another separate sheet for the mailing directions. And of course there are separate directions on the applications themselves. Sometimes less is more. Both applications are marked URGENT. Yeah ok. I already had a passport (with no stamps), so I filled out the BS-8 form for my special Peace Corps passport. I requested the card instead of the book, the PC instructions did not tell us which to pick. Part of the holdup in sending my stuff was that I needed to go get photos taken. I went to Walgreens which charges $9 for two; I needed 3. They use a non-fancy digital camera. So the worker puts me in front of a white background and takes two pictures and tells me it will be about ten minutes. He finds me in five and tells me we have to retake them because one was too dark and the other was blurry. So we take it again and then I wait. About 15 minutes later he hands them over.  I looked at them before I paid and holy shit they were fucking terrible. I don’t know what he did to the color, I think he was trying to brighten it, but I looked like a meth head. I was not smiling and there was a strange orange tint around my eyes. I was just going to pay for them because I was tired of waiting and they were closing, but F that! If I’m going to spend $20 on that crap than he can retake it. He did and they came out much better, better coloring and I was smiling. When it came time to mail everything I took my FedEx envelope, my mailing slip, and all my application stuff and headed to the post office to drop it off at their FedEx drop box. As I was filling out the slip (in the post office parking lot) I realize it is a UPS slip. Those stupid mailing instructions say FEDEX! So there I am with my FedEx envelope a UPS mail slip at the post office that has a FedEx drop box but doesn’t actually have a FedEx office.  Aaahhhh!!  Whatever, I got it taken care of and was 1 ½ late to work.

 

Things to do.

Less than 9 weeks before departure, here are a few things to do before I leave:

  1. Go get 4 passport photos (2 for visa 2 for passport) and send them with my visa and passport applications. I am not looking forward to the pictures. My skin color is a certain shade of paste so that white background does nothing for me. Despite the instructions, I still found the VISA/Passports part confusing.
  2. Write that aspiration statement. Grrr!  How long should that thin be? This is what I have so far:  I aspire to be more awesomer. I plan on adapting to a new culture by keepin it real.  In training I hope to learn how to be fashionable in the cold weather. I hope this experience lands me an appearance on a morning talk show. What do you think? Too long? But seriously, I was thinking about a page and half single spaced.
  3. I seriously need to learn how to spell volunteer before I leave. I don’t know why I find it difficult to spell, but I do.
  4. Complete Russian Rosetta Stone Levels 1-3. It’s a tough language to learn. I wish Rosetta Stone had Ukrainian.

On a separate note: After watching bits and pieces of The Unborn, I finally saw the whole thing. Masuka from Dexter is in it! Other than that, considering that it is a horror movie and I did not pay to see, it was all right. But why is Gary Oldman in it?  And it really bugs me when movies dealing with the supernatural end up being some random story about Nazi’s or a brain tumor.

 

It Is Officially Official!

Looks like I’m heading to Ukraine! It is so soon. There is much to do. And I’m not even talking about the paper work. I look forward to getting to know everyone in my group.

Invited! Sort of.

Just talk to my placement specialist! She told me I have been invited to serve in Eastern Europe, leaving March 21. According PC wiki, the only country for that program leaving that day is Ukraine! I am beyond excited right now.

I had not heard from placement since December 6th when I received email conformation from the assistant that she had received my updated résumé and passed my file to the placement specialist. I was getting nervous that I was not going to be able to leave in March. I was a bit upset because I had submitted everything quickly and did not want miss my date because of something silly like my file getting lost. I spent the last few weeks freaking out, thinking thoughts of doom. So yesterday I dug up my PO’s direct number and called. I asked if the program had been filled. She said they still had slots and she was working through a stack of applicants but since I was on the phone she may as well set up a time to talk. We set it for 2:30 that afternoon. I was so stoked! But then that time came and went and I got no call. I got an email from her apologizing for missing it; she went home sick. We rescheduled for today. She asked a lot of the same questions as my recruiter did at my interview. It went well and she was very nice. After I got off the phone I called my parents, my brother, and my friends. Everyone was happy for me but also a little shocked that it was so soon. When I told my sister she was sad than told me she would talk to me later because she was on her way back to work and did not want to go back in crying. I’m sure she failed at that.

So March 21st it is. I should get my packet early next week and know for sure what country I am going to. I better get some warm clothes.

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