The grand adventure of my Peace Corps service is almost here. I still have a lot to do but I feel ready and prepared. It will be interesting to see how the Albania I have read about and created in my mind matches up with reality. Current volunteer blogs have given me an idea of what life is like in Albania but no amount of reading will make up for experience.
Up until last Monday, I couldn’t wait to move to Albania. The excitement and anticipation was killing me. Once I booked my flight to Washington, D.C. though, the reality of what I was about to do started to hit me. Moving to Albania means giving up a lot of what I enjoy for a new way of life. No more concerts, Netflix, central heating, air conditioning and the list goes on. As if adjusting to a simpler lifestyle isn’t hard enough, I will have to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture. The whole idea is daunting.
Today, I received my pre-departure information CD and my excitement returned. Included on the CD was the volunteer newsletter Hajde Hajde! (Come Come!). The title itself was an entreaty for those unfamiliar with Albania to enjoy what it has to offer. The newsletter was filled with anecdotes from current volunteers about their experiences. Some of the stories are filled with trials and others with triumph. It reminded me why I chose to join the Peace Corps in the first place.
The challenge of learning a new culture, language, and lifestyle is daunting and this will be the most challenging endeavor I have undertaken. There is no doubt about it. But being able to use the skills and education I have to help those in a less fortunate country while increasing cultural understanding will stretch me as a person and provide many priceless experiences. I know that I am going to have to put a lot into my Peace Corps service but what keeps me going and excited is knowing that I will get ten fold out of it.