the hardest part?

I can’t say that I wasn’t warned. Just about every returned volunteer I spoke with before leaving for Senegal told me that the months between Pre-Service Training and In-Service Training would be the hardest. During the first three months my main goal is to settle-in, learn the language, and integrate into my new community. And try not to go stir crazy…

It is only week two and I may going a little insane. There is certainly not a lack of things to do… I need to continue practicing and learning Pulaar. My huts need to be cleaned and filled with furniture. I need to plant a garden in my backyard. I need to spend more time getting to know my new family. But even with all the huge tasks lying in front of me, I have a lot of spare time to sit around and think.  Think about life in America. Think about what I would be doing now if I was back home. Think about the food. Think about how much I miss my friends and being a part of their lives. Think about how much I would like to take Ramsey for a walk along Lake Union. Think about how “easy” life was in America and how “hard” life is here.

But that’s the thing… life wasn’t “easy” in America. I was constantly worried about student loan payments, finding a good job, getting into graduate school, and a million other small and big things. Sure America has tasty food and toilets, but I am fooling myself if I think that life there is “easy”.

And life here is Senegal isn’t necessarily “hard”. Sure my standard of living is lower–much lower, and it is damn hot. But the constant worrying and pressure that I felt in America is gone here. I do face struggles here every day just trying to live a “normal” life. Adapting to the culture. Trying to stay healthy. Trying to find a way to express myself in a language I can barely speak…

I know that these next couple of months are going to be long, hard, difficult and humbling. But they are going to allow me to become a great volunteer capable of doing good work in my time here. And perhaps more importantly, they are going to make me better person. Hopefully the kind of person who will be ready—two years from now—to tackle student loans, a grown-up job, and grad school…

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog are mine alone and do not represent the positions or views of the U.S. Government or the U.S. Peace Corps.

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