24 April 2009
So, I have come to understand that some future PCVs may be reading my blog hoping to understand what Peace Corps life is like and what they should expect. Well, as my friend Micah put is, Peace Corps is like the lottery. You never know where you’re going (country), who you’ll meet (fellow Americans), who you’ll live with (host family), where you’ll live (permanent site), or who you’ll work with (host organization). There is a lot of stuff that is just plain out of your control. The only thing you can control is your attitude. My advice to any future Peace Corps Trainee coming to Azerbaijan is sit back and get ready for a bumpy ride.
If you are reading this blog and not coming to Azerbaijan, please be aware that while culture shock, frustration with host country nationals, and frustration with learning a second language is something that almost all Peace Corps Volunteers deal with no matter where they go. HOWEVER, each and every PC country is very different, and the PCV experience is very different. My experiences in Lerik will be very different than PCVs an hour away in a larger site.
When I call PC Azerbaijan a bumpy ride, I don’t mean to infer that bumpy rides are bad. For all the good and all the bad, I have enjoyed my ride thus far; I like to view living in Azerbaijan as being 98% comfortable with my surrounding and myself. For the most part I am happy, adjusted, and love people with whom and the place in which I live. But there is still 2% of me that deals with the fact everyday that I am living in a foreign land with babat (so-so) language skills.
Now, for the 5 things. 5 things I wished I brought, 5 things I wished I had left behind, and 5 things that I’m glad I brought. Before you take this as gospel, just know that this is from my perspective as a woman from Louisiana.
5 things I’m glad I brought:
· Wool stockings and good tights - never underestimate what paying extra money for tights can do
· My sleeping bag- good for travelling
· Comfy Shoes
· Clothes for layering
· My computer & journal
5 things I wish I brought:
· Running Pants- can’t really run with shorts in this country
· A Good Cloth bag- Mom sent me one (good for groceries and extra stuff)
· Headlamp- good for the outhouse at night & Dad sent me one
· External hard drive (good for trading music and such with other PCV’s)
· Markers & index cards
5 things I wish I had left behind (or have found to be unnecessary):
· A large stash of books- you will find many in the Peace Corps lounge
· My personal first aid kit- Peace Corps provides you with one (although I’m partial to Advil, so I brought an extra bottle)
· My raincoat- Haven’t used it once. I use my umbrella
· A large assortment of shoes. I only brought 5 pairs (hiking boots, running shoes, black flats, sandals, and casual shoes) and bought one here (my black winter boots).
· My sense of shame- be ready to be a small kid again on numerous levels
I know looking at the packing list can seem daunting, remember to streamline because Peace Corps will give you more stuff to carry anyways (First Aid Kit, Sleeping Bag, Water Filter, hand outs, more hand outs, carbon monoxide detector, etc).