The day after tomorrow, I will be on my way to Africa. The emotions that statement evokes are difficult to describe. Most accurately; anxiety, fear, excitement, sadness, and elation all mixed together. I feel a bit in a daze, the reality of it all hitting me hard this morning. I know, it’s only three months, many students have done study abroad for the same amount of time (if not longer), and I’m not going into the peace corps (27 months!), but it’s still Africa, and it still scares me. Part of me just wants to be on that plane already! the anticipation is almost too much to handle, and at the same time I don’t want to leave the comfort of the US.
One week to go! Everything is starting to feel very real. We just had our last conference call going over preflight information and final questions. I thought that at this point I would be feeling more anxious, but mostly I’m just really excited. I have all my supplies (I think) and everything is set, now comes the hardest part, starting to think about saying goodbye.
With many mixed emotions about my departure I stumbled on a blog by a volunteer who is currently in Moshi. She described her first week experiences and I have to admit it seems I may have been worrying more than necessary. The home base takes really good care of the volunteers and we will have three full days just for orientation and sight seeing. Her descriptions of hikes to the waterfalls, views of Mt. Kilimanjaro from the house, and plans for Safari, all within the first week and a half makes me incredibly excited to go.
She is working in an orphanage, and I can’t imagine how hard that must be! I know this will be “life changing” and from all the stories i’ve read, it will be for the best. For the first time since I’ve signed up, I’m more excited than nervous about my departure!
I also started my live-vaccine for Typhoid, which still weirds me out a bit.
As my start date gets closer I find myself more and more comfortable with the idea of being in Africa, the program manager has made everything easy and stories from previous volunteers suggests I will be just fine. Fellow volunteer that I’ve been “introduced to” via email all seem great, very diverse in terms of age, occupation, etc. But in terms of anxiety what I’ve lost in about being in Africa I have gained significantly in the prospect of leaving those I love. I’ve gone off to college many times now, leaving my family, yet all of those times I was only 6 hours away and at a place where most people were familiar. I hate leaving those I love, and that is what scares me most. Leaving both my family and boyfriend for three months of limited contact is the most frightening. I know I’ll be okay, but I still feel moments of great sadness and anxiety about it, I know this will be a good experience…I just need to keep telling myself that.