Let me preface this by saying that I've had a bit of an adventure getting my computer to talk to me in English when online since arriving here. Google (and all Google related functions) have been displaying in Thai, so logging in hasn't exactly been easy, and I haven't really wanted to invest the time to straighten it out, as there HAS been other things to do. Imagine that. Anyhow, I thought I'd get a couple posts up here while I had easy internet access before I go to stay with my host family tomorrow.
1/27/09, 3:52pm PST
Yesterday was a pretty amazing day.
It started bright and early, although that isn't a great description, since it was still dark out. Hm. I'd never really thought about that until now. Anyhow, I felt mentally prepared, but physically, my body definitely had some nerves going. Anxious stomach, kinda twitchy, sort of an adrenaline rush that lasted for like six hours. I would describe the feeling as “nervous excitement.” Like the long ride up to the top of the first drop on a roller coaster. You know everything is going to be fine, you know you're going to enjoy the experience, but it's impossible to be calm about it.
The flight to San Francisco was pretty uneventful, though the arrival was pretty anti-climactic. Due to a last minute change of plans, I got to hang out in the airport for a few hours eyeballing everyone who walked by, trying to guess whether they were possibly in the Peace Corps and making phone calls and sending text messages to everyone in my phone saying goodbye. It was actually kinda nice, a little time for decompression.
Eventually I met up with some other people in my group, and I almost immediately began to relax. As I met more and more and we got to talking, I was very happy to realize that I had been completely justified in my excitement to meet these people. These are kindred spirits, folks whose lives have brought them to the same experience by completely unique routes, and here we all are, poised to throw ourselves headfirst into the unknown. For the first time since beginning the application process, I am in a crowd who can identify with my feelings, and I with them.
So we had our orientation meeting, discussed anxieties and excitement, risk management, and the logistics of traveling to Thailand. Then they gave us our per diem and we split up to go find food and drinks. And drinks. I followed a guy who knew the area a bit (along with 20 or so other volunteers) and ended up at a pizza place before heading to a really cool jazz bar. I felt pretty good heading back to the hotel around 10, thinking I'd get in a decent night's sleep before heading out in the morning, but for some reason I woke up at 2 in the morning and couldn't really fall back asleep. LAME.
I stopped trying to get back to sleep around 5:30, got myself ready to fly and canceled my phone service. They had us check out by 6:30, then we loaded on a couple buses and headed to the airport. It was pretty funny, prior to this experience, all of my group traveling was overseen by someone (like a teacher). This time, we got to the airport, the Peace Corps employees who had led the orientation handed us our passports and said goodbye, heading for their own flights to their homes. We all stood around for a few minutes wondering what to do, then a few people decided to take some initiative and got our passports passed out and figured out where the right ticket counter was.
As we got our luggage checked, we spread out throughout the concourse and found food. Most of us spent the next couple hours walking up and down the halls, trying to move as much as possible before becoming confined to the plane for the twelve hour flight to Tokyo.
And then it was time to board.
I ended up in a window seat (which is probably definitely better than being in the middle of the middle row), without a seat-mate, which I guess is nice since I have a little more room to spread out, though I think it might've been nice to be next to another volunteer, too. Oh well. And then I decided I should pull out my laptop and write an entry to post on my blog when I get internet access.
I hope my posts aren't too boring! I imagine they will get far cooler once I'm actually in Thailand, but you'll just have to bear with me until then.