Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My Travel Info

*Baggage Restrictions:

Checked baggage cannot exceed two items and should not exceed 80 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag.

The combined linear dimensions (length + width + height) of all your checked baggage may not exceed 107 inches. The larger pieces of checked baggage may not exceed 62 inches. Your carry-on baggage may not exceed a total linear measurement of 45 inches.

--That's fun isn't it?? Pour deux ans!! Mon deur.

*Flight Itinerary

8:00 am March 12th from South Bend, IN Northwest Airlines flight number: 5850
9:08 am March 12th at Detroit/MET, MI Total flight time: 1 hour 8 minutes

10:15 am March 12th from Detroit/MET, Northwest Airlines flight number: 228
11:40 am March 12th at Washington/NATL, DC total flight time: 1 hour 25 minutes

From March 12th to March 14th I am staying at the Holiday Inn Georgetown in DC. The phone number is (202)338-6113 for any last minute (in-country) calls or pep talks. ;)

Depart from DC
11:35 am Air Delta Air Lines flight number 1169
1:20 pm AR Atlanta Total flight time: 1 hour 45 minutes.
Depart from Atlanta
4:15 pm Air Delta Air Lines Flight number: 34
Arrive in Dakar, Senegal
4:15 am March 15th total flight time: 8 hours.


Friday, February 16, 2007

24 more days of clenched teeth and luxaries like toilets and hair dryers...

My first post....
Backgroud info:
I am going into the Peace Corps to Senegal, (West Africa) to do rural preventative health education. I leave March 12th for DC for some orientation and brief training, then I leave for three months of in-country training in Thies, Senegal. After training I will go to my official post, that could be anywhere in the country, and speak one of 7 languages spoken. The national language is considered to be french, but not everyone speaks it, and some very little. I've taken french in high school, and some in college, but haven't spoken any for over a year and a half (this worries me.) It is likely I will have no running water or electricity. I will have to boil and/or chemically treat my water (of which I will likely pump into a huge jug from a well that may or may not be anywhere near where I am staying.) Speaking of where I am staying, I am staying with a host family. I could have my own little hut, but PCV (peace corps volunteers) are required to have their own room and separate toilet (which is a deep hole in the ground).
***Note-this is all speculation from things I've read and heard. I could be totally wrong, how the hell would I know?? I've never been there!

Many people ask me if I'm nervous or scared. Well, I'm human and obviously I'm scared. I'm freaking living away from my friends and family, not to mention American comfort for 27 months. So my answer is an unequivacal "yes." My greatest fear is that I find out that I am not as strong, or adaptable as I thought I was, and I fail. I come home crying, tail between my legs, and hide in my oh so comfortable bed sucking my thumb; that I will not contribute to the quality of life for those who have little. This whole realm of failure encompasses many things. Complete intigration is the goal.

1. What if I can't learn the lanuage? What if I say something wrong and completely offend someone? What if they don't respect me because of my horrible language skill. The basis to any relationship is communication, is it not? The BASIS of my work is going to be successful communication, and that's going to be hard work.

2. While in country PCV's are required to take several medications to prevent malaria and other disorders. These medications have pretty extentsive side effects such as paranioa and depression. Furthermore, PCV's often have intense gastrointestinal discomfort for several months while getting used to the native diet. These ailments coupled with the fact that I'm WHITE, FEMALE, and SPOILED, may hinder the"likability" factor of Ms. Ashley "Middleclass" Goodson.

3. I am very scared to be away from my friends and family for 2 whole years. With the college experience so fresh in my mind, its hard to imagine being so far out of reach. Especially when I lived with my closest friends, and was always blocks away from all my other friends. I was never alone. I was surrounded by support. I was spoiled. And no less spoiled was I when I returned home to live with my parents for several months before leaving for Senegal, with my immediate family close by. I have a cell phone, a car, the internet: all forms of communication that I will not have for quite some time.

But despite my many apprehensions, my excitement and hope far outweigh any fear. I am so looking forward to experiencing something that many people haven't or won't. I'm looking forward to learning about a different culture, therefore instilling in me a sense of my own. I want to challenge myself. I want to finally practice what everyone preaches. "Help your fellow man, Make a difference, Don't sit there, do something!, Live, Love." I'm looking forward to escaping the materialism of American culture; to worry about how to live as opposed to how we look doing it. I know I am young and idealistic, and I don't expect this to be so glamorous or climactic as I make it seem. I have a dramatic flare.

I hope to fill you all in on more when I get it. ;)