Well, I’m coming to the end of training and am about to go into my cultural immersion phase. The current and previous volunteers refer to cultural immersion as lockdown because you’re not allowed to really leave your village for more than just one day grocery shopping trips. So as I head into lockdown and all of my fellow PCVs and I go off to our respective villages, I think it’s a perfect time to reflect on the friendships I’ve made here.
There were 78 of us when we started and have since become 74. I have made many great friends who have helped me rejoice in my triumphs and supported me in periods of grief, homesickness, and frustration. My five best friends here even helped me chop off all of my hair; thanks Bethany, Evan, Brenna, Fatima, and Brad! There are a few who stand out, but I cherish them all. Training has been an extremely frustrating process because there has been a large lack of communication throughout the entire system and that has lead to a lot of chaos and disorganization. So it’s been extremely helpful to have friends and peers to commiserate with.
You’re most likely going to hear me talk about Bethany a lot. So I might as well give you an idea of our friendship. You’ve probably already seen posts and pictures of the two of us, may have heard me mention her in blogs, and if you’ve talked to me recently, you’ve probably heard me at least mention her. I would definitely say she is my best friend here. We of course get tired of each other occasionally and need a day or two without each other, but otherwise we are pretty much always seen together. People refer to us as soulmates, peace corps spouses, and besties. If we’re seen alone, we’re constantly asked where the other is. I’ve even had people tell me they didn’t want to do something with me that would make Bethany jealous because they’re scared of her. There was a joke going around that she and I were the only couple who got placed in villages near each other because all the other PST couples have been separated across the country (she and I are only about an hour and a half away from each other). She has been the most help while I was processing my grief and processing the changes I would need to make for my village, and she has been a huge supporter for me while I’ve been losing weight and trying to battle with some old scars that have come up with the emotional strain of this experience. I am really lucky to have her and we already have it planned that after lockdown, I’ll be spending a weekend a month with her. Today she made a joke that she bought us ice cube trays because I’ll be over so often. I know that she’ll keep me in check and I’m really lucky that our last names are the same, so we were assigned seats together on the 15 hour flight and a room together during orientation. Otherwise, I’m not sure we would have approached each other.
I could talk about my friends all night long, but I’ll save that for conversations we can have personally. I’m lucky to have so many people to reach out to here because it is a very stressful and emotional time. You never really realize how many emotions can bubble to the surface at a whim until you’re in a completely new and challenging environment. It makes the love and support I get here even more important. It also makes the love and support from you all more important as well. I love and miss you all, but overall, I’m having the time of my life here 🙂