In August 2018, I left home for Ukraine to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer. These are some of the feelings I recorded about how I was emotionally coping and mentally preparing for Peace Corps service in the days before I departed.
. . .
This is the hard part. And it’s only the beginning.
Right now, I’m two and a half weeks out from my departure date. There are 18 days until my life changes forever.
I’m on a roller coaster of emotions. Some days, I feel like I can’t wait to get to Ukraine and build a life there. Other days, my heart hurts so badly at even the slightest thought of leaving home. I feel crippling guilt of choosing to move thousands of miles away from my family.
The good feelings come when I get an email from Peace Corps in anticipation of our arrival, or when I’m doing well in my Ukrainian lessons. I feel the jitters of adventure before me, the same ones I felt when I studied abroad in Barcelona.
The anxiety comes when I remember that I’m going to a place with an alphabet I’m not used to, and a language I can barely understand. I’ll be away from all familiarity and comfort. And I’m going there to stay. That can be terrifying.
Because my feelings are so scattered about the huge changes in my life soon, I have but one piece of advice: savor. Savor your life at home before moving. Prioritize time with your family. Say yes when people ask to see you, even if you would rather have some alone time. So much will change while you’re gone, so make memories to cling to when you want to quit. I certainly am, and no amount of time feels like enough. I know this will be worth it once I start my Peace Corps service. So I’m taking my days as they come, and hugging my loved ones a little tighter in this season of life.
. . .
Preparing for Peace Corps departure was an emotional rollercoaster. I was in no way ready for how it would feel to hug my mom goodbye in the airport.
My experience as a Volunteer was full of euphoric highs, and catastrophic lows.
Although my time there was cut short for safety and medical reasons, I don’t regret going. I hope my candor about my experience helps you make the most informed decision to serve.