Sunday, May 30, 2010

I am the most accident prone person in the world!

So let me tell you about my day in Vienna and my first day in Armenia.

Basically the most important part is that I dislocated my jaw. Yup my first day ever travelling and I got injured. It was a fantastic day in Vienna, Marissa, Ashley and I has such a successful first day of ever being out of the county. We learned the Austrian train station by ourselves and got to downtown Vienna. We had yummy gelato and I even had some weird but yummy Austrian soup with like crepe noodles. The broth was good! We navigated home and got in a argument with the Austrian ticket lady who made us get off at the wrong stop even though we knew where we were going. But we found our way. We are certified travelers now.

Untill after a nap we went to have tea and coffee and everything went very wrong. My jaw started to hurt so bad and was distorted. My face swelled. I thought that I was having an allergic reaction. So I kept rinsing my mouth with water. We went to the airport and I was rushed to the airport ambulance room. Turns out I dislocated my jaw, and they had to send me to an Austrian hospital. Thank God for Maggie, who went with me and was there every step of the way. I was actually in so much pain but was really calm. And Believe it or not I didn’t cry once! So at the hospital they re-set my jaw, only to have it dislocate again, and then they re-set it again, only to have it re dislocate. Finally they got me comfortable, and vallumed me up to make my flight. The flight was horrible I most likely re-dislocated my jaw 10 more times, I am not exaggerating, and yes I know I am an exaggerator. So when we got to Armenia I was whisked away to the administrator’s office where we watched the Celtic game as we waited for the doctor.
During that time I dislocated it more and more, and chiped some tooth away. But finally I went to the best specialist in Armenia who taught classes on mandibles and he fixed me up. He said that I had probably dislocated it over 30 times and had blood cloted in the sockets so it was making it loose. He wrapped me up, my whole freakin face is in a bandage, and he told me it may happen a few more times, but if I rest it, it will be ok.
I have to say I feel better but it was pretty scary. I also have to say I feel like a Peace Corps volunteer now. I wasn’t normal Alyssa. I didn’t freak out once. I was so calm, looking back I feel like it must have been all my prayers to God and our new relationship that got me through this. I knew he would take care of me and he did.

So heres to hoping that that was the worst of my travel break in!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Last day in America

So I have only fifteen minutes to get this blog up before dinner, so it’s gona be short and sweet.
I have left my home and my family and am now in DC, also known as the greatest city in America! After a long hard day of traveling yesterday, with bags that were all over weight!! I have arrived. I have to say that last night I was pretty freaked out and I have had a lot of “wait are you sure self”, moments. Last night was really hard for me, I was surrounded by people but felt lost in my thoughts, and to make matters worse the freaken Lakers lost!!
Today is much better. Spent the whole day in Staging where we basically learned what to expect. Also we learned more about each other, and met the whole group of people going to Armenia together!!! Learning that everyone has similar fears and anxieties helps. I am naturally a shy person so I know I just need to get comfortable and be myself and eventually I will feel better about leaving my family and friends and making new friends.
Also as a side note, we met Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams, and I have to say it was very inspirational!! I was actually surprised!!
So tonight is my last night in America, hoping to have an amazing dinner and a fun night!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The things I will carry with me

Tomorrow my adventure begins!

But tonight I can't help but think of all the things I will miss while I am away for the next 27+ months.

First and foremost my family Lucca. Saying goodbye is so hard. I love my family more than anything in the world and I can't help but feel selfish in leaving. I also can't help but feel an enormous hole in my heart that has been torn away with their goodbye.

I'm really going to miss California, the beautiful weather, the sunny sky, the laid back attitudes and the casual dress code. I'm going to miss flip flops and Mimosas, brunching it, taco tuesdaying it, and happy houring it. I'm going to miss my little apartment, in my little neighborhood. I'm going to miss my running path, walking lucca, the kids on my block, and the chirpies that sing throughout the area in the spring. I'm going to miss smiling faces whose life stories I know and love, and the excitement of first dates, movies at the beach, and shopping in Belmont Shores. I'm going to miss driving my car, cuddling on my beautiful couches, and weekends spent in Palmdale doing nothing at all. I'm going to miss going to Laker games, watching them win a few more rings, and celebrating with friends in bars. The smell of the ocean, big hugs from my dad, cooking nights with the sister, and going out for ice cream. I am going to miss long pep talks from the brother at all hours, giggling with my mom, church on Sunday and ranch dressing. Georges Greek cafe with Megs, email trails that go for days with my twinner, and Mindy and Madisons happy faces! My big sis getting married, it's going to be the best wedding ever! A few births, and children growing up.

I am going to miss so much! Too much to ever include here. I am very sad to leave, even though I know I will have the experience of a life time. I just hope everyone knows how much I love them and how much I will think of them!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Top Ten Things that Scare the Hell out of me about my Departure

10. Having to Learn Armenian- have you seen Armenian? If not google it really quickly. It is intimidating. It is scary. It is impossible? I mean it is a combination of Russian and Arabic symbols that are suppose to make sounds. I keep looking at letters and thinking symbols do not make sounds!!! Ugh! I took Spanish for years, and to be completely honest, all my conversational skills are gone. I suck at foreign language! I am so scared that I will be lost on a bus and not even know how to read what city I am in!

9. Gaining weight- I know it sounds completely lame, but I don't care. I'll admit it, I am afraid to get fat. I run almost every day at least 3 miles a day, and I watch what I eat. Ever since I found out I have heart problems I have really forced myself to take care of myself. But let's face it, I am not going to be able to run everyday in Armenia. I don't know what the water situation will be, and I am not working up a sweat when I can't shower. I can barely stand to be dirty as it is, I am not going to make the problem worse. Also most of the time, at least in training I won't have much control over what I eat. I will live with a family, and what they eat I will have to eat.

8. Not being connected back home- Will I have access to the internet in Armenia?? That remains to be seen. I am sure that I will have some sort of connection at some point, I just may have to travel to get to it. I see a lot of volunteers that are already in Armenia online all the time, but for the most part they are in different sectors than I am. They are business development volunteers. I have to go in with the expectation that I will have very limited connection. This makes me anxious. I talk to someone in my family every day of my life. I email my friends multiple times a day. I facebook chat, and text incessantly. How am I going to know how everyone is doing if I can't talk to them?

7. Getting Sick when I am Far Away7- If you know me, you know I am sickly. I am the type of girl that doesn't just get the flu, I get mono, or bronchitis or worse yet, pneumonia. I have a heart condition, and stomach condition. What if something bad happens when I am overseas? I will be in a village all alone, far away from other Americans, who will take care of me? Because of my heart the PC put a restriction on how far I can be away from a medical center, so I am sure I will be somewhat nearby, but what if it isn't close enough?

6. Having to use a Squat Toilet- is any explanation needed for this one? I mean wouldn't you be scared?

5. The Armenian Winter- I am a California girl. We don't have winter in California. It gets cold in Palmdale, and on occasion it has snowed, but I have never really seen temperatures below 30. I had to buy all new cloths to go to Armenia. Warm cloths. I have no idea if I bought the right stuff because I have nothing to compare it to. I hope my coat is warm enough, it's 600 down and cost me a pretty 250 dollars, but how am I suppose to know which of the 20 coats available for cold weather is appropriate?

4. Lucca thinking I abandoned her- I adopted Lucca four years ago at an animal hospital. She wasn't a lucky foster dog who stayed with a nice family untill she found a home. She was locked up in a hospital for three months because she had to be looked after by a vet, and to be honest no one wanted to take her. She was attacked by a big dog at her previous home. She lost her eye and had some other facial scaring. He family abandoned her because if they turned in the other big dog, he would be put down because he was violent. So they gave Lucca up. From the moment I met her in a small little patients room, she knew I was her momma. She came straight to me wagging her whole body with excitement. And since that time she has never really left my side. This past week she has known something is up. She will not even let me take a shower alone. She has to have her eye on me at all times. As I sit here typing this, she is asleep in my lap. I am afraid that when I leave she will think that I am never coming back, or that I don't love her. I know it may seem silly to some of you, but it makes me so sad.

3. Not having control over my life- I am a control freak. Everyone knows this. I always have to throw my own birthday parties, because I can't stand letting someone else do it for me. Letting Megs and Bets be in charge of my last night out was painful!! I just wanted to do it myself because it's hard for me to trust others, but thank God I did! As a PCV you have almost no control. The Peace Corps tells you to be flexible. I have never been good at flexible. I like to be in charge and get things done. How am I suppose to just give my life over to an organization and wake up every morning not really sure what the days agenda will be?

2. Living with a host family- When I first applied to the Peace Corps, I knew I would have to live with a host family. As a general rule, you live with a host family for the first three months of training. It scared me, but I thought anyone can handle three months. Well for some unknown reason, in Armenia you have to live with a host family for the first three months of training and then the next four months at site. That is two different host families for seven months! Living with people is very difficult for me. I tend to be a loner at home. I like to just be alone and relax. Furthermore I am a moody person. What if my host family doesn't get me? What if they think I am rude? What if we don't get along at all? Worse yet, what if I have to live with a creepy dad or something like that? yeah, I am terrified of my host family!

1. Leaving my family behind- I know my family will be fine without me. I know that they can all handle their own lives. But the thing is I can't help but to feel that they need me. I may not have the money to help them, nor the caregivers heart to take care of them when they are sick, but I like to think that in some way I kind of meld us together. I like to think that I organize events and holidays and plan the gifts and in a way that keeps us all together. I go home to Palmdale a few times a month to visit my parents, I have dinner with my sister when she has had a bad day, I give girl advice to my brother. I mean all of these things are small, but in a way I feel they are important. Maybe I just don't know what I will do without all of them, so I feel that I must be needed if I need them. I know they will be ok, I just worry so much.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

And So the Countdown Begins!

Ok so I seriously only have about 5 more days in California! I fly to DC Tuesday morning where I will stay for about three days and then I am off to Vienna where I will stay for just over half a day and then to Armenia. This means I have only 7 days left in the United States! So right about now I am starting to feel really sad. I am going to miss everyone so much! I am such a family girl, I hate being away for more than two weeks, so it's crazy to think about being away for over two years!

Ahh so this last week has been absolute madness! Friday night my best friends Betsie and Megan threw me a little going away girls night out! We had some really yummy Italian food and then went to Union Cattle Station for some drinks. I love Hermosa, so it was the perfect place to spend my last night out! We all had so much fun, it was like the birthday party that I should have had in November! Oh I almost forgot to mention, Megs made me a really cute, but totally embarrassing Peace Corps sash to wear. It made for a very interesting night!

So I got home sometime after 3 am, after a night of dancing, bull riding, snake charming (seriously, there was a huge snake) and Carls Jr. that our cab driver paid for! It was a crazy night. Only problem was I had to wake up at 7 am to host a yard sale! Thank God for my dad who stayed the night at my Apartment to help me out! We had so much furniture to move! I have to admit I suck at yard sales, and pretty much gave everything away! If they asked me how much, my response was usually 2 dollars, or just take it. After a long day of sitting out in the sun and not really selling much, I made about 80 dollars! HA! Oh well, I had so much fun sitting on the couch giggling with my sister because we were so tired and so bored!

Then later that night it was off the Jamie's Riverside Bachelorette party!! I felt so tired and sun burnt and awful, but I knew it was going to be a night of hysterical laughter, and she moved it up like 4 months so I could go, so I manned up and made the trek down to riverside. And I have to say my only regret was that I couldn't stay longer!! These pictures say far more than I could write about! All I can say is when I got into my car to drive home, my side hurt from laughing so hard!

I still can't believe she actually dressed herself!

Ok this is getting really long but could not even compare to how long my weekend was. To cap off the week, Sunday morning I was baptized at Grace Brethren Church in Long Beach, bright and early. Then my family thank God, came over to help me move. I truly am blessed to have such and amazing family and such great friends! I am however grateful that I will be out of the country for two years and won't have to help anyone move for a long time! Ugh moving is the worst.

So now for my last few days here, I am in Palmdale just hanging out with my parents and Lucca. It's so good to be home!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Why on Earth am I in the Peace Corps

Every time I tell someone that I am leaving for the Peace Corps, in oh 16 days, their reaction is always why in the world did you sign up for the Peace Corps?
Even though I know this is the question that is coming at me, I never quite know how to answer it. My gut reaction reply is always that I have wanted to do this since I was a little girl.

While this is true, it’s not very comprehensive, nor does it explain why I actually decided to take the plunge and go through with this now.
Another thing that people often say is wow that is incredible, that is so admirable. This always makes me feel ridicules. I didn’t join the Peace Corps to have people think that I am doing something noble. While I did join to help people, and to make a difference in the lives of a community, I also have my own really selfish reasons for joining.

The real reason that I joined the Peace Corps is a little more something like this:
Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to join the Peace Corps. I remember reading about it in Jr. High and thinking how amazing it would be. In my Jr. High mind I thought the perfect life would be to graduate college, join the Peace Corps, travel the world, go to law school and become a human rights activist. While that plan has long ago been abandoned, and seemingly all other plans have also been abandoned, the Peace Corps has often come back to my mind when my thoughts have drifted to what I want to do with my life. The selfish part of the equation is, I graduated college and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I got stuck at a job where nothing I did or said mattered, and went through a really devastating break up with Tommy. I spend a lot of my time volunteering, because I was lost in life and needed to do something that mattered. A friend who I loved and admired moved to New York to go to school and follow her dreams, and all of a sudden something changed in me. I thought what the heck am I doing here? I realized that I needed to figure out my dreams and go for it. Victoria leaving really was a huge eye opener for me. I saw that people don’t stay together just because they are friends and family and love each other. Brave people follow their dream, even though it means leaving everything they love behind. So I thought about my life and decided that besides my amazingly wonderful, perfect family, there was not a whole lot to hold me back from packing my bags and leaving the country.

So here is the truth as I know it. I joined the Peace Corps because I have an innate desire to help people, to develop a community, to learn to love a different culture and a different people. But I also joined to Peace Corps to escape a job, to travel the world, to make new friends, to get over a heart break and to figure things out.