The hardest time is at the beginning, when you first move into your village. Being alone, as the only foreigner in the village, takes some adjustment. No matter how much you love it, there are days when you’ve just had it”. -PCV, Mali
For me, I was lucky enough to get placed in two different sites and experienced two different beginnings. While my first one was more than less a smooth transition, round two was an entirely different ball game, and yet the hardest part yet of my PCV service.
- No more Americans – No matter where your placement is, after PST (pre-service training) you will no longer have English speaking Americans as a buffer, but are now surrounded by Fijians speaking their native language.
- Town setting– For me, I was placed in a town, meaning that I no longer had the close knit community like those in a village. My compound also consisted of busy individuals with jobs just like me which results in (…)
- Isolation – ton of alone time and no one yet to share it with; feeling alone
- Wait… but what’s my job??? – Yes. You have a general job description, but what happens when you get to site and you have a new supervisor, or better yet you have no supervisor? Your coworker has another plan for you? You aren’t allowed to follow out your work as planned? Point is, your job might not be your job and you will have to make some adjustments. Or, another likely story, it is very likely that being surrounded by everything new, you might not know how to do your job no matter how nicely stated on the paper.
I want to point out that these instances, as well as others, will come up repeatedly throughout your service. There will be days, weeks, or months that you are in love with your host country and are contemplating extending another year. However, there will also be days where emotions are high and you lay on your table alone and cry. You may even want to throw in the towel. The difference between then and now, is at the beginning these hardships will be most novel. While you knew the Peace Corps wouldn’t be a cakewalk, the difficulties you are experiencing are not any of the scenarios you played and replayed in your head.