Today marks my six month anniversary of leaving the states, yesterday was six months from leaving Virginia. Most days I’ve been here I’m so enamored with my new world my life at home, in the states, before the Peace Corps seems so very far away. On my more pensive days here, when I’m not caught up in the energy of new adventures, I think about how this experience has changed me, what I’d like to change here, what a successful service means to me and what my life after my Peace Corps service will look like.
A few weeks ago a fellow PCV turned to me and said, “I’d like to have met Leah before Peace Corps, I wonder what that girl was like.” I responded, “She was about the same, but threw a lot more money at her problems and worked a little more, or at least on a little more of a regular schedule.”
The comment got me thinking – how have I changed in the past six months? What was I like before the Peace Corps? So much has happened over the last six months – I’ve got a new address, job, boss, friends, language, but beyond these external things that define the framework for most of my days, how have I really changed?
It’s hard to make an accurate comparison between me now and me right before I left, because for at least the last three months before I left the states I was on a bit of a rollercoaster about leaving. Now looking back it seems a little silly – how upset I was all the time about these little things – how worried I was about leaving, how scared I was to come to Moldova and join the Peace Corps.
I’m happier now, or at least more relaxed. Don’t get me wrong I am still type-A, detail oriented to an extreme and probably by a lot of people’s standards a little up-tight, but a lot of the things that might have put me into a tailspin at home, like not having running water for a few days, a friend bailing on plans the day of or my computer’s hard drive being ruined by a kid dropping it – losing all the files and having to buy a new one at the cost of more than 1/3 of my monthly salary – no longer affect me.
I would say that the happiness is what’s making me more relaxed, but it also might be the relaxation that’s making me happier – but whichever is the chicken and whichever is the egg, they’ve both increased for the better.
In thinking about who I’m becoming here and who I’d like to be here, I can’t help but think about what I’d like to do here . On the days that aren’t flying by in a blur, I often think about what defines a successful service in general and what will define one for me. I don’t know that I have an answer for that question yet, but I am enjoying figuring it out.
One thing that certainly hasn’t changed is being surrounded by an amazing group of people. I’ve met so many wonderful people here; from other PCVs, who surprise and impress me with their resiliency and humor, my new Moldovan friends and both my host families who have literally opened their doors and taken me into their lives. A lot of the amazing people in my life are a lot further away now and may be harder to connect with as regularly, but I’ve continued to be touched by the gestures of friends and family from home to let me know they’re thinking of me.
I wonder sometimes what it will be like when I go home – when I go back for good, when I leave Moldova. The transition out of my old life was hard, but the transition into Moldova was easy. I have a feeling though that the transition back to America may harder and I wonder what parts of my old life I will even want to have back.