Tomorrow, I swear-in a Peace Corps Volunteer at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa. With training coming to an end, it makes me think back to all of the things I have experienced in the past three months. We have all learned so many new things about Ethiopia, Ethiopians, and ourselves. I’m not going to lie, Peace Corps Training has been tough, but keeping myself positive has been much easier knowing how many people love and support me back home. I have received so many letters and packages, it is not easy to forget how many think about me regularly. It is a great feeling and very helpful on tough days in Ethiopia. I wanted to share a quick list of things my fellow trainees and I have learned throughout PST (Pre-Service Training). Hopefully, this list will give you a little bit better idea of what life in Ethiopia has been like for Peace Corps Trainees.
Top Eleven Things A Peace Corps Trainee Learns in Ethiopia:
1. Your new names are:
‘Money, Money, Money’
‘Hello my name is…(no name)’
‘Take me back to America’
‘I love you!’
This may be bothersome on some days, but you can handle it. Just laugh.
2. You are now able to drink coffee ALL day without bother. Now when your family offers you a cup at 8pm you say ‘YES!’ You have also developed the ability to drink scalding hot coffee and tea without it slowing you down.
3. You have now become accustomed to a high carb, low protein, low vegetable, and possibly NO fruit diet! You daydream about cheeseburgers, steak, cheese, sushi, and even SALADS!
4. You were initially scared by the idea of using a shint bet (squat toilet). However, now you realize they aren’t so bad and are preferable to hovering over a less than sanitary western toilet. You have declared a favorite shint bet. You have learned to ALWAYS carry toilet paper.
5. The definition of ‘dirty clothes’ is now subjective. You no longer stick a shirt in the dirties after one wear. You wait until laundry day to assess the cleanliness (aka smell) of your clothing. Doing laundry is exercise and you are sometimes a little sore the next day!
6. Your stomach now has two different states of being; constipation and diarrhea. You have now forgotten what your stomach SHOULD feel like on a regular basis. You have no filter when discussing bathroom habits with fellow Peace Corps.
7. Showers are no longer a necessity but a chore. You are doing great to wash your hair every week and dread actual showers since they are ice cold. Oily hair is now socially acceptable. When you are ACTUALLY clean and wear a little makeup, everyone compliments you and thinks you look amazing!
8. Your portable hard drive has now become your most prized possesses. If something were to theoretically happen to it…you would simply fall to the ground and cry hysterically.
9. You now keep track of friends you have loaned 5-15 birr (less than ONE US dollar).
10. Your host parents have become ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ and host siblings, ‘brother’ and ‘sister.’ When you speak to other PCTs about your family, you often have to clarify which family you are referring to, American or Ethiopian.
11. You have realized that it IS possible to give yourself whiplash by attempting to remove a fly from your face.
This is of course not a complete list of lessons learned but hopefully paints a little better picture of life as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Love you all and until next time,