Ask a Volunteer
Q: The first day of school for many students can be wonderful, exhilarating, and sometimes a little scary; what were the first few days in your host country like?
A: The first few days in Cape Verde were all those things, but mostly exhilarating. I say this because I waited so long and finally I was in country—another world, literally! But the scariest time is when you get dropped off at the home of your host family, with no language skills, and they are all staring at you like you are a Martian from outer space. But wonderful in the sense that they welcomed me with open arms and smiled continuously. I was home.
James Peters, General Construction Peace Corps Volunteer, Cape Verde
A: Everything was new—the sunlight in my bedroom at 5 a.m., the birds screaming and singing and the cold morning of my new mountain town. Stretching my legs after the long flight to Costa Rica, and a short night’s sleep, I realized that even though everything about my environment was new, I was still me. I placed my two feet onto the solid Tico soil, ready to start the day.
Elizabeth Lowe, Business Management Peace Corps Volunteer, Costa Rica
A: During the first few days as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bilesuvar, Azerbaijan I felt anxious, excited, hopeful, and a little scared. Adapting to the culture was full of embarrassing moments and uncertainty. Straining my ear to understand this very new language was exhausting and frustrating. Yet the opportunities, the learning, and the personal growth that I knew lay ahead filled me with confidence and determination.
Jonathan Elkin, English Education Peace Corps Volunteer, Azerbaijan
A: The first few days in Niger come back to me in two words: 'heat' and 'sand'. I remember coming in on the plane and looking down before landing, asking the person next me: "Are we about to land on the Red Planet?" The experience was one of excitement, adventure and new beginnings—getting to know my training mates, the training staff, picking up local language; it was a lot of newness in not a lot of time. Nonetheless, those first few days have turned into a rich and enjoyable experience.
Thomas Leonard, English Education Peace Corps Volunteer, Niger
A: I remember looking out the window of the plane into Guatemala and seeing volcanoes and small houses made of tin and sticks. This was my first time ever seeing a volcano. Once we deplaned, we were greeted warmly by Guatemalans and I knew from that moment that I would be happy here as we raced though the Guatemalan capital city and into the campo where the air spelled fresh and inviting.
Sergio Lineberger, Community Development Peace Corps Volunteer, Guatemala
A: The trip to Nevis itself was the beginning of the chaos that was my first few days in a foreign country. We left St. Lucia at 5 a.m.; luckily the nuns were kind enough to pack us sandwiches. We were processed by a slew of airports until we finally reached our destination. Upon landing in St. Kitts, we were whisked away to a small building known as the Peace Corps office, and given a plate of food. Within minutes, two of us volunteers were separated from our group and rushed to a ferry. Fifty minutes later, I reached my final destination—with my new host mother, father, and two little brothers (what would be my new home for the next two months.) The next day, I woke up at 5:30 to help with cooking and packing lunches, which became part of my daily routine. Every car ride, my host mother would point out places on the main road and introduce me to everyone we passed on the street. My brain was inundated with names, shops, locations, etc. Strangers would come up to me and talk as if I knew them, since we "met that one day in town." I really couldn't hold onto any names or faces, but everyone knew mine. It was a whirlwind first few days, but it was a memorable experience.
Maggie Liu, Urban Youth Development Peace Corps Volunteer, Eastern Caribbean (Nevis)
A: The first few days in Mali were a blur. Everything changed so quickly. I couldn't even ask how to get to the bathroom my first day in my home stay in a rural village! There were chickens and babies everywhere, and I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. I felt like a doll, pulled along by the hand to a place to sit, told when to eat, what to say and when to say it.
Pilar Lyons, Public Health & Sanitation Peace Corps Volunteer, Mali
A: It is a wonderful experience to come to a foreign place to live. You see the differences right away and they can be scary, but you learn to embrace and love it.
Logan Loya, Community Development Peace Corps Volunteer, Tanzania