Tomorrow is the start of my pre-departure training in Toronto. Everything is happening so fast and in hindsight, I probably should’ve set aside more time between Ottawa/moving, New York, and going to visit my parents. But I can’t really do anything about anything anymore.
However, one thing that I can do before leaving is a written reflection of my expectations and concerns. I thought it’d be kind of fun and horrifying to later compare my imaginings to the reality. Because lists are generally boring, I’m going to attempt this one in a buzzfeed style.
10 Things that I think will probably happen in Malawi this summer
1. I’m going to offend somebody.
Like Lauren (our chapter’s return junior fellow) has said to me time and time again, ‘it’s going to happen.’ So I’m just going to get over it and move on to more important things.
2. It’s going to be lonely….
… at least only for the first few weeks. I’m having flashbacks of first year University when a little awkward girl decided it’d be a good idea to go live somewhere far away where she doesn’t know anyone. It seemed to work out then, so hopefully I’ll manage to pull off the same feat. Or I could just bribe people with candy.
Gonna save the world.
It’s one of the most common sendoffs I’ve been receiving when people find out I’m going to Malawi this summer, “Have fun saving the world!” I wish I could save the world in 3 months. My coop work terms were 4 months each and one of my biggest accomplishments during my most recent one was understanding almost all of the acronyms that were used at the meetings.
4.Internet withdrawal will be hard.
My understanding is that I won’t have it every day and I won’t be able to stream stuff. This is a good thing because it’ll force me to interact with my real time surroundings. But the withdrawal will be real too.
5. People will be friendly and nice…
… is what I’ve heard. I have no reason to believe that this information will prove false.
6. I’m going to stand out.
And people will probably treat me differently because I’m a Westerner. I’m sure they have an idea of what Westerners are like just like we have ideas about what Africans are like. It’ll be interesting to see how much of those stereotypes will prove to be true.
7. The biggest danger is not Ebola.
I don’t even think Malawi had any outbreaks. And I’ve been so heavily vaccinated and medicated that I don’t think I’m going to catch anything. Plus super cleanliness is apparently a big part of Malawian culture. I think that I probably had a higher chance of getting sick on the metro in NYC.
8. Food is gonna be bland.
And it’ll probably be offensive if I take hot sauce. Although I did find a Korean restaurant in the guidebook so maybe if I get homesick, I’ll trek out there and just drink a vat of hot pepper paste.
9. My toilet will be a fond memory.
But I will survive. If everyone in Malawi can do it, I can too. No big deal.
10. This is going to be the most important and incredible thing that has happened to me since birth.
I have little experience, no expertise, and no knowledge of the culture. I’m a foreigner and the fact that I’m going to be able to sit in and work among Malawian District Officers is kind of crazy. Kind of really crazy.
This is going to be great.