I arrived in San Francisco on Wednesday and had dinner with a few old friends at a Greek restaurant. The next day, I became a Peace Corps Trainee and completed a day's worth of staging activities with the people who will become my coworkers and support group for the next 27 months. We went over a lot of procedural information, but also had time to chat and get to know each other. Though I've just met this group of people, our shared circumstance has made it easy to become fast friends. We were reminded at one staging session in which we discussed our anxieties and aspirations about service that the beautiful thing about being in a room of fellow volunteers is that you do not need to explain your reasoning for moving halfway around the world to serve for 27 months. I could not agree with that fact more, and have found it refreshing to be around so many like-minded individuals. We have become surprisingly close in the past two days, and I hope my family and friends back home find comfort in knowing that I am serving alongside some wonderful people.
Last night we stayed at a Best Western in Seoul, South Korea. I went to dinner with some fellow volunteers and encountered my first experience with a language barrier. The evening was comical and relaxing. Our hotel was fun to explore as it was furnished in the style of the culture here. We had rice pillows in the closet, house shoes in the entry room before the sliding doors which separated our foyer from the sleeping area, and even floor pillows for meditation. My favorite misunderstanding was when my roommate and I were trying our best to make the "Makeup Room" light come on by pushing a button labeled as such, only to realize that the button lit up a sign outside our door instructing the hotel staff that we would like our room to be made up.
I am currently in line to check in to my flight to Ulaanbaatar. I am balancing my computer on the handle of the cart holding my luggage. I anticipate having internet access tonight, but am not sure about the certainty of it after that. The past several days in transit have been a whirlwind, but if they are any indicator for how my service will be, it will be filled with excitement, good friends, and new experiences.