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Oh boy, don't get me started! Sorry this is so long. If you have more specific questions, I'm happy to answer them.

Did you feel like the time was worthwhile? Would you do it again?
I would definitely encourage anyone to look into the Peace Corps. I would do it again in a heartbeat when I'm older. The toughest part would be finding a time to uproot my life and go. It gave me a perspective on how other people live that I didn't get from travelling. I learned patience and to go with the flow. It also showed me how I took things for granted that I didn't even realize I took for granted, such as phone connections that always work or white soft toilet paper. I also found myself getting frustrated with folks back home (read: Mom) who couldn't comprehend that the phone doesn't always work or which way the eight hour time zone difference was or that not everyone wants to be like us. That's how quickly my perspective changed.

The benefits were amazing. I taught English and watching my 5th formers sing Old McDonald (complete with Oink Oink) at the top of their lungs made me so proud. They LOVED it. Teaching high school kids showed me that teenagers are teenagers everywhere. They were not interested until I began to talk on their level (I busted out the Britney Spears, who is ridiculously popular over there.) Then, however, the teachers were worried I wasn't teaching but playing with the kids. It's a fine line...

How hard was it to adapt to life outside the U.S.? Any negatives we should know about?

I would say that adapting to life outside the US was not as difficult as I expected. There was enormous culture shock, but you've prepared yourself for that. It's almost like you've armed yourself that this is going to be the toughest thing you've ever done, and then you get there and you realize you can do it. You still have bad days and then you need to remember "I signed up for this. I knew this was going to happen." And the PC does a good job of helping you recognize where you are in the culture shock process. Plus you have Americans around you (I went over with 70 other Americans) who are going through the same thing. That helps enormously.

For me personally, my toughest adjustment was working with the bureaucracies of a US government organization in a foreign country. I'm a very organized person who doesn't always go with the flow. I try, but it doesn't always happen. Surrendering a certain level of control over my life was a very difficult thing to do.

There are lots of discussion boards on Yahoo! out there. The one I monitor the most is for people about to go to Ukraine.

The main PC discussion group is here.

They would be happy to answer your questions at either place. Or email me, I would be happy to do so as well. As you can tell, I love to talk about it.


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