Day Two of staging here in Philadelphia is half over. Yay! It's been mostly logistically and basic cross cultural training... nothing too terribly new for me. I think the main reason for staging is to meet the other volunteers and to begin familiarizing ourselves with the Peace Corps. The hotel is nice and probably will be the last hot showers and comfortable bed I see in a long time. I have a very nice roommate named Jessica. She is part of the community development group and is excited about the work. She's also only a year younger than me... so that's nice. There are three married couples in the group and one of the couples is older... probably 50ish. They are awesome and have great insight into most everything. Most of the group is in the 20s or early 30s and have many different backgrounds and experiences. Manly have recently finished undergrad and I think I'm one of the few with a master's in public health.. I haven't yet met another health worker with a master's, so we'll see how that goes. So, therefore, staging has been good so far. We have been given money for meals, although, many restaurants are not currently opened today because of the holiday. Tonight are firworks and so we're all trying to find a place close to the hotel to view them. We don't want to go down to the riverfront because we have to get up early tomorrow. (We check out at 7am- talk about early!).
My trip to staging was very eventful. My trip from St. Louis to Pittsburgh was fine, although we got in a few minutes late and I only had 15 minutes to get off the plane and onto the next one before it's supposed departure. However, I ended up having to wait an hour and half in Pittsburgh because the plane was delayed. I was supposed to arrive at noon for registration and sadly didn't even land until 1:30. Registration was open until 3 and by the time I got my luggage, waited for a shuttle van (which I had to wait 40 mns for) and got changed I was the last one to register... walked in around 2:45pm. So sadly I didn't really have time to relax or get something to eat and was exhausted. But I made it and it all worked out... that's all just part of the Peace Corps experience.
Tomorrow we head off to Kyrgyzstan. We leave the hotel at 7am and depart JFK around 4pm. Then we fly to Istanbul, Turkey, where we have a 10 hour layover. After that it's onto Kyrgyzstan.. yay! We will be in the hotel at the captial, Bishkek, for three days while we undergo some more orientation then finally after those 3 days we'll meet our families and begin PST (Pre-Service Training). So it should be an exciting next few days. I also found out I'm not the only one with a big bag and lots of luggage... there's some people, girls especially, that have lots more.. and many seemed impressed that I was able to really only have one bag... the smaller one can fit inside the bigger one if needed. Also there's a rumor floating around that the airline allows 75 pounds for baggage.. so we'll see how it goes.
It may be a while before I can speak to you all again... I've been told internet access is very limited around training. So until then begin the letters and I'll speak to you all soon.