Time has went so fast!! I cannot believe that it is already time to fly to Philly for staging! The past few weeks have been filled with seeing family and friends and trying to organize all of my belongings so they can be packed away for the next few years.
My least favorite part of the preparation process has been the packing… I may have put too much thought into it, but I think it’s important. I’m not sure how many times I packed and repacked my stuff trying to make more fit in my bags. I finally realized that I need to get rid of a few things. It didn’t matter if my mom was sitting on my luggage trying to squeeze it down while I zipped it. It just wasn’t going to fit. So reluctantly I whittled it down and got everything into two suitcases. It was a relief to be done with this stage of the process and hopefully I end up bringing the right things.
While I was trying to push a few more things into my suitcase my hand slipped and I ended up scratching my cornea. Let me tell you being in the airport the day after you scratch your eye is NOT a fun place to be. It’s too bright, people bump into you and you have to squint to see those little screens with your flight information on them. I am sure I looked ridiculous in the Chicago airport with one eye squeezed shut, a huge oversized backpack causing people to bump into me left and right, and a heavy laptop bag swung up on one shoulder. Luckily I was able to get some antibiotic drops before I left. My eye should be healed up within 48-72 hours. Perfect timing to officially meet my group of 34 people! Why not spend my last night in Fargo at the ER, definitely keeps it interesting…
After making it through the Chicago airport and arriving in Philly I got a rude awakening about how much my bags actually weigh. Walking in the Philly airport equipped with my two LARGE bags, oversized backpack and laptop bag was enough of a workout for me that day, I was second guessing how much stuff I had decided to bring! According to the information worker it is NOT that far from Concourse D to concourse A. Well she was wrong, at least it seems like a long walk when you’re lugging around the bags that I had with. I survived, found my group and we took the shuttle to the hotel. It was fun to finally meet the people who I am sure I will get to know over the next couple years. Over Philly cheese steaks and a St Patrick’s Day beer, I was able to get a glimpse at the fun and down to earth the people who are in my group.
Staging went fast and was full of paperwork and icebreakers. We have a group of 34 people and a wide variety of ages, degrees and hometowns all over the map. We went out for some delicious Indian food that evening and then spent the night reorganizing our bags so that we had a change of clothes in our carry on. I was planning on bringing my hiking backpack and my laptop bag for a carry on. It was exciting to think this would be my last night in the states. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the 8 hour plane ride that we all had the following evening. On the same hand, we were so close to actually being in Albania it was starting to feel very surreal.