Official. This particular term has characterized the last weeks of our pre-service training, from the 'official' visit from Vice President Biden, to our 'official' Swearing in ceremony, to finally our 'official' commencement of service ceremony. The last 5 days of training were spent in a very nice hotel (which I'm sure Rep. Coffman will be sure to find this as a way to strengthen his argument as to why we should be shut down*). We attended a LOT of briefings that, in a way, summed up our two months of training and provided some final words of wisdom prior to setting off to our different sites. These words were promptly forgotten with the excitement of seeing everyone, all at once for more than 6 hours at a time, with the option of having cheese and real coffee every day. And we can't forget the pool. Of course, there were tough times, like when the pool man told us we couldn't swim without wearing swim caps- which cost 30 RMB. In true Peace Corps fashion, we practiced flexibility and ingenuity and promptly 98% of the volunteers used the shower caps provided in the rooms.
After all the meetings and the nights at Baba/Muse/et al with friends, it was time to go. So we packed all of our bags and headed off to the train station. An easy thing right? Wrong. Not only was I carrying my large hiking bag, smaller back pack and two small 'random bags of crap I found around my room that I previously forgot I had purchased' I was also lugging two MASSIVE bags- my air purifier and water filter. Now, I assumed that my counterpart, L, could help me out. I forgot she weighs all of 90 pounds soaking wet. So, luckily a very nice gentleman at the train station scooped up our bags and helped us out. Hauling all of my stuff, I still looked like a turtle, but it was feasible.
My waiban director decided that prior to getting back to campus, we would stop by the store so I could pick some stuff up. So we went to Walmart. Walmart China is NOT the same beast as Walmart America. However, I did find cheap peanut butter, so we're all good. :)
Basically all of the volunteers started teaching this week. Myself? Well, since my sitemate, E, and I only teach freshmen and they are all about to head off to military training, we don't start teaching till October. But since the first week of October is the National Holiday, we don't start teaching till October 8th. For the next few weeks, I'll be puttering around, watching possibly all of my movies, trying to run at night since it's the only time where it's not at least 100 degrees out, preparing lesson plans and exploring the towns nearby.
Best part-our school is taking us on a trip somewhere, after the 20th for like 4 days. I have no idea where to yet, several regions and places have been mentioned and we've been told to think about it. I kind of want to head to western Sichuan, but it's my sitemate's last year, and I think it should be up to her seeing as I have two years and all to travel.
That's all for now folks, but I promise to keep everyone update!! Be sure to check Facebook for pictures!