Until you swear-in as a volunteer, the Peace Corps holds your hand a lot. From our first weekend together in Philadelphia to the ten weeks of training, the Peace Corps always maintained a strict schedule. They gauged our language skills often and made sure we were healthy and happy with our host families.
So when the Peace Corps dropped me off at my home in my site village and drove away, I abruptly found myself with a new sense of independence. I was an adult again! I had free time and the ability to choose how to spend it! I could eat what I wanted and when I wanted and could sleep as much or as little as I desired!
But most importantly, I had a new house to furnish. I inherited a double-sized bed and mattress, a desk, a cooking table, a long shelf, a chair and stools, buckets and an electric fan from the last volunteer who lived in my home. (The last volunteer, however, had not lived there for a year and a half.) The Peace Corps gave us installation money for our homes and that money was burning in my pocket just waiting to be spent.
For the first week I walked from shop to shop and vendor to vendor in the market purchasing items like a gas stove, dishes, brooms, bed sheets, pillows, and office supplies. I bought kitchen supplies and cooking ingredients. My door and window shutters have little holes in them where curious Malagasy people could peek through, so I bought some fabric and sewed some curtains. My Home Economics teacher from middle school would be so proud.
I’m still acquiring items for my home—can you believe I still haven’t purchased a frying pan?—but I’m already feeling settled. I think it’s neat that the first home to call my own is in Madagascar.