Having finally settled in a little bit, I have time to write a post about my travels, orientations, host family and more. I will divide up the posts into each category or else this post would be too long.
My last week in the United States went by more quickly than I could have imagined. I finished school and exams, and spent the weekend at the lake. I visited my horse, Milo, for the last time until next year and said many goodbyes. On Friday, June 23, I woke up, took my dog Luka around the block with my mom for the last time for a year and was picked up by my Pop Pop and Uncle John who brought with them my dad and siblings ( I was spending Thursday night with my mom because she would not go with me to the airport). When they arrived, I said goodbye to my mom and took my bags. Luka jumped in the car to go with me but unfortunately he could not come with me. (He would not care for this heat and humidity in India anyways). I already miss everyone, but I try to think about them the least amount possible because it just makes me more homesick. My two suitcases and backpack fit nicely in the trunk but during the orientation I realized that I forgot my brush and a few other things at home, but I could get by without them. Once we got to the airport which was about an hour and a half away from my house, I checked my bag and said goodbye and took pictures with my family before heading through security. I went through security and found out I had TSA Pre-check, but with my luck I was stopped after the scanner for a random check. Nonetheless, I made it to my gate and realized I had come way too early. I sat there for two hours before boarding at 12:15. I was at my gate so early that there was another flight at that gate before mine. The plane for that flight was very small and I was relieved when I realized it was not for my flight. The relief only lasted for about an hour however, because when my plane rolled in, I realized it was even smaller! I did not believe that was possible, especially for a flight to DC which I figured would carry more people than it did. The small plane ended up being a blessing in disguise because when I found my seat, I saw that it was in the row that had only one seat (the plane had 3 seats to a row, 1 seat then an aisle then 2 more seats). My seat was both an aisle seat and a window seat which was great! I enjoyed watching the plane leave the ground, go above the clouds, and come back down again. When we descended to the airport, there was a moment when the national monuments lined up that I wish I had captured on a camera, but the view was amazing and I will not forget it. When I arrived at Washington-Reagan airport, I went to the baggage carousel, and when I found the right one I grabbed my bag and turned around to see YES Abroad India alum Adrianne and two other India Yes Abroaders for this year, Alexander and Colin. I had talked with Colin in our group chat on snapchat beforehand and he was just as nice as I imagined even though it was a bit strange to suddenly switch from online to real life. I had not yet met Alex, but over the course of the orientation, he quickly became part of the group and it was like we had known each other forever. We left the airport and waited for an Uber to pick us up. This was the first time most of us had used an Uber, so that was a new experience on its own. We chose Uber XL and it luckily fit all of our suitcases. It was about a 30 minute ride to the National 4H Youth Conference center where the National Pre Departure Orientation (PDO for short) and we did not talk much during the car ride, Alex even fell asleep. I later learned that Alex will sleep almost anywhere, especially if it is in a moving car or bus. We got to the 4H center and met Linnea, Parker, and Allen who I had previously only interacted with through email, calling, or webinars. It was nice to see them in real life and they are all awesome people who made the orientation a great experience. When we walked into the dorm room building we also met McKenna and Olivia, who again I had talked with before but never met in real life. It was amazing to finally be all together in real life. I got my room key and moved into the room that McKenna and Olivia had moved into earlier in the day and the boys shared the room across the hall. We settled in and at 3:15, we started our first orientation, the gateway orientation. I will talk about the many, many, MANY days of orientations in the next post.
Namaste! Mera naam Anna hai! Hi! my name is Anna. Please enjoy reading about my experience as a high school junior in India and ask any questions you may have!