I arrived in Namibia during mid-August and have learned so much in the short amount of time I have lived here. I have completed my training, become an official volunteer, moved to site, and began teaching.
Here’s a list of a few things I have picked up along the way:
- You must greet everyone! Namibians actually stop to say hello and greet one another rather than just casually smiling and waving. If you greet in the local language, many people will just be impressed that you are trying to learn their language. This will help with integrating with your colleagues and at site.
- You will eat a lot of meat and carbs. No meal is complete without meat and a salad will almost always have mayo and sugar in it. For anyone living in the region of Kavango, fish and pap is a favourite and will become yours.
- Training will sometimes be exhausting and overwhelming—trust me, you’ll make it! There’s always teatime and many things to look forward to, which will make it easier to get through each day. Once you get to Phase Two or site, you’ll have some more free time to develop your addiction to cool drink (soda) and spend a lot of time with your external hard drive.
- The term “hiking” has two meanings here. It is often used to describe how people get around in Namibia. In many of the towns or Windhoek (the only actual city in Namibia), there are designated hike points where you find a group of people to carpool with, think of it almost like Uber Pool. When leaving my village, I have to go out to the tar road and wave down a car to catch a ride. Sounds pretty scary, but it is very much engrained in the culture since not everyone has a car and is the only way to get around.
- Be prepared for the cold and the heat. It gets pretty chilly in the winter and summers will be ridiculously hot. Tip: you can soak a shirt, put it in your freezer, and then wear it front of your fan OR sleep with a frozen water bottle. You’re welcome.
- You’ll learn how to deal with critters. I have encountered snakes, a spider the size of my hand, and scorpions at site. Be prepared to either cohabitate, run (unless it’s a black mamba), or kill it.
- You will learn patience, flexibility, and accept that you probably have no idea what is happening. These skills will carry you through training and service. Plans will change quicker than you can actually make them. You will learn the difference between “now” that could mean minutes or hours later and “now now,” which actually means now… or now-ish. I say, “everything is fine. I am fine, ” a few times a week and you will learn how to work with whatever circumstances you find yourself in.
- Don’t stress packing. You’ll be able to buy a lot of things here and have a few things sent to you in packages, so don’t worry too much about leaving a few things behind.
- Get out of your comfort zone. Ask questions and keep an open mind. Try things you normally would not do. There’s a lot to learn and experience here! The different cultures and languages you’ll experience may challenge you in many ways, but you’ll learn what it really means to integrate and live in a way that goes beyond what you are used to.
- Being a Peace Corps Volunteer is challenging and rewarding. Honestly, you probably won’t be able to imagine everything you will experience here until you get here. There is so much change you have to adapt to and then so many small challenges that you can experience (possibly all at once)—it can all become a little overwhelming. However, there are so many good things. You’ll meet amazing people, travel, work on so many secondary projects, focus on your primary project, and develop relationships with your learners (for education volunteers).
Exciting news! After being in Namibia for over five months, I finally moved into my home! I’ll make sure to post about my traditional house soon! Sorry for not posting more often! I wish I could post weekly, but my village doesn’t get very good network and any place with WiFi is a 2-5 hour “hike” away. For those who are waiting for their interviews or invites, good luck! Hope to see you in Namibia!
This blog does not reflect the views of and is not associated with Peace Corps, any of its staff or volunteers, or the United States Government.