How’d You Spend Your 23rd Birthday?

“I’d like to congratulate you on…”

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“YESSS!”

This was how I received the call from Colin in November offering me a SportWORKS Officer position for the upcoming year.  I had no idea which country he wanted to send me to, and at the time it didn’t matter.  My life was beginning to take shape and I now had a purpose for the next year.

A bit shocked, but taking it in stride, Colin then informed me that Commonwealth Games Canada wanted to send me to Namibia.  I told Colin I’d call him back in 30 minutes when I reached a friend’s house and then my phone promptly died.  I’d received the biggest news of my year and I couldn’t even share it with anyone!  Those 20 minutes of driving to my friend’s house (and a phone charger) were some of the happiest, most peaceful minutes I’ve had to date.  It was a sort of calm before the storm, a time when I knew I had “accomplished” something special yet only I knew about it.

Since that exciting day just over two months ago, my life has flipped upside down and it feels like there hasn’t been a moment to sit back and really take things in.  I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to visit my grandparents in India, friends in England and even squeeze in a second trip to India as part of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs’ Know India Programme. I returned from the program on January 11th, my Namibian visa came in and flights were booked on the 15th. I left Canada on the 16th night and flew to Heathrow Airport just in time to spend the 17th aka my 23rd birthday in a lounge with fellow CSP member Jen Brown, while we waited for our separate – yet same time – flights to Johannesburg.  Once in Johannesburg, we celebrated my birthday on a new continent with breakfast and I eventually took my final flight to Windhoek, Namibia.

Getting my luggage onto a trolley was the first struggle.  Let me explain; of the 10 weeks I had to prepare to spend 11 months away from home, I managed to spend 6 of them overseas.  This meant making endless packing lists on my phone, computer, papers and leaving them all with my parents when I jetted off to India after getting accepted into the Know India Programme the day before Christmas.  They did a wonderful job but it was still painful when I laid out everything I wanted to pack beside the bags I had to then try and jam it all into.  I ended up with two check-in bags and two carry-ons and I was pretty proud of myself.  Upon arriving, I’ve discovered I only have 2 pairs of socks but since its currently 9:30am and 31 degrees outside, I think I’m alright for now.

blog 1 2Everything’s happened so fast I don’t think it has quite hit me that I won’t see most of my family or friends for almost an entire year!  Before this, the longest I was away was 6 months in Australia so this will definitely be different.  However, I’m incredibly excited at the idea of actually belonging here and immersing myself in an entirely new culture.  I’m also so thankful for the 9 other CSO’s who will be experiencing similar lives and who are also sharing their stories on blogs as well!

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