I read this article yesterday from the NYTimes, aimed at recent college graduates. Even though I graduated from PSU about two years ago, I feel like I’m on the same playing field as the kids who are about to move on from life on campus. Even though I have a bit more time before finish my time in the Peace Corps than graduates do, the question is just as looming: Now What?
I wrote about this a little bit a couple weeks ago, thinking that a program like the Peace Corps would be perfect for me, in some ways, because it would give me a transition period before I step into my “adult life.” The whole idea of my reentry revolves around starting some sort of career, enrolling in graduate school, or finding some way to set myself up for a comfortable way to return to the United States.
Some of it came from the comments in the aforementioned NYTimes article (when they weren’t complaining about bloated government programs like Peace Corps or arguing about Obama speaking at Norte Dame). A lot of people seemed to say “Yeah, moving on can seem daunting, but you’ll have more options at this point in your life than at any other.” Basically: Be bold, have fun, and make good choices. It’s hard to argue with that. But if all this advice is so true, why am I so eager to go back to America and join the rat race?
From my current perspective, as a PC Volunteer in Azerbaijan, America seems really appealing, not because of its great culture, but rather because of the amenities that exist there. Hot showers whenever I want them. Pretty much every kind of food I could want. Wireless internet at a cafe. Sensible drivers. Iphones. It sounds like El Dorado from where I am.
But it all comes with so much baggage that I, and most Azerbaijanis, don’t really have to deal with. Cell phone contracts, tipping, car insurance, health insurance, taxes, student loans, rent, roommates, working 9 to 5, casual friday, office parties, constantly having to upgrade my stuff to keep up with the Joneses.
Finishing my PC Service feels like a mixed-bag because, as ready as I am to leave in a lot of ways, I don’t really know what I’m getting into.