“Made it safe to San Fran” by Arleth Nelson

Yesterday was a full on travel day to San Francisco. I woke up in my Wisconsin home at 3, got dressed packed those few last minute things, loaded them in the car and me, my parents, my grandparents, my boyfriend and 2 best friends (a whole group!) trecked our way down to Green Bay for my 6am flight. The ride was sad, seeing Door County one last time. During all of yesterday I’ve was listening and resinating to the song “You’re gonna go far” by Noah Kahan. If you haven’t heard this song it’s really good and just had me in my feels with moving, I was sad to leave by I knew it’s what I needed. I am so happy with all the love I was met with by my family they really have supported all of my dreams and aspirations.

My first flight was from Green Bay to Chicago, I had maybe a full hour layover but when I tell you the second flight from Green Bay to San Francisco was the biggest flight I’ve ever been on I mean it. Boarding seemed to take really long.

When I got to San Francisco I got my bags and ordered myself an Uber to the hotel. Finding the pickup spot for the Ubers was probably the hardest part of yesterday because I had all 3 rolling bags and it was in a different part of the airport, taking one elevator, then the next, and up to a different area. Once I found it though I was fine. My Uber was very nice, we got to talking about Thailand and how much he loved it there, he gave me a few recommendations, as well as food recommendation in downtown San Francisco.

Now San Francisco itself was beautiful. Unfortunately my time here is pretty short and full of meetings but just the landscape itself i’m so happy I got to see in real life. Now my flights were early morning flights and as most hotels do check-in wasn’t going to be until 4pm. I called while in Chicago to ask if I could at least just drop off my bags if there wasn’t a room ready, they were super nice and said yes. Luckily by the time I got there to check in they had my room ready. I also got there at perfect timing, a few others had arrived just behind me and they were girls my age. The first initial, “Hey, could you be with the Peace Corps Thailand group?” is always just a funny/interesting interaction going up to a random person and just hoping they are. We all then got on the elevators, exchanged info and made a plan to meet up afterwards to get some food and explore a little.

We met up an hour later and in that time I also got a roommate! We walked around looking for some food and ended up in Mels diner.


A cute little picture of us meeting for the first time.

We all put in the effort to not make this a weird interaction as we really are going to be relying on each other to get through these next 2 years. We came from all around the U.S to embark on a new journey away from what we know, into a new culture where we don’t speak the language, the easier we make this transition for others the better the time will be.

After a late lunch we went back and got ready for the check in. This was just where we checked in with the Peace Corps staff and confirmed we made it, we got our info, we have our Peace Corps passports, and we received our Per Diem for travel. I’m not sure if everyone’s is the same or if its based on how far you’re traveling. In full transparency mine was a little under $400 with this money I paid for checking my bags, food, and Ubers. The hotel was already covered. Check in was at 5pm, we had a meeting scheduled at 6:30, so we went back and just waited, planned out some outfits for the next few days and came back downstairs around 6:20 to meet people. The meeting people process has been fun, everyone is really going through a lot of the same emotions, excited, nervous, scared, anxious… the list keeps going. The meeting was only 6:30 to 8pm. We went around and introduced ourselves, meditated for a bit, talked about commitment, then got our itineraries for the next few days which are PACKED, and talked about logistics. Having now met more people a lot of us decided we needed food for dinner, and we needed food for the next day as we would be in sessions.

We met everyone back downstairs and walked to Trader Joes first (I am going to miss Trader Joes so much!) I picked up some food for tomorrow including breakfast oats, a buffalo chicken wrap, some pasta salad, a mango drink, fruit, and snack. During this some of us branched off and went different places, some went to a pub, a lot went back to the hotel to get some rest, and me and a few others went to get some food. We talked more about what were excited for, what we’re nervous for, and what we hope to get out of this. I really feel like I belong here.

After food we walked back to the hotel and I passed out. Im writing this just before I have to go downstairs and starting full day of preparation. Today we have our meetings from 8:30 until 6 with some breaks. At 6:30 we bring down all of our luggage, at 7 we leave for the San Francisco airport, and at 11:30 we depart for Bangkok Thailand.

The next time you hear from me will be in Bangkok Thailand!!!


Leave a comment
  • you are off to a life changing adventure and to do much good. i know because i did it 61 years ago—gone from a Minnesota farm boy to Peace Corps Volunteer in India. what a world!!! Bon voyage!!!!!

    • Relax and take it all in! Be present and engaged! Your adventure will unfold and change your life. Congratulations and best of luck!
      Like previous commenter I joined Peace Corps Ethiopia 1 heading out in September of 1962 fresh out of college. It was all new and unknown! Takes courage and determination! Clearly you and your group have that spirit! Enjoy the ride!!!

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