This morning I travelled to Leicester University campus for my pre-placement training weekend. Greeted by an enormous array of buffet food to fuel the long day of volunteer training, I couldn't help regretting my choice of rice and fish: apparently this will be my staple food for the next 3 months. I should also expect basic accommodation from my host family and look forward to living without running water and electricity (thankfully it's rain season, so I should still be able to get my hot shower!) However the living arrangements and placement details of the programme are still very vague - so for all I know I could be staying in the king's palace!
(Is there even a monarchy in the Philippines? Must google this.)
It appears that the tendency to "plan ahead" is a very English thing to do. Probably why we are encouraged to practice our "soft skills" of patience and flexibility whilst on the programme.
Like everyone else I love to plan. To know where I'm headed, why and with what purpose. But I've realised that the Philippine way, the 'not-really-knowing-quite-vague' way, is much more exciting and opens up a hell of a lot more opportunities. Slightly scary. But exhilarating.
The security briefing was not the most settling experience either. We were given a death count of past volunteers and our risk statistics. (I will make sure not to mention these to my mum). But what I quickly understood was that the risks I'm exposed to in Southeast Asia are much the same as in London: primarily road traffic accidents and mugging. Of course there's an increased risk due to cultural difference and language barriers, but since the death of a close friend last year- who had a fatal fall down a staircase- my perspective on risk has been challenged. The everyday can be dangerous: even if you shelter yourself in a bubble of cotton wool you can never fully prepare for risk. So I think my new philosophy is just to live moment to moment and value every minute I'm alive. Soo cliche I know. But I guess cliches are cliches for a reason.
NB. I promise that this won't become a 'finding myself' blog. None of that "I went to Thailand and now know who I am" malarkey.
I'll do my best to avoid the cliches from now on.
And I'm not going to Thailand. Still the Philippines.