Sunday, December 9, 2012

An Attempt at Invisibility

The stress of being a PCV is certainly incomparable to that of anyone with a nine-to-five job, nor one who works 80+ hours a week. We of course have work stress, but I find volunteers have more of a social stress similar to high school multiplied by (oh) 10. You try your best to fit in by speaking the same slang (or language), by finding people who make you feel comfortable for being the person you are, and by buying the right clothes (or pagne) that indicate you're part of the group. And like high school, this push to fit in all the time gets old and sometimes all that's needed is a little break to reboot your engines and get rolling again. Students call it summer break while everyone else calls it a VACATION.

Well my friends, this volunteer needs a vacation. And it's happening!

After more than a year-and-a-half in West Africa, I finally have a break. Nope, I'm not returning stateside--as much as I would love to see my entire family and close friends--but I'm going somewhere just as good: France.

My last trip to France ended in June 2007, which was the conclusion of my study abroad term. More than five years ago! As most of you know, I lived with a host family the entire term. They were (and still are) amazing people. When I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with them I barely had a sliver of homesickness--something I hope to have this Christmas. And wow are they as excited to see me as I am to see them.

For a bit of fun check out the difference: Samantha McCullough 2007 vs Samantha McCullough 2012.

Think they'll recognize me?

A weekend outside of Angers, France 2007

Thanksgiving 2012 in Togo, West Africa

I'll be doing a little back-and-forth traveling between Paris and Angers with the intention of seeing close friends in Paris, spending Christmas with Lili and Jean-Claude Maupoint--my host parents--and seeing my old university in Angers, and much to my delight...spending my last week in Paris (and celebrating New Year's) with my sister Kathrine.

Not too long ago I received an email from my good friend Mariana--a chef who lives in Paris--who asked, "What do you want to do in Paris?" To which I responded, "BE INVISIBLE!!!!"

Volunteers are often on display. It's something we admittedly despise in the beginning and learn to accept and impressively ignore as our service moves forward. But even with this almost superhuman ability to space out--a term we're quite familiar with in Togo--a vacation is still THE WAY to bask in the glory of anonymity without locking yourself in your house for a weekend.

In addition to the joy of anonymity, I fully intend to (1) photograph the streets and life of Paris once more, (2) eat well, (3) explore the Christmas boutiques, (4) drink coffee, (5) and hangout with people I love.

I have no doubt my Internet connection in France will be more than tolerable, so feel free to email or message me on Facebook if you'd like to chat (or even video chat I dare add).

The vacation officially begins December 18, 2012 and ends January 3, 2013.  

And then my dear family and friends...six months to go until I'm stateside again. Oh how fast time will fly!!

Much love to you all. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year (or Happy Holidays) and all that jazz.

Until next time in 2013... :)


  1. Since I couldn't make it to see you in person, I better be on the list for Skype + video! Amuse-toi bien en France !

  2. I am intensely jealous that you get to go to Paris over the holidays. This will be the first year I won't be in Europe at either Christmas or New Year and my longing for the Old World (no baseball caps, proper sugary soda, REAL BEER, football) is overwhelming.

    But I wish you truly the best time anyone has ever had. Paris is a PHENOMENAL place to spend basically any time of the year. I imagine at Christmas/New Year that loveliness will be magnified tenfold.

    Bonne chance!