Soundtrack to My Life…as a Peace Corps Volunteer

It was drilled in our brains almost every day during PST (Pre Service Training), Peace Corps is a roller coaster. The longest roller coaster of your life, but also the toughest job you will ever love. Not just a roller coaster from day to day, but hour to hour, minute to minute.

Emotions can change from one second to another. Music has become a huge part of my life in this country; it keeps me sane and acts as an escape from the annoyances and difficulties in country. I can relate a song to almost every aspect of my life. And every feeling. I walk around with a soundtrack to my life in my head. Want to see what really goes on in my head as a Peace Corps Volunteer? Let’s let some famous artists do the talking for me.

1. Done. by The Band Perry – “Momma always told me to be nice but she didn’t know you when she gave me that advice…..all I want to be is done.”

For those times when some of the villagers in my village pull something on me. Like over charging or pocketing money I give them for a job and say I never paid them. Oh corruptness. Ever so present in this country.

2. God Gave Me You by Blake Shelton – “God gave me you for the ups and the downs. God gave me you for the days of doubt.”

For all people that have stood by me during my rough days in Peace Corps. My family, friends back home, and most importantly those that understand what I’m feeling because they feel it too, other Peace Corps Volunteers. Monica P, Monica D, Sally, Sarah, Eric, Emily, Amy, and my sitemate Liz. Honestly without her, I would have never made it.

3. Blonde by Bridgit Mendler – “I’m a blonde. So excuse me. I’m a blonde, I get crazy. Everyone knows we’re a little more fun”

I may not be the same person that I entered Peace Corps as, but one thing remains the same, my outgoing-ness. My Christina-isms. Not thinking before opening my mouth and saying something and realizing how blonde and Orange County I sounded.

4. Good Time by Carly Rae Jepsen and Owl City – “Good morning and good night. I wake up at twilight. It’s going to be alright. We don’t even have to try, it’s always a good time.”

In partnership with the song above, there is never a dull moment with me in my village between me and my sitemate. Just skip on down that road.

5. Warrior by Demi Lovato – “I used to wear everything like a battle wound…Now I’m a warrior. Now I’ve got thicker skin…I’m stronger than I’ve ever been”

I was very emotional coming into Peace Corps. Ask the two bosses I consider like big brothers, Dominic and Jerrod. Constructive criticism = me crying. Peace Corps has changed me and helped me grow.

6. Some Nights by Foster the People – “I miss my mom and dad for this?”

Not only my parents but my friends and family. My sisters, my best friends Caroline, Jaclyn, Annica, and others I hold near and dear to my heart (way too many to name but you know who you are). There are some (very few but some) days when I ask myself why I’m here and why I gave up so much to be here.

7. I Like it Like That by Hot Chelle Rae – “Lost my iPhone, I wouldn’t have it any other way…I like it like that.”

Being disconnected from Internet, modern technology, etc has been both a blessing and curse. Reflecting time. Reading time. Dancing like a crazy person time.

8. On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons – “Cause I’m on top of the world ehhhh, waiting on this for a while now.”

My brousse song. Hand out the window snaking through wind. My ‘I freakin’ live in Madagascar, ya’ll’ song.

9. Always be Together by Little Mix – “We are friends for life.”

We came in as strangers, but leave as friends. My family is 100+ deeper now. Peace Corps for life.

10. Over Again by One Direction/Feel Again by One Republic MASHUP“Can we do this over again?”/”But with you I feel again.”

I hold this mashup close to my heart. No explanation to be given. But a huge part of who I am today.

11. Where We Came From by Phillip Phillips – “I must have used up all my wishes yesterday.”

When you have a good day, you can almost guarantee things won’t go as smoothly next time.

12. 22 by Taylor Swift” – I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22…everything will be alright if we keep dancing like we’re 22″

Sometimes dancing like a stupid person is the only way to go when the going gets hard.

13. Run by Thompson Square – “I’m going to run as fast as I can. Hold every little moment in the palm of my hand.”

I take in each moment and try to remember everything. Years from now, I want to be able to share with my kids what I experienced and learned in this country.

14. Eyes Open by Taylor Swift – “Everybody’s waiting for you to break down.”

Sometimes I feel like Peace Corps staff is against me. Realistically, no, they are probably not. But, it feels that way. I have to remember the harsh love they dell out is just to help make me a stronger more independent person.

15. Made in America by Cimorelli” – California born and raised, just trying to make my name.”

Always lived by this. Always will. One of four girls. I want to die thinking I have accomplished something and have made a difference. I’m not just one of the triplets, I’m Christina Nielsen, hospitality professional, future RPVC…..insert future stuff here.

And my mantra in this country –> “I ain’t got no car, and I’ve got one pair of jeans. They’ve been stretched too far and now they’re weak at the seams. I can’t see what’s next, and I’ve got nothing on my sleeve, but I don’t loose my head cause it ain’t really up to me. And I’m doing just fine, I’m always landing on my feet.” – Sweet Serendipity by Lee DeWyze

Get rid of all the excess. Take it as it is. You can only control so much in your life; the rest is up to destiny.


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