Well, here I am! Sitting in the JFK airport for my 9 (yes NINE) hour layover. After months of anticipation, the final hours of waiting have arrived and I will be in Bamako before I know it.The last few weeks have been hectic, full of expensive shopping trips and searching for lightweight clothes to wear, comfy shoes, and the perfect water purifier. As I should have predicted, I procrastinated until the last possible moment, so Christmas marked the beginning of the mad packing rush. The suitcases finally were pulled out, and I spent the next few days running errands and stuffing them full. Unfortunately, my procrastination bit me in the end – as I realized the night before my flight that my SteriPEN was defective. Thanks to a WONDERFUL father and a full tank of gas, my new (functional) SteriPEN is now neatly stowed in my backpack, but it was a scary experience nonetheless. Nothing warrants a meltdown more than the prospect of no clean water before leaving for an already scary trip. Thankfully, I have a patient and loving family that helped me get everything done though. Saying goodbye to that patient loving family this morning was really hard. While I look forward to this trip, it’s always difficult to say goodbye to everyone. (And I’m bad at transitions.) But, ultimately I think it’s better to love your family enough to regret leaving them than never miss them at all. I totally cried a little on the airplane…I’m sure the guy next to me was not impressed, and he was definitely not happy when I had to squeeze past him to go to the bathroom. But he didn’t say more than two words to anyone, so I don’t really care what he thinks. I wasn’t on that airplane to make friends anyways.So here I am, sitting in the airport, people bustling about me. I have a total love/hate relationship with airports. Love, for the travel, the languages (I’ve heard French, German, Polish, Spanish, and Italian so far) the intersecting cultures. (I adore the airport montage in “Love Actually”, and I cry every time.) Hate, because I am often extremely tired when I’m in an airport. I’m a last-minute packer – the night before I left for Poland my Mom came in at 3am to check on my progress and found me asleep amidst piles of underwear. But I’m here anyways, and I’m excited for the next stage to arrive! My next hours will be filled with Storm of Swords, good conversations with fellow students, dinner, and one last call to my mom before I ship out! Expect a post in a few days. I’ll write as soon as I’ve found my feet (and Internet)!À plus!