So here I am, sitting in my door less bedroom, just had my first bucket/pila shower, and a long evening of meeting and greeting my host family. In the last week, I have met a fantastic group of national volunteers who don’t speak a word of English (leading to much awkwardness), literally pushed out of my comfort zone by flying to the other side of the world. I am soon to start work on a theatre production and bio-construction. I almost keep forgetting I’m on anti-anxiety medication.

Yep, plain to say - I was nervous to come here. I almost backed out about five times! But here I am, sitting in my door less bedroom, after a long night of getting to know my limited English family. Am I feeling bad? No!

All the worries and fears that I had were all in vain - my family are so nice and welcoming, my Team Leader being aware of my anxiety disorder is so accommodating and here to talk. I have the space and time I need to relax and feel comfortable. Needless to say I am excited. Thinking about the work I will undertake, and the fantastic people I will have met. Nothing has triggered my anxiety to a great extent and if it has at all then I am in a good place to manage it.

Having arrived in San Salvador at 7.30pm local time, it felt good to step out into fresh air for the first time in almost 18 hours. Not forgetting the short cigarette break outside of Houston airport (smokers, prepare for the inevitable stress). I then met with Suzy and Carmen, Progressio’s in-country staff, who were SO welcoming. We were taken back to a nice hotel where we had a croissant sandwich and then had some much needed sleep. Over the next few days we were emerged in the El Salvadorian culture; learning about the history and civil war and troubles the people have faced, we went to a volcano in the city and we tried some amazing food, which included pupusas and tortillas. We were taken to the nearby metro centre where we could pick up the last bit of vital gear we needed and I couldn't help myself from picking up a nice acoustic in a music shop. USD$55, not bad. Finally, the day of departure to our host home arrived.

We were all very excited and nervous to meet them, preparing the whole two-hour car journey with conversation starters and how to say who we are and our please and thank you’s! Upon arrival I was in awe at the difference in culture, houses and general feel of the town. My family consisted of a mum, dad and little brother. Straight away we were conversing, talking about me and my own family, they told me about their family and we got off to a fantastic start. Made even better by me and my host dad sharing similar music tastes. We have spent many a night staying up listening to Aerosmith and The Beatles. My little brother is in love with PlayStation and he is awesome at GTA. Much better than me, I have to practice when he goes to school. They made me feel welcome and have helped me anytime I felt lost or needed a friendly face to talk to or just to have a laugh and listen to great music with.

The town is amazing and the people very welcoming. I feel right at home and although I miss my own family very much, I do not miss my comfort zone. I already feel the benefits of pushing myself and know this does wonders for my personal development and character building.

Think your worries and stress will affect you from making this great journey? Think again. I will take you on my journey through Santa Catarina Masahuat; good and (hopefully not) bad!

Written by ICS volunteer Connor Hunter