So, as part of an ICS placement, most of the volunteers are paired with another volunteer with whom they will be placed in the host home and share a room. This is the case for all teams unless they have an odd number, bar the Team Leaders. I got Olivia (hereafter Liv), the scouser who's too posh to have a scouse accent (ha-ha I'm joking Liv)! I spent literally every single day of three months with her. For any introverts, or extroverts that have introvert tendencies, you know the concept of that is a bit daunting. 

Nicole and Liv

I don't want to get too mushy about how we started off, but it was pretty creepy how we ended up in the same host home after having sat next to each other on the bus to our training weekend, got placed on the same team and then placed in the same host family. Anyway, I digress. Here are some of the reasons why I loved having a roomie for three months. 

The idea of living with a family you have never met for three months is scary, but it's less scary when you have someone who is anxious with you 

In the first car ride home with our Ama (Father) is when it truly sunk in what I had signed myself up to for three months. It was a mixture of excitement and anxiety. And in the midst of that, Liv grabbed my hand and whispered "we're sisters now!" with a smile on her face. It was reassuring to know that there was someone to halve the (unnecessary) worry I had. It also helped that the drive home was a window to the gorgeous views of Lake Malawi. 

Nicole and Liv with fellow volunteers at Lake Malawi

They become your best friend for at least three months

Your contained environment with each other forces you to get comfortable VERY quickly. Quite soon you will be burping very loudly around each other, talking to each other about the boy back home and how much weight you're hoping to lose during placement. This, by the way, is mythical (despite the fact that we walked up the hill twice a day, every day, but let me not get bitter ha-ha); we both gained weight and soon our talks turned to how much we were going to work hard to lose it when we got back home. That is work in progress (sort of), by the way... just in case you're wondering.  

Nicole and Liv with other team members

You have someone to gossip about the rest of the team with

You will truly love your entire team (most of the time). However, with anyone that you love, almost like family, they will sometimes annoy you. Your roomie will be there for you to vent. 

They are there for your homesick moments 

You will miss home. Even the one thing you couldn't wait to get away from; your roomie will listen to you go on about it. Likewise, you will hear a lot about that burger from some pub that they can't wait to bite into as soon as they get off the plane. (Great start for our weight loss journey, Liv) 

In the community

You have someone to give 'the eye' in those first few awkward moments with your host family 

Let's face it...walking into a house and pretty much telling people you've never met before that you now live with them is quite intense. So during those intense moments, you have someone to stare at blankly and share the initially strange feeling with.

You have someone to love your host family with (this is especially important when you both try to hold back your tears when you say bye to your three-month mum, dad, brothers and sisters)  

After your placement, no one else will ever truly understand what it was like to live in your host family except them. You always will be able to reminisce on all your host family taught you and the good times you had with them.  

Nicole and Liv

Again, I will try to not get too mushy, but your roomie/sister/brother is irreplaceable and no one else will ever be able to be a part of your ICS experience like they were; you will grow to love them. You will make such crazy moments with them, that will hopefully bond you and have you laughing at, alone or only with them. And once you get back home in your room and you own bed that you missed so much, you will probably miss them and wish they were there to invade your space and talk nonsense with.  

Written by ICS Alumni Nicole Moyo (April - June 2016 cycle, Team Viphona, Nkhata Bay, Malawi)