Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Finger Crossing Worked!

I finally got ahold of OMS and I think I am in the clear. I need to fax over doctor's notes and get a letter from my doctor saying he is still clearing me to go, but I was told that, providing nothing is way crazy and I don't get worse, if my doctor here gives me clearance, Peace Corps will go with what he says. Hopefully I will have full clearance to go by the end of the week, but just knowing there is a good chance is a huge relief.

Now I feel like I can move forward and start packing. That will be quite the process I'm sure: 27 months, 2 bags, 100 lbs. Doable certainly it will just take some creativity.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Keeping My Fingers Crossed!

Just over 3 weeks until I leave and I still have an absolutely horrible cough. It is now going on a month that I have had it and the doctor's don't know what is causing it. My lungs are clear. My breathing capacity is only slightly diminished. I have no fever or other symptoms of anything, except a runny nose. I am on two new meds, including a very strong antibiotic, in hopes that it will kill anything I could have.

The coughing and being sick is no fun, but what will be more than no fun will be calling OMS (Office of Medical Services) and informing them. I am required to update them on any changes to my health prior to departure. However, after some advice from a good friend, I am going to hold off telling them until Monday. By then, I will have been on the antibiotics for five days and should have an idea if its helping or not. If I am better, I call OMS and tell them I had bronchitis, but the antibiotics are clearing it up. If they aren't helping, I call and notify OMS and discuss what this means for me. Ultimately, it could mean a medical deferment (i.e. no Macedonia). I am trying not to think about that possibility, but its hard not to. Peace Corps tells you from the start, to basically not put all your eggs in one basket, but how can I not when I am leaving in 3 weeks!

All I can do now is hope that the antibiotics kill whatever is haunting me and OMS doesn't put a hold on me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Things to Do Before Leaving the Country for 27 Months

One thing I have noticed lacking when I have been scouring Peace Corps blogs and even PC literature is a comprehensive list of what needs to happen before I leave. While I know I am not capable of providing such a list (especially since everyone's situation is different), I am going to attempt to keep a somewhat running list of things I have come across in hopes of at least creating a list. Please leave comments with things I may not have thought of (and I know there are quite a few things I will miss)!

- Register to vote overseas (this is one PC tells you to do). I can only speak on behalf of the lovely state of Minnesota, but its a little more confusing than it should be. I went to the Overseas Vote Foundation, followed the directions, and submitted my form. A few days later I received an email from my local County Auditor's office asking for clarification because this form is only for federal elections, not state/local elections. The Auditor's Office then gave me an email like where I can fill out a form for all elections. Great. The is the same form I already filled out. Thus, when I move back home with my parents in a couple weeks, I am going to stop in and chat with the Auditor's Office to see what I really need to do.

- Renew your driver's license. If your driver's license will expire while overseas, renew it if at all possible. In Minnesota at least you can renew up to 12 months in advance. If you are late renewing it, you are subject to extra fees and if it is over a year, you need to take the road test again. They may make special exceptions for RPCVs, but I am choosing not to chance it.

- Double check that you still have medical/dental clearance. My dental clearance expires one week before I leave. After talking with someone at PC about it today he thought I could maybe slip by without it, but after checking with the staging supervisor, I do need to submit forms and bitewings again, but not the Panorex.

- Decipher through the horrible student loans paperwork. Serving with the Peace Corps does qualify you for an Economic Hardship deferment, however, you can't submit it until you have documentation provided to you at staging. Therefore, my plan is to consult with my father (as I don't understand all of the jargon used by loan companies) and then consult with my loan provider to make sure everything is squared away.

- Figure out how to say good-bye to everyone you want to. Perhaps the hardest thing to accomplish. There is no way I will ever be able to say good-bye to everyone. Being a few years out of college, many of my friends have spread out across the country, so seeing them isn't an option, however I have great plans of Skyping.

- Buy a second pair of glasses (if you wear them). Peace Corps says you should bring two pairs with you. Because I want to save money wherever I can, I believe I am going to go with Zenni Optical, which has pairs starting at $6.95 with $4.95 shipping. You can't beat that!

- Talk to your bank. I have yet to do this, but many others on the MAK-16 Facebook site have. I am planning on upping my credit limit on my credit card, giving them a list of countries I think I might be in so not to suspect fraud, and checking on ATM fees while overseas.

- Figure out travel insurance. Through Clements's Peace Corps policy I was able to insure a good chunk of my belongings for $150 for the year. Not too shabby.

- Filled out and notarized Power of Attorney forms. I just Googled "power of attorney minnesota" and on the Minnesota Judicial Systems website they had a pdf I could download, fill out, get notarized and be done with it. You can pay to have a lawyer do it or buy a kit at office supply stores, but in my case (since I am giving power to my parents), I didn't really care too much that it was extremely formal.

- Pack, pack, pack. This has taken me days. Check out my packing list if you want to see what I packed. Double checking (who am I kidding- Octo-checking at least) your linear measurements as well as weight can be quite the challenge.