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 kicker....it 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.
- Sign up for Skype calling. Skype calling has been recommended to me by several PCVs as a great way to be able to call those back home, especially if you are somewhere that has decent internet access. In just quickly glancing over the info on their website, it looks like calls to anyone in the continental US is about 2.3¢ a minute if you pay as you go or $2.99 a month for unlimited calls to the US and Canada.
- 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. I am weighing the debate as to whether or not it is worth it. To insure all of my stuff, it would be very expensive, like $500/$600 a year. I'm not paying that. So now I am debating what specific items I want to insure and what items I am not going to worry about.