My *unofficial* volunteer handbook arrived the other day, as did my lens, my sub card for this year, and my camera :) What has not gotten here is my nomination/medical clearance packet and my memory card. Thank goodness for wal-mart, because that's the first place I went to after getting my camera battery charging. Just so everyone knows, the camera is a beast. That's the best way I can describe it, it's huge and wonderful and takes amazing pictures. I'm making my way through the 444 page user's manual, taking a break every few pages to orient myself with what's being talked about and to try it out in real life.
I finished the handbook the same afternoon it came. It was that wonderful. I keep googling others' peace corps blogs to find out answers to silly, random questions that keep popping up in my head (do I shave my legs? what kind of underwear is best? when do I get my shots? do I use my own passport or one they give me? am I an idiot for wanting to bring my camera?... these kinds of things) I keep getting more and more excited every time my own "applicant status" changes. I feel like I'm a little bit closer to being a part of this amazing group of people whom I admire so much. For those of you not in the know ;) peace corps has a login for those who've applied and are tracking their way through the system. It shows where you are and what's required to move onto the next step along with tips and thought provoking surveys. Something I've seen on other blogs is a timeline of the application status - I think I'll do one of these in a separate entry that I can edit as I move along. I'm interested to see just how quickly this process goes. Sometimes it seems like forever between when I hear updates, but looking back it's only been a month and a half.
Lastly, I paid off a good chunk of my credit card debt yesterday, and only have one payment left on one card (which will go through on Sept 9th) to be credit card debt free :D. I still have a massive student loan, but the credit cards were my sore spot. Last year this time I had over $8,000 on a super high interest rate card and two lower rate cards, and really thought I'd just carry it around forever. Eventually I'd have to break it to someone if they wanted to marry me, that I'd ruin their chances of buying a house and if they wanted to cut and run, I'd understand. Sad. I found a calculator on the Kiplinger website that figured out what it would take to pay off the balance, and for the first time I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. I doubled the amount I had been paying, and started making two payments a month (splitting it lowered the average daily balance which lowered the amount of interest that I was charged). In the spring I received an offer from my bank for a great rate if I transferred a balance, so I did and my double payments went even further. When I'd looked into teaching abroad in the past, something that kept me from thinking it could be a reality was that debt; who can just pick up and leave with that kind of albatross? (Not to mention the programs COST thousands to do!) This time I knew I had enough in savings to pay it off completely before I leave, and I promised my mom I'd do that since she signed a thing saying she'd take over whatever payments I leave behind. I went ahead and transferred the money from savings to my credit card yesterday after reading a quote from Hemingway in the unofficial handbook: "the shortest answer is doing the thing." In essence, don't toil back and forth with a question, just do it and find out what happens. What happened is that now whatever money I earn this fall can go into savings :)
I keep thinking about this opportunity I'm getting to be a part of and I'm filled with excitement. I feel like there are the types of people who travel and there are those who don't. For one reason or another, life gets in the way and things are put off until there's more money and more time. Sometimes I feel old (I think that comes from living in a college town where I'm surrounded by people 18-23 whenever I go anywhere) but I know I'm really not. Realizing this helps when I lament how much time I've wasted NOT doing this, it lets me be happy when I grasp how much of my life I'll have after this experience has happened.