As you may already know, I’m going into the Peace Corps once I’m finished with college. The application process is a lengthy and thorough process. Once you’ve actually been offered and accepted a position, there are several more hoops to jump through. First, you have to submit a very thorough medical history. I’m talking about 12-15 pages of tiny font and hundreds and hundreds of question about everything imaginable. Then, you have to apply for a no-fee passport (even if you have a valid passport of your own!) and visa (depending on the country you are going to). You also have to get finger-printed for the legal clearance. All of this took quite a bit of time and energy.
The final step before getting cleared to serve is your medical clearance- and it is extremely thorough! Over Christmas break, I had to go to my eye doctor, my dentist, and my doctor. I needed to get blood tests done, and get a couple of shots. Because the Peace Corps does not recommend (read: allow) wearing contacts (due to the high chance of contaminated water), I needed to get another pair of glasses. I only wear my glasses right before bed and when I first get up, so I’ve never had a back-up pair. Considering I can barely see enough to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night, a back-up pair was definitely a necessity! At my dentist’s, I needed to get a whole-mouth x-ray series. I was worried that I would need to have my wisdom teeth removed, but I only have two of them to begin with, and those two are coming in perfectly straight without any issues, so I was given the green light. I’m pretty sure I was at my doctor’s about 5-6 times over the course of the break. So much paperwork!
Once I had everything in, a nurse reviews everything. A couple of my papers were signed by a nurse practitioner instead of a physician, so those had to go back to my doctor’s for signatures. In addition, my lab work had some irregularities, so I had to get two more vials of blood taken (I hate needles-so not fun at all). They also informed us that we now needed to get a polio booster shot because of a recent outbreak of polio in Ukraine, which is Moldova’s neighbor. It took me awhile to get all of that sorted out, but thankfully I am all set now!
I got my official Medical Clearance email this morning, which is the last step before departure! After all of the doctor’s appointments, shots, blood tests, and other not-so-fun stuff, I am so happy to get my clearance! I wasn’t too worried about it, but I know a couple of volunteers that were supposed to go with me to Moldova that now can’t because they were denied. So it’s good to have one more think checked off the list!
What’s next? Well, pretty much just waiting! I received a welcome email from the Peace Corps in Moldova a few weeks ago. They set up a facebook group for all of my group of volunteers (we’re called the “M31” group- the 31st group of volunteers in Moldova!). That has been really exciting, since I’ve been able to “meet” a bunch of my fellow volunteers. So far, the oldest volunteer appears to be 66 years old, and the youngest is 21. I’m actually among the youngest of the group, which was a bit of a surprise. There are a couple of other volunteers in their 60s, a couple in their 50s, a few in their 30s, and a bunch who are mid- to late-20s. It’s nice to be able to put some faces to some names, and the group has been a great place to talk about things such as preparations before leaving, packing, Peace Corps discounts at stores, and the like! From what I can tell, there is only one other volunteer from New York! We are also going to be set up with mentors, volunteers that are currently serving in Moldova, within the next few weeks. Our mentors will help us figure out things between now and our departure. Oh! I almost forgot! Our staging date was also moved up- staging was originally going to begin on June 2nd, but now the date is May 29th (5 days earlier!). Staging is when we all get together at some city in the United States and say goodbye to our families. We then go through intensive trainings and such for a couple to a few days before departing for Moldova. Everything is starting to feel very real!