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Sunday, September 27, 2015

What Camp Has Taught Me

I'm a bit late in the day because it's been a busy one, but I'm officially six weeks out from my departure date! It has been a hard week for me, realizing that I'm actually going to be leaving my friends and family... Man I'm leaving everything I've ever known. I've never been out of the country even, so what am I really getting myself into? This week I have felt a switch from "I'm just so excited to be taking this huge leap into my Peace Corps life!!" to "Holy crap I'm leaving everything behind." I don't know why, but six weeks just feels so much more real, so much more terrifying, than seven did.

But this post isn't all about doubting myself! I'm back at camp for the week, making a bit of money because we all need a bit. I've only been back for a few hours, but it brings back how unprepared I was for "roughing it" at the beginning of the summer. I was absolutely taken aback by the mouse poop on the floor, appalled at the state of the bathrooms (with running water and electricity, nonetheless). Now that I'm so close to departure and have learned so much more about what day-to-day life is like in Uganda, I'm constantly comparing the two.

Story time: When I first got to camp at the beginning of summer, I was in a cabin with a mouse problem. I was kept up several nights of that first week just listening to the scuttling feet, afraid of something that can only hurt me if either it is sick and bites me or I ingest some of its poop, neither of which sound appealing. I even had some granola bars eaten out of my backpack, a thought that still grosses me out to this day. Through reading blogs of current and recently returned PCVs, as well as being friends with many of the current ones on Facebook, I know that cockroaches are common in Uganda, and this fact was brought swiftly to my memory when recollecting the mouse incident from my first week. I'm not sure I won't be kept awake in terror of the small things, but at least camp has taught me that I won't die from something small uninvitedly sharing my living space.

I also won't die from the gunk in the sink right now from the cabin not being lived in for the last who knows how long, even if it is gross and I don't want to touch it. Neither will I, nor have I as of yet, get bedbugs from sleeping in a bed that's not my own or sleep under a mosquito net. I could go on and on about how much more developed even camp life is compared to what I'm expecting in Uganda, but I think it's a moot point, especially considering I don't have firsthand experience.

But if camp taught me one thing the whole summer, it taught me that just because something is gross or uncomfortable does not mean that it's not worth your time. Sometimes you make the biggest impact in those places, impacting the ones whose normal it is.

But I'm still going to keep everything off the floor while I'm here....

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Power of..Whaaaaaa?

Something that is highly recommended that you set up before you leave is Power of Attorney (POA). Depending on what type of POA you have, your attorney-in-fact can manage your accounts, file your taxes, or make important decisions should you become incapacitated. I have decided to have a POA especially for my taxes, since my summer job took taxes out of my check and I would like that back. Thus began a seemingly simple journey.

I Googled how to draw up a POA, and found it to be exceedingly simple...for everyone except the perfectionist I am. You just have to have a document stating that the person who you want to have POA is going to be your attorney-in-fact and then have it notarized. Realistically speaking, it truly is that simple. There are even free templates online. I was just very, very afraid I was going to somehow manage to screw it up so that my dad wouldn't be able to file my tax return for me. I also just basically felt like a minion trying to understand all the legalese.

My dad is a professor at our local college, and also he has been a Phi Theta Kappa (the international honor society for two year colleges) advisor for many years. Through this, he has gotten to know many students that have gone on to fulfill many, many different roles in society. Thankfully, he knows an accountant and a lawyer well enough to ask them the favor of figuring this out for me. The accountant informed me that I should file some forms with the IRS and MODOR (MO Dept. of Revenue), and the lawyer drew the forms up for me for free. Without these women, I would probably still be worrying about screwing up majorly. Now I have the POA ready to be notarized and the forms ready to go out in the mail!!

To any fellow PCVs looking for how to appoint POA, here is the form I'm using, obviously minus all my personal info. Please make sure you look into your state's laws about POA and only use this as a template!! :)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Uganda Be Africaing

It's taken me a while to write this post because I have been dealing with a great mish-mash of emotions. As I'm sure most of you know, last weekend was Labor Day. For most, it was a great weekend of grilling, hanging out with family, and just plain being outside and HOT. For me, it was all of that, but it was also the last chance I will have to seen a large majority of my extended family. We live about a four-hour's drive from them, and without another 3-day (or longer) weekend for all of us before I leave, this was the last chance to go down home and visit.

It was a great weekend. Between my family, I have nearly everything I will need except small items which I'm planning to pick up in October. We had a fish fry (complete with pork roast for those of us who aren't so fond of fish) on Sunday evening, which also doubled as a goodbye party for me. (I was only half surprised, but that's only because I know my family loves me too much to not throw me a party.) I was genuinely surprised when my grandma handed me a card, complete with money my family had put together for me.

Obviously this card was homemade, something that I genuinely appreciate. I literally laughed aloud when I read the front of it. I could not stop smiling at the little notes everyone wrote me, knowing that they come from the heart. And what's even better is that they didn't spend $5+ on a card like they always complain about!! (It's a thing. My family will understand.)

So now I have supplanted my number one item on my packing list, previously my back-scratcher, and replaced it with this lovely card. Although I am sad to leave you all behind for two and a half years (maybe longer by the time I get back down there), I will carry you with me, literally, all the way Africaing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Kitten Cats

My mom thought I was crazy for having flea collars/drops on my packing list. I don't think she realized just how serious I am about having a cat when I'm abroad. I have always loved having cats growing up, and I absolutely hated not being able to have one while I was living in my dorm for two years. Now, while I'm living at home, I love being able to pet Addie to death, knowing she loves it even if it means she dies. :P

Every time you see multiple interviews with PCVs about what to have/do when you are in country, it includes having a pet. They help to stave off loneliness and lower stress levels. For me, I'm sure it'll help with homesickness at least a little bit, having a baby to take care of and love.

If you still don't believe me -- Who wouldn't? -- here's an article from PC on why having a pet is great!