It was just another Saturday afternoon where I was procrastinating writing a paper on some topic in health policy by watching my beloved Tennessee Volunteers stomp the Florida Gators and surfing the net when I clicked on over to the Peace Corps website. I thought why the hell not?
So what next? It’s now or never, right?
I can already hear what you are saying…
“The Peace Corps? Really, but aren’t you’re already a nurse.”
Yes. Yes I am.
I am already a nurse, but let’s rewind just a bit– Spring 2013.
I was all set to go to medical school. I’d studied hard, kicked the MCAT’s ass, and been accepted to the medical school only 35 minutes from where I was living. I was as ready as one can be to start such a grueling undertaking as medical school, and then, well, life, as it has a tendency to do, got in the way.
Without going into details, I withdrew my spot in the class of 2018, and looked for other options to pursue my goal of providing medical care to those who need it most. I enrolled in the local nursing school and graduated in the fall of 2015. I passed NCLEX, started to work on my BSN, and promptly got a job at a local hospital.
Which I hated.
To say I was stuck in a rut is an understatement. I started feeling lost and wasn’t sure what my next move would be; did I want to move to a new city? [No, not really] Start a new job? [Probably, but I was more than burnt out after working in hospitals for the last 10 years, and could not fathom what I’d want to do] Run off and travel for a year? [No, I’d already done that when I spent 16 months traveling in South America] I knew there was something else for me but I had no idea what it was.
I’m not sure exactly how the Peace Corps came up, but once it did, it turned into a nagging thought in the back of my head. Of course, I’d heard of the Peace Corps. I’ve even done international volunteer work before. I even casually mentioned it to a few friends in the way of “So if I joined the Peace Corps, would you come visit me?”
More time passed until that September Saturday where I was looking for motivation to write, and upon finding none I started looking into the revamped application process, open programs, and to what countries they were currently sending volunteers. Health was the obvious choice. I opened up my application to agriculture and environment, and community development as well. What I know about community development can fit into a thimble, but I’d feel as if I were cheating if all I do is end up teaching English.
So I applied. When it came time to pick countries, I wish there had been an option to exclude certain places instead of just choosing three. I’m fairly open to most countries and would really like an adventure, but I know without a doubt, that the South Pacific Islands are not for me. Equally, I’d prefer to not go to Western Africa. So first I choose Madagascar, an island country in the middle of the Indian Ocean with its closest neighbors being Mozambique and Reunion. Next up was Albania. [I have really loved every place I’ve ever been to in Central/Eastern Europe and my brief time in Albania leads me to the conclusion that it’s *quirky*. Also I’d love to do more exploring in the Balkans and travel the area of the Silk Road], and finally Guyana [a South America country on the Caribbean that I’ve only passed through]. I’d also be OK with going back to South America, or practically any of the East African countries that are stable.
I’ve lived in a thatched hut in the middle of the Amazon with a compost toilet before. I’ve had my own apartment in Peru and Mexico where electricity was sporadic and internet was a prayer. I camp and hike for fun. Indoor plumbing, running water, and electricity, while certainly nice, are all things I know I could do without. A least for a predetermined time.
So it is now or never. I’ve only told one person that I’ve submitted the application. We shall see how it goes. I don’t even know what the next steps are. Stay tuned on how this new adventure shakes out.