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I am at a serious crossroad in my life.

 

I no longer have a cat, I don't have a relationship (or the prospect for one), and I work for days on end in an apartment I can ill-afford on projects that may or may not provide an income.

 

Maybe it was the recent birthday that is making me question my life, but I'm curious about joining the Peace Corps and would like to chat with people that have a) either done it themselves, or b) know someone that has. Pros, cons, whatever.

 

I have no idea how serious this idea is, but I lack direction other than this constant 14 to 16 hour work days...

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I am at a serious crossroad in my life.

 

I no longer have a cat, I don't have a relationship (or the prospect for one), and I work for days on end in an apartment I can ill-afford on projects that may or may not provide an income.

 

Maybe it was the recent birthday that is making me question my life, but I'm curious about joining the Peace Corps and would like to chat with people that have a) either done it themselves, or b) know someone that has. Pros, cons, whatever.

 

I have no idea how serious this idea is, but I lack direction other than this constant 14 to 16 hour work days...

My feeling is that this is only a path you should consider if you are really looking to help other people. In that case, I would start with local charities, who are probably in desperate need of help right now. See how that agrees with you, and it may point you in a particular direction (food security-based charities, for instance) or location. If you're doing it for yourself, I think you should reconsider. The Peace Corps is a very difficult life, and you owe it to the people who will be relying on you that you are there for the right reason.

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When I was in grad school, most of the professors and many of my peers were Peace Corps Alum. I would highly recommend going down to your local recruitment office or attending some of their information sessions or other events. They can put you in touch with alum. Most seem to be very keen to share their experiences.

 

How do you feel about living in less than comfortable conditions? Not all PC placements are in developing countries, but many are. I wish I had done something like it when I was younger (I seriously considered Canada World Youth when I was in university), but now that I'm older, I'm too used to comfort.

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I do belong to and volunteer for a handful of charities already, now most of them art-related. But last year, I met one of my best friends delivering food to homeless shelters. They have all just been somewhat limiting for some reason.

 

But what makes the Peace Corps so difficult, do you know? Those are the sorts of things I am curious about. What a typical stint might be like, etc...

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A friend did it just after college, ended up in west Africa doing fishery stuff. It was hard and rewarding but hard. She's happy she did it, but it wasn't easy. She went on to get an MA and do PhD research before getting a government job, first in American Samoa and now with the EPA in SF. So she had serious wander-lust and a desire for exotic locals. Probably easier if you're in your 20s, not sure she'd be up for it now though she's a little older than you. I'd rather teach English overseas than do the PC, personally.

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You have to have a very high tolerance for ambiguity if you want to be successful in the Peace Corps. Nothing is as it seems--your placement (job and/or living conditions) may not be as described, the locals may not react as you expect, etc. etc. You really have to be able to "go with the flow". Plus since most placements are in developing countries, you really have to expect the unexpected. One of my friends was placed in one of the countries that was part of the USSR (I can't remember which--I vaguely remember Latvia, but I may be wrong), and she and all other PC people had to be evacuated. It was a very trying and stressful time for her, and she experienced a lot of guilt over the people she left behind, plus anger over situation, etc.

 

High tolerance for ambiguity. And flexibility. I was told those were two of the most important traits for PC volunteers.

 

ETA: Related to above, there's no "typical stint" in the Peace Corps.

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Thanks - this all helps. Looking at their website, the countries that interest me are the Eastern European ones; Turkemistan, Algeria, Macedonia, etc... I did some ESL training *years* ago and admittedly, my ability to learn languages is less than stellar.

 

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A friend's parents signed up, expected to be sent to Africa. They wound up in Bulgaria, each doing something other than what they had planned. They love it, but it's been hard work in difficult conditions. Pras nailed it, I think.

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A friend's parents signed up, expected to be sent to Africa. They wound up in Bulgaria, each doing something other than what they had planned. They love it, but it's been hard work in difficult conditions. Pras nailed it, I think.

yeah I have a buddy who speaks Albanian - they sent him to Uzbekistan.

 

Don't do it because you feel lost. Do it because you want to join the Peace Corps. I know lots of people across several generations who did it. Some loved it, some hated it. One guy I know actually went AWOL - which is kind of an amusing concept.

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