I cannot believe that we are only 4 weeks out from leaving our home here in Maryland and heading out on our next big adventure! How does one prepare for such a HUGE life change? That seems to be the gist of all the questions we’ve been receiving recently…What shots/medicines do you need to get? How much does it cost? What things do you need to buy? What are you doing with all your stuff? How does one just pick up their life and move across the world? My short answer…it is a lot of work and it is keeping us very busy!
For those who are interested, I thought I would share a few lists of all the things we’ve been up to recently and all the things we still need to get done before we go (just in case any of you are planning a big move over to a developing country anytime soon too :P)
1. Healthcare….What do we need to get done do before we go?
Healthcare isn’t super great in Liberia (I know..shocker) so we need to do a lot to prepare ahead of time to keep us safe and healthy 🙂 This includes:
- Phone calls with the travel nurses so that they can talk to us about precautions we might need to take and put prescriptions in for all our shots and pills.
- Completing medical paperwork for AgriCorps. I think all the paperwork we had to complete was like 25 pages long for each of us. Pages and pages of “have you ever been diagnosed with this or that?” Learned a lot and thanked God a few times for my good health during the process because there were so many things listed on there I had never heard of…
- Getting shots…ALL the shots! Now, I (Anna) have already gotten a lot of these shots from previous trips (the travel nurse even complimented me on my long comprehensive list of immunizations) but Nathan had to go get a few in one day in one arm. The full list of shots that we needed include: measles mumps and rubella, Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine, polio, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningitis, typhoid, and Yellow Fever. On top of that we needed to make sure that we got prescriptions for malaria pills (to be taken daily) and cipro (an antibiotic to be taken in cases of travel diarrhea….can’t wait).
- Buying glasses for each of us…and a pair of back up glasses just in case. That is 4 pairs of glasses! We usually wear contacts (and I LOVE my contacts) but AgriCorps like many other volunteer groups, recommends that we don’t wear contacts because the potential for infection is just too high. I spent lots of time online and visiting stores comparing prices but the truth is that glasses for people with strong prescriptions (like myself), with transition lenses (to protect us from that African sun), and scratch resistant coating (to protect us from ourselves) are just plain old expensive.
- Stocking up on our prescription medications- for me that means getting a year supply of of Flonase and Allegra to help with allergies. Who knows though how my allergies will try to torture me once I get to Liberia, we shall see! Maybe my nose will like it better there?!?
- Stocking up on medications and hygiene products like Tylenol, vitamins, pepto, anti-itch cream, fungal cream, laxatives (yep…), probiotics, cold medicine, feminine products, lotion, etc.
- Trying out new products: For example, shampoos/conditioners. It is quite possible that the water from my bucket bath/shower (whatever we get) will be going directly into the natural water areas and so they recommend trying out shampoos/conditioners that have more natural biodegradable ingredients. I’ve also read on Peace Corps blogs that it is easy to bring bars of shampoo/conditioner and it takes up less space in your luggage. Right now I’m trying out a lavender shampoo bar (made at a lavender farm right here in Maryland and loving it) and coconut oil for my hair as conditioner (may have overdone that the other day…feeling like a grease ball today :P)
- Taking care of other yearly appointments with doctors we won’t see in a while: dentist, OBGYN, eye doctor, allergist, pediatrist, cardiologist, physician, etc. Soooo many appointments!
- Signing up for Obamacare so that we can maintain US health insurance while we are gone. AgriCorps provides us with international health insurance that would cover our hospital visits if there was ever any serious issue. But what if something happened and we had to return home to the US for months of therapy or extended treatments? That’s where our US health insurance would come in.
2. Packing up the Apartment. What to do with all this stuff??
Each of us can take 2 checked bags (50lbs/bag), a carry on, and a personal item (which seems like a lot to me but we will see how I feel once I actually start packing it all into bags). We of course can’t take all of our things with us so we need to find somewhere to put the rest of it! Thankfully, both our parents have graciously agreed to store things in their attics, basements, and childhood bedrooms until we return so that is a life-saver, it means no need to pay for a storage unit! Even so, we are still trying to get rid of things by donating or selling them so right now everything is just going into piles:
- Things to donate
- Things to sell (anyone need a couch? a fouton? a bed? Making a craiglist link this week and will post here in case you are interested)
- Things to pass on to my sisters
- Things to return to my sisters (oops)
- Things to return to the parents (oops again..)
- Things to return to store
- Things that I need to purchase more of or new versions of (yes, I made piles of old shoes and empty bottles to remind me to buy more of them)
- Things to store at nathan’s parents (clothes, furniture, decorations, tools)
- Things to store at anna’s parents (clothes, kitchen supplies, books, games)
- Things to take with us to Liberia (and of course that pile is divided up into many other small piles because that’s what type A people like me do)
- So many thingggsss!!!!
3. Making sure all finances and other “adulting” things are taken care of:
- Getting power of attorney so our parents can handle any issues that arise while we are gone.
- Contact bank and move money around to different accounts for while we are gone.
- Transferring my car’s title to my parents for safe keeping while I am gone.
- Cancel auto insurance, phone service, utilities, sewer/water, internet/cable, planet fitness membership, reoccurring donations, our lease, and the list goes on.
- Update various people with our change of address (insurance, bank, postal service, friends, family, etc).
- Write wills before we go (not that we really have a lot to pass on anyways).
- Finishing up work with our jobs (cleaning out files from computers, organizing office, collecting information to share with volunteers, closing accounts)
4. AgriCorps requirements:
- Reading the required books and other materials:Peace Corps Liberia Manual, The House at Sugar Beach, Cracking the Code: The Confused Traveler’s Guide to Liberian English, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, The Zin Zin Road, The Greater Sinner, Mighty be our Powers.
- Organizing contact information for all our donors so we can submit to AgriCorps.
- Researching and reading books about Liberian agriculture, history, etc and trying to learn everything we possibly can.
- Skyping/emailing with contacts that we have in Liberia or people that have worked in Liberia or worked with AgriCorps
- Trying to see all our family and friends before we go!
- Finishing up our jobs and all that entails.
- Planning a vacation before we go (road-tripping it up to Niagara Falls and camping out when we get there…eeeep!)
- Writing thank you cards to our donors.
Life is busy! Thanks for being a part of this crazy ride with us 🙂