Saturday, April 30, 2005

And now for something completely different

We interrupt this blog to bring you some musings from Andy Brett (skip this if you're interested in more important events like the filibuster protest, or Bill Gates backing up Tom Friedman, or the very interesting prime time press conference: Dems cry foul, Tierny and FactCheck, another organization I'd like to work for, say otherwise, and that doesn't even get into the other half of the speech on his energy policy).

The basic idea, which I have been rolling around in my head for approximately all of 24 hours at this point, is that I would take a leave of absence from university next year. The plans for this summer would still be on (research on hydrology in the Chesapeake Bay watershed), and so would Frosh Trip in the fall (hopefully). But what I've been thinking about is taking the academic year off to work for Engineers Without Borders. There is a Princeton chapter who will be going to Peru for a month this summer. I don't know if this would really be through the Princeton chapter, though; it seems as if they focus on things that are shorter term or over the summer, understandably. On the national organization's website it says they are looking for committments of 6-12 months, so maybe the student chapters are exceptions when they do shorter projects. I would definitely want something longer so that it would fill the entire time off, or at least nine months of it to get me to summer 2006.

I would graduate in 2008 if this happened, since this would be a leave of absence and not study abroad, so no official credit would be given.

As long as the program included "room and board" (tarp and pita) and travel, although that could be fairly expensive, I would have no problem working with no other compensation. Just staying afloat is fine with me; hopefully Alan G. will keep prices in check while I am gone so my bank account doesn't become worthless :-).

Language: Potentially take a crash course in Spanish or French this summer? I will be working 40 hours a week, but that does leave a lot of time left over; if this turns into a real possibility, I think that any language barrier would be doable.

Other things to consider:

Passport, that's $100, but it's good for 15 years and I was thinking about getting one anyway, since you're going to need one from Canada anyway now.

Financial aid: I don't think this will be a big deal, since it will just be postponing things.

Insurance: I have to look into whether the University Health Plan would extend to me if I'm on leave, i.e. if I could purchase it and if it is good enough, since it might not cover a lot of things that might happen. This brings up two more things:

1. Vaccinations: Likely out of pocket expense, could get costly, and
2. "Things that might happen": Keep checking the US State Department Travel Advisories.

Also, a primer on insurance would be helpful. This isn't the type of thing you can just buy on the street, apparently.

In the interest of length, I am going to cut this off here. Next post is a continuation, focusing on some reasons why I want to do this instead of a stream of consciousness that's only helpful to me in getting things cleared out of my head.


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