I've been in my PCMI program now for about a month. I moved here to Normal, Illinois in mid-August a week before my classes started. For my program, I am taking four classes, have a fifteen house a week graduate assistantship. Two of my classes are in economics and two are in community development. I am enjoying all of them so far, but at times they can be a little overwhelming. Despite all this, I've also managed to join the ISU ultimate team, so there is still free time that I can negotiate with.
Normal itself is a nice town. It's definitely no Athens in terms of music or events, but its not a bad place. I live only a few blocks from Uptown Normal (what they are calling their revitalized downtown normal) and a few more blocks from campus. The weather has begun to get a little chilly though (40 degrees in September!), but I'm looking forward to braving my first "real" winter.
In Peace Corps news, I have received both my medical and dental clearance. It was super fast for both of them. Fortunately, I did not have any hang ups. I saw one doctor and one dentist, and that was it. I know some people in the program here are having to see lots of doctors or have problems with their x-rays. Because I got it done so soon, I think I will have to have my dental x-rays redone, but that shouldn't be too bad. I was able to get it done for free the first time by using someone from the organization the PC sent as doing free dental work. It took a few calls to different people on the list, but finally someone seemed to know what I was talking about, and would do it for free. (Thanks Dr. Larry Miller!)
I can't help to compare this experience with what I would be doing if I didn't do this (straight into the Peace Corps). I'm sure that would be slightly (slightly meaning incredibly) more exciting than what I am doing now, but I will experience the excitement a year from now. Right now, I am getting to meet interesting peers who also care about development issues, learn from professionals in the field, and make new friends in Illinois. In other words, I am happy to be here rather than going straight into the Peace Corps.