The Plan – Travel, Learn, Volunteer
We’ve gotten rid of almost everything we own. I’m done with more than 10 years in the Navy. Angela leaves her job as a registered nurse in March. Here’s the plan…
Angela and I have decided to take a gap year in Latin America beginning in Bolivia. Our goals are to learn Spanish and volunteer where we can help. We are applying to the Peace Corps this week (Nicaragua and Paraguay). The application could take about a year.
Our timeline as of today:
- February – March
- My last day of work was Friday. I had a great send off from my colleagues at APCSS.
- Submit PC application online tonight.
- 3 weeks in New York City to take Spanish lessons and take the Spanish CLEP exam for our PC application. We’ll need at least a 50 for Nicaragua and 63 for Paraguay.
- Apply for Bolivian visa at consulate in NYC.
- My friend and I visit Nicaragua to take Spanish lessons. I’ll take one more Defense Language Proficiency Test to see if I improved over the last 7 months.
- Angela finishes work at Queen’s Hospital.
- Angela and I host our anniversary party in San Diego for friends and family.
- We visit my grandparents in Michigan.
- If everything works out, we arrive in La Paz, Bolivia mid-month. Our visa will last 90 days.
- April – July
- Study Spanish 4 hours a day at Instituto Exclusivo. We’ll be staying will a host family.
- Depending on how our studies are going, we might be able to do some volunteer work.
- July – August
- We have to leave Bolivia (US citizens can only stay 90 days a year, no renewals).
- We’ll travel to Peru where we’ve arranged to do a 7 day hike to Machu Picchu.
- Beyond August
- We have some rough plans, but we don’t want to overstructure our journey. We’d like to be able to take advantage of things we learn along the way.
- We’ll keep studying and volunteer more as language skills improve. We plan to be gone for about a year.
- We’ll see how our PC application fairs. It’s tougher to get accepted as a couple because they have to find a location with jobs that fit both our backgrounds. The spots we are applying for leave in late February.
- We hope to visit some friends working in Argentina.
- We plan to take a DELE Spanish language proficiency test before we return. I’d like to test into the “C1” level – “Effective Operational Proficiency” in the Common European Framework system.
We hope this gap year will lead to new opportunities. Angela wants to pursue public health and I’m looking at going back to school for an advanced degree in urban planning and international development.
But for now, aloha Honolulu!