I arrived in Champaign six days ago.
The trip itself was the usual transatlantic flight; an inordinate amount of time on your hands which you want to whittle away. Heathrow was as usual more of a hindrance than a detail of the voyage. Chicago was actually good though. I took the train for a change, and that was refreshingly different. visiting the city itself was also pretty fun, considering I had only had a couple of hours of sleep the night before, and had been awake for about 20 hours already. But seeing the cityscape in the distance was inspiring enough, and making my way about Union station was interesting in that U.S. train stations bear no relationship whatsoever to their European counterparts.
The train itself was pretty funny. firstly, getting on the train was as bad, if not worse, than getting on a plane. for a nation characterised by that independent streak, Amtrak is surprisingly adverse to the whole DIY philosophy that one could find in the U.K. for example. Nonetheless it was the first time that I felt that I was travelling in style. The train services are actually named; mine was called "the city of New Orleans", simply because it is the Chicago-New Orleans service. There is the coolest amount of leg room, the conductors are incredibly polite, the trains are double deckers (with the funny twist of luggage being held in the ground floor, and passengers chilling in the top floor), giving everything the peculiar feel of being taken back fifty or sixty years ago.
In any case...
back to the main point of the blog. I finally arrived here and can start taking care of all the medical, dental and optical records, files and examinations I have to take or submit for the peace corps. Since it all has to be in english, I have to have it all done by the 26th, thirteen days from now.
Some of the things I will have to do are standard: physical examination, dental X-rays, blood and urine tests. But me being me, what would generally be an easy process becomes convoluted through the intricacies of multi/trans/international lifestyles. I have to have medical records translated from spanish to english. Not only does this include my surgery report for when I had peritonitis fourteen years ago; in theory it also includes my immunisation history which by the end of this process will be brand spanking new and updated with the MMR, polio and Td "boosters" (making it sound like a video game). I probably have some of these, some others I do not, but I honestly do not have the foggiest idea at the moment.
In any case, I will be having the physical in three hours. I will soon find out the following: my height (feet/inches), weight (lbs), blood pressure (mm resting), pulse (bpm resting), hearing (whisper test or other gross test, which sounds pretty funny) and gross vision. They will also test for HIV serology, CBC, Hepatitis A, B and C, and the thrilling G6PD titer. All this gives Medicine the most byzantine of perceptions. In any case, being a thorough exam, I will soon find out if I have any of the above mentioned. I hope to high heaven I do not. In any case, any positive results will be extremely nasty surprises and in themselves rather ironic.
So this whole process has me looking back on my bodily history and remembering some pains and illnesses from way back when. Hopefully it will be worth it; I dont want to have to update it all with exotic and funny sounding tropical diseases by the time I'm through with it all.