The next hurdle for this whole adventure is looming: medical clearance. I know that I can handle Latvia health-wise and I'm sure my doctor thinks so, too, but I always worry about what people think of my cancer history. After med clearance comes through, I’ll be set with Fulbright.
For those of you who don’t know, I had thyroid cancer five years ago. It was fairly easy to treat. I had two surgeries. My thyroid was completely removed. I didn’t have to go through radiation or chemo. I take a little pill everyday and call it good.
Still, even though I know that I’m good to go, I worry that someone at Fulbright will see the cancer history and make assumptions. They probably won’t and I’m sure I’m not the first cancer survivor to apply and be accepted, but this is how my worrisome brain works. I’m also worried about the tight turn around time. Usually, people have more time to get this medical thing sorted. The paperwork says that the IIE (Institute of International Education) can ask for more tests to clarify things on the medical forms. That’s all well and good when someone is informed in March or April of their grantee status. When you’re informed late June, there is an added pressure.
Also, I keep expecting someone to call up and go “Uh, just joking. We really don’t want you.” I worry that if something happens and this falls through, everyone I’ve told will be disappointed. I qualify explanations with “Well, if I pass medical clearance, I’ll be going to Latvia.” People tell me what an accomplishment this is and I don’t really believe them.
It’s funny. I’m normally a fairly confident person. I know that I’m capable and personable. This whole process has shaken me, though. Maybe it was the initial alternate status. I don’t know. Grad school did the same thing. Up until the point I started at KU, I kept expecting someone to tell me that they’d changed their minds and had given funding to someone else. I had dreams about arriving in Lawrence for the orientation and my name not being on the list. Or showing up for classes and being told to leave.
The stress of this whole process cannot be explained. The waiting period is very long. I feel like my life has been in limbo while waiting for this to come through. It’s affected my friendships and other relationships.
I fully expect time abroad to be trying. Acclimating to a new continent, new country, new city, new job, new language, and new people is going to be very difficult. Waiting, though, is hell.
I didn’t write this to fish for compliments. Or really to seek reassurance. I guess I just wanted to be honest. It’s hard, sometimes, to go through this sort of process (be it Fulbright or a job hunt or graduate school) and it’s especially hard because we’re all very good at pretending we’re more confident than we really are.