When I first took the VISTA position I had recently received my undergrad degree and had moved back in with my parents. I was living no more than 5 miles from my place of work and giving my dad about $500 a month. I basically had the upstairs of the house to myself though living with your parents can always be odd and awkward. However, at the end of January I moved to Concord into a condo/apartment thing with my friend Grant. Now I commute to work, about 22 miles I think, have a much smaller room, and pay only $300 a month. I also gained a community building with an exercise room and an indoor pool. Because of the car accident in December, I have a more fuel efficient car which helps keep me close to staying within my allotted $75 gas card. However, it's really the $200 savings from the rent differential that makes the move worth it (besides being able to sit and drink on the couch without my dad asking me if I'm "making the right decisions" with my life). Even with the extra gas cost and food cost I'm not hemorrhaging any money and my bank account is holding pretty steady. I do have to say that tax returns are awesome though.
Since it is now April and I have to do my third quarter report this week it is once again that time of year where you are somewhat allowed to seriously question every major decision you've ever made and become flat-out frightened of the future... especially if you have a liberal arts degree. Grad schools are increasingly hard, and costly, to break into and once you've gone through the undergrad loan situation I feel most people get jaded by it, to put it lightly. Personally, I am amongst those with the highest percentage of unmanageable school debt, meaning that I went to school in NH - a state which, if it increased its higher education aid by 50%, would still be last out of all 50 states. So, since I'm not going to grad school and I cannot reasonably afford to live at VISTA level again, nor at the level of the coveted VISTA "Leader" position, I must use this resume building experience to 1) build an effective resume that fully captures my year of service and 2) get a job that doesn't pay me with dangling carrots and food stamps.
As a VISTA, if you do your job at all, you will have met many people from several organizations that work with yours, regardless of what your work plan says. I think the time has come for me to really plant some seeds that may germinate into real positions. Currently, I work with the Manchester 21st CCLC afterschool program and PlusTime NH. It makes sense that, since they know me the best, I attempt to find a full-time position in those organizations. However, this can be tough as workers in the nonprofit realm understand that they are probably tasked with the work of what would be at least two positions in the private sector. Therefore, even though a new position may be clearly necessary to all involved it does not mean that it will become a reality. The normal option, of course, is to see if somebody leaves his or her position and snatch that up but I'm not really sure if I have the desire to be a full-time site coordinator. Sometimes it's tough to decide between trying to find something you really want to do and taking that which is readily available - especially when lots of kids are involved.