A White Blank Page and a Swelling Rage

I had a very….upsetting…. conversation on the phone on Friday afternoon. I called FedLoan servicing to ask them for the form I will need to defer my student loans during Peace Corps service. The man I spoke with was not helpful and told me, incorrectly, that I would have to request a forbearance instead of a deferral for various reasons. In order to do this, I would have to submit documentation in November. I replied that it would likely be very difficult to do that as I will be living in a rural village in South Africa at that time and will likely not have consistent access to a scanner or fax machine. The guy suggested I take advantage of the local children. He told me I should “just give one of the African kids a few US dollars and make them run it down to the courier or post office or whatever.” I have been mad plenty of times in my life, but the suggestion he laughed about filled me with white hot rage. What he thought was a funny jibe, I found a disgusting suggestion to use the poverty and life circumstances of those I will be serving for my own benefit. I was proud of myself because I was able to say “that was INCREDIBLY inappropriate” without sinking to his level or yelling or cussing. He changed the subject and continued on acting as though nothing had happened and I ended up hanging up on him. I’m not proud of letting my anger get the best of me and I usually try not to use inappropriate language when posting things online, but what a piece of shit! I gave myself a full six days to calm down so I wouldn’t get mad at the next person I spoke with because of his inappropriate behavior and called in today. My first move was to ask the girl I was speaking with for the employee ID of the man I had talked to on Friday. I made the mistake of not writing down his name, but I made sure to record the name of every person I spoke with today. I then asked her to transfer me to a supervisor and she asked me what it was in reference to. When I told her, she got a supervisor on the phone ASAP. I relayed my experience to the supervisor, who was clearly upset appalled by her employee’s behavior. I’m not sure what will be done about it, but I have requested that they follow up with me to ensure that appropriate measures are being taken. Though I didn’t say so to them, I have every intention of contacting the media with names and employee ID numbers if all this guy gets is a slap on the wrist. I will let y’all know what happens when I find out more!


Peace Corps Mail

Hello again everyone! I’ve posted this a few places, but the best way to get me mail during my training is to send it to me at:

Catherine Cottam
c/o U.S. Peace Corps
P.O. Box 9536
Pretoria 0001
South Africa

Letters would be FANTASTIC. Some of you have also expressed interest in care packages. I have gathered some different mailing/packaging tips for you all from various sources, as listed at the bottom.

  • USPS is cheapest.
  • Include the words “Airmail” and “Par Avion” on envelopes and packages.
  • Postcards will most likely not get to me.
  • To help ensure packages reach me without postal workers having gotten curious and stealing items, do the following:
  • Include an itemized list in the box.
  • Tape the package up like crazy
  • Write as clearly as possible.
  • Draw crosses, write Bible verses, and phrases like, “Jesus loves you” and “God is watching” all over the box.
  • Do not declare the package as anything tempting like “Clothing,” “Candy,” and “Books.” Instead write “Religious Materials,” “Bibles,” or “Teaching Materials.” Use the word “Used” in front as much as possible. Declare the value as $10 or less.






I will add more information as I get it!

Adventure, PCV, Random Life Things

All About Me

I realize that my blog has been getting more traffic lately from people I don’t actually know. It’s probably because I’ve been posting Peace Corps things 🙂 I guess I should probably tell y’all about myself.

  • I just turned 24 on Easter
  • I have a B.S. in Psychology from the Honors College at Western Carolina University
  • I am currently a full time graduate student in internship semester working on my M.A.Ed. in School Counseling
  • I was born in Texas but moved to North Carolina the summer before third grade
  • I live with my parents in the house I grew up in
  • I have one absolutely amazing big brother
  • I have a ton of cousins, the majority of whom live in Tennessee
  • I volunteered at an orphanage in Kenya for two weeks in July 2012
  • I was the secretary of my high school’s FFA
  • I was also on staff for Army JROTC
  • I don’t speak any other languages
  • I have five tattoos, all of which can be easily covered by clothing.
  • I am a feminist
  • I am also a secular humanist, but was raised in the Catholic Church
  • I love to read
  • I graduated from A.C. Reynolds High School in Asheville, NC
  • I am passionate about sharing my love of reading
  • I enjoy knitting
  • I love Coca Cola and anything that combines chocolate with peanut butter
  • I’m the pickiest eater I know
  • I love to listen to music. Ed Sheeran and Mumford and Sons are what I have been listening to the most lately
  • There is nothing more beautiful to me than a clear night sky. I love to look up at the stars. It reminds me that I’m part of something bigger
  • I began my journey applying for the Peace Corps in August and I will be leaving for a teaching position in South Africa this July
  • I horseback rode regularly for a little over five years, then injured my back and have been unable to return to it
  • I have worked in a bookstore, a few summer camps, a frozen custard shop, a few offices, and in hotel housekeeping
  • I love watching the moment when a student “gets” something he or she didn’t understand before
  • I am a huge nerd/dork/whatever you want to call me 🙂
  • I love Harry Potter
  • I also love Doctor Who, Sherlock, Firefly, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, the Vampire Diaries, and Mel Brooks films

Books I enjoyed reading include but are not limited to:

  • The Harry Potter Series
  • Anything by Christopher Moore, particularly Lamb
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Books by Chelsea Handler
  • Walk Two Moons
  • The Hobbit
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Number the Stars
  • Rena’s Promise
  • His Dark Materials Trilogy
  • The Book Thief
  • Anything by Roald Dahl
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy
  • Wildwood
  • Anything by Shel Silverstein
  • World War Z
  • The Wizard of Oz Collection
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Beloved
  • The Lovely Bones
  • Les Miserables
  • The Other Boleyn Girl
  • The Wicked Series

There are many more, but that’s all for now 🙂