Wednesday, July 25, 2012

School and Resources

Remember when this used to be a migraine blog? School hasn't even started yet and it's already taken over my brain.

My counselor is a lovely woman. Also, we aren't communicating well. I was under the impression that she was kind of my educational agent, that I'd go through her for all of my needs, since I have oh-so-many of them. I've been realizing slowly that that isn't the case. She can be amazingly helpful at times, but in the past few weeks I've had some spectacularly frustrating conversations with her.

There was the thing about going to campus, about how it hurts me real bad and can't I please submit forms digitally and register online and do all of this via email? The answer was no until the middle of last quarter and now suddenly it's a resounding yes. Oh, except for financial aid situations, maybe.

And I know this because my financial aid forms for this year still aren't completed. I submitted my fafsa, but because she'd helped me fill out the financial forms last year, I figured my counselor would be on top of it this year, too. I assumed that when I asked her, "Are there any other forms I need to fill out to make sure I can get my disability and financial assistance?" and she said, "No." that it actually meant "No." and not "I have no idea and you better be finding that out on your own or you'll be in trouble come fall quarter."

So, that's what that means, and now I'm in this scramble to register and pay and file forms and it's probably not nearly as complicated as I make it out to be, but it's a pretty big source of stress and confusion right now. I've registered, but can't pay yet, so I'm not sure how long they'll hold my spot.

When I got a hold of Financial Aid, they didn't want to let me submit anything electronically and my counselor also said that I'd have to come in. When I reminded her that we'd just established that I needed to stick to emailing and isn't this why I have a disabilities coordinator (nicer and slightly more subtly, though), her response was pretty much,"Oh yeah. Go ahead and fax it. This once." So, I faxed it all in and they took a week to update my online account to reflect only two out of three forms done, one's been returned as incomplete, and they've added two more.

I emailed my counselor, but she had nothing helpful to say, so I emailed financial aid and hope they'll have more advice than "Come in to the office", because that really doesn't work for me. By the time I'd get there, I'd be confused and irritable and wouldn't understand and/or remember anything they were saying anyway, which would maybe be fine for them, they'd get a signature out of me and we could all move on... until next year, when I AGAIN have no idea what I'm doing because no one explained it to me properly in the first place, in a context I could comprehend.

I'm trying to be patient. This will all be over soon and I'll be stressing about actual class instead!

On the academic side, I'm going to be taking poetry in the fall and I have a feeling that this class will be a challenge. I love to write and to read, and I used to write some terrible poetry myself, in my teen years, but honestly, if I had my choice now, this class would not be on the top of the list. I enrolled in poetry in the way back days and didn't withdraw properly when I decided it wasn't for me, so to get that negative mark off my record, I have to retake it. This is actually the first quarter that I've seen it offered as an online class, so I knew I had to jump on it, in case it doesn't last. I think I'll enjoy it in the end, but I predict that I'm going to have to WORK, and I'm feeling a little intimidated.

On a less stressful note, we went to our sorta-local community assistance place. In our old city, it was stark and huge and the experience was dominated by overhead speakers and bright, bright, bright fluorescent lighting. The workers were unaffected and often disdainful. I never, ever left those buildings without crying at least once from pain, humiliation, or both. But, this place was so different, I wasn't sure how much they'd be able to help us. There were well-used but clean and comfortable couches in the center of the place and a line of old computers against a wall which we saw a woman walk in and use, we found out later that they are available to anyone for job-searching purposes. There were pamphlets about social services everywhere. I tried to look at them all, you never know what will be useful, but it was a sea of WIC and domestic abuse and legal aid, and I counted myself lucky that I even saw the low income auto insurance one and the one about local food resources.

We sat on the couches and filled out some paperwork. We waited a few minutes and our assigned advocate called us in to her little office and started going over our details. She quickly identified a mistake in our utility billing which will save us quite a bit. Then she called the utility company, right there, to start the process of fixing it. She's a pro, this one.

When I asked about food resources, she told us that they host a free farmer's market two days a month. I was shocked. In our old city, we could get a bag of processed foods, most of which I couldn't eat, once a month. Here, I can get actual produce. I'm delighted.

And when conversation drifted to migraines and pets, she also told me about an acupuncturist who operates on a sliding scale, and let us in on who's the most affordable vet in the area. We left there feeling very lucky and like we'd found an empathetic resource, someone who wants to help us and wants us to succeed. After five years of dealing with social services, it's nice to have met someone who still cares.


Migrainista said...

So happy to hear that the local resources in your new area are so much more friendly and helpful. It makes a real difference, doesn't it. Good luck with all the school stuff.