Just a little note BEFORE YOU EOD. When my husband and I decided on a health plan we just thought about the area where we were from, NOT where we were going to end at when he graduated the academy.
The medical and dental providers here is VERY LIMITED. We have to travel to either Phoenix or California to get a doctor on our plan; which I think stinks. My point here is this: BEFORE you EOD to you station/sector, IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, call hospitals and doctors to see what plan they accept. You can also, Call the Personnel Dept. of BP they can also tell you what plans you can choose from, also, they can tell you what most BP's are using in that area, or the President of Aux. for BP spouses. These are just a few suggestions.
Open season for the Border Patrol to change your provider is in November, so you need to be as educated in this area as possible, you never know when something will happen. Please note, I am not slamming our insurance provider, they were good for Oklahoma, but not for this location. We didn't think this far advance, just trying to help out all the new folk in the insurance area. If you have any question, please feel free to e-mail me.
When you leave to EOD, you will arrive at your Station/Sector (at your expense), stay in a accommodations of your choice (at your expense), and of course eat where you want (at your expense). Are you wondering about how much MONEY you need to bring with you? Well this will vary. IMHO, you could bring $150.00 cash and bring a Debit/Credit Card or just bring around $300.00 cash. You can use your Debit Card from your bank or a Credit Card to pay for everything, cash works as well. You can use a credit/debit card pretty much where ever you go. Some cash will be helpful as not everyone accepts cards:( You will stay their approximate 3 days(at your expense).
While you are there you will fill out LOTS OF PAPER WORK. You have about 30 minutes to choose a health plan (see above about insurance), and you have about 5 to 8 plans to choose from. INS will fly you (at their expense) to where you will spend the next 19 weeks at either Charleston. The rest of the week you will not do much. The Following Monday it will start to kick in. They call the first Tuesday "Hell Day" You'll find out why :) You will get your ton of books, but don't worry! You will go through these books; a few at a time. But you WILL move QUICKLY.
As for Spanish, some need to know some basics before entering the academy, others will do fine going in and not knowing a lick. This will depend on your study habits/skills and how well you can pick up a foreign language. Above I have given you a list of URL's to find some material on studying Spanish. As for Spanish, you will have this course ALL THE WAY THROUGH!!! (It will be like taking 3 years of Spanish in 19 weeks) You have 3 hours a day in class JUST FOR SPANISH! You will have PT every other day for the first 10 weeks (this varies), after this you will have PT EVERYDAY for 2 months. EEECK! LOL All I am going to say here is that you need to be in fair shape or you will suffer.
Have a willing mind and eagerness to learn. As far as what is exactly studied, programs, or tests schedule for the class work, throughout the academy, I WILL NOT DISCUSS! This you will find out when you get there. Once you pass all your courses, you will get to graduate with the rest of your class. What an honor!!! You have approximately 40 to 60 work hours (7 to 10 working days, excluding weekends)to get to your sector/station. Once you get out of the academy, you have 1.5 months to prepare to take the 7 month test, if pass you get to stay for another 3.5 months, if you pass this one YAHOO, you only have 2 months of probation left.
If you fail ANY one of these you can kiss you booty goodbye! BTW: When you pass your 7 month test you also get a pay raise! You will move from either a GS 5 to GS7 OR GS 7 to GS9 (depending on what you start out as). Once you got your raise you will get your next LEVEL promotion in 18 months. This will get clearer once you are in the academy and after you get with other BPA's in the field.
I end here by saying: PREPARE YOURSELF BOTH - PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY!