The work it takes to prepare for life in a less developed country is a second job in itself. There are numerous things to sort out in the next couple months: housing, plane tickets, visa applications, vaccinations, etc. Emails in my work inbox alternate between my current workload plans underway with my soon-to-be co-workers at MCI.
This trip is not my first experience with living overseas. Back in 2004, I lived in Australia for four months as part of my PhD dissertation work, thanks to having an advisor who encouraged overseas trips. The passage of time often leads to hazy, less-than-accurate remembrances, but I don't recall having this same internal struggle to balance my PhD workload and proposed research in Australia. Perhaps it's as simple as the self-absorbed nature of a graduate program, in which the activities of one graduate student rarely impact the completion of another student's project, but I didn't spend very much time or energy preparing for that trip. Getting the visa for Oz was a simple case of determining that I should be called a "Visiting Academic", sending in my passport and some forms, and waiting for my passport to come back--unlike the extensive process underway for my Ghana visa (more on that later).
The skill of multi-tasking is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to planning this trip. While I'm glad I can sort out many of the logistics while I'm still here, it makes it difficult to focus on what I still need to do here in the US on a day-to-day basis.