Ok so I've come onto a life-changing decision to make and I am having a really tough time deciding, so I figured I'd give you all a shot at weighing in (though, no offense mods, but I'd like it if the rest of the board could contribute.) Here's the situation. I'm in the process of trying to decide where to go for graduate school. For pretty much all of my undergraduate career I had one plan and that was to do well enough to get into a solid Economics PhD program. I succeeded and have gained acceptance to 2 good programs in my field of choice. My goal has been to have a focus in Experimental and Developmental economics. My long term goal has been to do research taking insights from experimental econ and applying them to developmental settings. However, I recently came across a program which has grabbed my interest. It is a masters program in applied economics and statistics combined with the peace corps. (by the way, I'd like to give a public thanks to board members "downdirty" for turning me on to this program and taking the time to answer questions and sharing his experience in a pm conversation) This program would entail a year of classwork and then 2 years abroad working in a remote village with local leaders in developing projects to help these poor communities. There are several pros and cons I'm trying to take into account here. A big one is the money question. The peace corps program I'd have to pay for through loans(though I have gotten a partial scholarship so the loans would in total be about 30 grand over 3 years). The PhD program on the other hand is all paid for through scholarships and includes a stipend on top. The PhD program is obviously the safe route. I've been thinking about this for years and has always been the plan. It involves no financial burden and should take me to where I have had plans on going for many years now. On the the other hand this peace corps program is dangerous but I've become completely enthralled with it. The more I learn about it the ore interested I become. I feel it would provide invaluable hands on experience professionally and personally speaking. Downdirty has told me that while the experience is difficult, he wouldn't trade it for the world. However, 2 years is a long time to spend away from family and friends in a completely alien environment. I keep wondering, what if I go insane and just can't handle the separation and alienation? I also keep thinking that if I don't do it, I'll always regret it. The only experience that is remotely similar to what this would entail would be when I studied abroad for a semester in London. That experience was one of the best of my life, but it was only a semester as opposed to two years and during it I was surrounded with people like me. I realize that this is one of those things that don't have a clear cut answer and eventually I'll just have to roll the dice and make the decision myself and hope it works out for the best, but I'd really like to hear what the TIB has to say on the matter. What would you do if you were in my situation?