Wow time has flown! The new RED intake group appears to be coming soon (total shout out to Stephanie Pena for the package thank you!); I applied to be a trainer this PST so we’ll see. Anyway I’ve gotten a few incoming Reds requesting advice on what to pack (especially for the ladies) so I figured I’d present some sort of guide.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:
- - Don’t Stress you can buy EVERYTHING in Lusaka just remember it will be expensive and of lower quality.
- - You don’t need that much clothes. And remember you can wash your clothes. Don’t plan for 2 years. Plan for like 2 weeks to a month. You can’t go shopping in training but once posted you’ll find tons of clothes shops. Just think in terms of work, village time, and traveling.
- - Bring Money, or at least have some money in your bank. Although honestly PC pays you more than enough.
- - In PC Zambia we have provincial houses, where you have access to wireless internet and electricity most are like nice hostels with beds and showers. Your also given 4 house nights a month at said houses (after PST and CE), I use it all the time for the blog, for pictures, for VRT reporting.
- - You can get discounts! They are worth it, I saved like $1000 coming here with them. Go to http://www.peacecorpswiki.org/Volunteer_discounts and see! Also just ask, sometimes stores offer discounts.
1. Things I’m REALLY Glad I Brought
Laptop: Despite my hesitance at first, I found bringing my laptop one of the best idea ever. Though the idea of bring a laptop to a mud hut seems insane, with PC house it makes sense.
Camera: I brought 2 cameras (one SLR and one crappy digital with video), I have loved having them both. I use them all the time and love being able to document this experience.
Kindle: Oh my god. The kindle is the most wonderful electronic invention known to man. I really did not want a kindle, I thought the idea of making books electronic was going too far. But I have to admit, having 30 books to read at a time and the month long battery life has been so wonderful. On the worst days, I always have a book to read (which for me is a basic need).
Solio: I think this was a good investment; I use it mostly to charge my I-pod. It does take awhile to charge though and requires direct sunlight. If you have it brings it though.
Ipod with Ipod speakers: When you can dance you heart off to your favorite music in you hut. You’ll understand.
The secret behind a lot of these items is that, most likely in your village SOMEONE has a solar panel, especially if you work in the schools. Your teachers are wealthy, and most have electricity.
PROFESSIONAL CLOTHING IF YOU’RE IN RED! I cannot stress this enough. In the RED program you are working with teachers all day every day. And Zambia professionals will always dress better then you. The Men wear 3 piece suits with perfectly shined shoes, and the women are constantly in the latest fashions from South Africa complete with beautiful done hair and high heels.
Alright, you’re gonna get told to get a tent. You can get go get a $20 one from target. Get like a 40 degree sleeping bag, nothing meant for cold weather. I WOULD recommend a utility knife you’ll use it. If you’re a hardcore camper and plan on doing more, you can get a better one. But don’t stress.
Bring Journals, it’s a nice thing to have to vent or just write what happened today.For the women. Diva cup all the way. But if you’re not into that, Peace Corps provides tampons, but not pads. And ladies and gentleman bring things for those long lonely nights, because there will be many and there isn’t any adult shops that’s all I’m saying.
2. Things That I Totally Didn’t Need to Bring:
Stamps, envelopes, chalk, can opener, lighters, so much “village clothes”, etc. Long story short, you can get everything in Lusaka. And I mean everything.
3. Things I Wish I Brought:
Sauces/candy/luxury snacks : I know this sounds silly but you’ll see when you get here. You can’t get those things here; I’d recommend packets from fast food places. And individually wrapped candy.
Pens: The pens here suck, they really really suck.
Cold Season Things: Cold season is cold! You don’t need a lot but it would be worth it to bring some close toe shoes and a hoodie.
Smart Cell phone from America: If you have one just go get it unlocked and bring it here. The phones here are expensive and tend to break.
Games: Card games are really popular here, you’re going to have a lot of free time and with no distractions. It’s a great way to get to know people.
Movies on Hard-drive: People are constantly giving you movies from their computer, or asking to swipe music/movies. Its fun and worth to burn a few of your favorite.
I know this seems overwhelming but, don’t stress. Its going to be fun, and crazy adventure. Can’t wait to see you all in January!