Difference between pages "FAQs about Peace Corps in Cameroon" and "Packing List from China Volunteers Perspective"

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{{FAQs by country}}
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==Packing List from China Volunteers Perspective==
  
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This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in China and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in China.
  
 +
Note: Volunteer annotations can be read in italics.
  
 +
See the alternative official welcome book '''[[Packing list for China]]''' (which can also be edited)
  
===How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Cameroon?===
+
===General Clothing===
  
Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits.  The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds those limits. The Peace Corps’ allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 80 pounds total with a maximum weight of 50 pounds for any one bag. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website has a detailed list of permitted and prohibited items. Go to: http://www.tsa.gov/ travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm.
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•    SmartWool socks (''Thick socks are good for the winter. Knee socks feel warm.'')
  
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution. In addition, do not pack important documents or valuables in your checked luggage; luggage may be delayed on the way to Cameroon, so make sure any essentials are in your carry-on bags.  
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•    Good cotton underwear ''(If you are wedded to certain undergarments, bring them. If not, they are available here.)''
  
===What is the electric current in Cameroon?===
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•    Two-three pairs of khakis (''Or all purpose pants, but don't be afraid of color, variety. Khaki could get old.'') and two pairs of comfortable pants for leisure and travel (one pair of jeans and one pair of pants with zip-off legs)
  
In Cameroon, all appliances are powered with 220 volts (as is the case in most of Europe). However, there may be large fluctuations in power, and most appliances should be protected with a voltage regulator. These can be purchased throughout Cameroon.
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•    Four to six business casual shirts (men should have at least one shirt with a collar that can be worn with a tie)
  
===How much money should I bring?===
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•    One dressy outfit (a sport coat and a tie for men, a dress/skirt for women) ''for induction and banquets at campus''
  
Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. They are given a "settling-in allowance" and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money to purchase a cell phone or for use during vacation travels to other countries. Though it's not entirely safe to keep a large amount of cash in your house or on your person, it is preferable to traveler's checks and credit cards.  Identity theft is quickly on the rise in Cameroon, and incidents happen even when paying with them at established places like the Hilton.  Most volunteers who bring traveler's checks end up never using them because they are rarely accepted and expensive to cash. If you are bringing extra money to spend within Cameroon, then bring cash. You can convert it to local currency (Fcfa) and deposit it in your bank, or store it in your own envelope in the administrative safe in the Peace Corps Headquarters in Yaoundé. ATM cards are coming into much wider use in Africa and may also be beneficial while traveling. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.
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•    A good raincoat (a light raincoat, since it rains more in the summer) ''Yes!''
  
===When can I take vacation and have people visit me?===
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•    Two pairs of long underwear (light/medium) ''Yes! You will live in these for several months.''
  
Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training, the first three months of service, or the last three months of service, except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and the first three months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from your country director. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.  
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•    Winter coat, gloves, hat, and scarf (''I brought a down coat and was so glad I did. Alternatively, you can have down coats made here.'')
  
===Will my belongings be covered by insurance?===
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•    One or two heavy wool sweaters
  
The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects; Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. However, you can purchase personal property insurance before you leave.  If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be provided, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Volunteers should not ship or take valuable items overseas. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.
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•    Two to four long-sleeved shirts for layering
  
===Do I need an international driver’s license?===
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•    Shorts for sports/leisure
  
Volunteers in Cameroon do not need to get an international driver’s license because they are prohibited from operating privately owned motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minibuses to trucks, bicycles, and lots of walking. On very rare occasions, a Volunteer may be asked to drive a sponsor’s vehicle, but this can occur only with prior written permission of the country director. Should this occur, the Volunteer may obtain a local driver’s license. A U.S. driver’s license will facilitate the process, so bring it with you just in case.
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•    Two to four casual shirts for travel/leisure (shirts with a little spandex are great since your clothes will stretch out)
  
===What should I bring as gifts for Cameroonian friends and my host family? ===
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•    Pantyhose or tights (thick cotton or wool tights are important if you plan to wear skirts or dresses in the winter)
  
This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient.  Some gift suggestions include knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; maps of the world or Africa; souvenirs from your area; or photos to give away.
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•    Easy-care skirts (not too short, at least knee-length), and maybe a wool skirt for winter
  
===Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be? ===
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•    One or two short-sleeved or sleeveless dresses (no spaghetti straps) for summer (''Chinese women tend to wear dresses and heals. That doesn't mean you need to, just a heads up.'')
  
Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to individual sites until mid-way through pre-service training (PST), and are not actually posted at that site until they successfully complete PST. This gives the Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites, in addition to finalizing site selections with their ministry counterparts.  If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, or living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be. Most Volunteers live in small towns or in rural villages and are usually within one hour from another Volunteer. Some sites require a 10-to-12 hour drive from the provincial capital.
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=== Shoes === 
 +
Note that good shoes are available in China, but only in smaller sizes (up to size 8 for women and up to size 9 for men).
  
===How can my family contact me in an emergency?===
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•    One pair of sneakers (brand names are available locally, but at American prices)
  
The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 800.424.8580, extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574. For nonemergency questions, your family can call the country desk staff at the Peace Corps at 800.424.8580.
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•    One pair of teaching shoes (sturdy, comfortable, warm for winter)
  
 +
•    One pair of sturdy sandals (leather is recommended) to wear in the warm season
  
[[Category:Cameroon]]
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•    One pair of waterproof hiking boots
 +
 
 +
•    One pair of dress shoes
 +
 
 +
•    One pair of “kick-around” shoes
 +
 
 +
===Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items===
 +
 
 +
•    Deodorant (can be difficult to find in China)
 +
 
 +
•    A three-month supply of any prescription drugs you take (to have while the medical office orders your medication)
 +
 
 +
•    Contact lens solutions (available locally; note that the Peace Corps does not recommend wearing contact lenses, but most Volunteers who choose to have been able to wear them. You should still bring two pairs of glasses)
 +
 
 +
•    Any special makeup, facial soaps, or lotions you might want (''You might miss your favorites.'')
 +
 
 +
•    Tampons (hard to find in-country)
 +
 
 +
===Kitchen===
 +
 
 +
Most cooking supplies are available in-country, including eating and cooking utensils.
 +
 
 +
•    Spices: basil, thyme, sage, or other Western seasonings you use (can be purchased in Chengdu, ''but you generally have to buy in large quantities'' and are nice to bring if you have favorites)
 +
 
 +
•    A nonelectric coffeemaker if you drink coffee (available locally but American prices); a French press is a good alternative and can be bought in Chengdu and at some other sites -- ''I would say no need. We bought a French press here. The trickier thing is ground coffee.''
 +
 
 +
•    Baking pans and measuring cups (if you love to bake and want to buy a toaster oven in Chengdu—or maybe a former Volunteer left you one—you might need some supplies!)
 +
 
 +
===Miscellaneous===
 +
 
 +
•    Locks for travel and to keep valuables secure in your residence ''I wouldn't worry.''
 +
 
 +
•    Money belt or neck pouch
 +
 
 +
•    Sleeping bag that packs small for travel/warmth in winter
 +
 
 +
•    Swiss army knife or Leatherman tool
 +
 
 +
•    Watch (durable, water-resistant) "All over China."
 +
 
 +
•    Camera, filters, and extra lens cap; batteries are available locally but may be difficult to find
 +
 
 +
•    Small gifts such as stickers, stamps, coins, maps, key chains, etc.
 +
 
 +
•    Headlamp (great for travel and working in the dark when you need both hands)
 +
 
 +
•    Duct tape ''(not available in China, but things that may break or need sealing are)''
 +
 
 +
•    Musical instruments if you play (also available locally at reasonable prices)
 +
 
 +
•    Stain stick for laundry (your clothes will get filthy, so bring a few)
 +
 
 +
•    Earplugs (for the loud 6 a.m. wakeup call on campus)
 +
 
 +
•    Fitted sheets and pillowcases (schools provide sheets, but they are not fitted); perhaps flannel for winter ''Flannel sheets are nice!''
 +
 
 +
•    Pictures of clothing from catalogs if you plan to have clothes made
 +
 
 +
•    Games such as Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Taboo, Scattergories, and chess
 +
 
 +
•    Frisbee
 +
 
 +
•    Lonely Planet or Rough Guide to China ''Nice to have, but you can also buy pdfs of Lonely Planet on line. Also LP has a guide to SW China. Nice once you get your placement.''
 +
 
 +
•    Mandarin Chinese phrase book ''PC gives you a dictionary and language training. We never used ours.''
 +
 
 +
•    Checkbook (note that checks written from your U.S. bank account can take 40 days to clear at the local bank) ''I would leave this at home with someone who could send off checks if necessary. The need to write a check in China seems little to none.''
 +
 
 +
A key chain with a small flashlight attached
 +
 
 +
•    Copies of your diploma and teaching certificates (universities may ask for these) ''I think this is required packing by PC.''
 +
 
 +
•    Calendar (hard to find here)''undated planners are easy to find''
 +
 
 +
•    Picture frames (also hard to find; if you like frames for your family pictures, etc., bring some) ''I wouldn't waste the space.''
 +
 
 +
•    Documents from home (if you are considering a future move, such as graduate school, etc. It will make your life much easier if you bring certain documents or copies from home [e.g., GRE scores, an unofficial transcript]; if you own a house and are renting, bring a copy of your lease, and if you may sell your house, pack a copy of deed information)
 +
 
 +
•    Laptop ''Yes!''
 +
 
 +
•    iPod or MP3 player, CDs, speakers ''You can buy all this here. We brought iPods and bought speakers here.''
 +
 
 +
•    Contact information for former employers, references, schools, election office (to request an absentee ballot), bank
 +
 
 +
•    Hard and electronic copies of resume
 +
 
 +
•    Checkbook and ATM card tied to account ''If you are B of A in the States there's no fee to use your ATM with China Construction Bank.''
 +
 
 +
•    Credit card "Helpful for international travel and online bookings and purchases."
 +
 
 +
•    Power of Attorney
 +
 
 +
===Books to supplement those assigned by the college. ===
 +
 
 +
These might include:
 +
•    The ESL Miscellany: A Treasury of Cultural and Linguistic Information: New 21st Century by Raymond C. Clark (Pro Lingua Associates, revised edition 2004)
 +
 
 +
•    High school history books
 +
 
 +
•    Books about your city or area
 +
 
 +
•    Children’s books (the pictures can be useful)
 +
 
 +
•    Books about U.S. holidays or customs
 +
 
 +
•    Literature anthologies
 +
 
 +
•    General references like a world almanac
 +
 
 +
•    A writing and grammar handbook
 +
 
 +
•    Activity books for English conversation and environmental classes
 +
 
 +
Note: Books are really heavy to pack. The Peace Corps Information and Resource Center (IRC) is a great resource, as well as the Book Aid International program. Many reference materials are also available online. It may be more effective to bring a flash disk with your favorite handouts and lessons, and to print those things in-country. Family and friends can also send books from home if needed. ''PC and the IRC don't have a good selection of books for PCVs personal use, however.''
 +
 
 +
•    Pictures or slides of your family, hometown, and “typical” America (supermarkets, schools, street scenes, historical sites, weddings and other celebrations)
 +
 
 +
•    World atlas and maps of the world, United States, your state, etc.
 +
 
 +
•    Restaurant menus, job application forms, sales announcements, product catalogs, college brochures, recycling handouts, and sightseeing brochures to use in classes
 +
 
 +
You may consider having some things, like heavy and bulky winter clothing, sent to you after you have arrived at your site, or you may consider bringing funds to purchase clothing (depending on your size). '''The key is to bring what you love and don’t bring too much!'''

Revision as of 20:05, 8 May 2010

Packing List from China Volunteers Perspective

This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in China and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in China.

Note: Volunteer annotations can be read in italics.

See the alternative official welcome book Packing list for China (which can also be edited)

General Clothing

• SmartWool socks (Thick socks are good for the winter. Knee socks feel warm.)

• Good cotton underwear (If you are wedded to certain undergarments, bring them. If not, they are available here.)

• Two-three pairs of khakis (Or all purpose pants, but don't be afraid of color, variety. Khaki could get old.) and two pairs of comfortable pants for leisure and travel (one pair of jeans and one pair of pants with zip-off legs)

• Four to six business casual shirts (men should have at least one shirt with a collar that can be worn with a tie)

• One dressy outfit (a sport coat and a tie for men, a dress/skirt for women) for induction and banquets at campus

• A good raincoat (a light raincoat, since it rains more in the summer) Yes!

• Two pairs of long underwear (light/medium) Yes! You will live in these for several months.

• Winter coat, gloves, hat, and scarf (I brought a down coat and was so glad I did. Alternatively, you can have down coats made here.)

• One or two heavy wool sweaters

• Two to four long-sleeved shirts for layering

• Shorts for sports/leisure

• Two to four casual shirts for travel/leisure (shirts with a little spandex are great since your clothes will stretch out)

• Pantyhose or tights (thick cotton or wool tights are important if you plan to wear skirts or dresses in the winter)

• Easy-care skirts (not too short, at least knee-length), and maybe a wool skirt for winter

• One or two short-sleeved or sleeveless dresses (no spaghetti straps) for summer (Chinese women tend to wear dresses and heals. That doesn't mean you need to, just a heads up.)

Shoes

Note that good shoes are available in China, but only in smaller sizes (up to size 8 for women and up to size 9 for men).

• One pair of sneakers (brand names are available locally, but at American prices)

• One pair of teaching shoes (sturdy, comfortable, warm for winter)

• One pair of sturdy sandals (leather is recommended) to wear in the warm season

• One pair of waterproof hiking boots

• One pair of dress shoes

• One pair of “kick-around” shoes

Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items

• Deodorant (can be difficult to find in China)

• A three-month supply of any prescription drugs you take (to have while the medical office orders your medication)

• Contact lens solutions (available locally; note that the Peace Corps does not recommend wearing contact lenses, but most Volunteers who choose to have been able to wear them. You should still bring two pairs of glasses)

• Any special makeup, facial soaps, or lotions you might want (You might miss your favorites.)

• Tampons (hard to find in-country)

Kitchen

Most cooking supplies are available in-country, including eating and cooking utensils.

• Spices: basil, thyme, sage, or other Western seasonings you use (can be purchased in Chengdu, but you generally have to buy in large quantities and are nice to bring if you have favorites)

• A nonelectric coffeemaker if you drink coffee (available locally but American prices); a French press is a good alternative and can be bought in Chengdu and at some other sites -- I would say no need. We bought a French press here. The trickier thing is ground coffee.

• Baking pans and measuring cups (if you love to bake and want to buy a toaster oven in Chengdu—or maybe a former Volunteer left you one—you might need some supplies!)

Miscellaneous

• Locks for travel and to keep valuables secure in your residence I wouldn't worry.

• Money belt or neck pouch

• Sleeping bag that packs small for travel/warmth in winter

• Swiss army knife or Leatherman tool

• Watch (durable, water-resistant) "All over China."

• Camera, filters, and extra lens cap; batteries are available locally but may be difficult to find

• Small gifts such as stickers, stamps, coins, maps, key chains, etc.

• Headlamp (great for travel and working in the dark when you need both hands)

• Duct tape (not available in China, but things that may break or need sealing are)

• Musical instruments if you play (also available locally at reasonable prices)

• Stain stick for laundry (your clothes will get filthy, so bring a few)

• Earplugs (for the loud 6 a.m. wakeup call on campus)

• Fitted sheets and pillowcases (schools provide sheets, but they are not fitted); perhaps flannel for winter Flannel sheets are nice!

• Pictures of clothing from catalogs if you plan to have clothes made

• Games such as Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Taboo, Scattergories, and chess

• Frisbee

• Lonely Planet or Rough Guide to China Nice to have, but you can also buy pdfs of Lonely Planet on line. Also LP has a guide to SW China. Nice once you get your placement.

• Mandarin Chinese phrase book PC gives you a dictionary and language training. We never used ours.

• Checkbook (note that checks written from your U.S. bank account can take 40 days to clear at the local bank) I would leave this at home with someone who could send off checks if necessary. The need to write a check in China seems little to none.

A key chain with a small flashlight attached

• Copies of your diploma and teaching certificates (universities may ask for these) I think this is required packing by PC.

• Calendar (hard to find here)undated planners are easy to find

• Picture frames (also hard to find; if you like frames for your family pictures, etc., bring some) I wouldn't waste the space.

• Documents from home (if you are considering a future move, such as graduate school, etc. It will make your life much easier if you bring certain documents or copies from home [e.g., GRE scores, an unofficial transcript]; if you own a house and are renting, bring a copy of your lease, and if you may sell your house, pack a copy of deed information)

• Laptop Yes!

• iPod or MP3 player, CDs, speakers You can buy all this here. We brought iPods and bought speakers here.

• Contact information for former employers, references, schools, election office (to request an absentee ballot), bank

• Hard and electronic copies of resume

• Checkbook and ATM card tied to account If you are B of A in the States there's no fee to use your ATM with China Construction Bank.

• Credit card "Helpful for international travel and online bookings and purchases."

• Power of Attorney

Books to supplement those assigned by the college.

These might include: • The ESL Miscellany: A Treasury of Cultural and Linguistic Information: New 21st Century by Raymond C. Clark (Pro Lingua Associates, revised edition 2004)

• High school history books

• Books about your city or area

• Children’s books (the pictures can be useful)

• Books about U.S. holidays or customs

• Literature anthologies

• General references like a world almanac

• A writing and grammar handbook

• Activity books for English conversation and environmental classes

Note: Books are really heavy to pack. The Peace Corps Information and Resource Center (IRC) is a great resource, as well as the Book Aid International program. Many reference materials are also available online. It may be more effective to bring a flash disk with your favorite handouts and lessons, and to print those things in-country. Family and friends can also send books from home if needed. PC and the IRC don't have a good selection of books for PCVs personal use, however.

• Pictures or slides of your family, hometown, and “typical” America (supermarkets, schools, street scenes, historical sites, weddings and other celebrations)

• World atlas and maps of the world, United States, your state, etc.

• Restaurant menus, job application forms, sales announcements, product catalogs, college brochures, recycling handouts, and sightseeing brochures to use in classes

You may consider having some things, like heavy and bulky winter clothing, sent to you after you have arrived at your site, or you may consider bringing funds to purchase clothing (depending on your size). The key is to bring what you love and don’t bring too much!