FAQs about Peace Corps in Turkmenistan
- 1 How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Turkmenistan?
- 2 What is the electric current in Turkmenistan?
- 3 How much money should I bring?
- 4 When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- 5 Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- 6 Do I need an international driver’s license?
- 7 What should I bring as gifts for Turkmen friends and my host family?
- 8 Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- 9 How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- 10 Can I call home from Turkmenistan?
- 11 Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- 12 Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Turkmenistan?
The Peace Corps will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceed airline limits. The current baggage allowance is 2 pieces per person each weighing a maximum of 23 kg (50 lbs.) and maximum dimensions of 158 cm (62 in.) (addition of L+W+H). Maximum weight allowed is 45 kg (100 lbs.) Airline regulations vary and change as a result of factors beyond the control of Peace Corps. For bags exceeding 23 kg (50 lbs.) and up to 32 kg/pc (70 lbs.) a flat fee of $25 per piece is charged. If the bag exceeds 32 kg (70 lbs.) or the maximum dimension of 158 cm (62 in.) an additional fee of $180 to $200 (depending on destination) is charged. Carry-on luggage must conform to airline policies. These conditions apply for most of the European and major U.S. carriers, but flights to and from certain countries and on specific airlines will vary. Many things can be bought here, especially clothing items, toiletries, etc. Think long and hard about what you pack and consider doing some of your shopping here.
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. Please check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for a detailed list of permitted and prohibited items at http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permittedprohibited-items.shtm.
What is the electric current in Turkmenistan?
The electric current in Turkmenistan is 220 volts. If you bring any appliances with you, a small, universal power converter would be very helpful. A surge protector is also highly recommended.
How much money should I bring?
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 for vacation travel to other countries, this is a good idea if you plan on taking vacations outside of Turkmenistan. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash for trips. If you choose to bring extra money, bring an amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.
When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
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 after 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. A local travel company in Ashgabat can help arrange the documents needed for a visit.
Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
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 such 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.
Do I need an international driver’s license?
Volunteers in Turkmenistan 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 and lots of walking. It is a good idea to renew your US driver’s license if it will expire while you are overseas.
What should I bring as gifts for Turkmen friends and my host family?
Gifts are not required, but we encourage you to bring something small to give to your host family when you meet them at the end of your first week in-country. You may also want to bring a similar gift for the second host family with whom you will live at your permanent worksite for a minimum of six months after beginning your service. Some gift suggestions include knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away.
Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
Peace Corps trainees are assigned to individual sites during pre-service training, after the Peace Corps staff has the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills and finalize site selections with ministry counterparts.
If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, and 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. You will have an opportunity to visit your permanent site for a few days during training. 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 capital.
How can my family contact me in an emergency?
The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, you should 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 non-emergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580.
Can I call home from Turkmenistan?
Yes. Although there is direct-dial access in some regions of the country, in most areas international calls (except those to other CIS countries) must be booked through an operator, which can cause significant delays in placing calls. The current rate for calls to United States is approximately $1 per minute; there are no discounted periods.
Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
No, because you probably will not be able to use it in Turkmenistan. Cellphone coverage is limited but is becoming available in more areas of the country. Satellite phones also are rare, and having one might make Turkmen think you are a spy.
Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
Internet access is very limited, so most Volunteers do not have regular access to e-mail. It is a good idea to explain this to family and friends so that they do not worry when they do not hear from you often. Some Volunteers bring laptop computers, but they are responsible for insuring and maintaining the computers themselves; the Peace Corps will not replace stolen computers and strongly encourages those who bring them to get personal property insurance. Because of the high value of laptops, owners significantly increase their risk of becoming a victim of crime. You probably will not find the same level of technical assistance and service here as you would at home, and replacement parts could take months to arrive. Also note that gaining Internet access via your laptop is only a remote possibility because few Volunteers have telephone lines in their home or adequate lines in their community or place of work. If you bring a laptop, be sure to buy a surge protector, as electrical lapses and surges are common.