a few suggestions for future PC ukraine volunteers (if they’re even reading this)
like me, you’ve probably already received so much advice on what to do, bring, or expect. but what the heck…i’ll give you a few more:
· bring an external hard drive with lots of memory (PCVs have an astounding amount of movies and music to share. you’ll surely want to partake.)
· a few of your favorite paper back books you wouldn’t mind reading over and over again, or swapping with other PCVs. I brought my kindle with me and couldn’t be happier, but there’s just something wonderful about a REAL book that’s been all over the world with you.
· computer plug to hook up to projectors if your school has one. kids LOVE powerpoint or anything on the computer since that type of learning is so new to them. so being able to do presentations is a plus and will win you some cool points.
· my compact-able travel pillow was seriously my best purchase for ukraine. every pillow here is feathered so when you have an allergy to feather pillows…this is a life saver.
· having a nice sleeping bag is an excellent idea — you will probably have to sleep in it all winter long and it’s great for traveling to fellow PCVs.
· leave your light colored clothes behind. bring well-made dark colored clothing with patterns and synthetic materials. they work best and stand up to hand washing well. otherwise your whites…will never be white again.
· it’s a good idea to bring more professional clothes than non-professional clothes. or at least have enough tops/dresses that can double as both. double duty and layering is key.
· it gets HOOOT in the summer and COLD in the winter. so be prepared for both — breathable clothes for the summer and thermals for the winter.
· WOOL SOCKS. seriously. brings lots of them.
· I bought my winter boots back in America and I’m glad I did. The quality of boots in Ukraine really isn’t the best. The same goes with quality winter coats (but these are slightly easier to find than good boots).
· duct tape. it fixes everything.
· fabric band-aids (if you’re accident prone). the band-aids here are terrible and don’t stay on you for more than 3 minutes.
· photos photos photos (especially of average things in america. your grocery stores, neighborhood, house, school, graduation…etc. might seem boring to you but it’s super interesting to ukrainians)
· don’t worry too much about bringing american gifts for people if you’re low on cash and room in your suitcase. souvenir magnets are actually a super good gift idea. they’re small and lightweight and don’t cost much. also crisp one dollar bills (ukrainians actually buy important things in USD like houses and cars, so they’ve seen american money, but often haven’t seen the $1 bill…interesting huh?). but as always, delicious ukrainian chocolate from the store here is always just as appreciated 🙂
· if your bags are underweight (like mine were), FILL THEM. for the most part PC helps you transport your bags so don’t worry about it. put in a few extra pieces of clothing or something. anything. you’ll be glad you did later.
· starbucks viva packets. you’re going to miss real coffee.
· UNO cards are awesome and kids LOVE them. regular playing cards are a good idea too.
· my travel laundry line was a super handy in the wintertime/while traveling around for summer camps.
· if cooking and baking is your thing, pack a small box before hand and have someone from home ship it to you at a later date (when you arrive to your site after swearing-in). Measuring cups & spoons, as well as some silicone moulds, and a nice vegetable peeler are a good idea. But as always, you can make do without.
· exercise bands and dvds will come in real handy when you aren’t able to exercise outdoors. PC will give you a pilates band thingy, but other exercise bands with higher resistance are a good idea. the trick is to ACTUALLY use them.
· if you’re vegetarian or vegan it’s much easier to say that you’re allergic to the things you choose not to eat. the whole ‘opportunity for discussion’ on why you’re vegan/vegetarian doesn’t usual go over to well here…unless you have SERIOUS convictions and ready to battle with some very very persuasive people who to get you to eat meat.