Hello friends, family, and strangers!
So, this is a post more oriented towards PC Namibia Group 47 (arriving in a couple of weeks!!!) and Group 48 (arriving in August and should be receiving their invitations now).
When I first was accepted into the Peace Corps, the first place my mind went was to all of the adventures I was going to have, the people I was going to meet, and everything I was going to learn.
It did not go to packing.
Yeah, sure, I perused a few blogs and saw what volunteers before me had packed and brought with them, but it didn’t start really hitting me until around 2 months before my service when my mind became permanently set to “I HAVE TO PACK EVERYTHING!! BUY ALL THE THINGS!!!!”
Which, in retrospect, wasn’t the best thing for my sanity (or my mother’s).
Yet somehow I managed to pack two years worth of sh- I mean, stuff, into a rolling duffle bag, a hiking backpack, a day pack, and a large tote bag. And I BARELY snuck in under the weight requirement (actually my rolling duffle was like 4 or 5 pounds overweight but I managed to balance it on my foot on the scale so it actually showed up 10 pounds lighter. The check-in dude was totally aware of what I was doing because I am not stealthy whatsoever, but he let me get away with it).
After being in country for 7 months, I have looked back on what I have packed and I don’t really have any regrets (except for not packing my camera charger – but thanks Mom and Alex for sending some to me!!). I have used everything I brought with me – and the cold weather clothing will be getting more use as the months go on.
So, in order to be of some assistance to any future members of Peace Corps Namibia that happen to stumble upon this blog, here is my packing list, with some additional notes, to help you figure out what to bring on this big adventure.
Clothes:The dress code for PST is business casual since that carries over to the sectors where you will be working. I’m not 100% sure about the clothing requirements for health and CED, but for education the dress code is usually business attire/business casual. Casual Fridays are a thing – I wear jeans every Friday – but it is still important to look nice. Appearance is valued because it shows that you value yourself and care about your work.
You can buy clothes in country – plenty of awesome and inexpensive stores around. Also, LAYERING is super helpful. During the summer months (essentially half the year) it gets really really hot, but sometimes there will be cool mornings and cooler nights that trick you about the weather for the entire day. Wearing layers that you can peel off as the sun heats up is a saving grace!
I don’t feel that I over-packed on clothes, but there are some items of clothing I have barely worn yet, mostly because of the weather. As it cools off, some more of my clothing will get more usage.
- 6 blouses (I have bought a couple more in country)
- 4 T-shirts (printed) – for sleeping and long trips
- Three short sleeved
- One long sleeved
- 5 plain t-shirts (Madewell and Target) – I love these because they are small, easy to pack, and versatile
- 4 tank tops
- A few business casual dresses
- One nice black dress
- 4 skirts (I have had two more made in country so far)
- Light sweater (lost this at PST)
- A couple of heavier sweaters
- Down jacket
- Rain jacket
- 2 pairs of jeans (I have bought two more pairs since I have lost a bit of weight)
- 3 pairs of dress slacks
- Sweat pants
- Capri leggings
- 2 pairs athletic shorts
- 2 pairs basketball shorts
- CHACOS – honestly, these are the shoes I wear the most. I wear them every day to school and around the village and the strap lines are permanently tanned onto my skin. They are so comfortable – I have the straps that don’t go around the toe, which is good since my feet swell when it’s hot outside. They’re a little pricy, but SO worth it. 10/10 would recommend (or Tevas since I think they’re basically the same).
- Toms ballet flats
- Regular Toms
- Hiking Boots
- Brown booties
- Brown wedge sandals
- Sanuk black yoga sandals (I also wear these a lot)
- Tennis shoes (for exercise!)
- I have since bought another pair of shoes in country, but so far, everything has held up nicely. Although, I have only worn the wedges twice.
- Two lightweight scarves (good for covering my face during a dust storm)
- One heavy scarf
- One winter hat (yes, I’ve used it!)
- 5 bras
- 3 sports bras (I wear these all the time)
- 20ish pairs of underwear – handwashing really takes a toll on them, and even the washing machine I am lucky enough to be able to use also isn’t very kind
- Jewelery – I didn’t bring much, just a pack of stud earrings to wear and a couple of necklaces and bracelets. I honestly haven’t gotten much use out of my jewelery bag. I left my two nice rings at home and bought a cheap ring while on summer vacation just to wear. Sometimes I will switch it to my left hand while hitchhiking somewhere, just to ward off any possible unwanted attention.
- Diva Cup (Ladies, this is a life saver and you save so much money on tampons)
- Standard fare: Toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, moisturizer, anything else you may want to use – also you can get shampoo, conditioner, face wash, moisturizer and all that here at Clicks and the prices aren’t too bad!
- Makeup – I only brought concealer, mascara, and a lipstick. And honestly I have barely used it. You can get makeup here, but it’s pricier. But, since it’s so hot all the time, I hardly ever use it.
- Deodorant (The two kinds in-country are roll-on and spray)
- Laptop (I brought my MacBook pro) This is highly recommended since a lot of work is computer based and that’s how you get all of your resources!)
- Cell Phone (Peace Corps provides you with a SIM card when you arrive in country
- E-Reader (I use a Barnes and Noble Nook that I’ve had since the beginning of college)
- Appropriate Chargers
- A two-terabyte hard drive (I ended up buying a second one in country) to store movies, TV shows, music, and other sources of entertainment that will be good for down time (PCVs exchange all the time!)
- Coloring books – I brought Bob Ross and Game of Thrones coloring books (my mom sent me a couple more in a care package)
- Colored Pencils (for said coloring books)
- Puzzles – haven’t used them yet, but I like having them handy, just in case
- Playing cards
- UNO (I brought a set as a gift and a set for me)
- Watercolor paints – I actually didn’t bring these with me, but they were gifted to me at Christmas and I use them all the time.
- Journals – I brought two journals and a little notebook (I used it during PST). Journals can be found in country, but these two were special to me so I wanted to bring them along!
- PCMO will give you bug spray and sunscreen, but it’s always good to have a little extra!
- Journal – if you like writing, like me, a journal is a good way to keep up with everything going on
- Towel – I use a quick dry microfiber towel from REI
- Headlamp – electricity isn’t a guaranteed thing all the time, so it’s good to have handy.
- Flashlight – for when you forget to pack your headlamp battery
- Extra chargers – This is something I only thought about for my phone. But, one day my computer charger burned up and I was without my computer for almost a week until I was able to go to Windhoek to buy a new charger. So, bring at least one extra charger for every tech device you have! It might cost a little money, but it’s so worth it to avoid the hassle!
- Host gifts! So, I had two host families, and Peace Corps doesn’t tell you anything about them before you arrive since they are usually matched based on language. So, I brought two books about North Carolina, Pop Rocks (my host brothers loved these), UNO, and some toys for kids – a Jacob’s ladder, some little puzzles, and bubbles. I ended up keeping the toys except for the little puzzles and I use the bubbles in my classroom.
Things that are not necessary but are some nice creature comforts:
- I brought one of my pillows and a pillowcase (jersey knit from Target) from home. This isn’t at all necessary, but it’s been really really nice to have on my bed.
- Photos from home – you can get photos printed here, but it was a little cheaper for me to bring some from home. I put them up on my wall and it’s really nice to see family and friends.
- FOOD THINGS – you don’t really need to bring anything, but I did and I am very happy about it!
- Avocado oil (apparently I pronounce it weird)
- Sesame seeds
- Low sodium soy sauce (you can get it here)
- Lemon pepper
- Mac and cheese powder (LIFE. SAVER.)
- Powdered peanut butter
Things I bought/acquired in country:
- Yoga mat
- Weights (I was given a pair of dumbbells and I made my own)
- Blankets and sheets (some people like to bring their own sheets, but you never know what size bed you will have, so I found that it was best to wait!)
- Decorative items (I brought my little Chilean llama with me but that was about it)
- Rugs (Pep Home is the BEST)
REMEMBER: While expensive, it is very possible to ship things to Namibia. Just plan ahead since packages can take anywhere from three weeks to three months to arrive.
So, there is basically my packing list! I may have forgotten a couple of little things, but in Namibia, lots of basics are super easy to find, so if you forget something there is no need to worry!