Packing Notes for Future PCV

A Few Packing notes:

If you forget something or find that you need something, you will be able to find it in Moldova. If not in your village or raion center, definitely in Chisinau.  There are few exceptions with clothing that I have made notes in the sections below.

My Packing Posts: Bags and Clothes

Bags

  • If you are flying Austrian Airlines, they MAY weigh your bags so be as close to the weight as possible.  Don’t freak out about it. They may weigh what you say is your “carry-on bag”; I believe that they do this to make sure that the overhead bins can handle the weight and that it is possible to lift the bag into the bin.  For most of us, they did not check the weight of the “personal item”.
  • Austrian Airlines baggage limits in June 2017:
    • 2 checked bags that each measures less than 62 total in (l+h+w) and each weighs less than 50 lbs,
      1 carry-on bag that measures less than 22 x 16 x 9 in. and weighs less than 18 lbs,
      1 personal item that measures less than 16 x 12 x 4 in (no weight suggestion and they were not too stringent on size.)
  • Rolling bags and backpacks are really helpful as you will have to carry your luggage several times- in and out of airports, on and off buses, in and out of hotel and host family’s home.

Clothes

  • Many Moldovans wear the same outfits multiple days in a row so you do not have to plan for a different outfit for everyday of the week. In the summer, I would wear the same outfit two days in a row and in the winter I have worn the same outfit for 3 or 4 days in a row or perhaps changing one of the three tops I was wearing:  Switching my wool vest for my wool sweater or changing the shirt under my wool vest. (Layering is so important here.)
  • Moldovan Summers are hot.  In the US a temperature of 90 F doesn’t normally phase me as Austin, TX can have summer days in the 100s F. However, I am usually in an air-conditioned office/house/car or in my home. In my home, I had ceiling fans in almost every room.  It is different to be really hot and sweaty in business casual clothing and not be able to walk into A/C or perhaps get an ice cold beverage.  Most of the posts about packing talk about the winter weather and I feel like I didn’t pack enough summer clothes.
    • Recommendation:  Bring 3- 4 short sleeve/no sleeve business casual tops, 2 skirts and/or 2 summer dresses.  You can use these as base layers during the cooler seasons.
  • Leggings, tights, nylons and socks: many recommendations here:
    • nylons (quality here not so good),
    • wool lined leggings- smartwool, patagonia
    • tights- H&M
    • at the markets here, they will sell fleece lined leggings that work well in the winter.
    • bring at least 2 pairs of good wool socks. I usually wear a pair of socks over my tights or nylons if I am wearing my winter boots.
    • In December and January, I tend to wear a combination of 2 or 3 leggings/tights/nylons under my skirts or pants. Many schools were not heated until December and many libraries have no heat at all.
  • Shoes
    • If you are larger than a size 9 in US women’s shoe size, plan to bring most of the shoes that you will need. Most of the places that sell day to day or dress shoes only go up to a Europe 40.  If you travel to other countries, you may be able to find shoes that fit.
    • Bring a good pair of winter boots. It is muddy, icy and cold during the winter, muddy in the fall and really muddy in the spring.
    • Shoes that easily slip on and off are nice to haves. You will take your shoes off when you go into your house and other homes.
    • “Outside Shoes” like crocs are good to have. You can find knock-off styles here.  You may use an outhouse regularly, hang clothes out to dry on the clothes line or help in the garden. It is nice to have a pair of shoes that you keep by the door to slip on when you do these types of activities.  (I wear a US size 10 women’s shoe and found “flip flop” and croc type shoes here that fit. This was an exception to the shoe size no large than 9 that I mentioned above.)
    • Shoes that clean easily and/or dont get dirty easily. If the roads are not muddy, there will be dust.
  • Hygiene Products
    • Hand Sanitizer- You can buy this at the pharmacies here. However, I suggest having at least a 3oz bottle with you when you arrive.  You will most likely encounter squat toilets in outhouses with no sink nearby; this will could be at your host family, your school, or your workplace.
    • Feminine products: I highly recommend bringing a Diva Cup  and reusable sanitary pads.  Moldovans burn most of their trash and I always look for ways that I can find to reduce the amount of trash that I have.   Most of the host family homes have washing machines so you most likely will not  have to hand wash the sanitary pads.
  • Other Misc.
    • Solar powered lanterns-  power goes out sometimes especially in the winter or heavy winds and the lines get knocked down.
    • External battery for charging phone- you will be waiting for rutieras(buses) regularly or riding on them, always good to know you have enough battery power.
    • Power strip that has a European plug for the wall and universal outlets on the strip.

MOST IMPORTANTLY– Come with your purpose in mind!

Take time before you get to staging to know why you are serving in the Peace Corps; knowing this will help get you through some really tough times.  Pre-Service Training (PST) is tiring and stressful and Service while a little less tiring is stressful and will challenge your expectations and beliefs.

My daily mantra is posted beside my bed so that I see it every morning.  Showing up with a positive disposition may be all the “work” that you do for some days and while that seems simple, it can be difficult and it can also make change happen.