Here is my tentative packing list- based off of what is listed in the Macedonia Welcome Book, what one of the current volunteers posted as suggestions, and of course my own thoughts! I know this will be an ever-changing list.
- A really warm sleeping bag- I would be a popsicle without it. The volunteers who didn't bring them, wish they had and some who brought them haven't used them, but its been my saving grace. Yes, there may be some PCVs who are COSing who will sell theirs, but if its like this year, its only been 2 or 3. It is great in your house when you don't want to pay for heat, but also when you visit other PCVs and without a doubt will be sleeping on the floor a lot.
- Wool Socks- Whether they be SmartWool or something else, I think every MAK-16 wished they had more pairs.
- Deodorant- They do have it here, but I have found the quality to be sub par.
- Long Underwear- My first winter was an extreme with the Balkan Freeze going on, however, next year could be too! Better to come prepared with long underwear and leggings.
- Slippers- You can buy them here, but the quality isn't great. The floors of houses are freezing cold.
- External Hard Drive- You know you want to participate in the Macedonian past time of illegally downloading and the PCV past time of getting hooked on TV Shows you never would have watched in the US.
- Measuring Cups/Spoons- Before moving to site, Peace Corps gives you a pretty cookbook, however many of the recipes use American measurements, so unless you are a skilled/adventurous cook, its helpful to have the exact measurements at least the first few times.
- Favourite American Food Item- For me, it was peanut butter. A lot of food things can be found here, however, often only in the larger cities and its not the same. With peanut butter, you can find it here some places, but the Greeks just dont do peanut butter like Americans. I would also recommend that as hard as it might be, hide it from yourself during PST and save it for when you are alone at site and needing a little taste of home.
- My quick dry towels from REI have really come in handy. I didn't originally buy any thinking I could easily find towels over here. Well, you can easily find towels over here, however, having to hand wash my clothes, my towels didn't really ever feel clean. I ordered two and had them mailed over and they have been life savers. While they don't dry quite as well, they are a breeze to hand wash and it is really nice to be able to bring a towel when I travel, even if its just in country to another PCV's house.
- A backpacking backpack- Again, I didn't bring one with me, but found early on that it would be nice to have a mid-sized bag for traveling for a few days, whether it be out of country or to the in-country week long trainings or summer camps. I was lucky enough to be able to order one (again great deals on REI) and have a friend's mother bring it over when she came to visit. However, I would save the hassle and come with a nice one already.
Clothing- your clothes will get worn here, especially if you have to hand wash. Bring things that you are ok if they never make their way back to America- you can also pick up free clothes from other PCVs in the Peace Corps Office
*Here I bought: 1 black cardigan, 6-7 turtlenecks (women will cover their necks all winter and you will be questioned if you don't) all quite cheap, both in price and quality, but I only need them for two years.
*There are quite a few copies floating around here, so if you want to save money and space, there is a good chance you can pick one up free at the Peace Corps Office
Surge Protector (brought one, but haven't ever used it)
Clear Contact Paper