Difference between pages "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Madagascar" and "FAQs about Peace Corps in Macedonia"

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{{FAQs by country}}
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===How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Macedonia? ===
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*[[Packing lists by country]]
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*[[Training by country]] 
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*[[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles by country]]
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*[[Health care and safety by country]]
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*[[Diversity and cross-cultural issues by country]]
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*[[FAQs by country]]
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*[[History of the Peace Corps by country]] 
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Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds this allowance.
  
===Communications===
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There are no uniform standards so the amount differs from airline to airline. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will pay any excess baggage charges providing the baggage does not exceed these limits. The authorized baggage allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length width + height) and no single piece to exceed 62 linear inches. One carry-on bag is permitted with dimensions of no more than 45 linear inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 100 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag. Most airlines allow one personal item such as a purse or laptop computer. If you exceed an airline’s baggage limits, you may be assessed a fee. However, if your baggage conforms to the parameters stated above, Peace Corps will reimburse you provided you have a valid receipt.  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/ permitted-prohibited-items.shtm.
  
===Mail===
 
  
Few countries in the world offer the level of mail service considered normal in the United States. If you expect U.S.  standards of mail service, you will be in for some frustration.  Mail takes a minimum of two to three weeks to arrive in Madagascar. Some mail may simply not arrive (fortunately this is not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen). Advise your family and friends to number their letters and to include “Airmail” and “Par Avion” on their envelopes. Packages take six to nine weeks by airmail and about six months by surface mail. If someone is sending you a package, it is a good idea to keep it small and to use a padded envelope; that way it will be treated as a letter.
 
  
Despite these delays, we encourage you to write to your family regularly and to number your letters. Family and friends typically become worried when they do not hear from you, so it is a good idea to advise them that mail service is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly.xxxxxxxxx
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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, fireworks, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.  
  
Volunteers in Madagascar may receive packages but are responsible for all duty fees, which may be imposed on food and cosmetics and are based on the items’ value. Also be aware that packages containing valuable items may occasionally get lost or held up.
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===What is the electric current in Macedonia? ===
  
Your address during training will be:
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It is 220 volts, 50 hertz. If you plan to bring electronics with you, check with a good store to purchase the appropriate voltage transformers or plug adapters. There are two types of transformers—one for small appliances and the other for larger items. Electrical sockets in Macedonia fit standard European plugs, so if you bring an adapter shaped like a square, it may not fit into the socket. It is better to wait and buy 220-volt appliances when you arrive in Macedonia.
  
"Your Name", PCT Peace Corps
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===How much money should I bring? ===
  
Corps de la Paix
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Volunteers are expected to live modestly and at the same level as the citizens 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. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs. Bring at least 60 dollars cash to put away in case of emergency evacuation. Macedonian currency will not get you far outside of the country.
  
B.P. 12091
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===When can I take vacation and have people visit me? ===
  
Poste Zoom Ankorondrano
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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. (Note: annual leave may be taken during the last three months of service if it is within Macedonia.) Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and 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. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.
  
101 Antananarivo
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===Will my belongings be covered by insurance? ===
  
Madagascar
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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 personal property insurance before you leave.  If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance is available from various sources and we encourage you to consider it carefully. Volunteers are cautioned not to 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.
  
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===Do I need an international driver’s license? ===
  
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Volunteers in Macedonia do not need 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, bicycles, and lots of walking.
  
Once you have become a Volunteer, you will receive your mail directly at your assigned site.
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===What should I bring as gifts for Macedonian friends and my host family? ===
  
===Telephones===
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This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient.  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.
  
You will not likely have routine access to a telephone during training, although it is possible to buy a cellphone and phone credit in Mantasoa or the nearby market in Manjakandriana, a regional town, if you make a field trip there as a stage. If you have an unlocked GSM phone, it is possible to buy a Sim card and credit almost everywhere. The training site, Mantasoa, has telephones for emergency use.
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===Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be? ===
  
You can buy phone credit everywhere, and it is possible to call the United States, although credit is expensive. If you are living in a rural site, you may not have good cell service.
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Peace Corps trainees are officially assigned to individual sites during pre-service training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites. If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, or living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you might ideally like to be. Most Volunteers will live in small towns or in rural villages, but will usually be within one hour from the nearest Volunteer.  
  
===Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access===
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===How can my family contact me in an emergency? ===
  
Bring your laptop. Even if you live in a house or site without electricity, you will want it for visits to Tana or your regional capital. Computer ownership is increasing amongst the Malagasy middle class.
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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, extension 2421 or 2422.  
  
Computers are available for use by Volunteers at the Peace Corps office.
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===Can I call home from Macedonia?===
  
Many major cities have Internet cafes. USB modems which can be used with cell phone credit are increasingly common, although they are expensive. It is likely that you will have limited internet access.
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International phone service to and from Macedonia is reasonably good throughout the country, but can be rather expensive. Calling cards can be used from some telephones; check with an international long-distance company to see if it provides services in Macedonia. AT&T permits collect calls from Macedonia to America. The AT&T access number when calling from Macedonia is 00.800.4288. You are likely to have ready access to a telephone while living with a host family during training and may be able to receive calls from home. Trainees are discouraged from making international phone calls from the host family telephone. Most Volunteers also have phones at their site. Volunteers with laptops have successfully used an Internet phone service available locally called Dial Pad. Volunteers will have the opportunity to buy a local pre-paid phone for local calls during training. Many volunteers also consider bringing an unlocked smartphone to access wi-fi hubs.
  
===Housing and Site Location===
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===Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer? ===
  
Volunteers are posted throughout the country. Housing conditions here vary from mud houses with thatched roofs to modern cement houses with running water and electricity. Your project, the area of the country, and the availability of housing all have a role in the type of home you will haveMany Volunteers have only a pit toilet and a thatched shed for taking bucket showers. Environmental Volunteers tend to live in more remote areas (near the national parks and protected areas), while education and health Volunteers generally live in areas of greater population density.
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Internet, including wireless, and e-mail access is available throughout Macedonia and Internet cafes can be found in most major cities. If you already have a laptop and do not bring it with you, you will probably wish you had. As with any valuables, you should seriously consider purchasing personal property insurance for a computer before you leave; it is not that expensive and well worth the price. If you choose to bring valuable items such as a laptop, or musical instrument, bring a sales receipt or other documentation of ownershipIn the event that we have to send your belongings home as unaccompanied baggage, proof of ownership prior to your arrival in Macedonia must be presented to Macedonian customs officials to avoid excessive customs fees and/or export restrictions.  
  
During training, you will live with and have most of your meals with a hjhjhjhjhjhjhjfor this period. Trainees generally stay in a village with three or four other trainees and one or two staff members. Volunteers often form strong and lasting friendships with their host families.
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[[Category:Macedonia]]
 
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===Living Allowance and Money Management===
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As a Volunteer, you will receive a modest living allowance that will allow you to live on a par with your colleagues and co-workers. The amount of the allowance is based on regular surveys of Volunteers and the cost of living in Madagascar.  The living allowance is usually deposited quarterly, in local currency, in Volunteers’ bank accounts, so an ability to manage funds wisely is important. The allowance is currently equivalent to approximately $128 per month. In addition, you receive a monthly travel allowance.
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You will also receive a leave allowance of $24 per month, which is standard across all Peace Corps countries and paid in local currency along with your living allowance.
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Volunteers suggest you bring cash and credit cards for vacation travel. The amount depends on the amount of traveling you plan to do while serving in Madagascar. Some local banks offer ATM cards, but only for local accounts. Only a few Malagasy establishments accept credit cards, so they are mostly useful for travel to other countries.
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The local currency is the Malagasy ariary (MGA). The current exchange rate is approximately 2,150 ariary to the dollar.
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===Food and Diet===
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The staple food in Madagascar is rice, which is eaten with vegetables, beans, or meat. Many fruits and vegetables grow in Madagascar, and with a little creativity one can enjoy a varied diet. Most Volunteers prepare their own food. Some, after becoming more familiar with their site, hire someone to help with household work, including cooking. Meat and dairy products are available in the larger towns, but they can be expensive.
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If you are a vegetarian, you will be able to eat well in Madagascar after you learn about local foods and their preparation. Some Malagasy are not familiar with vegetarianism and will not be prepared to serve a vegetarian meal if you are a guest in their home. However, a sensitive explanation of your preferences will be accepted. Most vegetarian Volunteers have no difficulty after an initial adjustment period.
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===Transportation===
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Volunteers’ primary mode of transport are taxi brousses (small vans or minibuses usually loaded with people and goods). Brousses travel among towns on irregular schedules (i.e., when full), so travel in Madagascar is never a timed affair.
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Many Volunteers use mountain bikes. If you plan to ride a bicycle, wearing a helmet is required. You can get one from the Peace Corps office.
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Volunteers are not allowed to drive or operate motor vehicles or ride on motorcycles in Madagascar.
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===Geography and Climate===
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Madagascar is south of the equator, so its seasons will be the opposite of what you are accustomed to. At the winter solstice, for example, when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, the weather is warm. Conversely, at the time of the summer solstice in June, the weather is cool.
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Madagascar has a tropical climate with rainy and dry seasons.  During the rainy season (November to March), southwest tradewinds drop their moisture on the eastern mountain slopes and blow hot and dry in the west. North and northwest monsoon air currents bring heavy rains in summer, decreasing as one moves southward, so that, for example, the rainfall in Fort Dauphin is half that in Tamatave. During February and March, eastern Madagascar can be hit by cyclones, which may impact other areas, particularly in the north. The dry season runs from April to October.
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Seasonal changes in temperature in Madagascar are also influenced by altitude and latitude. From December to April, the coastal regions are very hot and dry in the west but very hot and wet in the east. Average midday temperatures in the dry season are 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30°C) on the coast.
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From December to April (summer), the central plateau is warm, with periods of rain. In June, July, and August (winter), the central plateau gets very chilly, while the west coast is warm and dry and the east coast is warm with occasional showers.
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===Social Activities===
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There are several radio stations in Madagascar, some of which play popular music. Many Volunteers bring shortwave radios so they can listen to international broadcasts (BBC, Voice of America, Radio Nederlands, etc.). Madagascar has no cinemas.
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The most common form of entertainment is socializing with friends and neighbors. Music is very important to the Malagasy, and singing together can be a lot of fun. While Volunteers are encouraged to remain at their sites to develop relationships with people in their community, the Peace Corps recognizes that occasional trips to the capital or to visit friends are also a necessity. Vacation time is allotted for non-work-related and approved absences from one’s site.
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===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior===
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One of the challenges all Peace Corps Volunteers have is attempting to fit into the local culture and act like a professional while at the same time maintaining one’s own cultural identity. It is not an easy thing to resolve, and we can only provide you with guidelines. You will be working as a representative of a government ministry and will be expected to dress and behave accordingly, whether you are in training, traveling, or on the job. While some of your counterparts may dress in seemingly worn or shabby clothes, this is undoubtedly due to economics rather than choice. The likelihood is that they are wearing their best. A foreigner who wears ragged, unmended clothing, however, is likely to be considered an affront.
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Malagasy regard one’s dress as an expression of one’s respect for others. Neatness of appearance is valued more than being stylish. Unfortunately, just one inappropriately dressed Volunteer could cause a Malagasy host agency to form a negative opinion about the Peace Corps and share it with other officials at national and regional meetings. Volunteers are therefore expected to dress appropriately to avoid jeopardizing the credibility of the entire program.
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Following are Peace Corps/Madagascar’s guidelines for Volunteers’ dress. (They have been formalized in response to advice from people in Madagascar and other countries where the Peace Corps works and are meant to inform, not to offend.)
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* Women’s dresses and skirts should fall to or below the knees.
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* Men and women should wear shorts only at home, when exercising, or when doing work for which Malagasy counterparts are also wearing shorts. If shorts are worn in public, they should be of walking length for both men and women.
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* Hair should be clean and combed. Men’s hair should not be longer than shirt-collar length, and beards should be neatly trimmed.
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* Men should not wear a hat indoors.
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* Flip-flops should not be worn as professional footwear.
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* Female Volunteers should wear appropriate undergarments, including bras and slips.
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* Excessive body piercing or tattoos should not be visible.
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===Personal Safety===
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More detailed information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is contained in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (oftentimes alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Madagascar Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Madagascar. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.
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===Rewards and Frustrations===
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Although the potential for job satisfaction is very high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations.
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Perceptions of time are very different from those in America.  The lack of basic infrastructure can become tiring. Host agencies do not always provide expected support in a timely manner. The Malagasy generally perceive Americans as very rich. Adapting to a new culture as a Peace Corps Volunteer is often described as an intense series of emotional peaks and valleys.
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As a Volunteer, you will be given a great deal of responsibility and independence in your work—perhaps more than in any other job you will ever have. Often you will need to motivate yourself and others with little guidance. You might work for months with little visible impact and without receiving feedback on your work. Development is a slow process. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results.
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The AIDS pandemic strikes across all social strata in many Peace Corps countries. The loss of teachers has crippled education systems, while illness and disability drains family income and forces governments and donors to redirect limited resources from other priorities. The fear and uncertainty AIDS causes has led to increased domestic violence and stigmatizing of people living with HIV/AIDS, isolating them from friends and family and cutting them off from economic opportunities.
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As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will confront these issues on a very personal level. It is important to be aware of the high emotional toll that disease, death, and violence can have on Volunteers. As you strive to integrate into your community, you will develop relationships with local people who might die during your service. Because of the AIDS pandemic, some Volunteers will be regularly meeting with HIV positive people and working with training staff, office staff and host family members living with AIDS. Volunteers need to prepare themselves to embrace these relationships in a sensitive and positive manner. Likewise, malaria and malnutrition, motor vehicle accidents and other unintentional injuries, domestic violence and corporal punishment are problems a Volunteer may confront. You will need to anticipate these situations and utilize supportive resources available throughout your training and service to maintain your own emotional strength, so that you can continue to be of service to your community.
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To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, and resourcefulness. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave Madagascar feeling they have gained much more than they sacrificed during their service. If you are able to make the commitment to integrate into your community and work hard, your service could be a truly life-altering experience.
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[[Category:Madagascar]]
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Revision as of 11:53, 8 December 2015

Country Resources

How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Macedonia?

Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds this allowance.

There are no uniform standards so the amount differs from airline to airline. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will pay any excess baggage charges providing the baggage does not exceed these limits. The authorized baggage allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length width + height) and no single piece to exceed 62 linear inches. One carry-on bag is permitted with dimensions of no more than 45 linear inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 100 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag. Most airlines allow one personal item such as a purse or laptop computer. If you exceed an airline’s baggage limits, you may be assessed a fee. However, if your baggage conforms to the parameters stated above, Peace Corps will reimburse you provided you have a valid receipt. 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/ permitted-prohibited-items.shtm.


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, fireworks, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.

What is the electric current in Macedonia?

It is 220 volts, 50 hertz. If you plan to bring electronics with you, check with a good store to purchase the appropriate voltage transformers or plug adapters. There are two types of transformers—one for small appliances and the other for larger items. Electrical sockets in Macedonia fit standard European plugs, so if you bring an adapter shaped like a square, it may not fit into the socket. It is better to wait and buy 220-volt appliances when you arrive in Macedonia.

How much money should I bring?

Volunteers are expected to live modestly and at the same level as the citizens 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. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs. Bring at least 60 dollars cash to put away in case of emergency evacuation. Macedonian currency will not get you far outside of the country.

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. (Note: annual leave may be taken during the last three months of service if it is within Macedonia.) Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and 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. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.

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 personal property insurance before you leave. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance is available from various sources and we encourage you to consider it carefully. Volunteers are cautioned not to 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 Macedonia do not need 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, bicycles, and lots of walking.

What should I bring as gifts for Macedonian friends and my host family?

This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient. 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 officially assigned to individual sites during pre-service training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites. If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, or living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you might ideally like to be. Most Volunteers will live in small towns or in rural villages, but will usually be within one hour from the nearest Volunteer.

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, extension 2421 or 2422.

Can I call home from Macedonia?

International phone service to and from Macedonia is reasonably good throughout the country, but can be rather expensive. Calling cards can be used from some telephones; check with an international long-distance company to see if it provides services in Macedonia. AT&T permits collect calls from Macedonia to America. The AT&T access number when calling from Macedonia is 00.800.4288. You are likely to have ready access to a telephone while living with a host family during training and may be able to receive calls from home. Trainees are discouraged from making international phone calls from the host family telephone. Most Volunteers also have phones at their site. Volunteers with laptops have successfully used an Internet phone service available locally called Dial Pad. Volunteers will have the opportunity to buy a local pre-paid phone for local calls during training. Many volunteers also consider bringing an unlocked smartphone to access wi-fi hubs.

Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?

Internet, including wireless, and e-mail access is available throughout Macedonia and Internet cafes can be found in most major cities. If you already have a laptop and do not bring it with you, you will probably wish you had. As with any valuables, you should seriously consider purchasing personal property insurance for a computer before you leave; it is not that expensive and well worth the price. If you choose to bring valuable items such as a laptop, or musical instrument, bring a sales receipt or other documentation of ownership. In the event that we have to send your belongings home as unaccompanied baggage, proof of ownership prior to your arrival in Macedonia must be presented to Macedonian customs officials to avoid excessive customs fees and/or export restrictions.