FAQs about Peace Corps in Fiji
From Peace Corps Wiki
How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to Fiji?
Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds this allowance. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limitations and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limitations. The current authorized baggage allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 80 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag. However, as airline regulations change frequently, we advise that you check with your airline prior to packing. We strongly encourage you to pack light and consider purchasing items you are not sure of when you arrive in Fiji.
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, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. 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.
Can I ship items to myself once I arrive?
Many Volunteers comment on how they wish they hadn’t brought so much stuff as almost everything you’ll need is readily available in Suva and the major cities. That said, there’s nothing more exciting than receiving packages from home!
Small packages from home sent via the U.S. mail tend to reach
Fiji within two to three weeks. We strongly discourage large shipments (i.e., via sea freight) and Peace Corps/Fiji does not have the staff resources to assist you with customs clearance.
Should I bring my SCUBA gear or have it sent to me?
Current Volunteers report that snorkeling equipment is much more useful and that SCUBA equipment is available for rent all over Fiji. SCUBA-certified environmental education and resource management Volunteers may be called on to do work-related diving. In these instances, our partner agencies supply appropriate diving equipment.
What is the electric current in Fiji?
220-240 volts, 50 hertz. Outlets take plugs with two or three flat pins (as in Australia). You will need a voltage converter if the device you are bringing is 110 volts. This applies to most U.S. appliances, although many computers and personal electronics operate on dual voltage (in this case, you will simply need the appropriate plug and these are readily available and reasonably priced in Suva and many of the larger towns).
How much money should I bring?
Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. You are given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should be sufficient to cover your expenses. Volunteers traveling on vacation will find credit/debit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash.
When can I take vacation?
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. In order to assist you in your community integration, Volunteers are required to remain in their site for the first 30 days of their service.
When can my family and friends visit me?
Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and after the first three months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended visitor stays greater than 14 days at your site are not encouraged and require permission from the country director. The Peace Corps cannot 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. However, such insurance can be purchased before you leave. Ultimately, Volunteers are responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be given to you, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Additional information about insurance should be obtained by calling the company directly. Volunteers should not 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 are not available.
Do I need an international driver’s license?
Peace Corps Volunteers in Fiji are prohibited from operating motor vehicles and therefore do not need to obtain an international driver’s license. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses to mini-buses to trucks and a lot of walking. Your U.S. driver’s license will be helpful for identification purposes and also if you intend to rent a car while on vacation in another country.
What should I bring as gifts for Fiji 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; sports T-shirts; or photos to give away.
Where will my site assignment be when I finish pre-service training and how isolated will I be?
Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to individual sites until the end of their pre-service training. This gives the Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites. Although some share housing, most Volunteers live on their own in small towns or in rural villages, usually within one hour’s traveling distance from the nearest Volunteer. Some sites require significant travel time to and from Suva (usually by road on the main island or by boat elsewhere for routine travel); however, most sites are accessible by air for emergencies as well. Note that Volunteers may be required to live with a host family for the first few months at their site or all of their service based on site location and/or village resources.
How can my family contact me in an emergency?
The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services in Washington, D.C., provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, you should instruct your family to notify this office if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the office 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 nonemergency questions, your family can get information from the Pacific country desk staff at the Peace Corps headquarters by calling 800.424.8580.
Can I call home from Fiji?
You can place a collect call overseas 24-hours a day at the main telecommunications center in Suva. You can also pay for the overseas call yourself at a current rate or about $3-$4 per minute (Fijian). Many Volunteers use AT&T or Sprint prepaid phone cards (available only in the U.S.).
Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will be expected to live at the level of the local people in your community, and most villagers cannot afford cellular phones. However, a few Volunteers bring a cellphone (GSM capable) for personal use from the U.S. as service is increasing in Fiji.
Will there be e-mail and Internet access?
Internet access is available in urban areas and in public Internet cafés. However, in rural areas and in the bush, you will probably not have Internet access. Please plan on not having access during your first three months in-country.
Should I bring my computer and other electronics?
Whether or not to bring a computer is a personal decision. Some Volunteer sites may not have electricity, which will make it difficult to keep a computer charged. Additionally, electronic equipment may mark you as a target for theft, and you should carefully consider the possibility of losing your equipment and possibly putting yourself at personal risk. If you do decide to bring electronic equipment, you should also strongly consider purchasing insurance for your items.