FAQs about Peace Corps in Georgia
- 1 How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Georgia?
- 2 What is the electric current in Georgia?
- 3 How much money should I bring?
- 4 When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- 5 Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- 6 Do I need an international driver’s license?
- 7 What should I bring as gifts for Georgia friends and my host family?
- 8 Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- 9 How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- 10 Can I call home from Georgia?
- 11 Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- 12 Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Georgia?
Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits, and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The Peace Corps’ 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 100 pounds total with a maximum weight of 50 pounds for any one bag.
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. This is an important safety precaution.
What is the electric current in Georgia?
Georgian electrical outlets accept two round prong plugs and operate on 220/240 volts/50 cycles. Adapters are readily available and inexpensive. Be aware that you will have a weak, sporadic, and/or irregular electricity supply, particularly in the winter months.
How much money should I bring?
Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people 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. If you choose to bring extra money, plan on bringing the amount that suits your own personal travel plans and needs.
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. 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 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 provided, 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 services are not available.
Do I need an international driver’s license?
Volunteers in Georgia do not need to get an international driver’s license. Operation of any motorized vehicle is prohibited. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minibuses, to trucks, and lots of walking.
What should I bring as gifts for Georgia 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 not assigned to individual sites until midway through 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, in addition to finalizing site selections with ministry counterparts. In considering site placement, Peace Corps programming staff try to best match the needs of the host agency and community with the background, skills, and interests of the trainee. 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 or two hours from the nearest Volunteer. Some sites require an eight-hour drive from the capital.
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 2423.
Can I call home from Georgia?
International telephone communication is available in most cities, but it can be expensive—as much as two GEL (approximately $1) a minute for a call to the United States.
Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
Georgia has two cellular phone systems, and all Peace Corps staff members are equipped with cellphones to attend to emergency calls. Peace Corps/Georgia issues cellphones during pre-service training to all trainees that they will keep for their two years of service. These phones are for safety and security and Volunteers are personally responsible for their phone. Each Trainee/Volunteer is on a business plan that allows you to contact all other Volunteers and Staff for no fee, but requires you purchase a phone card for other calls/texting of any sort.
Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
Many businesses and individuals have Internet access in the capital and in some larger cities, and there is a growing number of cafes or businesses with Internet access. Because of weaker telephone and electrical infrastructure in outlying areas, Volunteers in rural sites might be limited to writing and receiving e-mail on their occasional visits to the capital or regional centers. Before departing the States, many Volunteers sign up for free e-mail accounts, such as Yahoo or Hotmail, which they can access worldwide. Some Volunteers bring their laptop computers, though they are responsible for insuring and maintaining the computers. The Peace Corps will not replace stolen computers and strongly encourages those who bring them to purchase personal property insurance. Because of the high value of laptops, owners significantly increase their risk of becoming a victim of crime.You probably will not find the same level of technical assistance and service here as you would at home, and replacement parts could take months to arrive. Also note that gaining access to the Internet via your laptop is difficult because very few Volunteers have adequate lines in their community or at their place of work. Electrical lapses and surges are common.
As of 2010, internet access has become much more prevalent, and modems (although expensive) are well within the Peace Corps budget and provide fairly regular internet access to most PCVs in Georgia at home.