Difference between pages "FAQs about Peace Corps in Burkina Faso" and "FAQs about Peace Corps in Costa Rica"

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===How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Burkina Faso?===
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===How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Costa Rica?===
  
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 80 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag.  
+
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 80 pounds total with a maximum weight of 50 pounds for any one bag. Keep in mind that you will be responsible for carrying all your baggage during training and when you travel to your future site on public buses.  
  
 
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.  
 
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 Burkina Faso?===
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===What is the electric current in Costa Rica?===
  
If you have electricity at your site, and it works, the current will be 220 volts, 50 cycles. Voltage sags and surges are very common and place a real strain on power supplies and voltage transformers or regulators. The Peace Corps does not provide transformers or regulators to Volunteers. For battery-powered appliances such as tape players and radios, we suggest “D” batteries, since these are readily available in local markets. Many Volunteers use rechargeable batteries with a solar charger, which is a good alternative to disposable batteries.  
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The electric current generally is 110 volts; however, there are 220-volt outlets for some appliances (e.g., refrigerators and electric ovens).  
  
 
===How much money should I bring?===
 
===How much money should I bring?===
  
Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. You will be given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which will cover your in-country expenses and normal vacation costs. Some Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel outside the region. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. All banks require proof of purchase (i.e., receipts) to cash traveler’s checks. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.  
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Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. You will be given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover your 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.  
  
 
===When can I take vacation and have people visit me?===
 
===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.  Visitors are discouraged from spending extended periods (more than a few weeks) in-country, and you will have to take vacation time if hosting visitors requires you to take time off from work. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance. Because an evacuation in the event of a medical emergency can cost more than $25,000, all visitors should plan to buy medical evacuation insurance.  
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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. Vacation requests must be approved in advance by the Volunteer’s Peace Corps program manager and local counterpart. 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?===
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===Will my belongings be covered by insurance? ===
  
Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects. You are encouraged to purchase insurance if you are bringing valuable items with you. You will be provided with application forms at staging.  
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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 such insurance before you leave. 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. 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.  
 
 
If you prefer, you may also contact your own insurance company. 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?===
 
===Do I need an international driver’s license?===
  
Volunteers in Burkina Faso do not need to get an international driver’s license because they are prohibited from operating motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minibuses to bicycles and lots of walking.  
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Volunteers in Costa Rica do not need to get 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 and lots of walking. On very rare occasions, a Volunteer may be asked to drive a sponsor’s vehicle, but this can occur only with prior written permission of the country director.  Should this occur, the Volunteer will have to obtain a local driver’s license. A U.S. driver’s license will facilitate the process, so bring it with you just in case.  
  
===What should I bring as gifts for Burkina Faso friends and my host family?===
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===What should I bring as gifts for Costa Rican 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.  
 
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?===
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===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 late in 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 their ministry counterparts. If feasible, you will have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, and living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be. Most Volunteers live in small towns or in rural villages and are usually within one hour from another Volunteer. Some sites require a 10- to 12-hour drive from the capital.  
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Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to individual sites until halfway through pre-service training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites. During an individual interview with the program manager, you will have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including work priorities, geographical location, and living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be.  
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Volunteers in the rural community development and Mmcroenterprise development projects live in rural to semi-rural sites, while Volunteers working in children, youth, and families projects live in sites of all kinds—urban, semiurban, and rural. Some sites are close to San José, while others are an eight-hour bus ride away. Volunteers in all projects will meet on a regular basis to discuss Peace Corps-related issues as well as cooperate on work-related activities.  
  
 
===How can my family contact me in an emergency?===
 
===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, 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 nonemergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580.  
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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, 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.  
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For nonemergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580, extension 2521 or 2520.  
  
===Can I call home from Burkina Faso?===
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===Can I call home from Costa Rica? ===
  
International phone service to and from Burkina Faso is quite good. The national telephone company, ONATEL, has offices in all of Burkina Faso’s administrative towns. Calls to the United States are expensive, so most Volunteers prearrange to receive calls from home or limit calls to giving call-back information so that the receiver can return the call. U.S.  calling cards cannot be used in Burkina Faso at this time, and calling collect is not possible.  
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Yes, you can call home from any public or private phone, collect or with a calling card. There are international operators for Sprint, AT&T, and MCI. In addition, you can purchase international calling cards issued by the national telephone company at many stores throughout Costa Rica.  
  
 
===Should I bring a cellular phone with me?===
 
===Should I bring a cellular phone with me?===
  
No. They can be purchased inexpensively in Burkina Faso. Most American cellphones do not work in Burkina Faso.  
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Costa Rica uses 1800 Mhz GSM and 850 Mhz UMTS (3G). Volunteers can bring an unlocked quad-band phone, although it is probably more convenient to buy a phone in-country. Cheap phones are available for around 25,000 colones ($50).
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Volunteers can easily obtain a pre-pay phone line, although the service is somewhat pricey for voice (1.5 colones (0.3 cents) to send a text message and 30 colones (6 cents) a minute to call; no charge to receive a call or text message).
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===Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer? ===
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Most communities have internet cafés or limited internet access available to volunteers in schools or offices. A good part of the country is covered by wireless broadband (3G), and pay-as-you-go dial-up access is available wherever there are telephone lines. However, a small number of volunteers still do not have internet access in their communities.
  
===Should I bring my computer?===
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While volunteers are not required to bring a personal computer and do so at their own risk, almost every volunteer in Costa Rica has a laptop. Volunteers may find laptops useful for communication, reading, managing digital photos, preparing written materials for classes and other projects, and other personal and work-related needs.
  
The decision whether to bring a laptop computer depends on your own needs. Among the factors to consider are that computers are not required for Volunteers’ work; that the Peace Corps does not provide technical support or insurance for personal computers; you may not be assigned to a site with electricity; and computer access is available at private Internet cafes (and, for work-related purposes, the Peace Corps office). However, most Volunteers who have brought laptops with them—primarily education Volunteers—have been happy with their decision and have used their computers for both personal and work-related purposes.
 
  
For more information on computers, please see the memo on electronic equipment later in this document.
 
  
[[Category:Burkina Faso]]
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[[Category:Costa Rica]]

Revision as of 08:14, 23 November 2010

FAQs about Peace Corps
  • How much luggage am I allowed to bring?
  • What is the electric current?
  • How much money should I bring?
  • When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
  • Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
  • Do I need an international driver’s license?
  • What should I bring as gifts for my host family?
  • Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
  • How can my family contact me in an emergency?
  • Can I call home?
  • Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
  • Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
...and more...

For information see Welcomebooks



How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Costa Rica?

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 80 pounds total with a maximum weight of 50 pounds for any one bag. Keep in mind that you will be responsible for carrying all your baggage during training and when you travel to your future site on public buses.

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 Costa Rica?

The electric current generally is 110 volts; however, there are 220-volt outlets for some appliances (e.g., refrigerators and electric ovens).

How much money should I bring?

Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. You will be given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover your 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.

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. Vacation requests must be approved in advance by the Volunteer’s Peace Corps program manager and local counterpart. 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 such insurance before you leave. 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. 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 Costa Rica do not need to get 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 and lots of walking. On very rare occasions, a Volunteer may be asked to drive a sponsor’s vehicle, but this can occur only with prior written permission of the country director. Should this occur, the Volunteer will have to obtain a local driver’s license. A U.S. driver’s license will facilitate the process, so bring it with you just in case.

What should I bring as gifts for Costa Rican 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 halfway through pre-service training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites. During an individual interview with the program manager, you will have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including work priorities, geographical location, and living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be.

Volunteers in the rural community development and Mmcroenterprise development projects live in rural to semi-rural sites, while Volunteers working in children, youth, and families projects live in sites of all kinds—urban, semiurban, and rural. Some sites are close to San José, while others are an eight-hour bus ride away. Volunteers in all projects will meet on a regular basis to discuss Peace Corps-related issues as well as cooperate on work-related activities.

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, 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 nonemergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580, extension 2521 or 2520.

Can I call home from Costa Rica?

Yes, you can call home from any public or private phone, collect or with a calling card. There are international operators for Sprint, AT&T, and MCI. In addition, you can purchase international calling cards issued by the national telephone company at many stores throughout Costa Rica.

Should I bring a cellular phone with me?

Costa Rica uses 1800 Mhz GSM and 850 Mhz UMTS (3G). Volunteers can bring an unlocked quad-band phone, although it is probably more convenient to buy a phone in-country. Cheap phones are available for around 25,000 colones ($50).

Volunteers can easily obtain a pre-pay phone line, although the service is somewhat pricey for voice (1.5 colones (0.3 cents) to send a text message and 30 colones (6 cents) a minute to call; no charge to receive a call or text message).

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

Most communities have internet cafés or limited internet access available to volunteers in schools or offices. A good part of the country is covered by wireless broadband (3G), and pay-as-you-go dial-up access is available wherever there are telephone lines. However, a small number of volunteers still do not have internet access in their communities.

While volunteers are not required to bring a personal computer and do so at their own risk, almost every volunteer in Costa Rica has a laptop. Volunteers may find laptops useful for communication, reading, managing digital photos, preparing written materials for classes and other projects, and other personal and work-related needs.