Difference between revisions of "FAQs about Peace Corps in Macedonia"
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Revision as of 06:57, 21 May 2014
- 1 How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Macedonia?
- 2 What is the electric current in Macedonia?
- 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 Macedonian 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 Macedonia?
- 11 Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
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.