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View of St. Giyorgis, Part II

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Eighteen/Twenty-Four

I’ve been in Ethiopia for almost twenty-one months now, meaning there are approximately SIX remaining until my projected Close of Service date!

Life in Bahir Dar

Although I moved in to my new house here in Bahir Dar about two months ago, it’s taken that long to have enough money to purchase furniture (I left everything except my bed in Bure) and really get all my crap organized. Ethiopians think Americans have too much stuff and I am inclined to agree! However, all the stuff helps me feel a little more settled and “home.” Things like muffin pans are completely unnecessary, but really helpful when baking muffins to keep me sane. Just saying…

Work

Last month I started working with an NGO that works across East Africa to improve farmers’ lives. It’s been a nice change of pace after the limited work I’ve had in Bure and my coworkers are amazing. Working with an NGO is certainly a different experience than attempting to work with a local government-run office, but it’s been a blessing. I’ve loved having the structure and the expectations of an international organization, as well as learning what international development work is really like.

Upcoming travels!

There were times it seemed like vacation would never come, but now it is SO CLOSE! This weekend Ryan and I are off to the UK to meet his family for a week of a much needed vacation! I’ve never been to the UK before and am excited to finally see London. For further excitement, in about two months Ryan and I are meeting my parents in Morocco!

Foreign Service QEP Results

Unfortunately, I did not pass the QEP portion for my Foreign Service candidacy, so I am back to square one and will retake the FSOT next year… right now its looking like I won’t get to retake until October 2015.

View of St. Giyorgis

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How To Pack for 2 Years in Peace Corps Ethiopia

Our newest group (G11) will be arriving in Ethiopia in less than a month. With almost 22 months under my belt, I know a thing or two about what you need to survive for two years in Ethiopia. Some of you may have read my previous packing list here. This one will include some things off that list, but add others that I realized I want or need since I wrote that original list 14 months ago.

New and improved:

  • Cheese making kit – If you like cheese, bring a cheese making kit! (approx $25 from Amazon). My sitemates have one of these and convinced my fiance and I to pick up one. It’s super easy to make mozarella and you can use it on pizza, pasta, with tomatoes, etc, etc. There is no end to the usefulness of cheese here.
  • Shampoo bar – They are AMAZING. Easy to pack and travel with. I use Soap For Goodness Sake because I hate that more mainstream shampoo bars like LUSH contain sodium laureth sulfate.
  • Other cooking stuff – If you like to cook, bring things like a non-stick skillet (super expensive and low quality here), decent knife, spatula, silicone baking cups, candy thermometer (for cheese making!), etc. I didn’t even know I needed a lot of this stuff until my G5 neighbors left country but they have all been incredibly useful.
  • Professional clothes – I didn’t bring many of these but you do want something professional. I wear mine when I facilitate trainings and now to my new office.
  • Jeans – If you like jeans, bring them. You will wear them. But make sure they don’t have holes, that is not good here.
  • Property Insurance – I can’t count the number of times people have made claims for stolen cameras or cell phones. It may seem like a lot of money but it’s TOTALLY worth it when your electronics go missing! Peace Corps uses Clements.

Still relevant from my original list:

  • 38L Backpack – This is THE number one thing I was told to bring and I am still so grateful I did. I use it all the time…. weekend trips, weeklong trips, to carry packages, to carry glass (don’t ask). It fits a sleeping bag and a pillow for Peace Corps holiday celebrations. Plus, I’m using it for my ten week Big Trip after I COS in December. I genuinely don’t think I could have made a better purchase.
  • Microfiber towel – Still awesome and useful. Medium is a good size. Dries fast, packs tiny.
  • French press – You cannot purchase these in Ethiopia. This is amazing. If you like coffee, bring it.
  • Headlamp – Even living in a city with consistent electricity, definitely bring this. I use it all the time, especially when the power is out. It’s also really helpful for going to the shint bet at night. On that note, I brought rechargeable batteries to use with the headlamp & other electronics and they’ve been amazing (and I don’t worry about using the headlamp a lot).
  • Water bottle – Reuseable water bottle is a must. Bring it.
  • Pillow – I have two American pillows. Genius to help you sleep well.
  • Swimsuit – Good for swimming pools and getting rid of those nasty tan lines!
  • Laptop – Yes, you want this. Bring it. Mac, PC or netbook doesn’t matter.
  • External hard drive – Bring one that can be powered by your computer. You’ll want to load up on the variety of media floating around the PC/Ethiopia world.
  • Music player – Something small like an iPod shuffle is really useful for bus trips. And multiple headphones is always useful, but you can get extra mailed to you.
  • Smartphone – I use an iPhone as my cell phone in country, as do many others. As long as it takes a sim card, it’s useable.
  • E-Reader – There are a lot of digital books floating around. You’ll never be bored if you bring this… even if the power is out for three days straight and all your other electronics are dead.
  • Fitted sheet – There are plenty of sheets here, but fitted does not exist. If you don’t know what size bed you’ll get, you can always have it mailed later.
  • Makeup/Nail Polish – Ladies, if you wear makeup and nail polish in the US, bring it!
  • Clothes that are YOU – I purchased a couple long skirts before coming, but otherwise I brought clothes that I’d been living in and wearing in the US. I only brought one pair of jeans though, which my sister remedied quickly by sending me another pair for Christmas. Seriously, don’t wear shorts and tank tops all the time, but if you wouldn’t wear it in the States, you won’t really want to wear it here.
  • Purse – I only brought one purse that I use all the time, and I wish I’d brought another. Again, if you’d use it in the States, you’ll probably use it here. However you can buy one if you need one.
  • Art Supplies/Hobby materials – If you have a hobby in the States that can be brought over, such as drawing, sporting equipment, etc. After PST you have an amazing amount of free time! Also sports are a great way to integrate.

Work + Coffee

Feels just a little strange to be back in a place with “normal” coffee!

Work + Coffee