as a member of the senior stajj (i’m on my way out in 4 months!) , i feel like i should share a little bit of my “wisdom” to the incoming volunteers who are set to arrive in morocco in a little over a week. two years ago, before my departure, i relied a lot on blogs by current pcvs in country to know what to bring, etc. back then, there were still plenty of volunteers who were placed in the bl3d or the villages so their packing lists included things that you might not necessarily need in the big city, which is where they are placing a majority of you youth development volunteers. i know most of you have already done your packing but if you were like me, most of my shopping and packing happened on my last week at home. so for what it’s worth, i hope this will be helpful to you.
– don’t bring batteries. most of your stuff probably won’t require batteries anyway. they’re heavy and if you REALLY need them, you can easily buy them at a hanut (corner store) or whenever you’re in a big city (IF they put you in a village)
– bring spices! i know you’re thinking “oh it’s morocco, they’ll have all kinds of spices.” and we do BUT they don’t have the kind of spices we know and love like taco seasoning (yes, i know you can make your own taco mix but it’s just so much easier to just have the packet), ranch dressing (their salad dressing that come in the bottles don’t taste anything like the kinds we’re used to), dried basil, italian seasoning, etc.
– bring a good knife. sure you can buy plenty of knives in morocco but the GOOD kind is a bit expensive. it’s not heavy, so it’s easy to pack in your suitcase. you can spend your moving-in allowance on other things. like cat food because you WILL get a cat.
– if you like to cook specialty things (for example i like making asian/filipino food sometimes), make sure you bring the necessary condiments/sauces. you’ll thank yourself later. siracha– just do it.
– no need to bring tupperwares. morocco is the land of plastic containers BUT definitely bring ziploc bags.
– don’t bring a headlamp. you’re not gonna be digging for gold and you won’t be in a mud hut BUT do bring a good flashlight. once in a while, the power WILL go out.
– converters, bring more than one. i suggest you bring 5 good ones. things will happen over time and you’ll either break one or lose one, just bring as many of them as you possibly can.
– laptop, kindle, ipod, camera, thumb drive, external HD etc. BRING THEM
– bring a good sleeping bag! you’ll use them a lot when you travel.
– sheets and pillow cases. there are some here in morocco but again, the good kind will be expensive. these are important because you will be putting your face in it and you’ll probably be spending a lot of time in bed. let’s be real…
– scented candles. they’re lovely and very hard to find around here.
– maps, if you’re into them, bring them but i never understood why almost every blog i looked at said to bring one. personally, i would’ve rather just brought posters of my favorite bands for decoration. you can always look at a map online or something.
**toiletries and clothing…i’m talking to the ladies. guys, i can’t help you here**
– bring tampons. but not a 2-year supply because you’ll have opportunities to re-stock on your travels outside the country or just to the big cities but they are pretty hard to find in site.
– no need to bring toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, shampoo, and conditioner because they are heavy and they have plenty here unless you use some specialty brand. prices are also not that unreasonable. you can do it.
– bring razors, they have them here but the good kind is kind of expensive. again, don’t get crazy and bring a 2-year supply. you can always re-stock later.
– bring clothing that you can layer. i would suggest long, light and loose tops because well you can’t wear tight stuff, it is highly frowned upon and it will kill you in the summer.
– skinny jeans are in for both boys and girls as they are everywhere else. in fact, skinny jeans might actually be really helpful in cultural integration for you boys. girls, they’re fine as long as your butt is covered.
– bring a few cute outfits, you’ll need them. trust me.
– bring a rugged jacket for everyday use and one that is slightly fancier, nicer for special days.
– nailpolish, bring them! you may want to rethink the color depending on your site but most of the time people don’t mind it especially when you’re in a big city. when i was in my old site, i’d put on nailpolish on the weekends or when i’m hanging out in a big city then take them off when i’m back at work. it’s good for your mental health
– definitely bring make-up. a lot of women will wear eyeliner and face powder daily so it’s up to you what your regular make-up regimen is, but it’s absolutely acceptable to wear it.
– bring perfume. it will remind you of life at home.
– bring LOTS of underwear. i brought about 30. trust me, just do it.
– bring LOTS of socks. you’ll loose some eventually and other times, you’ll just get so sick of hand washing them, you’ll just want to throw them out. it happens.
– bathrobe. bring a nice fluffy one for the winter. i understand they can be bulky when you’re packing but you’ll absolutely thank yourself later.
– bring running shoes you’ll need them. flats are nice too but you can buy some when you get nice leather ones here for between 100-200 dirhams. bring boots, you’ll need them. and girls, make sure you bring nice, fancy shoes for special occasions. not necessarily heels because those can literally kill you over here. lots of potholes to fall into.
– most importantly, bring a hobby. you’ll have lots of free time that you’ll need to fill. i took up crocheting. but that’s just me.
okay, so this is all i can think of for now. ask me if you have any specific questions! i can’t wait to meet you all and happy packing :)