Friday, August 17, 2012

REI: Where you go when you intern in a developing country.

I take forever to buy things. When I was in middle school I ended up accruing somewhere around $500 in a shoe box under my bed from babysitting and birthday money because I simply didn't buy things when I went shopping with my friends. As I've gotten older, I started to realize that sometimes you need to make big purchases, and between moving into a bigger apartment and preparing for my internship I have learned to bite the bullet a few times and buy things that are really necessary. In the past two weeks I have made three trips to REI, and I'm likely to make at least one more trip before I head out. It took two trips for me to buy the right water purifier (and mull it over...and over...and over...) and today I bought my first travel pack! I'm really excited about this. I took a big wheeled suitcase to Senegal and I've vowed "never again" shall I make that same mistake. I still remember the look of horror on the hotel owner's face when we first arrived and he was told he would have to help us lug our big, American suitcases up three flights of stairs. So with the help of a nice salesman I purchased the Deuter Act Lite 60+10! I also became an REI member because I realized that the benefits are actually worth it in this case...

That's it, really. I've bought a few things off of Amazon that I think would just be more expensive than necessary at REI like my travel blanket and quick-dry towel and laundry kit. It's weird not knowing what to expect from my apartment. It's in a really nice neighborhood, described as the "nouveau-riche" area, but really it could be super nice and equipped with wifi or I could be taking bucket showers. Needless to say, it makes packing kind of difficult. I'm trying to be sort of "middle of the road" with my packing list and taking things that will be useful in both situations and necessary in the latter.

Two more weeks!
You can tell it's for women because it came with a fake flower....

Friday, August 10, 2012

Counting down!

Last Wednesday I turned 23 and this past week has been filled with celebrations! One of the many events was that my mom came up to visit me and see the new apartment now that Sean and I have started to settle in. As a birthday present, we went shopping yesterday for some clothes and other things that I'm going to need for my internship. It's crazy, but I have been so distracted with moving into our new apartment in Madison that I didn't even realize HOW SOON I'm going to be leaving! Several of my classmates are already at their internship sites, two of them have finished their stage already, but for me the adventure is just starting to get rolling. I'm getting nervous, but excited, mostly just realizing how busy I'm going to be in these next few weeks.

We have to get everything out of our old place by Tuesday. This means that Saturday will be dedicating to schlepping things across town and unpacking even more. I'm a little concerned that our apartment won't even be ready by the time I head to Yaounde.

One of the things my mom and I did was search for a water purification device at REI. It's confusing because there are all sorts of little differences between all of the systems and I'm not sure which one is right for my circumstances. I'm doing a little more research today and I'll head over in the next few days to pick out the right one.

It's been surprisingly difficult to find a good packing list for Cameroon. Most of the ones I've found online are Peace Corps packing lists. This is great except that the Peace Corps provides some essentials like hygiene products that I'm going to need to bring myself. I'm also going to be working in an office for the most part, so that's a little different than what a lot of PC people are doing in Cameroon. Thus, those packing lists are useful, but not exactly what I need. Maybe I'll post what I've packed before I leave and report back at the end of my stage on what really was necessary, what I needed, and what I wish I hadn't packed at all.

Well I expect I'll blog a few more times before I leave. For now I'm just enjoying Madison and our new apartment and trying to squeeze in as many "American" things as I can before I'm abroad!