Kayla McCabe, 129 YinD
Okay, so summer is wrapping up and as fall moves closer so does your day of departure. Pretty crazy, right? You’re going to be doing a lot in the next couple months and you may find yourself in the middle of a task asking yourself “Is this even important right now? Should I worry about that before I go?” I wish that I could give you a simple list of things that you should be focusing on and things that shouldn’t be important but that list looks different for everyone. What I can do is provide you with is some information that may help you prioritize your own list.
- You will have pretty reliable internet access for at least your first week and half of training. All trainees stay in a hotel for 10 days to get acquainted with the country and receive some training before heading to host families. The hotel’s internet may not be super high speed and you may have to go to the lobby to get a connection but Skyping/emailing/communicating with people back home will be possible! After 10 days you will move into homestays that may or may not have wifi, however, data plans are not hard to purchase.
- If teaching yourself a language isn’t your strong suit, don’t stress! Language class starts your first week of training. Peace Corps hires Thai staff who are fluent in Thai and English to teach the classes (about 3-5 people per class). The classes focus on speaking Thai using phonetic transcriptions. Reading and writing are taught very minimally because it is much more time-consuming and much more important for volunteers to be able to talk to people.
- Peace Corps will provide you with a phone and SIM card. The phone is very low-tech but you are more than welcome to use your personal phone and switch the SIM card. A lot of volunteers do this, just make sure your phone is unlocked before leaving the States.
- You are able to receive mail during training! I believe Peace Corps will provide you with the address to use and don’t be afraid to ask if they don’t!
- Western beauty products/toiletries are not readily available everywhere in Thailand. Most things you will find at 7-11s and convenience stores have whitening products in them. I plan on discussing packing in my next article but a good rule of thumb is to pack for your first 3-4 months in Thailand.
- You are not going through this alone! When you arrive at staging (or maybe on the way) you will meet your cohort. You will all travel from staging to your training site together and you will see other volunteers daily during training. They will become an essential support system and eventually feel like big second family.
My hope is this will give you some peace of mind as you prepare for this journey. If it doesn’t, or if you have more questions, please ask (I can’t say that enough!) We are all looking forward to meeting you!
*Cover photo credit: Megan Cindric, 129