My favorite items during PST

Everyone who knows me knows that I like to be prepared. I scoured PCV blogs for months looking for items other Volunteers found useful. Sometimes Volunteers would update packing lists for the next-arriving cohort, and sometimes I could find lists of favorite items. No one was writing about what they used during PST, though. The training part of service in Swaziland occurs with only one of your checked bags, and we received little advice on what would be needed. So that leaves me to write the blog post I always wanted and I hope it helps a future Volunteer. 

I arrived in Swaziland in July in the depths of winter. I knew winter here wasn’t anything like winter in Ohio or Utah, but I brought just enough warm clothes for the Manzini region. I would need more to live in the mountains of Hhohho. On the coldest days or nights, I wear long yoga pants underneath a long skirt. I also have a light Patagonia puffy that has kept me warm, especially when sleeping in my sleeping bag under my two Peace-Corps-issued blankets. I sleep in flannel pjs every night with heavy Smartwool socks. I’ve even worn my winter headband to keep my ears warm on a few nights. I have loved having my slippers here as well. Prepare for about one week of the coldest temperatures with layers. It was cold again last weekend because it rained. 

You may say that you don’t need winter wear because you want to be placed in the warmest region, but there are no guarantees when it comes to site placements. And Swaziland is such a tiny country that you can easily travel anywhere, and you do not want cold temperatures to stop you. Plus, who wants to be cold for nine weeks of training? 

Cold weather gear I have loved:

  • A 30-degree sleeping bag
  • Winter pajamas
  • Heavy socks
  • Long yoga pants
  • Hat or headband
  • Puffy
  • Lightweight gloves
  • Slippers

I love cooking and baking so I also came prepared with kitchen gadgets and many other items:

  • Measuring cups (dry)
  • Measuring cup (liquid) that I use for pouring water from big buckets into my large kettle and to pour water on myself while bathing
  • Oven mit and pot holder
  • Wash cloths
  • Toiletries organizer from LLBean that I’ve hung above my “bath tub”
  • Wire clothespins
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cordage
  • Highlighters
  • Good pens
  • Kitchen shears
  • Pairing knife

Things I wish I had brought:

  • A mirror 
  • A suit jacket
  • Food storage containers
  • A hoodie
  • A vegetable steamer

When I am reunited with my second checked bag I hope to write about everything I brought. Please let me know if there is anything you want to know about! 

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