(I have been planning to post this since the days before I had left for Dakar. Here, after some time of editing, life, and coming back to it, here it is. Finally. Alhumdoolilay.
Packing. The list given to me was quite vague, and I couldn’t find other peoples’ list online
(besides a couple from the peace corps, listed in my delicious bookmarks – see right sidebar).
here’s an exhaustive list of what I packed for the 6 month study abroad experience to Dakar,
Remember, it’s not an ‘end-all’ list. As I was packing, I was frustrated that there wasn’t a precise
packing list. And after going through it, I can understand and, agree to an extent, why.
Your experience and homestay may be quite different from me, from other people in your
group, thus you may need different things. Think about it. At first glance, it is obvious or inane,
but looking back, it is profound advice.
For example, I didn’t bring a personal water filter (considered it), but it worked out fine for me
in the end, because my host family has one and so did the Baobab Center (the place where I took some classes, coordinated my homestay, etc) ; and bottled water was relatively inexpensive (300-500 cfa for 1.5 Liter bottle; or a 10 L bottle for 750 CFA) around the country [in both rural and urban areas] . This list is a guide to build on and use.
I split things into two bags, in case luggage would get lost.
Unless that I specifically noted, you can probably find anything on this list in Dakar, often
cheaper (though the quality is not nearly as good) than in the USA.
Medical Kit (thanks to my sisters for advising me on this and hooking me up with it) containing:
Moleskin, box of adhesive bandages [30 – “water block plus” Band-Aid Brand]; 5 or 6 alcohol pads,
3 ounce bottles of hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol ( I emptied these out and put hand sanitizer
and sunscreen in them. Sometimes I carried them around during the day. Really Handy. )
roll of med. tape; 5 packets of
anti-bacteria salve, 4 steri-strips; Q-Tips; Duoderm; 3 latex gloves; drain sponge;
giant tweezers; 4 gauze bandages; box of butterfly enclosures [10 – Band-Aid brand]
other meds: suphedrine (sudafed); Pepto-Bismol (2 boxes – seriously, if you’re going to a lesser developed country, bring that much); cough drops; bottle of ibprophen, tylenol, tylenol cold, benedryl (also good for a sleep aide).
Soap (3 bars) (sold there for much cheaper)
Ethel alcohol Hand sanitizer (Purell) (I didn’t see this for sale there).
hydrocortisone (for bug bites)
shampoo (2) – (one too many)
sunscreen (in retrospect, i dont remember seeing it for sale here).
3 packs of razor blades (available, but at 12-15000 CFA a pack; only went through one)
toothbrush (available here, cheap)
toothpaste (2) (used only 1)(available here, cheap)
fleece blanket (used in the colder months, January)
Bug spray (Deet)(10 ounce bottle)(didn’t find this for sale there)
A map of my state (from state DOT/AAA)
(other ideas for homestay gifts: basketball jerseys – if they’re authentic, they’re better. Even
if they are not, any male under 25 in your family would probably love them.
school supplies: pens, highlighters, note cards, folders (3), notebooks (2 – used 5 or so). I
brought a lot more than I needed: you can buy practically any school supply in Dakar (either at
Quatre Vents book store; or at the boutiques, especially those right on the main drag, off Cheikh Anta Diop
Ave. The quality may not be as good (as those in the states) but it works. In retrospect, I would
have only brought a notebook or two, and a couple pens to start out.
clothes: SS = Short sleeve; LS = Long sleeved
Undershirts (white t-shirts, plain, i like them, good for around the house, sleep in): 6
black socks 2 (pairs)
white socks 8 (pairs)
4 khaki pants (one is cords, another is hybrid with shorts)
2 LS dress shirts, button down
2 LS t-shirts/rugby shirts (I only wore them on cool nights from december to january).
tennis shoes (though sand often got in them)
black dress shoes
2 polo shirts (SS)
6 Button-down shirts (ss)
disposible cameras (2), in case my digital would get broken or stolen, or I took it a
couple times when I went to the beach, and didn’t want to worry about it getting stolen.
My digital camera (if you want current advice on them, check out Ken Rockwell
AAA/AA Battery Charger: I highly recommend
bringing one of these. My camera and flashlight used AA batteries and my audio player/Voice Recorder
used AAA batteries. I couldn’t find extra rechargeables in Dakar.
4 rechargeable AAA Batteries
4 rechargeable AA Batteries
2 USB Drives
Blank CDs and DVDs (for backing up photos)
Swiss Army knife (so useful !)
Duct Tape (so useful !)
Umbrella (didn’t need it, I used it twice when I was there since I went during the dry season).
books (2): Generally, books and magazines in English are quite hard to come by. The Baobab Center had a good library of English books for you to take out.
Lonely Planet book – it is geared towards tourists, but it’s worth having for the maps in it
and when you want recommendations for nice restaurants, touristy things, etc.
***** 2 copies of all of your documents (plane tickets, passport, health insurance card, etc ************
You’ve probably already been told, but if you’re on any prescriptions, carry some of them in your
carry-on, in case your luggage is lost. Don’t bring anything that you would hate to get ruined, it very well be in some way or another.
In a lot of markets, and from my brief experience in Mekhe (a semi-rural town), you can buy second-hand clothes from the USA.
<a name=”thingsiboughthere”>Things that I bought there</a>:
Therometer, plug adapter (don’t buy one in the USA, it’s really cheap in senegal, only 150 CFA or something), sandals, French-wolof dictionary (I had to bargain hard for this in downtown dakar, think I paid 9000 CFA for it) , a headset for
skype (cost me 1500 CFA after intense bargaining and going to different places around Medina), City map (Baobab Center gave me one); a pair of
windpants (counterfeit brand-name for 1500 CFA on the street).
sunglasses, Mosquito Net: (can be purchased at any pharmacy here
and you may or may not need it, some of my classmates use them every night in their homestay,
I had used it only when I visited rural areas).
Things that I wished I had brought with me (and couldn’t find here in Senegal or were extremely expensive compared to the states):
earplugs, water bottle, eyeglass repair kit; ultimate frisbee disc;
And of course, comment with any questions and/or offer what worked for you.