Dear 6-week Mandarin Intensive Students,
I once heard some sage advice from a friend about packing: “bring half the stuff you think you’ll need and twice as much money”. While you won’t need to spend a lot of money on this trip (see the note below on spending money), I’d definitely recommend keeping in mind the first part of the phrase as you consider what things to bring and what to leave at home. If you forget anything, don’t worry about it because China sells everything you can get in the States, plus more! Below are some guidelines and tips for packing.
- Pack light! The most common feedback we hear from students is that they wished they had brought less. So consider each item you bring. If you forget anything that you decide you need, China has it all for purchase.
- Bring more urban wear than the packing list suggests. Other than a 2-3 day hike and a day hike, most of our time will be spent in the city and in the village, so bring stuff you want to wear there.
- Temperatures: Kunming will be dry and hot, sometimes rainy, but not cold. The village will be a higher altitude than Kunming so it might get a bit chillier at night, but still not cold. Beijing will likely be hot and humid. Rain is very possible in Yunnan during the summer. Shorts and skirts are fine, as long as they aren’t too short.
- Laundry: you will have opportunities both in Kunming and the village to do laundry, so you don’t need to bring a ton of clothes!
- Water bottles: Bring one or two one-liter water bottles. Bottled water is widely available. Your instructors or other local people we meet with on the trip may offer you tea in the mornings or afternoons, so please bring a drinking vessel for hot beverages like a stainless steel cup or a rugged hard plastic container like a nalgene bottle.
- Toiletries: Almost all toiletries are readily available for purchase in China, so you don’t need to bring large quantities of your own from home. However, women, if you use tampons, please bring enough for the entire course as tampons are generally not available for purchase in China.
- Spending money: Dragons will cover all normal expenses on course, but if you want to buy personal items like souvenirs, postcards, etc. you should bring some of your own money. It’s pretty easy to access money in China using a debit/ATM card, but make sure it has a VISA or Mastercard logo on it. Let your bank know the dates you are traveling to China so they don’t freeze the account.
- Medications: please be aware that the group will be carrying a fully-stocked med kit with almost all major drugs, including both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Consequently, there is no need for you to bring a huge selection of your own medications. That said, if you have a prescription medication you take regularly, please bring an ample supply – certain prescription medications are very difficult to replace in China.
- Bags: Choose a bag with straps that can be worn as a backpack. (Bring a backpack, not a suitcase) I will be bringing one larger backpack and also a smaller light day backpack plus an extra lightweight collapsible duffel bag to use to carry things I buy along the way. You will thank yourself later for packing light because we will be traveling in all types of crowded forms of transportation (train, bus, taxis, flights, etc…). Just make sure you are comfortable carrying all of your things yourself.
- Footwear: Either bring a pair of shoes that is appropriate for both urban settings and for a 2-3 day hike, or bring two pairs of shoes so you will be comfortable in both settings. I like traveling with some flip flops too.
- Sleeping gear: you do NOT need a sleeping bag or a sleeping mat. We will not be camping and will have beds to sleep in. (Yay!)
- Power adapter: You can buy an adapter if you want. Here’s the info you need: China runs on 220 volts with a variety of plug types. The most common are the 2 prong straight plug (USA style) and 3 prong angled (Australia style). If you have 3 prong USA style plugs you will need to buy an adapter (allowing this plug to be inserted into a two-pronged socket).
Ben, Ross, and Patricia