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A few notes on packing

Hello West Africa Semester Students!

We are so excited to meet you and begin this journey together. Here is a short Yak that provides some general guidance as you begin to think more closely about what exactly to pack and how to prepare.

First off, please be sure to read through your Course Preparation Manual (CPM) carefully and note everything on the packing list provided. We can assure you that your gear will be well-used and well-loved by the end of your course. You’ll likely come to rely on a few essential pieces of gear.

In addition here are a few other notes that seem pertinent to impart to all of you.

  • Please prepare for mosquitoes! It is essential that you bring a self-standing mosquito net, otherwise known as a bug hut. A standard mosquito net is usually attached to bed posts or the wall and will not work on trek or in some homestays.
  • Also, please prepare for the rain and heat! Bring a lightweight raincoat, a pack cover, or a heavy duty XL trash bag to layer inside your pack for gear protection.
  • For the sake of sun protection, it is also important to bring light, breathable layers to remain comfortable in everyday sun, heat, and humidity.
  • Additionally, please account for temperature shifts. Warmer layers are vital for trekking through the mountains and even on the beach during the month of December.
  • Lastly, please consider bringing additional means for personal water purification. While personal water purification equipment/systems are optional, we highly recommend bringing something of your own. After all, staying hydrated is critical! Plus, students often enjoy the independence of carrying their own supply for trek and homestay.

Finally, please weigh your clothing decisions within the context of new cultural norms. By dressing well according to local cultural norms, we can open many doors with just our initial impressions, even before any social interactions officially begin. Much like learning greetings in Wolof and Pulaar, or remembering to never shake with your left hand, how we dress shows our hosts what our intentions are as learners and travelers. Again, please look over the packing list in the Course Preparation Manual (CPM) carefully and pay close attention to the clothing guidelines.

Here are a few quick pointers:

  • Tops: None baring the midriff. For women, no “spaghetti straps” or deep v-necks.

  • Bottoms: No shorts, skirts or dresses above the knee. For women, shorts are only allowed in urban areas and for sports (trekking included), as long as they extend to the knee.

On a related note, there will be an option to get local clothing made by a tailor during homestays.

Please keep your eye out for additional course information in the coming weeks. In the comin weeks, we will be sharing an itinerary, a pre-course assignment and ideas for ISPs!


Thank you!

Your I-Team