Wednesday, 22 March 2017


Written By Mollie Cohen

Note: APIL is based in Ziniare, so depending on where your project is some of this may not be relevant.
  1. Bring a few of your favourite snacks with you… e.g. Doritos. You will appreciate the crispy delicious cheesy goodness in the first few weeks that you are here.
  2.  Don’t overload your suitcase with toiletries. Things like soap, shampoo, deodorant and body lotions you can buy here. HOWEVER, suncream is not a thing here so please bring a few bottles if you’re pasty. Oh, and aftersun.
  3. Pillows will probably not be provided. If you are a princess and require one to sleep either bring a pillow with you, or a nice big hoodie to use instead, or even take the one of the plane if you’re feeling cheeky.
  4. If you are a light sleeper bring earplugs with you, or really good headphones. There are a LOT of noises to get used to; donkeys, goats, sheep, cows, crickets, cockerels, and even drumming parties.
  5. When you first arrive at the university there are no curtains on the windows at all. Bringing sellotape and a newspaper or paper to cover the windows is a great idea. Otherwise people will see you getting changed… 
  6. WIFI is not really a thing. Even if you do have wifi it will be slow and you will get frustrated. If you don’t mind the potential of losing/breaking your iPhone or other smart phone then it is actually really handy to bring it – and DEFINITELY make sure it is unlocked beforehand. There is a data plan you can buy on Airtel à 5gb of data for 10,000CFA, which is the equivalent of about £12/£13. Bargain(ish)
  7. If you are a vegetarian or vegan it will be difficult. Prepare yourself for lots of salad, chips, and eggs. Most sauces contain chunks of meat so eating out at lunch is difficult at first but you get used to it. And if you are worried it is a good idea to bring some supplements and vitamins.
  8. Learning French is definitely not a bad idea – but it is Moore (or the other local languages) that people really appreciate you making an effort with. There are no resources to learn beforehand so don’t stress, just make an effort once you are here!
  9. If you have a bicycle helmet that fits you properly then bring it with you! The helmets here are okay… but will not really be the perfect size for your lovely head.
  10. ALSO, bring a really good head torch with you. One that resembles the sun would be most appropriate. It is fundamental to your survival that you have light: pigs and other animals tend to run in front of your bike quite frequently.
  11. Be ready for it to be pretty awkward at the beginning. When you first arrive in your host home it is going to feel very bizarre, but it will get easier and more normal even after a few days. 
  12. A handheld fan (obvs with batteries) is also very handy, if your host home doesn’t have electricity or don’t have a fan to give you. It is HOT.
  13.  If you are bringing a laptop (which is strongly advised, and a USB) then bring some kind of case or dust cover… the dust will get itself into every nook and cranny imaginable. 
  14. Although somewhat contradictory to the previous point… wear light coloured clothing, not necessarily white, it makes such a difference with dealing with the heat.
  15. AND finally, if you want to be the life and soul of the party, the superstar dj, the bringer of joy, bring a portable speaker.

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