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  • Writer's picturewassa123

My Personal Pre Depature

Things I Did Before Leaving:

1. Shopping: This may be a hot take because it adds to luggage weight, but I like to travel with at least one month’s supply of my hygiene products. Personally, I would never want to be in a new place without my basics. Looking for soap, lotion, or toothpaste in your first few days can be a great immersion experience, but also may not be possible. (hotel location, a packed schedule, no access to an ATM are all things that could stop you from shopping when you land) Pack your carry-on with a week’s worth of living items!

2. Research: I looked at the existing resources including

These were all helpful, but I still had a ton of questions after. During the Fulbright PDO, get the contact information of any former grantees to your country. I also reached out to my school to ask if there has ever been a Fulbrighter in Côte d’Ivoire, and while mine hadn’t, I recommend asking.

3. ID renewal: Mine just happens to expire in the middle of my grant and I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t run into issues once I got back to the US! (or on vacation) Make sure your passport and vaccinations are up to date too!

4. Subscription cancellation: I hate email clutter, so as we approached our departure, I unsubscribed from email lists and promotions that no longer served me. Plus, there’s nothing worse than getting charged for a service you no longer use.

5. Apple Store Run: There are no Apple stores in Côte d’Ivoire and I didn’t want any surprises during my grant. It's also easier to get your questions answered if you go in person.

6. Paid My September Phone Bill: This may seem silly, but I was seriously considering cutting off my phone since my departure was early September, and I am so glad I didn’t. Even if you tell your banks you’re traveling, many will require two-step authentication when you try to log in in CDI. You need an active US number for the SMS texts to go through, so keep your phone active for at least a month.

7. Set (loose) Preliminary Goals: A transition like this can be very difficult, and I wanted to intentionally work routine into my life. Before I left, I made two promises to myself. The first was to stretch before bed and upon waking up for five minutes at least four times a week. It is a habit I fall in and out of but generally really love. The second is to commit to trying something new with my housemates at least once a month. My goals have and will change once I get there, but these two felt like a good start.

8. Spent Time with Loved Ones: (and get physical photos of them!)

Things I Wish I’d Done

1. Updated my devices earlier. I had an evening flight and thought it was a good idea to try and update my computer at noon. It didn’t complete the installation and long story short, I had to wipe my Mac and reinstall all my apps and preferences two weeks into my program. Updating a Mac on a wonky hotspot sucks. Don’t be like me.....

2. Better Banking. About one week in, I learned that one of my banks won’t allow online banking with a VPN or an IP address in CDI. If you have a smaller bank, look into their policies so you don’t get locked out of your account.

ALSO!!! Find a good travel credit card. Or find a bank that refunds foreign transaction fees (like Charles Schwab). I went into my bank and an advisor talked me out of getting a travel card and I regret it. CDI is a cash economy and the ATM fees and foreign transaction fees are KILLING me.

3. Worked a summer job. Relaxing after graduation was the best option for me, but a little pocket money would have saved me a lot of stress early in my grant.

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