- Bring and test your own clothes detergent before coming to India if you have sensitive skin and make sure it is specifically for hand-washing clothes only. I don’t normally have sensitive skin at all and I still had problems with the very concentrated and strong detergent that is available here.
- Change US dollars to Rupee’s before you leave the US and make sure you ALWAYS have small bills (10’s, 20,’s 50’s) with you. No one in India ever has change, it’s an India phenomenon that will drive you crazy but you just have to realize that you can’t change it (no pun intended).
- Don’t bring anything but flip-flops and sandals (even for clinicals)! You will never wear tennis shoes as almost every building you walk into you have to take your shoes off. If you feel like you will need shoes with more support bring Mary Jane’s or something that you can easily slip on and off. For those of you who are crazy enough to want to work-out while you are her (I was one of them) bring a pair of shoes that will serve more than one purpose. For example, trail runner’s work great for running in the morning and for hiking in the surrounding areas but if you don’t plan on doing either of these things, they are completely unnecessary and will take up precious space in your luggage!
- When K.K. travels picks you up at the airport know that IT IS PAID FOR! You are not expected to give the driver or anyone else any money. If they are pestering you and you are unsure of what to do call Dr. Dabak (no matter what time of day) and he will help you out! And if you feel inclined to tip your driver, 20INR is sufficient.
- The last tip leads to this one: before you leave make sure you have a list of all of the contacts both at the San Francisco office and your local coordinators as well as the address of the guest house and the Dabak’s house that were both given to you in the final e-mail. The driver is supposed to know where he is going and what he is doing but that is not always the case. Dr. and Mrs. Dr. Dabak are very nice and always willing to help so if need their assistance with this, don’t hesitate to call.
- Bring the minimum personal items you will need for a few days with you in your carry-on luggage just in case your bag gets lost. And don’t feel the need to pack all of your personal items to last you a month because everything is readily available here (shampoo, conditioner, facewash, etc.) at little shops very close to the guest house. I didn’t even bring any makeup and just bought some basics here for very cheap!
- If you feel like you want the internet available 24/7 this is a possibility at the guest house if you bring a laptop. Dada (the caretaker) will help set up airtel so you can have internet. If this isn’t important to you there is an internet café that is open from 8am-10pm that is a three minute walk from the guest house and works just fine.
- See as much as you can and experience all the food, culture, and people possible to make your trip memorable!
At last, if you have any questions or doubts about the Child and Maternal Health Program in Pune, India don’t hesitate to e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org