Mail takes a minimum of 10–20 days to arrive in Kosovo if sent by airmail. Packages sent by surface mail can take up to four months. Your address during training will be shared with you prior to your departure.
If you bring a U.S. cellphone, it should be unlocked. If you are interested in purchasing a new phone, reasonably priced cellphones are widely available in Kosovo. Volunteers can purchase a local cellphone during their first week in Kosovo and place international calls. Many Peace Corps Volunteers make international and local calls using Internet calling programs, such as Skype and Dial Pad.
Insurance is highly recommended for your computer and other devices. Some, but not all, Volunteers have access to computers at their work sites, which may or may not have Internet and email capabilities. Such equipment, however, is intended to be used primarily for work-related activities, and you should not assume that it can be used for personal purposes. Internet and email access is available throughout Kosovo. Internet cafes can be found in most major cities and towns, and wireless Internet is available in many cafes.
Housing and Site Location
Housing must adhere to Peace Corps standards and the Peace Corps staff visits all proposed living arrangements to evaluate their suitability. Electrical sockets in Kosovo fit standard European plugs, running at 220 volts, 50 hertz. Volunteers will live with host families throughout their service in their assigned communities and should be prepared to serve in any region of Kosovo. Living with a host family will help Volunteers learn the customs and cultures of the host country nationals, making it easier for Volunteers to integrate into the community as well as stay healthy and safe. Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to adjust to the daily habits, customs, and lifestyle of their host families to learn about the similarities and differences in host country culture and American family behavior and share American culture and traditions with the host family. Volunteers will participate in host family events and domestic daily life, assisting with cleaning, cooking, chores, and other daily tasks. Volunteers are expected to respect the individual rules of each household as explained to them by host family members and according to their own observation of their religion, customs, and habits. This includes dressing, appearance, behavior, and attitude.
Living Allowance and Money Management
Volunteers receive a monthly allowance in local currency that is sufficient to live at the level of the local people. The allowance covers food, housing, household supplies, clothing, transportation to and from work, utilities, recreation and entertainment, and incidental expenses. Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to live at a level that is comparable with that of their host country counterparts. The Peace Corps discourages Volunteers from supplementing their living allowance with funds from home. However, Volunteers often wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. For this, credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.
Food and Diet
You will not find many prepared foods in Kosovo and there is limited choice of frozen food, but a wide variety of delicious fresh food is always available. “Homemade” is the best word to describe the fare on a Kosovar dining table. Peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbages, onions, garlic, meat (chicken, beef), and olive oil are staples in Kosovar cooking. The meat most often found in restaurants and shops is mutton or beef, though chicken and fresh fish are occasionally also available. White and yellow cheese, eggs, milk, and yogurt are also a regular part of the Kosovar’s diet. Vegetarians will not have any problems maintaining a healthy diet if they cook at home. Lentils, processed tofu, beans, and rice are widely available, as are peanuts and other kinds of nuts. Eating out at restaurants may be a little more difficult for vegetarians, as most menus consist of meat dishes. You will never go wrong ordering a salad and bread. Along with a wide variety of vegetables, fruits are plentiful in season. Kosovo is widely known for the production of fruits and vegetables. You can make your own juice and jam from these or they may be available in local stores.
Kosovo has a sufficient network of bus and train routes, which makes it possible to travel to practically all destinations by public transportation. As you would anywhere else, you must be vigilant in protecting your valuables while using public transportation.
You will find no shortage of entertainment opportunities in Kosovo. There are concerts, theaters, athletic events, hot springs, outdoor markets, historical and ethnographic centers, coffee shops, bars, discos, and cinemas for you to enjoy. Most recently released American films are shown in theaters in English with Albanian or Serbian subtitles. You can also visit Kosovo's UNESCO World Heritage Site (monasteries in towns of Gracanica, Peja/Pec, Decan, and Prizren). Kosovo boasts some of the most magnificent natural areas in Eastern Europe, with a great diversity of flora and fauna. Opportunities for outdoor recreation include hiking, camping, rock climbing, and bird watching.
Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior
One of the difficulties of finding your place as a Peace Corps Volunteer is fitting into the local culture while maintaining your own cultural identity and working as a professional. It is not an easy situation to resolve, but the Peace Corps can provide you with guidance. While there are no hard and fast rules, a foreigner who wears ragged or dirty clothing is likely to be considered disrespectful and possibly unreliable. Improper attire creates difficulties in gaining the respect and acceptance of your Kosovar colleagues. You will have occasions to dress up regularly, so bring some more formal attire in addition to professional clothes appropriate for everyday wear in the office or classroom. Think business casual.