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Packing Guidance for North Macedonia

This guidance is designed to describe appropriate clothing, the cultural context where you will be living and working, and the professional expectations of your workplace.

As you decide what to bring, keep in mind there is a 100-pound weight limit on checked baggage.

In general, most items you will need are available in country and locally acquired items are often the best at helping you integrate into your community. However, locally available items may not be the brands, quality, prices, or sizes you are used to. Bringing some key items from home might make your transition to service more comfortable.

This guidance has been compiled by Peace Corps staff and Volunteers and is based on their experience. Use this information as an informal guide as you make your own packing list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. There is no perfect packing list!

This packing guidance is designed to help you think through different categories of items and consider what you might want to bring, considering work expectations, cultural considerations, and your own personal preferences.

North Macedonia is influenced by a Mediterranean and Continental climate with four distinct seasons. As in the United States, weather patterns have been changing in recent years, so it is difficult to describe a “typical” year.

July and August can be very hot and dry, with temperatures staying in the 90–100-degree Fahrenheit range for a two-week period or longer. Because of the scarcity of air conditioning, comfortable, lightweight clothing is important for the summer months.

In the winter, the higher elevations can be blanketed in snow, with more snow in the north than in the south. Long underwear, winter boots, and a warm coat are necessities because of the inconsistency of heating.

Peace Corps North Macedonia provides the following items:

The following items are provided to all Volunteers:

  • Smoke/carbon monoxide detector
  • Fire extinguisher
  • FM radio/flashlight
  • SIM card
  • PCV-compiled cookbook

Based on where you are located in the country, you may be provided one or more of the following:

  • Air purifier
  • Water distiller
  • Mosquito net
  • Bike helmet
  • Language dictionaries
  • Work-related books
  • Tablet/headset during PST (if you do not have an alternate device)

Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take:

  • Pets
  • Weapons
  • Explosives
  • Radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted)
  • Drones
  • Automobiles or motorcycles
  • Flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers
  • Valuables such as precious jewelry or family heirlooms

Drugs

Do not bring any drug that has not been authorized by the Peace Corps for medical purposes without prior consultation with Office of Health Services Pre-Service. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Illicit drugs, including marijuana and related products such as CBD and herbal substances such as kratom, are prohibited during Peace Corps service, even if they are legal in your home of residence. If you use, possess, or distribute illicit drugs, you will be administratively separated from service.

Below is guidance on clothing expectations and cultural norms for work as well as leisure and recreation.

General

  • Two or three pairs of fleece or silk long underwear (available locally but not of great quality), in colors other than white (which is harder to clean)
  • Several sweaters
  • Scarves, hats, and gloves (waterproof and breathable if possible)
  • Winter socks
  • Windproof and waterproof coat
  • Winter coat
  • Jeans
  • Clothing for warmer weather

Work clothing

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 Macedonian and Albanian colleagues.

Clothing available in North Macedonia is not size inclusive, please consider this when packing to possibly include extra items you would wear regularly.

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.

Leisure and recreational clothing

When not at work or out, people dress comfortably at home. Many locals wear tracksuits, sweatpants, sweatshirts, and T-shirts. This is culturally appropriate when amongst your host family, especially with indoor slippers which may be given to you when entering their home. You are at home, so be comfortable.

For recreational activities, individuals are seen in athletic wear. T-shirts, sleeveless shirts, shorts, sweatpants, and leggings are appropriate when being active.

Do keep in mind staying modest in locations that may be considered rural or strongly religious.

  • Hiking boots: waterproof, and lightweight
  • Professional dress shoe or loafer
  • Walking shoes and sandals

You should bring a three-month supply of any prescription and/or over the counter medications you use that are authorized/approved by the Peace Corps.

Note: Prior to service, Peace Corps supplies all volunteers with a medical kit containing basic, over-the-counter medications, as well as multivitamins.

See a detailed list of items included in the medical kit.

The medical unit will replenish prescriptions after the initial three-month training.

If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs (of the current prescription) with you. Contact lens use will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

See additional guidance from the Office of Medical Services.

Additional guidance for North Macedonia:

  • Three-month supply of any medications, to last through pre-service training; copy of prescriptions.
  • Contact lenses are not recommended due to elevated rates of eye infections and contact solution is hard to find.
  • A wide variety of toiletries are available in North Macedonia, so do not pack extra toothpaste, toilet paper, dental floss, or shampoo
  • Female PCT/Vs can select from either having Feminine Hygiene Supplement added to their monthly living allowance or to be provided with selected feminine hygiene products through the Medical Unit (including reimbursement for menstrual cups). All feminine hygiene products are inexpensive and widely available in the local markets. If you have a preferred brand or product, please bring those as you may not be able to find it in North Macedonia.

Typical electronics are widely available in the country. Prices are usually competitive, but for higher end devices (laptops, tablets, etc.) you should expect them to be slightly higher.

Volunteers who have brought their smartphones, laptops or tablets have found them helpful.

The power plugs and outlets used in North Macedonia are the types C and F plugs.

  • Type C plug, known as the Euro plug, has two round pins.
  • The Schuko, as the Type F plug is known, has two round pins and earth clips on each side.

The standard voltage in North Macedonia is 230 V and the standard frequency in North Macedonia is 50 Hz. For travelers from countries with a standard voltage between 100 – 127 V (the US) a voltage converter will be required to use (some) electric appliances in North Macedonia.

If you would like to bring your laptop, tablet, or phone it is important to check their voltage and frequency before traveling. You can do this by checking the plug to see the voltage allowances on the item.

Based on your interests and personal preferences there may be additional items you will want to consider bringing with you. Below is a description of the common activities Volunteers engage in and what different Volunteers have said they enjoy having and may be hard to find in country. Note: these items are not required or even recommended but might be nice to have.

Personal banking

  • There are ATMs in larger cities, and most towns so you may want to bring an ATM card to access a bank account in the U.S.
  • Money pouch/belt
  • Credit card

Outdoor activities/travel

  • Compact sleeping bag
  • Small Backpack
  • You may find it useful to bring traction cleats which reduce risk of falls when walking on snow or ice

Sports

  • Frisbee
  • American Football

Household goods

  • Flashlight
  • Compact sewing and tool kits

Food/cooking

  • Favorite recipes
  • Favorite spices
  • Hot Sauces
  • Plastic measuring cups and spoons

Craft/art supplies

  • Knitting utensils/Embroidery items
  • Favorite supplies (most things are available here, but might be unfamiliar brands)

Other

  • Favorite pictures
  • Games
  • Bluetooth speaker
  • Small gifts for host family and friends (not required); knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; photos to give away