Thursday, February 24, 2011

I almost forgot!



I solemnly promise if you give me your info I will write you a letter, probably two, maybe even more than that!

Malawi Bound, finally!

I actually made it, I made it through the absolute most whirlwind amazing month of 100,000,001 good byes, I made it to the airport, managed to squeak by with my 79.5lbs of checked luggage when I was only allowed 80, and at this rate I may even make it to Africa!
The past few weeks have been hectic... how hectic? Well lets just say my personal hygiene has seriously suffered. On the way to the airport my mother informed me my hair was hitting bird's nest like quality, and after closer inspection I discovered 23 bobby pins, 1 hair clip, three rubber bands, and a head band. Don't worry, the 23 bobby pins set off the security metal detector. Its interesting to get your head inspected by a gun totting security guard. I'm pretty sure he told me with his eyes that it was time to shower. I promise to clean myself up before I meet the people I will be confined in very close quarters with over the next 9 weeks. Have to make a good first impression!!
Will be in Philadelphia for the next 24 hours, then a shuttle to NYC, fly out at 10am Saturday morning, and arrive in Africa late afternoon Sunday.
Plan is to take it one step at a time. Current top priority is acquiring a cheese steak, the rest can wait.

Attached is picture of me in all my Malawi bound glory. I considered placing it all in a shopping cart and wheeling it in, but in my current physical state I'm pretty sure I would be mistaken for homeless.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love is All Around Us

To quote Hugh Grant "love really is all around us" (just because I quoted him doesn't mean I like him; in fact, I intensely dislike him, but I really liked the movie, so I forgive him a little)

Throughout the last few months, and throughout this entire process I have had such a positive, albeit slightly erratic attitude about my upcoming departure and journey. I woke up with a heavy, sad heart this morning. As I ate my breakfast of various leftovers (currently boycotting grocery store, leading to hundreds of mystery Styrofoam clamshells in my fridge) I couldn't shake this overwhelming, and unusual sadness.
In the midst of my extreme downward dog in yoga it occurred to me, the much anticipated sadness of leaving is finally settling in.
The beauty of this sadness is that it wouldn't exist if I didn't have such amazing people surrounding me. As I sit here all I can think about is the incredible amount of love and support I have received from all of my family, friends, and community. I am truly surrounded on all sides by such overwhelming love from so many people. As I begin my final days in Atlanta I physically ache from love and appreciation for all the people around me. You have touched my life, made me grow into the person I am today, and shown me what true friends and true love are.
I love life for the beauty in all the things that surround me, from the gorgeous blue sky, to the sound of a piano playing, to the smiles of children; all are miracles we should cherish and appreciate daily. As a nurse I have witnessed both the miracle of birth and the pain of death. All of these things make us feel, and it is in this feeling that gives us our humanity, and our individual gifts as people.
My wish is that all of you know what gifts you are; both to me and to every life you touch. Enjoy this Valentines day filled with the love of your significant others, but also the love we create from within that surrounds us all, every day, every hour, every second.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Just call me Edward Scissorhands!

Ooopps!! So, I may have overcompensated a little in the safety department. When I first starting telling people I was going to Africa all people could do talk about super scary things. Evidently I lost some perspective.... forgot I wasn't going into Guerrila warfare and I'm actually going into the PEACE corps...

These are all the absurd things I found while doing some lite packing today Don't worry, I'm not taking anything but I kitchen knives.

Monday, February 7, 2011

So Important for My Sanity!

Naturally, I have procrastinated and waited till the last minute to post my address. I would LOVE for everyone and anyone to send me letters as soon as possible so that I may possibly get some mail in the first few months. Letters take at least 2-3 weeks to arrive, and packages take longer. Make sure you include "Air Mail" and "Par Avion" on the envelopes, and if you send packages make sure you write bible verses or such phrases as "the wrathful eyes of god are watching you." Not kidding; evidently it cuts down on sticky fingered customs agents.

Zikomo!! (that means "thanks.") Aren't you impressed with my language skills? You should be.

Katie Schneider PCT

Peace Corps

P. O. Box 208

Lilongwe, Malawi

Friday, February 4, 2011

Packing PANIC!

Here is my suggested packing list... with commentary. I would appreciate suggestions. I feel like I may be getting in over my head here.

General Clothing

• One set long underwear (will leggings work? what is long underwear? I'm pretty sure this doesn't exist in georgia)

• Lightweight,all-weatherjacket (again, what does this mean? it sounds pretty subjective to me)

• Hooded sweatshirt or fleece

• Knit hat and gloves (I really thought I was going to be near the equator, this is making me nervous)

• Sleeveless dresses and shirts (note that Volunteer teachers cannot wear these in the classroom)

• Swimsuit (one piece); very sturdy (where does one find this in february?)

• Bandannas or handkerchiefs

• Sun hat (baseball cap or straw hat) (can't wait to show up in philly in my straw hat)

Good-qualityraincoat (like an expensive one, or like the awesome kind firefighters wear?)

• Heavy-duty poncho and quality umbrella (this seems redundant to me)

Durable, easy-to-washpants (seriously, is this anything but silk pants, aren't all pants easy to wash?)

• Shorts and other clothes like drawstring pajama pants for lounging around (doctor’s scrubs are ideal) (this is totally get)

• Women can and do wear trousers for traveling and in the cities (please define "trouser")

• Cotton slips (waist to knee and waist to ankle) (I just want to know why)

• Men do not need full suit, just a tie and a button-down shirt for special occasions

• Very durable, practical clothes (not nice, dressy clothes)

• Some nicer clothes for in town (dancing, restaurants) (this appears to be contradictory, leading to more confusion)

• Lots of underwear, bras, socks

• Heavy-dutysportsbra (is there a Light-duty sportsbra?)

• Belt

• Money belt (haha!)

• shorts (longer, knee-length shorts for women) for biking

• Sturdy work gloves (if you garden)

Overall advice: do not bring a lot. Just three to four outfits for staging and beginning of training. You can find just about everything in the markets.


Durable shoes are an essential investment

• Teva or Chaco sandals

• Sneakers and/or hiking boots (two pairs) (Boots are handy for rainy season) (rainboots?)

• Shoes (close-toed and good to stand in all day; for Volunteer teachers)

• House shoes (slippers); you can get flip-flops in Malawi

• Dress shoes (this is insanely broad)


• Heavy-duty non-stick frying pan (could I check this??)

Good knives (can't wait to try and take these on the plane)

• Vegetable peeler (could this be used as a weapon?)

• Thermos (does my ninja turtle one count?)

• French press (if you appreciate good coffee)

• Kitchen towels

Ziplocbags (surplus) (again, very subjective, 20? 200?)

• Plastic containers (e.g., Tupperware)

• Mess kit cooking set

• Set of silverware

• Send foodstuff to yourself before leaving: kool-aid packets, cheese powder packets, power bars, granola bars, soup mixes, gravy mixes, chocolate, etc. (WHAT is a cheese powder pack, and how have I never heard of it?!?!)


• Sturdy water bottle (e.g., Nalgene)

• Lightweight, travel, waterproof tent w/ground cloth

• Leatherman/SwissArmyknife

• Compact sleeping bag for cold weather

• Indiglowatch

• Bungee cords or backpack straps

• Chair that folds out into sleeping mat (e.g., Crazy Creek or LL Bean)

• Flashlight or headlamp with extra bulbs

• Short wave radio

• Solar-powered rechargeable batteries with recharger

• Duct tape

• Scissors

• Good envelopes

• Elmer’s glue (I will really need an explanation to justify hauling Elmer's across the globe)

• Good dictionary (English, Chichewa, need more info!)

•U.S. stamps (so you can send letters home with travelers)

•Lonely Planet Guide to Malawi

• Camera(35mmpoint-and-shoot)

•Field guide for flora and fauna of sub-Saharan Africa

•Seeds for herbs and vegetables (am I going to be tackled at customs for this?)

• Battery-powered alarm clock

•Double size, flat sheets and a couple of towels

• Sewing kit

• Sunglasses

•Personal money (you can keep it in the safe at the Peace Corps office) (currency)

•Games (Scrabble, cards, chess, Frisbee, etc.)

•Walkman and variety of tapes (Discman uses much more battery power) (are these seriously still made?)

•Musical instrument (harmonica, guitar, etc.)

• A few novels (to swap after reading)

•Hobby materials like sketching pads and pencils

• Luggage (should be tough, lightweight, lockable, and easy to carry)

• Hiking backpacks without frames are practical