This is a blog on certain things that I would consider essentials in coming to a foreign country. Our American customs and “needs” are unique to us and this might help in some of the adaptations to living in a foreign country. Mostly aimed at Senior couples, since some of this is not allowed to our junior aged missionaries.
Luggage: on the advice of one of our daughters-in-laws, we got duffel bags from REI to bring all our stuff in. They weigh about 1.5 lbs, instead of 12-15 lbs for a suitcase, and that allows you to pack more weight into the duffel bags. AND they fold up and can be put back into the little pouches that they arrive in. So storage is minimal, which can be an issue when you are living in tight quarters. I think we got the XL – dimensions fit the luggage requirements of our airline.
We actually opted to pay the extra for one hard suitcase. Ron wanted to bring his art supplies, which included a piece of masonite board as a backing for his watercolor paper and I wanted to bring my essential oils in their container. So we used it for things that we did not want to put into the duffel bags.
Kitchen things: we brought some collapsible measuring cups. We had them in our camping gear. A cup measurement is not used in European countries and our American recipes are in cups. Need I say more? I should have brought teaspoon measures too, but I forgot! I found some of these measuring cups for you at Bed Bath and Beyond: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=14281827&RN=106& I have no clue where we got ours… Recipes: I would recommend having your favorite recipes on your laptop computer for easy access. But you can usually find similar recipes online. Someone recommended bringing chili powder if you cook with it. I did find some chili at Tesco this week, Orient brand. I have never seen that brand at Tesco before, so maybe it is a trial run to see how that stuff sells? They have most other spices we are used to – you will just have to figure out their Hungarian names. You can find taco like seasonings but we brought several packages of that with us. Peanut butter is a seasonal item here, so you can get it when it is available. Also we have not been able to buy corn syrup, so that is another to-bring item if you use it a lot. There is an International Store in Pest, but prices are very expensive. Another item a missionary recommended is pie tins. They do not make pies like ours in America. I used the pie pans in the center to make some Thanksgiving pies but maybe your apartment has some (if used by other senior missionaries before you).
Electronics: We bought an iPad the week before we left. Should we or shouldn’t we was the big question. We did not want to appear as “rich Americans” was one of the major issues. But we gave in and I am so glad I did. If you do not have one and you can afford one, they are great. Now, I would probably go for the mini-iPad (less weight). When you are walking around so much, an extra few pounds in your purse is important. The things that are on ours: Scriptures (LDS Scriptures, Scriptures Around the World, which lets me read the B of M side-by-side in English and Magyar, LDS Hymns, and all the other fun LDS stuff). Akadémiai Kiadó, an Hungarian Dictionary, probably one of the most valuable resources that I bought. So when I am at the grocery store and see something I think is what I want, I can whip out the dictionary and check it out. (Oh, that is not brown sugar, it is very fine bread crumbs! Of course, by now we know the words for brown sugar…) Use it all the time… much better than the little book dictionaries. Cost $25. World Clock – so I can see what time it is where our kids live and in Maryland, where we have many friends and Mongolia, where Ron’s sister is serving their mission. Also has an alarm clock, timer, and stopwatch. Music – I took every CD that I liked and loaded them onto my Mac laptop before we left and one of the kids synced it to my iPad, so all our music is on the iPad (and iPod). We can listen to our music while in the center kitchen, office or rec room doing our chores. Granted we are 70 and do not listen to any thing but soft melodic or church music… Calendars and other organizational stuff – One of my sons insisted that I do not drag my Franklin to Hungary… So I keep a calendar of what is happening on the iPad. I was using it to keep track of all the center meals on it too, but somehow they are disappearing. So I went to a new system suggested by my Mission President, called Daily Notes, for that. Path – this is like a personal Facebook page that our family has been using to keep track of each other. Everyone in the family has to have a iSomething or an android because Path is an app. We post pictures and comments on what is going on. Ron and I also each have our own laptop. We are truly spoiled. There is a computer in our office but we do not use it unless we have to retrieve documents that former missionaries have on there. Ron uses his for the tracking of the money, budget and expenses, making up rolls and agendas, making talks, language study and other things and I use mine for my Institute lessons, PP presentations, things that the kids want run off, things for the bulletin board, etc. We also both have Facebook accounts, as that is the way that the YSA kids communicate with the world and we can send them a private messages through that medium, too. Just don’t leave any of this stuff lying around or in plain view in a car – they walk away.
Clothing: Ron’s needs were simple – two suits, 10 white shirts, ties, etc. So he got out-fitted at Mr. Mac. You could probably find someone in your missionary country who makes custom suits, if that suits you. Ron would prefer not wearing a suit at all; so Mr. Mac was fine for him. However, women are a bit more picky. Some of my missionary friends got all their clothes at Deseret Industries and plan to just leave them when they leave the country. I had a very hard time finding any clothes at DI – I did find some turtlenecks and other tops and one skirt; so everything else, I either had, bought by catalog or bought at Macy’s. We do not have a big selection of clothing stores in Logan – or I am just too picky?! (I hate shopping for clothes.) I did stick with Clark shoes and Clark-like brands for sturdy shoes. You do a LOT of walking in your church clothes. So get some STURDY COMFORTABLE shoes.
Homemaking Supplies: We bought some essentials after we got here. Our apartment had never been used by the missionaries before and the bedding was not adequate. So Ikea to the rescue – duvets and two weights of comforters for each of us; some silverware, a frying pan, a crock pot, plastic containers for leftovers – things like that. They also have other stores besides Ikea where you can buy that stuff.
Electric gadgets: Ron brought his electric toothbrush (he was not sure he could get one here) so he had to buy a transformer for that. Media Mart has things like that and MM are all over the place. We also bought some adapters for our computers, iPad, and iPod. Some of your stuff will adapt to their electricity but you will need an adapter for their plug style. I would wait until you are here for that.
Medicines, Vitamins: Advil is expensive here. Bring a 2 yr supply if you think you will need it. We also bought a 2 year supply of all the vitamins and supplements that we would need. We found that you can fit twice the amount of vitamins and other stuff in one container, so that saved space. I did find a health store and they had melaleucca oil, which did not make it here. I signed up to be a doTerra dealer (under my daughter) and ordered some other oils I decided we needed and they were sent from London. (Very pricey with 27% EU taxes, so bring them if you can.)
Office supplies: paper is sized differently than in America. A4 is the standard in Hungary. We brought some extra paper for the little binders that we bought at the MTC bookstore that we keep our language notes and I am also using my binder for YSA council meetings, district and zone meetings, etc. I am a compulsive note taker!
And that is it for this posting!