Updated 1/30/2011

Here is the inventory of what I packed for Ukraine, itemized by category. I tried to bring everything that I need to move my life overseas for 2+ years. And no, I’m not OCD, I just love making lists of things in spreadsheets like a true Industrial Engineer. Okay fine, maybe I am a little OCD…

A lot of this list is very similar to what I packed to study abroad for Singapore and China. Peace Corps and the airlines have a combined 100 lb limit and so I squished everything into two 50 lb suitcases and a carryon! So both of my checked bags weighed approximately 48 lbs... success : )
A Few Tips for Packing

  • Consolidate your clothes by bringing stuff that is nice enough to wear to work at school but still casual enough to just hang out in.
  • Don't worry about not having enough variety in your clothes. Many Ukrainians wear the exact same outfit for 3 or 4 days in a row shamelessly.
  • Ukrainian's idea of business casual is pretty casual compared to most offices in the US- for example, many women at my school still manage to look professional in their black knee-high boots and black sweaterdresses and some PCVs can even get away with wearing jeans to school.
  • Plan on wearing layers all the time in the winter.
  • Bring lots of socks... they seem to go missing from time to time and I always run out of socks before I run out of underwear. 
  • Bring some long underwear and/or thermal layers (they will help a lot when its -20 outside and you have to walk 30 minutes to school in the snow). I pretty much wear mine every day under my clothes.
  • Try to reduce the amount of clothes that need to be ironed - who has time to iron every day anyways?
  • Avoid bringing khaki colored pants or skirts... According to my TCF (technical cross-cultural facilitator), Ukrainians don't wear khaki so they don't really consider it to be professional.
  • And bring all the black clothes you own... it seems like many Ukrainians' favorite color in the winter is black and it is acceptable to be dressed from head to toe in black. 
  • Ukrainian women seem to always carry big, black leather purses and NONE of the teachers at school wear backpacks - the men carry black leather attache briefcases or messenger bags. 
  • When Ukraininans travel, they usually carry little duffel bags (not roller suitcases) so you will stand out in a crowd if you're carrying a backpack.  
  • Be prepared to take off your shoes every time you enter a home... and for your host mom to yell at you for not wearing your slippers all the time inside the house. My host mom actually gave me a pair of slippers as a gift, she was so concerned that I was going to get sick if I didn't wear slippers and my feet got cold.
  • Check the wattage of your electronics, most things like laptops, camera and phone chargers have built-in power adapters so they don't need a transformer to step down the electricity (ukraine is 220V and USA is 110 V) - all you willl need is the European adapter with two round prongs to plug it into the wall.
  • Bring a potato peeler and a can opener, they will be very useful in your kitchen at your permanent site!
Casual Clothes
·         4 short-sleeve cotton workout tshirts
·         3 summer shirts
·         3 short sleeve shirts (classy enough to go to work and go out in)
·         3 long sleeve shirts
·         3 long sleeve underarmor shirts
·         3 2 casual dresses for going out (gotta bring the LBD!)
·         2 3 GT swim&dive dry-fit shirts (one short sleeve, two long sleeve)
·         2 3 pairs of pajama pants (flannel, fleece and cotton)
·         2 pairs of pj shorts from American Eagle
·         2 pairs of jeans (dark jeans, skinny jeans)
·         2 pairs of shorts (jeans, khaki)
·         2 pairs of Nike Tempo running shorts
·         2 pairs of underarmor running leggings
·         2 white tank tops
·         2 tank tops (black, brown)
·         2 teal/navy blue tank tops (to match my teal cardigan and teal sweater!)
·         2 pairs of running/yoga capris
·         1 pair of yoga pants
·         1 2 pairs of sweatpants (its around -20 degrees in the winter!)
·         1 navy cotton sundress
·         1 black&white flowered dress
·         1 pair of navy TYR track warmup pants (they LOVE track suits... especially anything Adidas)
·         1 pair of Patagonia Capilene long underwear in black (I wear the top and bottom almost every day)
·         1 Chelsea FC jersey
·         1 red Tacky Christmas Sweater (just for fun! my students loved this)
·         Assorted Smartwool socks, underwear and bras - I found a bunch of Smartwool socks on sale at REI and love them, they definitely keep my toes warmer than cotton socks. And I brought enough underwear to last me like 3 weeks without having to do laundry haha

Work Clothes – Maybe I should have just titled these my “more professional clothes”. Many Ukrainian school children (girls and boys both) wear full black business suits, from the little 3rd graders to the 11th form. But not many of the teachers at school wear full business suits to teach in, they usually stick to black bottoms and a professional top (like a turtleneck sweater or sweaterdress). 
·         4 cardigan sweaters (black and gray short sleeve, cream and teal long sleeve)
·         3 2 long sleeve v-neck sweaters (black, teal)
·         3 button up dress shirts (I never EVER wear these to school but I wore one at Swearing-In)
·         3 2 classy knee-length dresses (black, dark purple)
·         2 short sleeve sweaters (gray and pink, good for layering)
·         2 dress slacks (black and gray- I wear these to school ALL the time)
·         2 pencil skirts (black and navy - I hardly ever wear these either)
·         2 classy knee length skirts (flowery black/white and a gray cotton skirt - this is what I wear to school all the time)
·         1 pair of dress capris (gray - great for tucking into my knee-high winter boots)

Outerwear – Jackets are so fluffy but are well worth the space in your luggage... bringing a good winter jacket will also save you a lot of hassle trying to find a quality one here. And most people here have black jackets, its less common to see jackets in brown or bright colors.
·         1 waterproof winter down parka (North Face Brooklyn Jacket) - I love this but wish it was knee length
·         1 black J. Crew pea coat for fall/spring
·         1 lime green Columbia raincoat (I haven't worn this yet, the lime green stands out so much here!)
     1 teal Burton inner layer zip fleece with hood (similar to North Face Apex jacket material)
·         1 black North Face mid-layer pullover fleece (many of my friends brought hoodies but I brought this because it takes up less space and is good when I travel)
·         1 pair of Yax Trax Pro grips for my shoes - I bought these for cheaper on Amazon and I know they look kinda crazy but they have saved my life many times when the streets and sidewalks are coated with sheets of solid ice.

Accessories – I have been SO thankful that I brought some winter things like hat, scarf, and gloves. You can find these things in the bazaars and shops here but they aren't great quality and you'll probably want to spend your money on other things like traveling. 
·         2 pairs of gloves (one waterproof for snow, one North Face fleece)
·         2 scarves (warm cashmere/wool winter scarves)
·         2 pairs of black tights (I actually bought 2 more pairs of black fleece-lined tights here in the bazaar)
·         2 pairs of gray tights
·         1 Nike fleece headband (I don't know why I brought this, I always just wear a hat)
·         2 little Coach clutch wristlets (perfect for holding your passport, phone, camera, and keys)
·         2 canvas tote bags (handy for schoolbooks or grocery shopping)
·         1 side swing purse
·         1 large navy carry-all purse (my "personal item" carryon for the plane)

Shoes – I brought a lot of shoes to Ukraine, so please just try not to judge me too much for being obsessed with shoes.... and I bought 2 pairs of black knee high fur-lined winter boots here.
·         Running sneakers and Addidas soccer cleats (many people are astonished that I have soccer cleats haha)
·         Chaco Zx1 sandals (Chaco gives a Peace Corps discount)
·         Reef flip flops or Rainbow Sandals (I plan on wearing these all summer)
·         Sassy black open-toed pumps (I haven't worn these to school yet)
·         Conservative black heels
·         Black leather knee high boots with 4" heels (these were a good investment because all the teachers here LOVE my boots)  and black flats (I never wear to school)
·         Snow boots (these did not come in the mail because they were out of stock)
·         Rain boots from Target (these were heavy so I almost took them out of my luggage but they will be handy when all the snow melts in the spring)
·         Strappy silver flats

Swim Gear – As a former competitive swimmer, I planned on swimming in Ukraine... but pools are few and far between. But I have been lucky and gotten to go swimming here :)
·         2 polyester training suits
·         2 bikinis (ALL the women wear bikinis, regardless of age and ALL the men wear speedos)
·         1 FS Pro race suit (I found it!)
·         Goggles, caps and paddles
·         Stretch cord for shoulder rehab (shoulders never recover from distance workouts haha)
·         Small quick-dry Sammy towel
·         Big bath towel (I am SO glad that I brought this, otherwise I would have had to buy one here)

Electronics – Definitely packed these all in my carry-on bag on the plane... Bringing an unlocked phone was great because it saved me about $300 UAH the first month, when everyone else had to buy a new cell phone.
·         Laptop, laptop lock, and operating system recovery discs(I don't know why I thought to bring my laptop lock, I've certainly never used it)
·         Old school nokia phone and charger
·         External hard drive and 2 flash drives
·         Digital camera and charger
·         Ipod and headphones (with a mic so I can practice my Rosetta Stone Russian)
·         Mouse and mousepad
·         2 1 non-graphic calculator (yes, I know I am not taking math classes anymore but somehow I still feel like I need to bring a calculator along just in case)

Toiletries – Most of these can be purchased there in Ukraine, but it was definitely worth it to have some toiletries from home... especially when you don't know the Russian/Ukrainian words for these your first month.
·         Shampoo, conditioner, body wash (I brought regular 12oz bottles but could have bought them here)
·          Facewash, lotion, chapstick
     2 sticks of Dove deodorant
·         Toothpaste, 3 toothbrushes, 3 boxes of floss (apparently they don’t sell floss in Ukraine?)
·         Makeup, cotton balls and makeup remover (I haven't seen any cotton balls here yet)
·         Nail polish and nail polish remover (this was heavy and I could have just bought it here)
·         Loofah, hairbrush, hairties, hair clips, and a few headbands
·         3-pack of travel tissues (to use as toilet paper in public restrooms)
·         Feminine products (yes, they sell tampons here but they are expensive!)
·         Liquid hand soap (a small refill bottle – the pump handle type tends to explode easily)
·         A bottle of Purell hand sanitizer (too heavy - I'm just bringing two small bottles for my purse)

School Supplies – I have no idea what my school will provide in Ukraine, so I figure that I might as well bring some of my trusted school supplies from home.
·         Poster with a map of the United States (my students LOVE this)
·         Poster about English grammar and punctuation
·         Black portfolio folder with legal pad (no one here uses these so I never bring mine anywhere)
·         Pens, pencils, and Sharpie markers (bring lots of dark markers to make "flipcharts" for class!)
·         White out and erasers
·         Post-it Notes and 3x5 index cards (they sell post-it notes here but not index cards)
·         Push pins, paper clips and safety pins
·         A booklet of 535 motivational stickers (my students LOVE stickers in English)
·         3 2 rolls of clear Scotch tape
·         2 photo albums with pictures of my home, family and friends (in my carryon!)
·         2 1 small cute memo notepad
·         2 USA puzzles
·         2 decks of USA history and presidents flash cards (from the $1 aisle at Target, my students love these too)
·         1 mini stapler and small box of staples
·         1 pair of scissors
·         1 college ruled 3-subject notebook (don’t you hate when you buy wide-ruled on accident?)
·         Pocket Oxford Russian/English dictionary -I bought it for cheap on Amazon (Peace Corps will give you one but having a bigger one was GREAT during training)
·         Dirty Russian slang book (useful for knowing when my students are swearing at me)

Gifts – For my Ukrainian Host Family and Friends
·         3 San Francisco shotglasses
·         3 San Francisco magnets
·         3 San Francisco keychains
·         3 small framed postcards (my counterpart and host family LOVED these)
·         Calendar with American landscapes
·         Assorted postcards from San Francisco and New York City
·         Mini body lotions, chapsticks and shower gels
·         Vegetable peeler - I ended up keeping this to use myself and am so thankful that I have it.

·         Sleeping bag (you can get away with not having one but its more convenient if you have one when you travel to visit other PCVs)
·         Fleece blanket (twin size)
·         Yoga mat (too bulky to fit in my luggage)
     Bathrobe (no space but I wish I could bring it)
·         2 pairs of eyeglasses
·         2 Nalgene water bottles (stainless steel and the regular kind)
·         2 wash cloths
     2 hand towels
·         1 deck of regular playing cards (playing cards here are different so the Ukrainians think these are cool)
·         1 deck of UNO cards (GREAT for English club)
·         Ziplock baggies -gallon and sandwich size (I hardly ever use these, but they come in handy to freeze stuff in)
·         Kitchen size trash bags (too heavy)
·         Combination lock (I've never used this and it was heavy)
     Measuring cup (with cups/mL and a little one for tsp and tbsp)
·         Swiss army knife (with wine bottle opener)
·         Whistle (just in case I work at any summer camps or as a lifeguard)
·         Battery powered alarm clock (great for my nightstand)
·         Waterproof watch with timer (so I can time how long I last when I go running)
·         Over the counter medicines – Sudafed, Claritin, Dayquil, Nyquil, Advil, Immodium, Neosporin, and bandaids

Things to Buy in Ukraine
·         Iron and ironing board My host family had one and my apt at site came with one.
·         Hair dryer and straightener I've gotten away with not having either one of these so far...I just shower at night so I don't have to blow my hair dry (your hair will freeze if it is wet when you go outside in the winter haha). 
·         Hangers Same as the iron, my host family had some and my apt came with some.
·         Winter hats and/or ear muffs
A DUAL sim card standby phone -all Ukrainians have 2 sim cards, don't ask why.. its silly but its just what everyone does (standby means that both of my sim cards are active at once and I can make/recieve calls or texts from both without having to switch from one to the other)
Winter boots! I bought 2 pairs, since the first wasn't warm enough for snow... expect to pay about $300-600 UAH for women's knee high fur lined boots here in the bazaar, shoe stores are more expensive but may be higher quality (but I think the ones from the bazaar are fine).

A few other things to plan for packing: 
  • Take a picture of your house, your room, and your car if you have one. Ukrainians will ask you a million questions about what life is like in America and they LOVE looking at pictures. 
  • I brought 2 small photo albums of pictures from baby to high school and college, including my dorm room and pictures from amusement parks, national monuments, restaurants.
  • Look for local newspapers in Russian- everyone will be really interested in reading American news in Russian!
  • Purchase some gifts for host family and friends – shotglasses, postcards, refrigerator magnets,  apron, pens, hand towels, ashtrays, small scented hand lotions, puzzles, stickers and temporary tattoos for kids
  • Make photocopies of my important stuff like passport, credit/debit cards, etc  
  • Spices – cinnamon, lemon pepper, basil, oregano, ginger, soy sauce, teriyaki (stock up), vanilla extract, brown sugar, devil's food  and yellow cake mixes
  • Figure out ATM/credit card stuff - make sure to tell your bank that you are moving overseas or they will probably cancel your card if you use it in an ATM here (they'll probably assume you're a victim of identity theft).