Getting the House Ready

If your company or organization has already lined up housing, you might ask the sponsor to buy some things to be in the house when you arrive. Don't ask for a week's shopping for six, but perhaps some simple things so that your family can have a snack and maybe assemble breakfast that first new morning would be nice. The sponsor might want to include some local foods that you may not have tried before.

If the host country's fruits and vegetables need to be washed in chlorine (which, properly diluted, helps kill off bacteria that grow on produce fertilized with human excrement, a common practice in many places), ask the sponsor to leave instructions on how to clean the things.

Always, always be prepared to reimburse the sponsor when you first meet for the things s/he bought on your behalf. Be sure to have the right kind of money handy"€your sponsor is unlikely to be able to cash a check drawn on your U.S. bank, and may not need U.S. dollars either, preferring the host country currency in cash (we talk about changing money while still in the U.S. here). Ask your sponsor what he prefers.

Prepare a (short) list of must-have items, such as diapers, or chlorine to clean vegetables, and confirm with your sponsor that you will be able to buy them soon after arrival (are the markets only open weekdays and you get in late Friday night? Are you arriving just before a significant local holiday when the stores will be closed?). If the items are not available when you first get in for whatever reason, ask (gently please"¦) if the sponsor can be sure to get them for you. If they really just not available at all in the host country, you'll know to bring some with you or seek alternatives.

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