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Author Topic: Should you bring your laptop?  (Read 8000 times)

Offline Marion

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Should you bring your laptop?
« on: November 12, 2013, 01:48:20 PM »
The answer is YES   

The Peace Corps is a little confusing on this subject.  When we were preparing to leave for Botswana the Peace Corps was suggesting that we not bring laptops or other expensive electronics for fear we would become a target or waste too much time playing, skyping and watching recorded stuff.  Then when we arrive in country and are attending Pre-Service Training (PST) they...
  • gave us documents that we needed on flash drives
  • informed us we would have to complete a Volunteer Reporting Form (VRF) on a computer...
  • and told us to email the VRF to them
  • and we were told to email vacation requests and other documents to them
Laptops are necessary for communication with each other and with Peace Corps.  Also, you will likely use one in your job.

Plus you do need one for playing, skyping too much, and watching recorded stuff.    :) :)

Marion
RPCV, Botswana (2011-2013)

Offline shawn

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Re: Should you bring your laptop?
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2013, 03:06:48 PM »
I think it is entirely possible to serve without a laptop, I also think its not desirable or a good idea. There's alot of things you'll need to do for Peace Corps and your community on a laptop. The peace corps cannot tell you to bring a laptop because, well, if they did, they'd have to give you one. So they say it's not necessary because, well, it isn't.

But you should still bring one.

Welcome to the Peace Corps!
PCVL - Rwanda 2010-2013
NPCA Serving Volunteer Advisory Council

Offline bobsteward51

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Re: Should you bring your laptop?
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2013, 06:31:27 AM »
I don't know how I would have gotten through without a laptop.  I would also suggest a portable hard drive, at least 1 TB.  Load the hard drive up with movies, books, TV shows and what ever else will entertain you.  They are also great trading material at meetings or get togethers with other PCVs.  And you may need it to submit your Volunteer Report Forms (VRF), get info. from PC, etc. In Morocco, the laptop was essential to the job.  Also a way to communicate with other PCVs, get information on programs you are working on, plan your vacations and your link to the world.  Take one you can trust and will get you through your service.  You may also want to take an extra battery.  I found that a US power strip was useful.  You will not need as many adapters/converters with a power strip.

Offline SCretcher

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Re: Should you bring your laptop?
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2013, 09:28:24 AM »
I'm reading this on a laptop and use my laptop everyday. Bring it.

Offline cubbiesrock2010@gmail.com

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Re: Should you bring your laptop?
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2013, 09:02:38 PM »
It depends which country you are serving in. In my first country in Africa (Lesotho) most volunteers dont have electricity. I brought my laptop but could only charge it once a month or so when I was able to bring it to my camp town. PC did not do most of its communication through email and paid to have you come in to do your VRF. I regretted bringing my laptop. (this was 2008-2010) But maybe things have changed there? Now I am in Azerbaijan where it is much easier to have a laptop. Many people have WiFi or data cards in their homes. Most volunteers have electricity. So if you dont have internet access in your home, you can at least work on your computer, put things on your flashdrive and send at your local internet cafe.
So my suggestion would be, when you know what country you are going to, check out the FB page that is made for your country and ask the volunteers that are already there.

Carolynn Mambu

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Re: Should you bring your laptop?
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2013, 09:16:51 PM »
Yes!! Bring it! I am currently in my 3rd year in Botswana and we have to do all of our PC reporting electronically and PC often communicates with us via email. Not only that, I used my lap top for program work in my village and to stay sane - movies, communicating with people back home, blog, etc.  I think there was just one person in our group of ~40 who did not bring a lap top and it was difficult for her. If you have one, I highly recommend bringing it.

Offline Amelia.Plant

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Re: Should you bring your laptop?
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2013, 01:41:28 AM »
I am guessing it is changing in Lesotho--PC is changing all over the world.  Volunteers are now required to have cell phones, whereas a decade ago that wasn't possible.  The technological changes throughout the world are remarkable and PC is adjusting to that.  There are positives and negatives to this, of course.  But I echo what everyone else is saying: laptop is a definite.
Amelia
RPCV, Botswana 2011-2013

Offline asettle

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Re: Should you bring your laptop?
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2013, 09:16:10 AM »
My laptop recently crashed, and I decided rather than getting another laptop that would be bulky and more expensive than I'd prefer, I got an iPad mini. I know I will not be able to data swap with others as far as hard drives are concerned, but will the iPad be okay if I get a USB converter? I depart for Ecuador on January.

Offline shawn

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Re: Should you bring your laptop?
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2013, 09:31:12 AM »
As far as I know, iPads and iPad minis cannot power USB devices. Even if it charges via a micro USB port that can do data transfers to and from a computer, that port cannot provided power to an external device.

Simply put; you can't use a flash drive with them. It physically won't give it power. iPads are great, but in order to physically get files to and from it, you'll need to either connect it to a computer or connect to the web. 

my advice; if having a computer is important to you, get at least a netbook or ultrabook. If you don't mind not have a full computer and just want something to connect to WiFi (anybody serving in Ecuador care to comment?), an iPad could do you.
PCVL - Rwanda 2010-2013
NPCA Serving Volunteer Advisory Council

Offline christopherdoran

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Re: Should you bring your laptop?
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2013, 10:25:40 AM »
Regardless of the PC “Official Position” on laptops, I would definitely bring one, based on serving in Botswana for two years recently. Although the availability and speed of connection is variable, many if not most countries will have some way of connecting either through a telephone line or the satellite. It really makes text, telephone and Skype connection much easier than it might have been five years ago. The Peace Corps will usually provide for a basic cell phone for intra-country communication with Peace Corps headquarters and other PCVs. I see no real reason to have a smart phone although I suppose it could substitute for a laptop for some people.

There are some provisos in bringing a laptop however. The risks of breakdown, theft and accident are considerably greater in a foreign country than they might be in your den (I went through 3 computers in 2 years). Therefore bringing some insurance to deal with these problems is well worth the effort. First off, don’t bring a real expensive computer. There is no need and given the likelihood of loss or problems, it is best that something inexpensive becomes broken or lost rather than a top-of-the-line model.

Bringing a 1 TB external hard drive backup is useful for several reasons. Many Peace Corps groups will exchange movies music and other software within the group and it is nice to have somewhere to store that information. You can also load your favorites onto the drive before you go.  Also if you have some form of backup system to back up your laptop hard drive onto the external drive it is a nice feeling of comfort if your computer is crashed by viruses. Many of the networks programs and other software in foreign countries is considerably virus laden, so load a strong virus protection program on your computer in the US before leaving.

Some people choose to bring an extra battery which may be a little heavy to carry but is useful if your primary battery dies. Buying computers, computer parts or getting service is a very iffy proposition in even the most second and first world countries so the more you can be self-sufficient in terms of your technology needs the better you will be. A good sized USB Flash drive and a US power strip are also beneficial to bring.

Offline Katlego

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Re: Should you bring your laptop?
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2013, 10:56:33 PM »
I brought a netbook so I could easily carry it hidden in my back pack without killing myself. It did the job. A guy in our group brought his huge lap top, but he was bigger and stronger than me and probably watched more movies, though I watched a lot more than I thought I would. I also brought small speakers to plug into it so when I was home my music sounded a bit better. I am glad I didn't being a full sized computer.

Offline Amelia.Plant

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Re: Should you bring your laptop?
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2013, 12:10:45 AM »
Bringing small speakers that charge in your computer through USB are great to have with your laptop!  Good addition, Katlego :)
Amelia
RPCV, Botswana 2011-2013

Offline Branden Ryan

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Re: Should you bring your laptop?
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2013, 10:03:27 AM »
Beating the dead horse here - but again, bring your laptop. As mentioned, most PC posts use email to communicate nowadays. And, in our day and age, our reliance on media needs to be satiated, regardless of where we are in the world! Do it for your sanity.

Also - I use my portable USB speaker daily. Amelia is right when she says it is a great addition, especially if you want to drown out the music of the village (like Tanzanian bongo flava...)
Branden Ryan
PCV, Tanzania, 2013-2015