New staff FAQs
The following questions and answers are from correspondence we have received from new staff, and answers offered by members of the community. Current staff are expressing their opinions and experiences, so treat as with all advice - make up your own mind!
Car seats? Any need for these in India? Of course we use them all the time here, and we could easily bring them on the plane, but will there even be use for them in India?
This is a personal call. We didn't bring seats, just from a practical, could we carry them, standpoint. At home all our kids were in car seats or boosters before we left. You will travel a great deal by train, but you'll also be in taxis some. A great many cars don't even have seat belts to hold the seats in, but some do and I wouldn't want to push you either way. If you're more comfortable with them then by all means bring them. I don't think you'll regret it!
Are books readily available from the school library or other? Our children love books, and we like having a lot around the house. I see us bringing quite a few paperbacks, but just wondering what availability there will be there on how many to bring.
The libraries at school are good, but we'd suggest sending a few of your kid's favorites as well as favorite cookbooks and perhaps music books if that's important. There's also a fairly decent bookstore in town and you can order books too. You will actually have a book allowance as part of your salary. We find we buy and share lots of books. I have to admit I've been a voracious reader here compared to home.
We currently have a desktop computer. Is it crazy to try to bring that? Does a laptop make more sense? We definitely want to have a computer with us, but whether it is a laptop or desktop is a question we're trying to figure out. It's hard to try to envision actually getting it there, getting through customs, traveling up to Woodstock, etc. since we haven't done it before. Any thoughts on what would be advised regarding this?
I would suggest buying a laptop. I know this is a pain having just bought a desktop, but I think you'll find lugging a desktop here to be tough. We were in exactly the same position as you and we just sold our new desktop and bought a laptop. You could I suppose just bring the CPU and buy a monitor (or maybe you have a flat screen one you can bring) here if you have room in your luggage. You could also buy a desktop or laptop here if you'd prefer, but the prices at home are way lower. There's no problem getting a computer through customs. Generally there is no customs check but if they do stop you, you should say you are going to take the computer out with you when you leave. You shouldn't bring any software on disks as this has been a problem for some people as they're coming in, if they get stopped. So load everything you want before you leave. Ultimately, if you have a new desktop you love and you can fit it in or don't want to spend the money on a laptop, just bring it.
Sleeping bags for kids? How warm do they need to be? The literature from Woodstock recommended medium-warmth for use traveling on trains around India, etc. Not quite sure what that means.
I would say really the warmer the better, but don't spend a fortune. Our kids use their sleeping bags as covers/layers when it's really cold at home and we use them on the overnight trains some and when we go camping. Our kids each have LL Bean ones that are supposed to be good to roughly 20 degrees and they are fine. I would suggest bringing electric blankets if you like to use them and if you have a feather duvet that you can fit in, those are also nice to have. You can get comforters here, but I've not seen feather filled ones, so they get quite heavy during the wetter months. You would want queen size bed stuff for your bed and single bed size for your kids. It's also good to just bring fitted sheets if you have this size as they don't have those here. A packing tip is to by those packing bags that you can press all the air out of - they're great for coats, sleeping bags and duvets, etc.
Sports equipment and games? How much of this is available to us through the school? Are there things we should for sure bring? What sports are available to kids? For example, our kids play soccer now-should we bring shin guards and soccer shoes?
Sure, if you have room. You can also bring balls and shoes, etc. You can get sports stuff here, but it's generally not as good as home or if you do find it it's quite expensive. The down side to good stuff though is that it's possible to lose it down the hill. We've had relatively good luck though with a good soccer ball I brought. You should know that India and Woodstock don't have anything like the recreational sports scene we're used to at home (North America), but that just means we have to be creative about making stuff happen for our kids.
We have a few board games that we know we want to bring-are there others available or things like puzzles?
You can buy games and puzzles here, but, like books, bring your favorites. If you tell us what games you love, we can let you know if they're available here. Our kids love Lego so we brought all of our Lego in Ziplocs - again you can get it here, but it's expensive.
About the ayah-YES, we will need someone to care for our childfor sure when he is not in preschool. As much as we have mixed feelings about hiring someone (especially at such a low rate) to do these things coming from this culture-we have talked to the folks at Woodstock, and realize it is what most people do, and helps keep the circle of life functioning over there by contributing jobs to the community. We would LOVE some help in getting a good person. Any recommendations on specific people or how to get one would be appreciated. Our most important criteria for selecting someone would be getting someone who wants to take care of our son and would be good with children. Of course someone that whips up fantastic Indian food would be a plus! :) We are really looking forward to Indian food on a regular basis.
I know what you mean about feeling weird having this kind of help, but it really is nice (perhaps necessary) to have it and it's good employment for them. It isn't as easy here to go shopping and food preparation is more complicated because most things need to be carefully cleaned, so having the help is nice. The school will offer help with finding and contracting with ayahs when you arrive.