Congratulations! You ARE headed to Nicaragua! Below we have compiled a comprehensive source of information to assist you with your new adventure. You will find information on Packing for your class and your trip, preparing for your journey, and supplies that will help you in the classroom as a trainee, and as a teacher.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated for accuracy on June 28, 2017.
Learn all you can about Nicaragua and its culture before you arrive. You will want to acquire a basic understanding of the culture, political situation, behavioral norms, etc. so that you will be fully prepared to live, study and work here. Below are several links to great sites that can get your started on learning more about your destination. You can also contact Student Affairs for more information at Info@ITANicaragua.com.
- Great resource for info on Nicaragua
- US Government websites (non-US residents please check with your local agencies to verify policies for registering before leaving your country) You will need a passport to travel outside of your home country, and to enter Nicaragua. Be sure to plan ahead, as they can take up to 8 weeks to process. In most occasions, expedited services are available.
- Connect with other Expatriates
- Stay up to date on in-country news
- Check in on local weather– It can be hot in Leon during March and April.
- Recommended immunizations, and other health related info:
- Current currency exchange rates (Nicaraguan Cordoba)
- You will be expected to have basic computer, and Microsoft Word skills. For a quick tutorial, check out this video on You Tube.
Preparing for your Journey
As you plan for your trip, you will need to ensure you have proper records and documentation. Please see the list below as a general guide.
Make at least two photocopies all of your travel and health documents. Take one copy with you abroad, give another copy to a friend or family member to keep at home, and scan/send copies to your email. This way, if you lose your passport or other important travel documents, you can print them out. This should include the following:
- State issued I.D. (US residents/ other form of photo I.D. for non-US residents)
- Drivers license if you plan on renting a car. (International licenses not needed.)
- Medical documents –Immunization List, Prescriptions, etc.
- Insurance Information
- If you need travel insurance here are recommended providers. ITAN teacher trainee’s will receive a group discount with STA:
- Tickets – plane, train, bus, etc.
- Details of where you will be staying, including the address or ‘directions.’ You will need this for your customs form when you enter the country.
Scan you passport picture page, and email it to yourself, and your friends/family members. Make a list of important phone numbers or contact information and also email it to yourself and a to your friends/family. Recommended contact information: primary bank, credit card company, insurance company, employers, emergency contact information (both Nicaragua contact and home country contact), etc. If this is your first time in Nicaragua, you can use us at the staff at the school as your contact personnel. Contact your bank and credit card companies to alert them that you will be traveling to Nicaragua, and your planned duration.
Related staff article: How to stretch your money even further in Nicaragua.
Be prepared to have a bit of cash on you when you are traveling. You should withdraw Cordobas, the local currency here in Nicaragua, at the airport for immediate expenses such as transportation or food. A recommended way to carry your cash is in a money belt on your body.
Packing for your trip!
In Leon, it is Hot! Do not bring more than one long sleeved shirt, (Proper business attire is excluded.) unless you plan on going to the northern highlands, where it could get down to 50’s F or 10’s C in the evenings. Also keep in mind that no matter how hot it is, Nicaraguans dress very well. Men wear slacks with polished shoes, and a button up or polo shirt. Women also dress very well, often times in blouses or button up shirts and skirt/dresses. Some of your items may vary depending on what you want to bring personally, how long you are staying, how much luggage you are bringing, what type of regional travelling you will be doing before and after your course, etc. When packing consider bringing items that are durable and easily washed. It is common for people on the road here to do their laundry by hand. Again, make sure you do thorough research, so that you can better plan on what to pack.
- Large backpack and/or suitcase
- Small daypack/ backpack or carry-on
- Neck pillow for long plane or bus rides
- Lonely Planet/Frommers/Fodders Guidebook
- Paperback for recreational reading
- Reusable water bottle like Nalgene, or the like
- Casual attire such as shorts, t-shirts/ tanks (acceptable for TEFL class-Not for practice teaching)
- Business casual attire such as dress pants and collared shirts for men and skirts/ dress pants and blouses or dresses for women (acceptable for practice teaching and interviews)
- comfortable pair for walking (tennis shoes)
- professional pair of shoes for teaching
- flips flops/ Chacos
- Bathing suit
- Rain jacket
You will have access to basic ‘Proctor and Gamble’ products, but bring your favorite products with you. It is suggested you pack light, knowing you can purchase common items as needed in Nicaragua. There is a supermarket 3 blocks from the school. Make sure to keep all liquids in plastic bags when travelling. Recommendations below:
- Feminine Products
- Shaving supplies
- Contact lenses and solution
- Eye glasses
- Makeup and other cosmetics
- Nail clippers and tweezers
- Bug spray
- Small First Aid kit (band aids, antibiotic ointment, gauze, tape, etc)
Make sure that you bring any prescription that you need and if necessary, know the generic name to purchase at pharmacies, as you can purchase most medicines in Nicaragua without a prescription. Here are some medications that are recommended to bring:
- Pain medicine such as Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen
- Dramamine if needed
- Pepto Bismol
- Contraceptives – birth control, condoms, etc.
- Laptop computer. A computer is mandatory, and please Do NOT bring a Tablet or a Chromebook.
- For Apple’s: Bring the connector adapters for USB ports/VGA ports/HDMI ports. You will need this to print, and to use the provided projector.
- Kindle, Nook, etc.
- Necessary chargers
- Music (iPod, etc)
- USB jump drive or external storage for files
- Voltage converter if needed (Electricity in Nicaragua is 120 Volt and 60 Hertz. This is the same as in the North America, but it means that students from Europe and other countries can not use their electrical equipment without a converter.)
- Small headlamp
- Jump of thumb drive
- Smartphone. Check this article for compatibility.
If you bring your cell phone please check with your local provider on International service prior to using your phone in Nicaragua. If you have a smartphone, you will have to have it unlocked prior to you leaving. You can easily purchase a cell phone locally in Nicaragua if needed for less than $20.
TEFL Class Materials & Teaching Materials
This is the needed coursebook for your TEFL course. You can purchase the book in Nicaragua if you don’t want to carry it.
- TEFL Certification course book: The Fundamentals of Teaching English as a Foreign Language.
- Pens and/ or pencils
- Materials you want for teaching such as markers, English games such as Uno, Twister, pictures, decks of cards, etc.
- Grammar book
Before you know it, you will be in Leon participating in activities like this with your fellow classmates/alums: