DO's and DON'T's
DO always keep your multi-tool or Swiss army knife at hand. While you may be able to borrow a myriad of tools from the physics department back at your fancy USA university, you can be assured these will be more difficult to find abroad. You will rely heavily on the this tiny tool that can become many. For example you could cut rope to tie up bags of fertilizer, use the pliers to turn a particularly rusty screw, or just flick the knife in and out to pass the time when waiting for the bus.
DO wear gloves. When shoveling biochar wear some gloves so your hands don't look like a coal miners. When you're spreading biochar on the soil wear gloves because there could be a scorpion in the bag, who knows. When you're crushing biochar were gloves so you hand doesn't get mangled by the wood chipper. Basically don't touch the biochar with your bare hands! Or maybe you should just stay away from biochar.
DON'T expect to arrive on time for anything. The reasons for this are numerous included goat rush hour blocking the road to the sampling site, a scorpion sting to the hand of one of your fellow workers, the inability to find a driver who will take you to the field, or a drawn out new years vacation that can take up to 2 months. In short, be patient. It'll go a long way.
DON'T be naive and think everyone will magically speak English and cater to your language needs. The world is bigger than AMURICA. Take the time to get a base in the language before arriving, and then prepare for the baptism by fire that is living in a place where English isn't spoken. But if you are lucky enough to make a few friends who speak English, treat them like royalty so they can save your ass when you are dazed and confused.
-Learn the translation for "How can I help?" first. It will serve you well and make you friends for when you need help.
-Bring a water bottle. Or two. Or four. Or just become a camel because you're going to sweat. A lot.
-Remember, a good book can get you through a bumpy bus ride. Unless you get carsick. Then you gotta gut that out.
-Speaking of guts, you might as well prepare for at least 3 occurrences of reasonably serious diarrhea. Everybody poops, and you'll poop more when working abroad.
-Have some good folks on the other end of Skype for the tough days and the best days.
-Stay positive. A good attitude changes everything.