Diplomacy & International Relations Pre-departure

Please note: Due to the variable nature of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the following information is subject to change.

Master of Arts in Diplomacy & International Relations Pre-departure

Congratulations on your acceptance to SIT!

We are pleased to welcome you to SIT’s Global Master’s program.To ensure your place in the upcoming class at SIT, you will need to complete the following steps.If you have any questions, please contact your admissions officer directly or admissions@sit.edu.

If you have not yet applied for financial aid, this is an important next step. If you do not intend to apply for financial aid, please notify your admissions officer.

Financial aid information and instructions:

  • International students will automatically be considered for a merit-based scholarship. You do not need to submit any additional information.
  • US citizens and permanent residents

US Citizens and Permanent Residents
To secure your place in the incoming class, you must submit your $400 nonrefundable deposit payment by logging back into the student portal.

You may also send a check or money order to:

SIT Graduate Institute
Office of Admissions
Box 676
Kipling Road
Brattleboro, Vermont 05302

International Students
International students must pay their first semester tuition and fees as part of their enrollment process. Therefore, SIT does not require the $400 deposit payment for international students.

Housing in Washington, DC

During your two-week stay in Washington, DC, you will be housed at the National 4-H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland. All students will be in shared double rooms. (Please contact your admissions counselor if alternative arrangements need to be made and be aware that single rooms may be available but will incur additional costs.) The address of the Conference Center is 7100 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20815. Each day of your stay in Washington, DC, will include visits during the day to an organization or agency in the city working in international affairs and an evening graduate seminar, which will take place at World Learning, 1015 15th St NW #750, Washington, DC 20005. A specific itinerary of all daily activities will be distributed in early August 2020.

Your two-week stay at the 4-H Conference Center is included in your tuition. 

Housing in Switzerland

Student housing is available in student residences in Geneva as well as in homestays in Geneva and the Canton de Vaud. Given the local housing market in the greater Geneva Lake region the scarcity of potential placements and high rent prices, students are urged to apply directly for available rooms in university residences at their earliest convenience. The list of residences in Geneva can be obtained from the SIT Graduate Institute Admissions Office. Student who opt for homestay accommodations should inform Admissions at least three months in advance to allow local Swiss staff to book the homestay accommodations. You can opt for either room only or room and partial board. You may also choose to find other accommodations by yourself, though options are extremely limited due to the tight housing market, small town size, and the short duration of your stay in Switzerland. We strongly recommend that you apply for a university residence or choose a homestay. More information about housing is available in the FAQs.

Note: Despite the fact that you stay only eight weeks in Switzerland, you will be asked by the university or homestay family to pay a deposit on the beginning of your stay, usually a month’s rent, in case of property damage. You will receive the deposit back when you leave the university residence or homestay.

Please download and complete the housing form. Submit the completed formPlease download and complete the below form below and submit it to your admissions counselor to indicate your housing preferences and plans.

Housing in Belgium

Modest hotel accommodations during the four-day study trip to Brussels are included in your tuition. You will share a room with another classmate. All travel to and from Belgium and accommodation arrangements will be made by local SIT staff in Switzerland. All meals and transportation costs while in Belgium are your own responsibility.

Housing in South Africa

The housing options in Durban include hostels, modest hotels, traditional SIT homestays, and independent/shared apartments that local SIT staff will help arrange. We recommend Windermere North Beach apartments.

Shared accommodations in a Windermere apartment cost about $30 per person per night. Homestays cost about $25 per night. Other modest hotels cost about $50-70 per night.

Please download and complete the housing form. Submit the completed form to your admissions counselor to indicate your housing preferences and plans.

Housing in Addis Ababa

During the final three days of the spring semester, students will participate in a seminar at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Please note, your return trip home after the South African portion of the degree should start from Johannesburg, South Africa, with a stopover in Addis Ababa to accommodate this seminar. Air Ethiopia is the recommended airline to arrange stopover travel without incurring additional costs.

The modest hotel accommodations during this three-day seminar in Addis Ababa are part of your tuition fee. You will share a room with another classmate. All accommodation arrangements will be made by local SIT staff. All meals and transportation costs while in Addis Ababa are your own responsibility.

Information coming soon.

SIT graduate students are responsible for booking their own travel to and from the program locations. In Iceland and Zanzibar, you will be obtaining a 90-day visa, therefore it is critical that you arrive and depart from both locations on the exact days listed. For the Iceland semester, you will receive a 90-day tourist visa for the Schengen zone, a group of 26 European countries (for a list, please see the link below). It is important to note that the 90-day visa applies to the entire Schengen zone, not just Iceland. The program includes the full 90 days in Iceland. Arrival in the Schengen zone prior to the start of the program is NOT possible. It is also NOT possible to remain in Iceland (or anywhere in the Schengen zone) after the program ends. Therefore, you cannot book travel in most of Europe directly before or directly after the Iceland portion of the program. For more information, please refer to: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/go/schengen-fact-sheet.html

SIT Graduate Institute’s preferred travel provider is Key Travel, offering humanitarian fares for SIT travelers (delegates), these fares (where available) are often more flexible and cheaper than commercial fares, with low deposit and often very reasonable cancellation policies. While you are not required to use Key Travel, we encourage you to consider these fares when making travel arrangements. 

Washington, DC

Non-US passport holders will be required to enter the United States on an F-1 student visa.

Switzerland and Belgium

In Switzerland and Belgium, US citizens and citizens from countries that do not need the Schengen visa to enter Switzerland/EU will enter as tourists. Non-US citizens who need a visa to enter Switzerland/EU will be advised by SIT Graduate Institute Admissions how to apply for Schengen tourist visa. US citizens, passport holders from third-party countries that do not need a Schengen visa to enter Switzerland/EU, and students who will a receive a Schengen visa through SIT sponsorship will be able to stay up to 90 days in the Schengen Area. Therefore, it is critical that you arrive and depart from both locations on the exact days listed.

For the Switzerland semester, you will receive a 90-day tourist visa for the Schengen Area, a group of 26 European countries (for a list, please see the link below). It is important to note that the 90-day visa applies to the entire Schengen Area, not just Switzerland. The program includes the full eight weeks in Switzerland and five days in Belgium. Arrival in the Schengen Area prior to the start of the program is NOT possible. It is also NOT possible to remain in Switzerland (or anywhere in the Schengen zone) after the program ends. If you book travel in most of Europe directly after the Switzerland/Belgium portion of the program, keep in mind that you should leave the Schengen zone before 90 days upon your arrival in Switzerland. Read more about travel within the Schengen Area.

South Africa and Ethiopia

In South Africa, US citizens and citizens from countries that do not need an entry visa for South Africa will enter as tourists. Non-US citizens who need a visa to enter South Africa will be advised by SIT Graduate Institute Admissions how to apply for a tourist visa. US citizens and passport holders from third-party countries that do not need a South African visa to enter the country will be able to stay up to 90 days in South Africa. Therefore, it is critical that you arrive and depart from both locations on the exact days listed. 

You will need a visa to enter Ethiopia. E-visas can be purchased in advance from the Ethiopian Immigration website. Visas for tourists are also available upon arrival at Addis Ababa (Bole) International airport, at a cost of approximately $50. If you are not from the United States, you should check the visa requirements for entry into Ethiopia from your country.

SIT Graduate Institute’s preferred travel provider is Key Travel, offering humanitarian fares for SIT travelers (delegates), these fares, where  available, are often more flexible and cheaper than commercial fares, with low deposits and often very reasonable cancellation policies. While you are not required to use Key Travel, we encourage you to consider these fares when making travel arrangements.

Student Health Forms
All students are required to submit a health form. Please complete and return the following form to Cheryl Pennie Williams, manager of Student Health Administration, at studenthealth@sit.edu or fax to 802 258-3509.

Health form

This health form must be received in order for you to be able to register for or attend classes.

Health Guidelines
The guidelines below are designed to inform you about the health risks, requirements, and recommendations for Iceland and Zanzibar, including immunizations. Please note that some immunizations are required for participation in this program, and a few immunizations are needed up to seven weeks prior to your departure.

Health Guidelines and Requirements

Student Insurance

SIT Graduate Institute provides students with travel, accident, and illness coverage for the international components of your global master’s program. Please note that this coverage is not in affect for any medical expenses incurred in the US. Therefore, we highly recommend that you maintain coverage in the US for the duration of your global master’s program.

SIT Graduate Institute partners with International SOS to provide medical and security services. International SOS has been providing high quality global medical and security services for over 25 years. In the unlikely event of a medical emergency, the highest quality medical care will be arranged for you. If necessary, the coverage facilitates medical and security evacuation of students.

The services of International SOS are meant to compliment the risk management and health recommendations of the SIT Student Affairs team as well as the support of our field-based staff. You will be automatically enrolled in this coverage.

SIT does not provide dental coverage or property loss insurance. We encourage you to purchase personal property insurance independently.

International SOS

SIT Graduate Institute wants to help ensure the health and safety of all of our Global Master’s students while abroad. As such, we partner with International SOS, providing membership to all of our students in their medical and security assistance services. International SOS has been providing high quality global medical and security services for more than 25 years. In the unlikely event of a medical emergency while outside the U.S., the highest quality medical care will be arranged for you. If necessary, the coverage facilitates medical and security evacuation of students from the country.

The services of International SOS are meant to compliment the risk management and health recommendations of the SIT Graduate Institute Student Affairs team. All participants are automatically enrolled in this coverage.

Students are strongly encouraged to maintain their ongoing coverage in the US.

Students are insured through Nationwide, which has a direct billing agreement in place with International SOS to ensure a seamless claims process.  For further details about the Nationwide policy coverage, read the Summary of Benefits.

SIT’s membership with International SOS includes access to a 24-hour emergency assistance network. This multilingual service can help locate appropriate medical treatment; coordinate with doctors and hospitals; arrange direct payment, emergency medical evacuation, replacement of stolen passports or tickets; and provide other general assistance.

All students should print the membership card and carry a copy with them at all times.

If you are in need of emergency medical support services:

  • Contact your program director or program associate
  • Contact International SOS immediately by calling +1 215 942-8478
  • Identify yourself with the membership number 11BYCA639556 or mention SIT Graduate Institute

Students should expect to pay upfront all medical costs incurred locally and file for reimbursement. If you have paid out-of-pocket expenses to cover medical costs, please use the following claim form to submit for reimbursement.

International SOS Contact Information

www.internationalsos.com

Call direct or collect: +1 215 942-8478, available 24-hour,s seven days a week..

Member number: 11BYCA639556

Download the International SOS assistance app.

Washington, DC

You are responsible for providing your own meals while in Washington, DC. Food preparation facilities and refrigeration are available at the National 4-H Conference Center. Alternatively, there are numerous restaurants, cafés, and take-out options located near the conference center and all traveling seminar locations.

Switzerland

You are responsible for providing your own meals while in Switzerland. If you choose to stay in university housing, you will be able to prepare your own meals either in your room, or in the kitchen shared with other residents. If you rent a room only and live with a local family, you will be able to prepare your meals by yourself in the homestay. If you opt to have a room and partial board in your homestay, you will receive breakfast and dinner on weekdays and all three meals during the weekend.

Belgium

During the study trip to Belgium, you are responsible for all meals while in Brussels.

South Africa

You are responsible for providing your own meals while in South Africa. If you choose to stay in an apartment, you will be able to prepare your own meals either in your room or in the kitchen shared with other residents. If you rent a room only and live with a local family, you will be able to prepare your meals by yourself in the homestay.  

Ethiopia

During the short end-of-program study trip to Ethiopia, you are responsible for all meals while in Addis Ababa.  

Information coming soon.

WASHINGTON, DC, ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE INFORMATION

Seminar Arrival Date: Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Seminar Departure Date: Thursday, September 17, 2020

Arrival/Departure Airport: Reagan International Airport (DCA) or Dulles International Airport (IAD)

First Meeting Location: 1 pm, Wednesday September 2, 2020 at World Learning, 1015 15th St NW #750, Washington, DC 20005

 

SOUTH AFRICA ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE INFORMATION

Arrival Date: Monday, February 8, 2021

Departure Date: Monday, May 4, 2021

Arrival Airport: O.R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB)

Arrival Group Meeting Time: 6 pm

SWITZERLAND ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE INFORMATION

Program Arrival Date: Monday, September 21, 2020

Program Departure Date: Friday, December 11, 2020

BELGIUM ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE INFORMATION

Program Arrival Date: Sunday, November 15, 2020

Program Departure Date: Thursday, November 19, 2020

Arrival/Departure Airport: Brussels International Airport / Zaventem Airport

Arrival Group Meeting Time: You will travel with local SIT staff from Geneva to Brussels.

SIT places the highest priority on each student’s safety, security, and health. During orientation in each country, our staff will provide the resources and knowledge needed for a safe and productive academic experience in each location. SIT provides student support through both in-country staff and staff and resources in Brattleboro, Vermont. Detailed information about health, wellness, and mental health resources in each location will be delivered during your in-country orientation.

For more information, please review the student handbook.

Receiving a package at your program site is expensive and problematic. Customs agents must inspect all packages and you, as the recipient, are responsible for any fees. Items may be lost or take a long time to reach the recipient. For these reasons, sending packages should be done only for emergency situations and sending valuables is highly discouraged. 

For this program, DHL services are available in country and are recommended. Despite cheaper prices, the US Postal Service is not recommended.

  • Your Mailing Address in Switzerland. Please ask your correspondents to use this address:

    [Your name], SIT Graduate Institute student
    School for International Training / SIT Graduate Institute
    World Learning Association in Switzerland
    Avenue Reverdil 6
    CH-1260 Nyon
    Switzerland
  • Your Mailing Address in South Africa. Please ask your correspondents to use this address:

[Your name], SIT Graduate Institute student

School for International Training / SIT Graduate Institute
World Learning Association in Switzerland

Rick Turner Rd.

Durban, 4091

South Africa

 

Language Support: Mango Languages is a service available to all current SIT students, faculty, and staff. Mango Languages provides access to more than 70 foreign language courses and 17 English as a Second Language (ESL) courses.

Academic Writing Support: The Online Writing Center is available to all SIT Graduate Institute students who are working on course and degree related writing projects. Students can work one on one with a trained writing coach to receive objective, constructive feedback on their writing projects at any stage of development by scheduling a synchronous or asynchronous appointment.

Library: The Donald B. Watt Library and Information Commons offers a valuable physical and electronic collection and study space at the Vermont campus. In addition, a wealth of online resources for students including databases, journal articles, ebooks, Mango Languages, films on demand, Refworks, and Libguides are available for your on-campus and off-campus studies. The library also houses original student and faculty research in the SIT Digital Collections database, which can be accessed from all over the world.

WebAdvisor. By now you may be familiar with the WebAdvisor site. You will continue to use WebAdvisor to see your course schedule, your grades, your bill, financial aid, progress toward graduation, and other items. Please stay familiar with it.

SIT’s Online Courses: Moodle

Online courses at SIT utilize the learning management system called Moodle. In Moodle, students are able to interact with online learning environments created by their instructors. Moodle is a secure and integrated system that can be used to review syllabi, watch embedded video, post in forum discussions, and submit assignments.

For any Moodle support issues or questions please send an email to Moodle@sit.edu.

Moodle Username Recovery/Password Resets:

Please follow the link below to recover your Moodle username or reset your Moodle account password. The link below can also be found on the Moodle login page.

Forgotten your username or password? Click here.

Dear Student,

Congratulations on your acceptance to the School for International Training (SIT) Graduate Institute! As registrar, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to our community.

The Registrar’s Office staff are happy to support you in your academic career with all that concerns course registration, enrollment certification, veterans’ benefits, grades, academic policy, degree audits, transcripts, application to graduate, and issuance of diplomas.

Approximately two to three weeks prior to the beginning of your first term of enrollment, I will send more detailed information to you via your SIT email address about when and in which courses you should register, rather than overwhelm you with information now. In the meantime, I invite you to familiarize yourself with WebAdvisor, the online interface with Colleague, our Student Information System, which you will use to register for classes and see your course schedule, final grades, tuition bill and financial aid, and progress toward graduation. You can also watch a video on how to register.

Should you have any questions, please never hesitate to contact us. We are happy to help!

 

Ginny Nellis, Registrar

ginny.nellis@sit.edu

Office: 802 258-3283

 

Elizabeth Saccoccio, Assistant Registrar

elizabeth.saccoccio@sit.edu

Office: 802 258-3582

Welcome!

I’m Kaitlin Ford, a Career Coach who is here to support your career needs. Please don’t hesitate to schedule a virtual appointment.

The types of resources available are:

  Job search strategy

  • Networking / informational interviewing
  • Resume, cover Letter, and job application review
  • Applicant Tracking System information
  • Interview preparation
  • Salary negotiation

I can be contacted at kaitlin.ford@sit.edu

WHAT IS LIFE LIKE IN SWITZERLAND AND SOUTH AFRICA?

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland lies in the heart of Western Europe. It is a small country (41,285 square kilometers), but it boasts a diverse landscape, with mountains, hills, rivers, and lakes. It is a federal republic with a semi-direct democracy and three political levels: the central government, the 26 cantons, and about 2,700 communes. The modern Swiss Confederation was established in 1848. Switzerland has a high population density, is divided into four different language regions, and reflects a number of cultures. Over eight million people live in Switzerland. Of these, more than 20% are foreigners.

Switzerland’s most important “natural resource” is education. Otherwise, the country has no raw materials to speak of. Its economy is based on the development and production of high-quality goods. The standard of living in Switzerland is high. Its neutrality, development, cooperation, and humanitarianism form the foundations of its foreign policy. The Swiss have strong political and economic ties with the rest of the world, and Switzerland is a member of various international organizations. It has also signed bilateral agreements with the European Union on various issues.

During your stay in Switzerland, the temperatures and humidity will vary significantly; make sure to bring a variety of clothes appropriate for these variations, especially warm and waterproof clothes and shoes for the winter season.

SOUTH AFRICA

Given the historic events in South Africa over the last 25 years, this is an exciting time to be in the country, witnessing history as the country continues to strive toward facilitating reconciliation and development. In 25 years, South Africa has made great strides in righting the wrongs of an unjust system, but it has much further to go. Cyril Ramaphosa is South Africa’s fifth post-apartheid president, and his presidency is proving to be an interesting and tumultuous one. The “new” government of South Africa has the monumental task of confronting the massive inequalities inherited from the apartheid era and trying to reconcile a progressive national constitution with a population much more conservative in political and social outlook. It also has to deliver basic services to all communities; find the resources needed to fight the AIDS epidemic; grapple with crime, corruption, and societal violence; and work through a still uneasy racial divide.

Your program will be based in Durban, which is located in KwaZulu-Natal, one of South Africa’s nine provinces. It is a large, modern city with a population of three to four million people. The most commonly spoken languages are isiZulu and English.

Durban has a warm, often very humid climate. Winter months are warm and mild, and many South Africans vacation in the city during South Africa’s winter. The city has a significant Indian population with a distinct cultural presence. The 1922 banning of Indians from purchasing land in central Durban was one of the first precursors of the apartheid legislation that followed two decades later. Durban was a center of resistance to racism long before the National Party took over the national government in 1948. Durban and KwaZulu-Natal have a rich history of political activity, with contributions by noted activists like Mahatma Gandhi and former African National Congress (ANC) presidents John Dube and Chief Albert Luthuli, and the foundation of organizations such as the Natal Indian Congress and the ANC.

Post-apartheid, the province was controlled for ten years (1994–2004) by the Zulu ethno-nationalistic political group, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), but is now under the control of the ANC, creating interesting political dynamics and tensions. Because of South Africa’s historical development and present conflicts, many organizations and structures have evolved to address the problems facing the province. These issues fall into two broad categories: development and reconciliation. Obviously, these are inextricably linked, as, without reconciliation and peace, all development efforts will be fruitless. Given this background, KwaZulu-Natal, with Durban as its core city, is an ideal base from which to study the extremely interesting political and developmental issues facing the country.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT UPON ARRIVAL?

In Washington, DC, students will meet for an afternoon of program orientation and then a mixer/reception  at 1:00 pm on Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at the World Learning offices (1015 15th St NW #750, Washington, DC 20005). In both Switzerland and South Africa, students will be met at the airport by an SIT Graduate Institute staff member, at the meeting time specified in the flight information document. The first several days in Switzerland and South Africa are an orientation period for students to get accustomed to life in that country prior to the start of classes.  

WHAT CAMPUS WILL I BE ATTENDING?

Washington, DC, programing comes in the form of a “traveling seminar.” During the day, students will visit various government agencies, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to learn about diplomacy and international relations. In the evening, students will meet at the World Learning offices to participate in an intensive graduate seminar. In the first weeks of their stay in Switzerland, students will be attending classes at the SIT program center in Nyon. In the second part of their stay, students will attend classes at the International University in Geneva. A few classes will be field based, either in international organizations or NGOs in Geneva. In South Africa, classes will take place at the SIT Study Abroad center in Durban.

DOES SIT OFFER LANGUAGE CLASSES?

The Diplomacy and International Relations degree program does not offer language classes; however, the program does have a language and cultural proficiency requirement. Information on the pathways to fulfill this requirement can be found in the 2020–2021 School for International Training Graduate Course Catalog.

WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT WILL SIT PROVIDE IN SECURING MY PRACTICUM?

Your advisor, the SIT Career Services office, and your professors will begin to help you think about your last semester practicum as soon as you start the program. You are free to do your practicum anywhere in the world where you are legally permitted to do so. Please note, due to the new Swiss labor code legislation (2019), the Internship/Practicum is considered paid employment for which a working permit is required. Due to legal restrictions, the Internship/Practicum is not offered in Switzerland.

WHAT ARE SOME LOCAL CUSTOMS?

SWITZERLAND

People in Switzerland greet one another by shaking hands or kissing on the cheeks (three kisses). People shake hands in a formal context and kiss between friends and family members. Further information will be given during orientation.

Swiss people are more reserved and formal in general than Americans, so please wear appropriate dress according to local norms, settings, and activities, and don’t be loud in public spaces.

SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa is one of the most multicultural countries in the world. It has eleven official languages and as many different ethnic groups, particularly in urban areas. It is difficult to generalize South African etiquette and culture due to this diversity; however, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Cultural Dos

Be polite. Greet people when you meet them. Greetings are leisurely and include time for social discussion and exchanging pleasantries. Thank people when they do something for you and say goodbye when you or someone else leaves. Clean up after yourself in the classroom and in hotel rooms. Be on time to class and meetings. Respect others, regardless of their viewpoint, and respect yourself. Dress conservatively—especially when meeting someone for the first time.

Gift giving is important, and wrapping your gifts shows extra effort. Offer to help and be prepared to receive help that is offered.

Cultural Don’ts

Do not sniff food at the dinner table. Do not smoke indoors. Do not bring alcohol into the hotel, lodge, or classroom. Do not use laptops in class without the permission of the lecturer.

WHAT KINDS OF FOOD WILL I FIND?

Participating in the local food culture is a central aspect of daily life everywhere. Special or restricted diets may not always be fully understood by the community, and alternatives to the local diet may not be readily available. By trying to replicate your diet at home, you may miss out on an important part of your host culture. Please note any food allergies in your health form.

SWITZERLAND

Generally, people in Switzerland eat three times a day. In the morning between 6:30 and 8:30 am is breakfast time, a mid-day meal takes place between 12 and 2 pm, and the evening meal usually takes place between 6:30 and 8:30 pm. In the cities, all kinds of food can be found.

SOUTH AFRICA

South African cuisine is diverse and draws from African, Indian, British, and Dutch cuisine. South Africans are big meat eaters, with lots of flavourful meat around. Durban has a significant Indian population, so Indian cuisine is popular and widely available. In addition, street food and food markets are plentiful. Breakfast is usually between 6 and 8 am, lunch at 1 pm, and dinner between 6 and 8 pm.

WHAT CAN I DO TO ENSURE I HAVE A HEALTHY, SAFE EXPERIENCE?

Maintaining good health is critical to having a successful experience in our Global Master’s program. Please thoroughly review the Health Guidelines and Requirements for your program.

The guidelines include recommended immunizations, a suggested calendar for immunizations and other prophylaxes, and valuable information on how to avoid exposure to common carriers of disease.

Students are thoroughly briefed on local health and safety considerations during in-country orientations and are updated throughout the program if and when circumstances change. For information regarding safety and security, emergency communications, SIT policies, health and medical insurance, and general program tips, please read the Safety, Security, and Health document and Student Handbook.

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland is a relatively safe country with a rather low level of violence and insecurity. However, students should observe caution as they would in any big city, particularly in the evening hours.

In general, during the entire duration of the program and especially during the academic excursions, students should avoid walking alone at night.

Passports, credit cards, money, and other valuable items should be carried in a safety belt or pocket under the clothes, and you should make copies of important documents and store them separately. We strongly recommend that you bring a travel/safety belt.

Follow the advice of locals—e.g., if people in the area do not go jogging and tell you not to, listen to them and don’t do it.

Be very aware that the use of alcohol will impair your judgment and that this may cause you to misinterpret already unfamiliar cultural cues. It also makes you a more likely target for would-be criminals. Excessive consumption of alcohol is subject to disciplinary action.

Although all healthcare services are available in Geneva and Nyon, we suggest you have a complete health checkup prior to leaving the US, including a dental checkup and any subsequent work.

SOUTH AFRICA

Petty crime is common. Below are some tips to avoid being a victim of crime:

In the Street:
  • Avoid displaying expensive jewelry, cameras, and other valuables.
  • Do not carry around large sums of money.
  • At night, stay clear of dark, isolated areas.
  • Stick in groups, and keep to well-lit, busy streets.
  • Credits cards, IDs, and house keys should not be kept in a handbag, but rather on your person.
  • Beware of people who approach you in the street and who profess to want information from you or have something to offer you.
  • Do not leave valuables (e.g., handbag, cell phone, and camera) in plain sight while in a car or taxi.
DOES SIT PROVIDE MEDICAL INSURANCE? 

SIT Graduate Institute provides students with travel, accident, and illness coverage for the international components of the Global Master’s program. Please note that this coverage is not in effect for any medical expenses incurred in the US. Therefore, we highly recommend that students maintain coverage in the US for the duration of their Global Master’s program.

SIT Graduate Institute partners with International SOS to provide medical and security services. International SOS has been providing high quality global medical and security services for over 25 years. In the unlikely event of a medical emergency, the highest quality medical care will be arranged for you. If necessary, the coverage facilitates medical and security evacuation of students.

The services of International SOS are meant to complement the risk management and health recommendations of the SIT Student Affairs team as well as the support of our field-based staff. You will be automatically enrolled in this coverage. Local SIT staff will explain the procedure to contact a medical doctor or hospital and get medical care in case of illness or accident and how to get reimbursed for incurred medical costs. SIT does not provide dental or pregnancy coverage or property loss insurance. We encourage students to purchase personal property insurance independently.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET SICK?

Should you need to go to the doctor for any reason, you will need to call International SOS. It is important that you contact the designated local staff member in country whenever you are seeking any medical attention. It is your responsibility to get in touch with the hospitals and clinics that SIT programs have used for many years and are approved by International SOS.

You need to be prepared to cover the associated costs of any medical care, keep your receipt(s), and file a claim for reimbursement. You should have enough credit on your banking card to pay upfront for the medical visit and claim reimbursement on your US account through the standard process SIT has agreed to with the international health insurance provider.

CAN SIT ASSIST WITH ACCOMMODATIONS?

Room and board during the Washington, DC, portion of the degree are included in your tuition and is arranged by SIT. In Switzerland and South Africa, room and board are the responsibility of each graduate student, and costs are NOT included in the tuition. In Switzerland, some housing assistance is available through SIT. In both cases, SIT Graduate Institute has provided preferred options and can provide information on local housing markets and options, figures for budgeting, and services available. The Swiss housing market is scarce, and prices for apartments are high. Students are urged to look for housing as soon as they are admitted to the program. Students who opt to live in a university residence must apply directly to the residence, as they do not accept intermediaries. Students who wish to have a homestay with room only or with partial room and board should contact SIT’s local Swiss staff, who will put them in contact with a local family in Geneva or Canton de Vaud. All students are required to fill out a housing form regardless of which option they choose in each location.

SWITZERLAND

Housing options include homestays, furnished apartments, and university residences. Homestays are recommended as they offer the chance for immersion in the local culture and provide an excellent opportunity to experience Swiss lifestyles, perspectives, and values. SIT program staff will provide a few different options for students, including rented rooms from local families and a list of university residences in Geneva and the Canton de Vaud. Utilities such as water and electricity are included in the price of homestay options or university residences. Wi-Fi is available in most homestay options as well as in university residences; however, students are advised to purchase a local package for mobile phone and Internet. Most of Internet providers have good bandwidth.

SOUTH AFRICA

Over the years, SIT has generated a list of potential accommodations. Those suggested are in close proximity to the SIT resource center and shopping centers. Most accommodations have access to Internet either by use of a modem or Wi-Fi. The student will be required to provide their own resources/money to buy data for the Internet.

Our program staff and homestay coordinator have worked with landlords in Durban to provide a few different options for students: private apartments, shared apartments with other students, and rented rooms from local families. Each apartment or house is subject to a unique contract with a landlord, and prices vary. Each option has access to a kitchen and bathroom, and utilities such as water and electricity are included in the price. Smoking is often forbidden.

HOW WILL I GET AROUND TOWN?

WASHINGTON, DC

Prior to arrival, you will be provided with a detailed daily schedule of where and when you will be meeting during the Washington, DC, traveling seminar. All meeting locations are within the District of Columbia, which is easily reached from your residence at the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, MD. It is your responsibility to commute daily to all meeting sites via one of several options, including bus, Metro, taxi, Uber, etc. 

SWITZERLAND

Like thousands of others who live and work in the area, you will be required to commute up to an hour daily by train and by bus. The transportation system in Switzerland is excellent. However, depending on where you live, you may be somewhat limited in terms of evening activities. As is always the case when living abroad, some adjustment on your part will be required.

SOUTH AFRICA

Most students will find accommodation within walking distance of the SIT resource center, but in the event you need to go further, you can utilize public transportation, popularly referred to as “taxis” or “mini buses”; Ubers are also becoming very trendy and convenient.

If you need information about transportation, please ask program staff. They will provide a brief introduction to the public transportation system during orientation.  

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS WHILE I’M ABROAD?

While you may want to be in regular communication with friends and family from home during the term abroad, please bear in mind that different time zones, unreliable phone lines, and changing program activities can complicate communication.

It’s important to be clear with family and friends about your availability during your Global Master’s program. SIT Graduate Institute recommends moderating time on social media to engage locally. Constant communication with friends and family at home can impact your ability to acculturate.

As part of SIT’s commitment to student safety and security, all students are required to have a working smart phone capable of making and receiving both local and international calls throughout the duration of the program. For that purpose, students are required to either (a) bring an open, unlocked smart phone that is able to accept a local SIM card and is compatible with and usable at the program location, (b) work with SIT program staff within the first week after arrival in country to purchase a smart phone locally, or (c) bring a dual SIM smart phone. DO NOT purchase an international plan. It is critical that you have a local SIM card and thus a local telephone number to connect with faculty, staff, and various affiliated organizations while in country. 

During orientation, with assistance from SIT Graduate Institute staff, students will learn how to purchase and use an appropriate local SIM card and how to acquire minutes for calls and texting. 

While we recognize that alternative communication methods can be free or cheaper than cell service (e.g., Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, etc.), those programs alone do not satisfy our need for regular communication with the local program staff and partners nor do they meet our emergency communication needs. Therefore, local cellular capacity on each student’s phone is required for the duration of the program. Students are required to maintain a minimum amount of phone credits at all times for emergency calls. Full compliance with this policy is expected.

SWITZERLAND

It’s important to be clear with family and friends about your availability during the term. Many students recommend making an appointment to call home or to receive a call. You should also consider the impact of constant communication with friends and family at home on your cultural immersion.

SOUTH AFRICA

Students can purchase a Wi-Fi modem or use their smart phone as a hotspot to get Wi-Fi. There are also several cafés that provide excellent coffee and have very good Wi-Fi. During orientation, local staff will walk you through any questions regarding cell phone usage, how to purchase an appropriate local SIM card, and how to acquire minutes for calls and texting.

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO BRING OR ACCESS MONEY?

If using a debit and/or credit card, you should contact your bank and/or credit card company regarding your travel plans. If you don’t inform these companies that you will be away, they will often assume the card has been lost or stolen and will put an immediate hold on the card. You should also check on costs of withdrawal, as these costs vary and can sometimes be very expensive. Renewing and receiving reissued credit and debit cards while on the program will be an expensive and highly inconvenient process. Before you leave for your program, please check the expiration dates on your cards to ensure that they will not expire while you are abroad. It is also very important that you make photocopies of all your debit/credit card information and leave them with someone you trust in case your cards are lost or stolen.

SWITZERLAND

The Swiss franc, denoted CHF (which stands for the Confoederatio Helvetica franc), is the official currency of Switzerland. The Swiss franc is available in banknotes, which bear the value of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, or 1,000 francs.

A suggested total amount of money to budget ranges from $4,000 to $6,000 for a semester in Switzerland. This does not include expenses related to housing, local transportation, medical care, mobile phone, and Internet. To determine where you might fall in this range, please examine your spending habits during a typical semester at your home school and consider any exceptional expenditures you may have on the program, including travel costs for your planned ISP or a specific personal expense.

Check current exchange rates.

SOUTH AFRICA

Cash is used for most daily transactions, and the use of checks, traveler’s checks, and credit/debit cards for direct purchases is rare. A VISA or MasterCard credit card (not American Express or Diner’s Club) can be useful for emergencies, medical or otherwise. A money belt large enough to hold your passport and traveler’s checks is useful.

Check current exchange rates.

WILL I HAVE TIME FOR VISITORS WHILE I’M ABROAD?

SIT Graduate Institute discourages students from scheduling visits from friends and family to their program sites until after the conclusion of the formal program if possible. Students are expected to engage in all program activities and coursework during their time abroad. Students will not be excused from program components to attend to visitors. See the Attendance and Participation section of the Student Handbook.

Please note that any visitors who arrive during the course of the program must plan their own independent accommodations.

CAN I BRING FAMILY?

SIT Graduate Institute does not prohibit students from bringing family members, but it is important to recognize that the academic and acculturation components require extensive time and energy. Students are expected to engage in every program activity including site visits, excursions, courses, and guest lectures. There are long days with sometimes unpredictable itinerary shifts due to local realities and rigorous academic assignments. Please note that SIT sponsors Schengen visa requirements only for students enrolled in the Global Master’s who need a visa to enter Switzerland, not to their family members.

CAN I TRAVEL INDEPENDENTLY DURING PROGRAM BREAKS OR LONG WEEKENDS?

Independent travel is permitted on the weekends and assigned breaks. During orientation in each country, SIT staff will provide guidelines for independent travel.

WHAT SHOULD I PACK?

Please pack lightly and include only necessary items. You should be able to carry all your luggage significant distances on your own. Try to minimize both the number of bags and weight of your bag(s) since you will likely be acquiring more belongings while abroad. Please note that many airlines are now imposing significant baggage restrictions, including charging for more than one checked bag and increasing the charge for overweight bags. Usually only one carry-on is permitted on the plane: we recommend bringing a small daypack, which will also be useful for short excursions when on the program.

If carrying prescription medications, you should carry a letter from your doctor to prevent any concerns at customs or in transit. (Please see the “General Health Tips” section in the Safety, Security, and Health document.) Please plan to bring a full supply of any prescription medications for the duration of your semester.

Please check the current requirements of the Transportation Security Administration as well as those of the airline on which you are flying for domestic and international baggage restrictions.

SWITZERLAND

You should bring a two- to three-week supply of clothes. Europeans tend to dress more formally than Americans, particularly in Geneva. Also, remember that you may need clothes that are suitable to a business environment for interviews and visits to international organizations. Students on the program generally wear business-casual clothing for four days a week during regular classes. You may want to consider this as you pack. Students also generally recommend bringing clothing that you enjoy wearing, as you will wear the same things over and over. Plan to dress in layers—as it gets warmer or colder, you can simply eliminate or add layers. You might find it more expensive to purchase your clothes in Switzerland, but there are many stores in neighboring France or elsewhere in Europe where you might like to shop for significantly lower prices than in Geneva.

SOUTH AFRICA

South Africans tend to dress very similarly to Americans, though there is some variation among different ethnic groups. Many South Africans have a stereotype of Americans as “slobs” in relation to dress; neat, somewhat conservative, comfortable clothes will help you avoid the untidy American tourist stereotype. Do not bring sloppy clothes or clothes with immodest pictures or writing on them. Revealing clothing and very informal clothing are not acceptable in most situations. In general, tops should cover shoulders and waists, skirts should cover knees, clothing should not be too tight or see-through, and plunging necklines are not acceptable.

Please note that tank tops and shorts will only be acceptable in certain limited settings. For your rural visit, you will need to bring one or more long (mid-calf length) skirt or sarong. Be aware that some places are dusty and likely to stain light colors and that fine fabrics may not be durable enough. The clothes you bring should be washable and breathable and preferably made of drip-dry cotton and cotton blends. Students will be required to conform to dress expectations of the program, and we reserve the right to institute a specific dress code should that become necessary.

SHOULD I BRING A COMPUTER OR OTHER ELECTRONICS?

It is required that you bring a laptop computer. SIT does not provide personal property insurance, and it is recommended that you insure your computer or other valuables for full coverage. SIT is not responsible for any duty tax you may have to pay when you enter the country, theft, or loss.

Before you leave, it is up to you to research the necessary adaptors, plugs, and wattage variations. You will be responsible for making arrangements to store your laptop in a secure place while on excursion.

Learn more about electricity, voltage, and electrical adapters.

SIT will provide you with an SIT email address prior to the start of the program. For email support, please contact the SIT help desk at help.desk@sit.edu.

SWITZERLAND

Please do not bring any electrical appliances without a voltage converter and two-prong adapter; the electrical current is 220 volts in Europe. Outlets in Switzerland use plug types C and F.

WHAT CAN I OBTAIN IN COUNTRY? WHAT ISN’T AVAILABLE?

SWITZERLAND

Only bring enough shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, tampons, etc., for the first few days. These items are often heavy and take up space, and they can easily be bought in Switzerland.

SWITZERLAND PACKING LIST

GENERAL

  • Pair of neat jeans
  • 4 shirts, 3 of which are fairly dressy (short and long sleeve)
  • 2 sweaters, 1 of which is fairly heavy
  • Underwear (one-week supply)
  • Set of long underwear (helps fight the cold and damp)
  • Socks (one-week supply)
  • Warm pajamas or nightgown
  • Slippers (people wear house slippers more than in the US)
  • Pair of COMFORTABLE, everyday shoes which are fairly dressy and good for walking
  • Pair of neat sneakers
  • Pair of winter boots or wet-weather shoes
  • Cold weather, all-purp