Global Health Policy, Administration, and Management 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 Global Health Policy, Administration, and Management
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 email@example.com.
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
Brattleboro, Vermont 05302
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.
CAN SIT ASSIST WITH ACCOMMODATIONS?
Room and board is the responsibility of each graduate student, and costs are not included in the tuition. In both Kisumu and New Delhi, 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, amounts to budget, and services available. However, each graduate student must complete the necessary documentation with SIT to secure their own housing. Some landlords don’t give contracts or tenancy agreements, but SIT will ensure that they provide the support that students need. All students are required to fill out a housing form regardless of which option they choose in each location.
Housing options include homestay or furnished apartments. The homestay option is recommended as it offers the chance for immersion in the local culture and provides an excellent opportunity to experience local lifestyles, perspectives, and values. Our program staff will 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 will vary between $500 and $1,000 per month per flat. Each option has access to a kitchen and bathroom and two or three bedrooms. The cost can therefore be split over the number of students sharing the flat. Utilities such as water and electricity are included in the price of homestay options but not rented flats. Wi-fi is available in host family options but limited or unavailable in most residences in Kisumu. However, students can purchase a local package for about $20 US/month. Most internet providers are inexpensive and have good bandwidth.
SIT has a list of potential accommodations that has been compiled over the years, all in close proximity to the SIT center and shopping areas. Most accommodations will have access to internet either by use of a modem (dangle) or wi-fi. The student will be required to pay for the internet or wi-fi time they use. Our program staff and homestay coordinator has worked with landlords 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 will vary between $300 and $500 per month. 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, and wi-fi is limited or unavailable in most residences in New Delhi, however students can purchase local modems. Most of the internet providers are inexpensive and have good bandwidth. Internet cafes are becoming obsolete as smart phones are now providing all necessary access to electronic sources.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 802 258-3509.
This health form must be received in order for you to be able to register for or attend classes.
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.
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.
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
Call direct or collect: +1 215 942-8478. There is 24-hour, seven-days-a-week coverage.
Member number: 11BYCA639556
Information coming soon
Information coming soon.
KENYA ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE INFORMATION
- Program Arrival Date: Saturday, September 14, 2020
- Arrival Airport: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and then transit using local airline (Kenya Airways, Jambojet, Fly 540 to get to Kisumu International Airport (KIS)
- Group Meeting Times: 7 am, 10 am, 1 pm, 6 pm
- Group Meeting Location: Arrivals Lobby
- Group Will Be Met By: SIT staff
INDIA ARRIVAL/ DEPARTURE INFORMATION
- Program Arrival Date: Saturday, January 24, 2021
- Arrival Airport: Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi (DEL)
- Group Meeting Time: 7 am to 11:55 pm
- Group Meeting Location: Ground floor, Customs exit- in front of Costa Coffee
- Group Will Be Met by SIT staff with an SIT sign. SIT staff person will be there waiting during this entire time period.
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 and visit the program page.
- 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.
- 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.
WHAT IS LIFE LIKE IN KENYA AND INDIA?
Kenya is a country of natural beauty and diversity. From the snowy peaks of Mount Kenya to the Indian Ocean coast and from lush green coffee and tea fields to the seemingly endless savannah, Kenya is home to an amazing variety of wildlife. The people of Kenya are also diverse, with more than 65 different ethnic groups and nearly 70 languages. The main ethnic groups derive from Bantu-speakers who migrated from western Africa; the Nilotic and Nilo-Hamitic peoples, who originated in Sudan; and the Afro-Asiatic group, who were mainly pastoral tribes from present-day Ethiopia and Somalia. People from the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and Europe are settled throughout Kenya, forming significant communities.
Kenya’s official language is English and the national language is Kiswahili. Economically, the population is divided among rural pastoralists, farmers, urban dwelling office workers and businesspeople. Kenya’s chief industry is tourism, while its exports include coffee, tea, pyrethrum, flowers, fruits and vegetables, including coconuts and cashews, and clothing, which is manufactured in several export-processing zones around the country.
The SIT program in Kenya makes the most of the country’s demographic and geographical diversity, by introducing students to various cultural practices and ethnic groups, their unique relationships to public health and human rights, and to Kenya’s natural beauty. Throughout the inland (or upcountry) areas of Kenya, the topography and physical features are diverse and striking, with extensive savannah punctuated by high mountain regions. Unlike the ancient settlements of the coast, with trading towns dating back over 2,000 years, Nairobi, Naivasha in Kenya’s Rift Valley, Kisii and Kisumu on Lake Victoria are relatively recent urban areas and their more contemporary development is clearly evident in their layout and architecture. All of Kenya’s cities are linguistically and ethnically diverse, representing the cultural variation of Kenya and East African.
There are few places that offer the complexity of history, geography, and culture that is India. A large country comprised of 29 states, Indian includes a diversity of ethnicities, languages, and religions. The official language of India is Hindi, although 16 other “official” languages are also recognized. Many people speak English and most national universities conduct their classes in English.
At over 1.38 billion, India’s population is second only to The Peoples’ Republic of China. Seventy percent of Indians still live in rural areas but large cities include Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai. The capital city of New Delhi, where our program starts, is a mega-city of 24 million people. Some areas of the country, such as the far North, are sparsely inhabited, but most of the country is densely populated with busy urban areas and densely farmed rural areas.
India is a democracy with a parliamentary system governed by a prime minister; the president holds a purely ceremonial position. Indians exercise their democratic rights with great enthusiasm: freedom of the press, speech, and assembly are hallmarks of the society.
India was the birthplace of Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. It is also home to a large Muslim population as well as small communities of Parsees (Zoroastrians), Baha’is, Jews, and Christians. By necessity, most people are tolerant of other religious traditions.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT UPON ARRIVAL?
In both Kenya and India, students will be received 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 each country are an orientation period for students to get accustomed to life in that country prior to the start of classes. The group will be staying together in a hostel or modest hotel during orientation before moving into permanent housing.
WHAT CAMPUS WILL I BE ATTENDING?
In Kenya, students will be attending classes at the SIT Program Center in Kisumu. In India, students will attend classes at the SIT Program Center in New Delhi. A few classes in each country will be field-based either at NGO offices or research organization or institutions experienced in global health, policy, administration, and management.
DOES SIT OFFER LANGUAGE CLASSES?
While the program does not offer credit-bearing language courses, students will receive basic language training in Swahili and Hindi at the start of each semester, along with basic cultural etiquette. Students may also choose to continue private lessons at their own cost if they would like additional language training.
WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT WILL SIT PROVIDE IN SECURING MY PRACTICUM?
Beginning in the first semester in Kenya, you will meet with the program chair prior to the practicum search process. SIT will support you in finding an approved practicum with a global health, policy, administration and management think tank, NGO, government agency, or other organization involved in global health, policy, administration and management work in either Kenya or India. You will also have access to an online career workshop run by SIT’s Career and Practicum Service Center, which will guide you in the practicum application process.
WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT CAN I EXPECT DURING THE PRACTICUM?
You will meet with the practicum coordinator multiple times throughout the year to facilitate a well-chosen practicum that aligns with your professional trajectory. During the third semester (your practicum semester), you will meet regularly and remotely with your academic advisor and cohort to discuss practicum experiences across institutional, cultural, geographical, and political settings.
WHAT ARE SOME LOCAL CUSTOMS?
Local customs will be explained in greater detail during orientation and throughout the semester, but here are a few to get you started:
In Kenya, people greet each other before beginning their conversation or request. The standard greeting is “Hujambo?” and the response is “Sijambo.” Students will learn the following grammar construction and grammar rules:
- Present tense: na - positive /negative
- Subject prefixes m/wa class: positive: ni, u, a, tu, m, wa; negative: si, hu, ha, hatu, ham, hawa
- Noun classes: M/WA, U and KI-VI
- Personal pronouns: mimi, wewe, yeye, sisi, nyinyi, wao
- Past simple tense: li-ku - positive and negative
- Me-Ja tense: positive and negative
- Future tense: ta - positive and negative
- Noun classification using food and fruit
- Possessive pronouns: wangu, yangu, change
- Linking articles: wa, ya, cha
- Conjugate nouns with numbers
- Verb “to be” – kuwa – in three forms: locative: niko, nilikuwa, nitakuwa; possessive: nina,nilikuwa na, nitakuwa na; verbial stative: mimi ni, nilikuwa, nitakuwa
- Hu tense habitual
- Ka narrative
- Subject prefixes in inanimate classes: I, Zi, Ki-Vi
- Wakati, adverb of time
- Consonant stem adjectives/dependent: zuri, zito,baya,kubwa,dogo etc.
- Consonant stem adjectives /independent: ghali, safi, muhimu, tofauti, laini, etc.
- Vowel stem adjectives/dependent: epesi, embamba, erevu, eupe, ekundu, etc.
- Noun classes M/MI, N, JI/MA and PA
- Adverbs: kwa amani, kwa siri, kwa upendo, kwa hasira, kwa kweli, kwa huzuni, etc.
- Conditional affix: KI-SIPO
The Beginning Hindi course is designed to develop student proficiency and communication in khari boli Hindi. While emphasis is placed primarily upon oral comprehension and conversational skills (i.e., listening and speaking), reading and writing are highlighted as crucial to the reinforcement of those skills.
- Introduction to Hindi: script and sound
- Personal pronouns and “to be” form (present and past)
- Nouns and adjectives/question framing: yes/no, “Wh” words = “K” words; where is __ ?
- Verb: instruction, commands and request (polite commands)/case: post position, oblique (nouns), oblique (adjectives) singular and plural
- Possession: to have something/to have someone
- Present and past tenses: habitual, progressive, future, subjunctive and simple past
- Special verbs: can, like, want, need, to know, to find, to get
- Comparative and superlatives: Hi and Bhi/Apna - one’s own/verb – Padana - able to, Chukana - already done, Hona - have to
- Suffix: wala with nouns, pronouns and adjectives, Kar form of verb –having done e.g. Jakar, Khakar
- Co-relative actions: Jab – Tab, Jahan; Wahan, Jaisa; Waisa
- Connectives: Either/or, Neither/Nor, Whether/Or, If/Then
- Causative: Koi – someone, Kuch – something, Kahin – somewhere
- Intensifier: Karana, Hona, Jana, Lena, Dena
- Aur, Lekin, Kyonki, Par
- Letter writing to family and friends
- Story writing with the help of pictures
- Essay writing: festival, sports
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.
KENYA AND INDIA
Nairobi and Kisumu are relatively safe cities. The following are the basic precautions that we take while in Nairobi and Kisumu. We have observed that the majority of crimes that students report to us take place when students do not heed the following advice.
Students at the University of Nairobi protest frequently and these protests may become violent. If you are nearby when something like this takes place, please leave immediately.
Bank robbery is also not uncommon. If you go to a bank, be alert. If something unusual starts to happen, leave. If you are near a bank as a robbery is occurring, leave. Remember that you are not a target; you are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Still, you should get out of danger as quickly as possible.
To avoid muggings, pickpocketing, and snatch-and-grab crimes:
- Carry money in several places (socks, bras, front pants pockets, etc.).
- Carry only the amount of money you need that for outing (including taxi fare if you will be out after dark), especially if you’re going to a bar/club.
- Carry valuables in a nondescript plastic bag rather than a purse, basket, or backpack
- Carry valuables such as cameras only when you need them.
- take a taxi after dark, even if your trip is only a few blocks. This is especially true for the city centers area at night.
- Protect your privacy by not sharing personal information (address, phone number, etc.).
- Look like you know where you’re going, even if you don’t
- Use a money belt or wallet
- Make your valuables (cameras, etc.) obvious. This includes counting money in view of strangers.
- Walk in any park, especially Uhuru and central parks, after dark.
- Accept lifts.
- Carry your passport with you (unless you are changing money or crossing a border).Instead, photocopy the photo and Kenya visa pages and carry the photocopies with you.
- Carry anything in your rear pants pockets.
- Welcome or carry on unsolicited conversations in the city center.
- Have valuables sent to you through the mail.
- Wear expensive jewelry or watches if you will be walking around in public places or riding in matatus.
- Leave valuables lying around your room.
DOES SIT PROVIDE MEDICAL 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 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 a medical emergency, the highest quality medial care will be arranged.
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.
SIT does not provide dental 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 and speak with a program staff member to be directed to an appropriate provider. It is important that you contact the designated local staff member in-country whenever you are seeking any medical attention. SIT staff can direct you to hospitals and clinics 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.
HOW WILL I GET AROUND TOWN?
In Kisumu, you will likely use public transport such as taxis or minivans called “matatus” or a “tuk,” a three-wheeled vehicle with an enclosed area for passengers. The public transport systems do not have a central governing body or a website; you can get information about schedules from guesthouses or hotels. For matatus and city buses, passengers often pay their fare or buy tickets directly from the conductors once on board. On long distance buses, you must buy your tickets from the bus company operators in advance or on the day of your departure. Drivers do not like to leave without a full load and so passengers usually have to wait until a vehicle is full. Matatus can also often be flagged down on the side of the road by people wanting to board. During the village stay, you can easily get around on foot. It’s good practice to always carry identification, especially when travelling internationally. Having a photocopy of your passport is recommended whenever you are out in public.
Delhi is a busy city, full of cars, buses, rickshaws, metro, bicycles, cows, dogs, even the occasional horse, bull, elephant or camel. Nine million cars are registered in the city, so be prepared for traffic jams. In most cases, you will travel by Uber and metro to and from the program center each day. Uber taxis are also available for reasonable prices, though they are more expensive than metro.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS WHILE I AM 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 from home to the program that is able to accept a local SIM card and is compatible with and usable at the program location, (b) work with the program director within the first week of 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, thus a local telephone number, to connect with faculty, staff, homestay families and affiliated organizations while in country.
During orientation, with assistance from SIT 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 i.e. 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 required.
INDIA AND KENYA
Bring your phone unlock code with you to India. This will enable you to use the Indian SIM in your phone. When you are in the process of buying an Indian prepaid SIM card, it is critical to know that your signature on the SIM card paperwork must be identical to the signature on your passport. Otherwise, the service will not be activated. A copy of the front page of your passport should be submitted, along with the subscription form.
The program provides a wireless internet device for emails and all academic work. Please do not expect great internet speed, especially in rural areas while on excursion.
You have chosen to experience a foreign culture as thoroughly as possible; constant telephoning, Skyping, e-mailing and /or blogging can hinder that experience. We encourage you to “unplug” and learn the slower and more meditative pleasures of journal and letter writing.
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 companies 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.
It is advisable to bring your funds in various forms so that if there is a problem with one option you will still have access to money. The Kenya Shilling (abbreviated KES or Ksh) is the local currency. You may also be able to access your cash through ATMs (see below). Cash (particularly in US$50 and US$100 denominations) is easier to exchange and gets a better rate, but it cannot be replaced if lost or stolen. Smaller cash denominations fetch lower rates than the larger bills. Make sure any cash you bring is in bills issued after the year 2004, as many places in East Africa will not accept older bills. Cash is used for most daily transactions and the use of checks, traveler’s checks, and credit/debit cards for direct purchases is rare. You will need a local phone SIM card to open this account. The program staff can help you to open such an account when you arrive.
Subscriber SIM Registration in Kenya
The service allows users to deposit money into an account stored on their cell phones, to send balances using PIN-secured SMS text messages to other users, including sellers of goods and services, and to redeem deposits for regular money. Users are charged a small fee for sending and withdrawing money using the service. MPESA is a branchless banking service; M-Pesa customers can deposit and withdraw money from a network of agents that includes airtime resellers and retail outlets acting as banking agents.
A credit card is very useful for emergencies, medical or otherwise. It is recommended you bring along a Visa card, which is more widely accepted at ATMs than MasterCard and other credit cards. Students have reported having the greatest success using ATMs within Kisumu at Absa and Standard Chartered Banks. However, MasterCard, American Express and Visa can usually be used to obtain cash advances drawn from local banks, as well. Some students prefer ATM machines, while others prefer exchanging dollars at a bank or foreign exchange bureau. ATM funds are available only in Kenyan Shillings, though the exchange rate on ATM withdrawals is usually excellent.
If you use a local cell phone while in Kenya, you can store money on the phone and use it for most purchases and exchanges. This service, known as MPESA, is provided by Safaricom and Airtel. It relieves you of the need to carry large amounts of cash and is a wonderful example of Kenyan innovation.
Check current exchange rates: http://www.oanda.com/currency/converter
The local currency is the Indian Rupee. ATMs are widely available in India and are usually a reliable way to get funds in larger cities. A major credit card (AMEX, Visa) is often necessary in emergencies and is highly recommended. If you have a medical situation that requires an overnight visit to the clinic you must have a credit card; your program insurance will reimburse your expenses upon return home, but you must pay your bill in cash or credit card before leaving the clinic. You should be able to use a credit card at many upscale shops as well.
Check current exchange rates: http://www.oanda.com/currency/converter/
WILL I HAVE TIME FOR VISITORS WHILE I AM ABROAD?
SIT Graduate Institute encourages students to schedule visits from friends and family to their program sites after the conclusion of the formal program when 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. Please note that any visitors during the course of the program must plan their own independent accommodations.
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 (http://www.tsa.gov) as well as those of the airline on which you are flying for domestic and international baggage restrictions.
In order to be culturally appropriate and to assist with cultural immersion, SIT Kenya requires students to dress according to local norms. In most cases, this still leaves plenty of room for individual choices. This is not a policy that will enable you to “pass” as a local, but rather to ensure that you do not offend or embarrass people with whom you work or stay. While Kenyans are in many cases aware that U.S. standards of dress are different from Kenyan standards, it is not an excuse for setting aside Kenyan standards in favor of American ones. Kenyans find certain U.S. dressing conventions appealing, others odd, and still others profoundly offensive or insulting. In extreme cases, failure to abide by established program rules of dress will result in disciplinary action. Your program chair will explain local conventions in greater detail once you are in Kenya, but for now you will need some guidelines as you pack for the trip. Please read the following carefully.
Bear in mind that often people in Kisumu dress with more sophistication than is common in U.S. cities. What you wear is very important, both for the sake of feeling comfortable and for cultural appropriateness. Think “business casual” (not jacket and tie), trendy, coordinated, and put-together. Short shorts and very tight trousers for women are not acceptable. Depending on the situation, you may wear jeans, slacks, or even long “dress” shorts. Neatness and fashion are always important and Kenyans affiliated with SIT Kenya often comment that students tend to under-dress.
In conservative rural areas, while style is not as important in the village, modesty and cleanliness are even more so. You will be expected to avoid clothing with holes, clothing with immodest pictures or writing, shorts or clothing that is revealing and very informal (such as tank tops, crop tops, halter tops, sleeveless shirts, or bikinis). Tops should cover shoulders and waists, skirts should cover the knees, clothing should not be too tight or transparent, and plunging necklines are not acceptable. Women in most areas of East Africa dress modestly, wearing skirts well below the knee with slips (though ankle-length skirts are not a good idea either, since they tend to get dirty and frayed very quickly), blouses or t-shirts with sleeves and relatively high necklines, and sandals, sneakers, or flats. Women do not wear pants or shorts in rural or Muslim areas of the country (which are mostly near the coast).
For men, casual dress can include jeans, sneakers, and t-shirts as long as they are clean and free of holes. More formal occasions call for neat, pressed, dark-colored slacks, pressed, button-up shirts (long or short sleeve), and dress shoes or dress sandals. Flamboyantly colorful, Hawaiian-style shirts or guayaberas can be worn semi-formally in Kenya as long as they are clean and pressed and have a collar and buttons. A variety of colorful slip-over shirts are available here. Kenyans consider shorts to be appropriate for schoolboys and playing sports, but not for casual wear by adult males. Traditional wrap-arounds called kikois are often worn on the coast instead of long pants. Shirts with sleeves, whether short or long, are required. Ties and jackets are not required but it is a good idea to have one of each.
Much of the country is known for its hot, tropical climate, though areas at higher elevations (such as Nairobi) can be surprisingly cold at night (50 degrees is not unheard of). You will need a sweater and/or a light jacket and waterproof rainwear. The clothes that you bring should all be washable and breathable, preferably drip-dry cotton and cotton-blends. Polyesters and other fabrics that do not breathe can be very uncomfortable. You will be hand washing and line drying your clothes.
Buying new, expensive clothing is not recommended. Whatever you don’t pack, you can probably get in Kenya – except shoes.
Second-hand clothing (mitumba) is available very cheaply all over Kenya.
For many Americans, choice of dress is an expression of individuality. In India, appropriate dress is a way of displaying your knowledge of Indian cultural norms. Many Indian families are quite liberal, but we also want you to be comfortable with standards observed by the more conservative sectors of Indian society so that you will be well received in the widest variety of social settings. What it means to be respectfully dressed will not be obvious to you at first. The following details will help you get started.
The first standard for appropriate dress in India is neat and clean – that is, your clothing should be ironed, clean, without holes or rips, and in accordance with the guidelines below. Westerners sporting a casual look are not well regarded in India.
Guidelines for all students:
- Styles that show the mid-riff or backside, such as low-rise pants, are not culturally sensitive.
- Shirts may be tucked in (for men), or if they are left hanging, they must be long enough to come down past your bottom (for women).
- Shorts and sleeveless tops are never appropriate for either men or women. Collared shirts are always preferred over t-shirts.
- Bring your jeans, but make sure they are not too tight, low, ripped, ragged or full of holes. Please be sure to have neat hems on your pants. Pants should completely cover your ankles – no capri pants.
Special Guidelines for Female Students:
- Indian clothing is world famous for its beauty: in flattering fit and exquisite fabrics. Asking you to observe the norms of Indian dress should not impose a burden on your sense of style, love of fashion. or your pocketbook. While you are a participant on this program, we ask that you meet the standards of conservative, modest dress. This is for your reputation and safety as well as for the reputation of this program. You do not have to wear Indian clothing; western clothing is fine if it meets the modesty guidelines listed below.
- Many Indian college women wear jeans and a kurta/kurti as typical o
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