Important Dates for Spring 2014 Program Participants
Acceptance Decisions: no later than October 15, 2013
Confirmation Deadline: October 29, 2013
Recommended Deadline for Purchasing International Flight: November 5, 2013
(You must arrive in Chennai (MAA) between 12 noon & 11:55pm on Jan 5; You can leave Chennai on or after 2pm on Apr 20.)
Recommended Deadline for Submitting Your Application for an Indian Student Visa: December 3, 2013
(You must wait for your admission letter – Connie will obtain this on your behalf from India and send it to you in an email on or before December 3.)
Confirm Your Enrollment
**Please Note** To reserve your space in the program, all confirmation materials must be received at the SITA office by October 29:
South India Term Abroad
PO Box 526143
Salt Lake City, UT 84152-6143
Please mail the following items to SITA’s PO Box or scan & email the materials to Connie – firstname.lastname@example.org:
(1) $500 non-refundable deposit, write check to “South India Term Abroad” (hard copy must be mailed to SITA’s PO Box)
(2) copy of your valid passport, color preferred
(3) one passport photo, please do not print on a home printer (hard copy must be mailed to SITA’s PO Box)
(4) Parent/Guardian Agreement Form
(5) Medical Form
(6) Conditions of Participation Form
(7) Host Family and Visa On-Line Form
Obtain Your Indian Visa
Approximately one month before your departure, SITA will send you an admissions letter via email attachment. Once you receive the admissions letter, you will apply for the visa through BLS International Services. To complete your application, you will need: (1) admissions letter, emailed to you from SITA, (2) valid passport, (3) proof of residence that matches your address on visa application, note that a valid driver’s license is the best form of proof and that a cell phone bill will not work, (5) 2 passport photos, do not wear glasses. Direct questions and application to your regional BLS International Services center – choose “contact” in the upper right hand corner of their home page for a drop-down menu of offices.
Visa Frequently Asked Questions:
- What type of visa do I apply for?
You need a Student Visa, valid for 1 year if you are an Academic Year Program student or valid for 6 months if you are a Semester Program student. It is important that you obtain a 6-month visa if you are only planning to be in India for 6 months or less. 1-year visas require students to register with the Foreign Registration Office in Madurai – this is a time-consuming process for both students and staff that should be avoided if possible. Note: If your on-line application only allows you to choose 1-year, go ahead and choose that. However, as part of your application packet, please include a brief, polite business letter that states you are applying for a 6-month student visa even though the on-line application required you to select a 1-year student visa.
- When will my visa expire?
Your visa will expire 6-months or 1-year (depending on your program) from the date it is issued – NOT from the date you arrive in India. This is important to remember as you plan any post-program travel. For example, if you apply for a 6-month visa on December 10, it will expire on June 9.
- Am I responsible for the cost of attaining a visa?
Yes. South India Term Abroad covers the cost of attaining an admissions letter. You are responsible for costs associated with obtaining an Indian student visa, including consular fees, service fees, and shipping costs.
- Is it safe to mail my passport?
Yes. This is a standard procedure. Do make sure to ship it exactly according to the directions provided by Travisa Outsourcing.
- Do I need to provide an Admission Letter?
Yes. You will receive this letter in an email. You must receive this letter before you apply for your visa and include it in your application.
- What city should I list as the port of entry?
- Who should I list as my Indian contact on the application form?
Dr. Arun Raja Selvan
34-B H.A.K. Road
Madurai 625 002
Tamil Nadu, India
SITA students and families will need to purchase their international flight. Please note that you need to arrive in Chennai (airport code: MAA) for the beginning of the program on January 5th between 12pm (noon) and 11:55pm (midnight). After the student group is confirmed, Connie will contact students (and their families) who will be planning travel from the same city (i.e. all students flying out of JFK), just in case you’d like to make arrangements to travel together on the same flight. SITA staff will arrange pick-up from the airport beginning at 12noon on arrival day. If you arrive before that, you will need to wait at the airport until noon. We highly recommend that you choose a flight that will arrive within the pick-up window: 12pm (noon) to 11:55pm (midnight). Students will be greeted by SITA staff upon their arrival at Chennai International Airport. They will be waiting just outside with a sign, so after you’ve collected your luggage, proceed outside to find the SITA staff. As soon as you finalize your travel plans, please send the itinerary to Connie.
Complete Necessary Medical Preparations
When you meet with your healthcare provider to complete the Medical Form as part of your confirmation process, discuss and begin to make plans with them for filling your medical prescriptions for the duration of your stay in India, completing the necessary immunizations, and obtaining malaria prophylaxis. Consult your healthcare provider and the Center for Disease Control for guidelines and suggestions. A topical mosquito repellant, Odomos, is readily available in Madurai. Bring with you small amounts of sunscreen with high SPF and any over-the-counter drugs you think you might need (for headaches, colds, motion sickness, stomach pain, etc.). Students from the previous semester will leave their leftovers at the SITA Center for your use – so pack lightly! However, if you take any prescription medications be sure to pack enough to last your entire stay in India. Past students suggest that you consider using The Keeper. This can be a very good option in India, where it is sometimes inconvenient to dispose of tampons (they cannot be flushed down toilets).
SITA will purchase travel and medical insurance for you through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). Once you receive an email with your coverage dates, you can decide to purchase an additional month (or more) of the insurance if necessary due to your post-program travel plans. **Please note that the travel insurance provided by the program is not a substitute for adequate primary medical insurance with international coverage. Please read through the document found in the CISI link above for more information. Most college student health plans offer such coverage, but it is the responsibility of students and their families to check carefully with their health insurance providers to determine whether their own health insurance coverage meets their travel plans.
You are allowed to bring one checked bag (approximately 50 lbs) on your international flight, plus one carry-on. Consider choosing a hiking backpack, rather than a suitcase with wheels, for both of your bags since it will be much easier to travel with. You’ll be taking this luggage on trains and busses, plus the crowded, uneven sidewalks – when they exist – are not conducive to pulling a suitcase. A backpack will make everything easier. We cannot emphasize enough that you should pack light. There will be lots of leftover clothes and supplies at the SITA Center, plus many medical, hygiene, and clothing items are easily purchased in Madurai.
You probably have many other questions about what to expect when you arrive in Madurai. Here are answers to commonly asked questions.
- When do I need to register for classes?
That will be done after you’ve arrived in Madurai. You will have the opportunity to attend each of the elective courses for one class session. After this, you will choose which electives you will join.
- Can you tell me about my host family?
Learning about your host family is exciting, as they will be a central aspect of your life in Madurai. Plus, you should pick out some gifts for them from the United States! You will receive an email with your host family information as soon as the Madurai staff have made the matches.
- What does a typical day look like on the South India Term Abroad Program?
This question is very hard to answer! Take a look at a draft program calendar (*subject to change*) to get a sense of the program. Your days will be packed – with field trips, travel, guest lectures, classes, and time with your host family. While in Madurai, you will eat breakfast with your host family and then make your way to the SITA Center, where classes are held. Your first class everyday will be Functional Tamil. For lunch, you will go out and eat at any number of small restaurants around the center. You will eat dinner with your host family. You can expect to have Tamil homework, readings, and films to view during some of your free time; to talk, watch TV, and go on outings with your host family during other free time; and to explore Madurai shops, markets, streets, cinemas, temples, mosques, and churches during the rest!
- Can I join a gym in Madurai?
There is a really nice Western-style gym in Madurai (with prices comparable to U.S. gyms), and many smaller gyms. You’ll need to bring loose, comfortable, and modest clothing (loose t-shirts and loose long pants). For yoga classes, you will need the same – you can easily purchase gym or yoga clothes in Madurai.