Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pre-Departure

Wow, where do I ever start? There are so many things that one has to do in order to prepare for a study abroad trip, especially if they are going through RIT. One of the first things to do is to figure out the cost of the study abroad fee. Which at first might look intimidating, however, don't forget that it is simply added to your tuition cost, so scholarships and financial aid apply. Basically how I calculated it was to add up the cost of tuition plus the study abroad fee and subtract the amount of aid/scholarship money awarded. RIT will not give you official numbers for costs until later in the summer. So if you are at all concerned about money, make sure you calculate the costs on your own! The second most important thing is to look at airline ticket costs, for they are not included in the RIT study abroad fee. My ticket to Dubai was approximately $1,500 round trip. Obviously this number depends on how much in advance you purchase your ticket, as well as when during the year you plan on traveling. I wasn't actually able to purchase my ticket until last minute, due to the fact that RIT Dubai had not yet finalized when the official first day of school would commence. So be cautious about buying your ticket too far in advance, for you could get stuck with extra fees for coming in early. I personally recommend Emirates Airline. The service was great, I got 3 meals, lunch, dinner, and then breakfast. Also if you fly out of Washington DC (which I did) the flight can be direct and take about 13hours, which really isn't too bad. Once you have decided whether or not you can afford the trip the next step would be to do a lot of research on Dubai, or wherever you are planning on studying. There are so many things to see that are distinctly unique to Dubai! Most of which I plan to visit and will write about later on. I also thought it would be a good idea to apply for a credit card before I left, mainly to be use in case of emergencies. If you already have a credit card then you are one step ahead! The only bank that is in the US that Dubai has is City Bank. But keep in mind any card can be used, just be sure to ask about international fees. Debit card(s) are also a great idea. As of currently, and not expected to change, $1 is equivalent to 3.67 Dirham. There are ATMs every where so don't worry about not being able to get cash. Most places except cards, but many are cash. Anyways, back to the pre-departure... At the beginning of summer the school will ask you to apply for your Visa. This is very important. Make sure you don't miss the deadline! I believe mine had to be handed in by mid July. They require you to fill out a few forms that you should get from the school before summer starts. Also you will need a photo of your face (passport like) with a white background for your Visa picture. Your Visa is super important, so make sure you have it with you on the plane and especially when you go through customs. Also once you get to Dubai you will need 4 passport size photographs. They must be on glossy paper. This is for other legal documents that you will receive once you get to Dubai. I recommend getting these pictures before you leave, just to make things a little easier. My most valuable piece of advice is to talk to others who have studied abroad, as well as utilize the study abroad staff as much as possible. I know that I bothered my poor counselors so many times with all sorts of random questions. So don't be shy! and make sure to ask as many questions as you want. Another thing to keep in mind is that even though there are many steps to prepare for studying overseas, it's rare that anyone is ever 100% efficient, so try not to stress too hard. Things have a way of working out in the end.

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