TRINIDAD. Trinidad Study Abroad Guidebook SPRING Center for International Programs KALAMAZOO COLLEGE - PDF

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TRINIDAD SPRING 2015 Trinidad Study Abroad Guidebook Center for International Programs KALAMAZOO COLLEGE Page 1 Trinidad T R I N I D A D S T U D Y A B R O A D G U I D E B O OK INTRODUCTION TO THE TRINIDAD
TRINIDAD SPRING 2015 Trinidad Study Abroad Guidebook Center for International Programs KALAMAZOO COLLEGE Page 1 Trinidad T R I N I D A D S T U D Y A B R O A D G U I D E B O OK INTRODUCTION TO THE TRINIDAD PROGRAM GUIDEBOOK With your departure for Trinidad only weeks away, you have likely begun to wonder what it s really going to be like spending several months in Trinidad. What will you experience living and studying in Trinidad, and in traveling to other parts of the country? Are the people of Trinidad as open and friendly with foreigners as they re said to be? Just how much should you plan to pack in your suitcases? Hopefully, this guidebook can begin to answer these and other questions. The information that follows is a collection of advice from the Center s experience in Trinidad. The Center for International Programs and Trinidad program staff members have added practical information as well. All information was accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of printing. When you return, we would greatly appreciate it if you could help us update this guidebook for the next year s participants. Expect the unexpected. Ultimately, no written materials or any other suggestions are going to fully prepare you for what lies ahead. The best thing that you can do is commit yourself to keeping an open mind, remaining flexible, and being patient with yourself and others as you re adjusting to your new environment. This document represents the most accurate information available at the time of publication. Statements contained herein are not contractual obligations, and verbal or other representations that are inconsistent with or not contained within the document are not binding. Kalamazoo College reserves the right to change, without specific notice, programs and the conditions under which they are offered. Please refer to the Kalamazoo College catalogue for complete details. Revised February Trinidad: by the Numbers Trinidad: 1.3 million Indian (S. Asian) 40% African 37.5% Multi-racial 20.5% Other 1.2% Roman Catholic 26% Hindu 22.5% Languages: English, Caribbean Hindustani, French, Spanish, Chinese Page 2 Table of Contents Trinidad INTRODUCTION TO THE TRINIDAD PROGRAM GUIDEBOOK... 2 Trinidad: by the Numbers... 2 I. BEFORE YOU GO PREPARATION... 5 Introduction to Trinidad... 5 PROGRAM CALENDAR... 5 PASSPORTS... 5 FLIGHT CONNECTIONS... 6 MONEY... 6 CLIMATE... 7 PACKING AND LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS... 7 PACKING LIST... 8 ADDITIONAL ITEMS TO CONSIDER BRINGING:... 8 BILLING... 9 HEALTH AND MEDICAL ISSUES... 9 VEGETARIANISM II. YOU VE ARRIVED! ARRIVAL IN TRINIDAD AIRPORT AND CUSTOMS LOCAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY EMERGENCIES III THE ACADEMIC PROGRAM RESIDENT DIRECTORS UNIVERSITY SETTING COURSES LIVING IN TRINIDAD THE STUDENT RESIDENCE EXPERIENCE MEALS MAIL TELEPHONE USE LAUNDRY IV. ADAPTING TO TRINIDAD S CULTURE TRINIDAD: THE COUNTRY DOING WITHOUT TRINIDAD: THE SECOND CULTURE HELPFUL HINTS FOR A POSITIVE CULTURAL EXPERIENCE CULTURAL ADJUSTMENT BECOME FAMILIAR WITH TRINIDAD & THE U.S. BEFORE YOU GO GETTING TO KNOW TRINIDAD SOME PLACES TO CONSIDER VISITING AND THINGS TO DO BOOKSTORES Page 3 RESTAURANTS HOTEL AND GUESTHOUSES TIPS ON INDEPENDENT TRAVEL V. RETURNING TO THE UNITED STATES YOUR RETURN FLIGHT TO THE U.S READJUSTMENT RETURNING HOME Trinidad Page 4 I. BEFORE YOU GO PREPARATION Introduction to Trinidad Trinidad Trinidad and Tobago is one nation comprised of two islands, situated at the southernmost end of the Caribbean chain, only seven miles off the coast of Venezuela. What makes Trinidad unique as a Caribbean island is its treasure of unusual plants and animals, and its industrial and economic importance in world trade. Not only does Trinidad s tropical climate host a wide variety of flora and fauna, making it a haven for ecotourists, but the island has a great wealth of oil and natural gas reserves, which has made Trinidad an important center of Caribbean trade and economics. Trinidad is an English-speaking island of 37 miles by 50 miles, with a population of approximately 1.3 million people. Trinidad s people are mainly of African and East Indian descent, and are largely Roman Catholic, due to their Spanish colonial past and also Hindu, due to the East Indian heritage. Columbus landed in Trinidad in 1498, and the Spanish settled the island a century later. The indigenous Arawak and Carib Indians were largely wiped out by the Spanish settlers, and those who did survive were gradually assimilated into the new culture. Trinidad remained under Spanish rule until 1797, when the British captured the island. Tobago was finally ceded to Great Britain in 1814, and the two islands were incorporated into a single colony in Today the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a parliamentary democracy modeled after that of the U.K. Although Trinidad gained independence from Britain in 1962, the nation did not adopt a republican constitution until 1976, when they elected their first president. Trinidad and Tobago s capital city, Port of Spain, located in the northwest part of Trinidad, is the main center of the Republic s government. PROGRAM CALENDAR Trinidad does not observe Daylight savings time, and is therefore, one hour ahead of Michigan during the winter months. During the summer (April October), however, Trinidad is on Eastern Standard Time. Students arrival: April 5, 2015 Students departure: June 12, 2015 PASSPORTS You will need to have a valid passport to enter Trinidad. You may be required to apply for a residence permit after arrival. If this is the case, you will receive assistance with the process once you arrive on site. Take plenty of photocopies of your passport, as a copy will be helpful if your passport is lost or stolen. You should carry a copy in your wallet instead of the passport itself. You will need to carry the actual passport, however, when you want to change money, or if you travel outside of Trinidad. Page 5 FLIGHT CONNECTIONS Trinidad Please allow yourself plenty of time to check in at the airport, since the current increase in security typically means longer lines and therefore longer processing time. Airlines typically recommend arriving at the airport at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights. Airlines are also searching checked and carry-on luggage. Keep boarding passes and your identification (passport) easily accessible. Please take care not to miss connecting flights. It is your responsibility to be in the boarding area at the appropriate time. Should you miss a connection, however, please note that you must be re-routed by an airline representative at the airport. Travel Leaders and/or Kalamazoo College can do nothing to alter your airline tickets at that point. Once you have had your airline tickets altered, you should contact Mrs. Sandra Khan (see contact information in the MAIL section), the assistant Resident Director for your program so that she knows of your delay and can give you new arrival instructions. If you are unable to contact Mrs. Khan, contact the CIP or a member of the CIP staff (contact information can be found in the EMERGENCIES section), and we will try to assist you in informing the on-site personnel of your situation. If you reach an answering machine, please leave as many details as possible about your new flights in case we cannot contact you, including your full name, cell phone number, new flight number and new arrival time. AIRPORT SECURITY Federally mandated airport security regulations require more time to properly screen travelers and their luggage. Participants are advised to contact the airline to find out how early to arrive at the airport. When reconfirming a flight, remember to check luggage and carry-on restrictions. All electronic items, such as laptops and cell phones, may be subjected to additional screening. If you bring a laptop, be prepared to remove it from its travel case so that both can be X-rayed separately. For further information on security measures, see the Federal Aviation Administration website at MONEY The monetary unit of Trinidad is the Trinidad and Tobago dollar. In February 2015, the US dollar is equivalent to $6.34 TTD. Rates will likely change while you are there. Check the most recent currency exchange rates shortly before your departure in either The Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, or online. You will want to take some personal spending money with you to Trinidad for the occasional meal out, nightlife, personal travel, etc. One past participant said: I recommend that the students take about $500 besides their stipend if they plan to stay in the country and not do too much traveling. If they plan to travel to other places or buy a cell phone, I would recommend they take approximately $1000. I would divide the money into cash and a checking account/atm debit account or credit card. NOTE: Cell phones in Trinidad cost around $50. You may find that some restaurants (especially in hotels) and the hotel taxis will take US currency. Prices may be higher if you are paying in US$. Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are also available in Trinidad. You might want to use your ATM as a backup instead of your sole source of cash as ATMs may not always be available or reliable as is typically the case in the US. Visa and MasterCard are also accepted at most establishments. Page 6 CLIMATE Trinidad enjoys a tropical climate with average maximum temperatures of 89 F. There is a dry season from January to May and a wet season from June to December. Annual rainfall is about 200 cm (40 inches) over most of the country. Although you will be staying in Trinidad during the dry season, islands in the Caribbean often get sun during the day, and light rain at night. PACKING AND LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS You will need to check with the airline or your travel form from Travel Leaders ( or , or to determine your luggage restrictions. Generally, the airline will allow you one checked suitcase, weighing no more than 50 lbs. You are also typically allowed one small carry-on bag plus one personal item (purse, small bag). Your carry-on must fit either in the overhead compartment or below the seat in front of you. Even if you're willing to pay overweight or excess baggage charges at the airport, we strongly encourage you to resist doing this and to pack as little as possible. PACK LIGHT!! Few things are as disheartening as dragging around excess baggage or overloaded suitcases while traveling abroad, especially when you could have done without most of it. The best rule of thumb when packing is to pack everything you think you'll need, take out half, and then half again. Don't bring it if you can't carry it! Also remember that you will not have much storage space in your room. A good packing tip is to carry a change of clothes and essential toiletries in your carry-on bag in case your luggage gets lost. For example, pack your underwear in two bags so you will be prepared in case one bag is lost. Make sure you can describe your suitcase including the brand in case it s lost. Whatever shoes you bring, try to break them in before you go. It's no fun to have to stay home instead of exploring your new surroundings because of too many blisters. Bring clothes that you can layer. Though Trinidad will be quite warm during the day, the evenings can be cool, so you'll need to pack clothing suitable for hot weather, as well as cooler weather, especially clothes that you can wear in layers (sweaters and pullovers are especially useful). Take some clothes that you don't care about wearing out, since frequent washing, different detergents, and extensive traveling will take a toll on your clothes. Clothes that are lightweight and easily foldable are the best. Jewelry: It is a good idea to leave favorite jewelry items at home. Never pack anything valuable or sentimental. Costume jewelry is more practical than the real stuff, especially if it is lost or stolen. Electricity: Trinidad has the same electricity specifications as the US. Therefore, any appliances you take with you, such as hair dryers, curling irons, and electric razors should not need adaptors. Page 7 PACKING LIST Trinidad Sunscreen (very important!) Jeans, pants, skirts for women Sport coat/blazer: a classic black blazer is a good way to dress up jeans or skirts Sweaters and sweatshirts (one or two of each) A nice outfit (separates that will mix and match with your more casual clothes) One pair of dressy shoes (to match your nice outfit) Raincoat (not a must, but a waterproof pull-over is a great idea! It may rain at night) Folding umbrella can also be bought on site Sturdy walking shoes T-shirts (good for layering and to reduce the amount of your laundry you do when you travel) Robe, pajamas and slippers Backpack (if you are planning to buy a backpack for traveling, buy one that has an attachable daypack) Two or three pairs of shorts Underwear and socks (bring plenty of underwear, because in some cases, especially when traveling, laundry access may be limited) Toiletries Gifts for new friends (see suggestions in Gifts section) Pictures to share with your new friends (including K pictures, home pictures, and friends and family) Two to three towels (one for the beach, one for bathing) and washcloths Plastic baggies (large zip lock bags are great for holding wet towels and dirty laundry) Money belt or neck pouch Luggage locks ADDITIONAL ITEMS TO CONSIDER BRINGING: Extra passport photos VISA or MasterCard credit cards or an ATM card A guidebook specific to Trinidad or the Caribbean: Lonely Planet is a good choice A Swiss Army knife: even the small models come equipped with useful tools (be sure to pack such a pocket knife in your check-through suitcase; if you put it in your pocket or carry-on bag, the airport security people will confiscate it) Contact solution/glasses (It's a good idea to bring a copy of your prescription with you in case they are lost or stolen) Journal Condoms Addresses and s of friends and family at home Prescriptions (in original containers) Thumbdrive A three- or five-subject notebook (school supplies may be expensive there) Flashlight Page 8 Bathing suit Trinidad Pack for your emotional self as well. Bring books, photos, small musical instruments, music, etc. or whatever can help pull you through difficult times. NOTE: Do not pack your passport, money, electronics or valuables in your checked luggage. Keep those items in a money belt or pouch on your person. Keep your carry-on with you at all times. GIFTS It is a nice idea to have small gifts from home to leave with new friends in Trinidad that you meet. Some good ideas include: T-shirts, sweatshirts, or other clothing items with Kalamazoo College logos Special or mint editions of American stamps and coins Cookbooks/American recipes Scenic potholders, aprons, place mats, mugs, glasses, or calendars Items with the state bird or flower US-style paraphernalia (i.e., things from Disney World, Warner Bros., Mt. Rushmore, World Cup, NBA, NFL, etc.) CDs of American music (jazz, blues, etc.) Pen-and-ink drawings or professional-quality photographs Any hand-made craft or jewelry BILLING The Center for International Programs does not handle the billing for the program. The Business Office issues the bills and will send your bills for the program costs to your home address just prior to the beginning of each quarter that you are abroad, as when you are in the United States. For specific questions regarding your account, please contact Patrick Farmer in the Business Office at or at HOUSING BACK AT K You will need to arrange to have someone fill out a housing form for you while you're gone (a proxy). If you're interested in Living/Learning Housing when you return, you need to apply before you leave the U.S. To apply to existing houses on campus, please contact the main representative of the house directly. If you are interested in proposing a new house for the fall, applications are available in Student Development. For specific questions regarding housing, please contact Dana Jansma in Student Development at or HEALTH AND MEDICAL ISSUES You need to be up to date with your standard immunizations such as measles and tetanus. Please refer to your Handbook for the information on required and recommended immunizations. If you have questions, contact the Health Center ( ) or your personal physician before you go. Be sure to make doctor appointments if you are concerned about a particular problem (i.e., make a dentist appointment for that sore tooth, etc.) before leaving for Trinidad. You should also look at the information available from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( and the US Department of State ( Page 9 Common medical complaints experienced on study abroad include sore throats and stomachaches. Bring aspirin, yeast infection treatments, Midol, Rolaids, cold medicine, laxatives, Pepto-Bismol and other medications you generally use if there is a brand that you cannot do without. Shampoo, soap, tampons, and sanitary napkins are sold in Trinidad. As a registered student of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, you will have access to the campus clinic, known as the Health Services Unit. The clinic is open Monday through Friday during the regular University semester. There is also a pharmacy located in the clinic. The University maintains a teaching hospital on the island of Trinidad and the US embassy has provided a list of physicians that you should receive upon arrival. If you have any questions about healthcare please ask Mrs. Sandra Khan. Watch out for too much sun. Be sure to bring sunscreen and be sure to use it, especially when you first arrive. The tropical sun is quite hot and you will burn very quickly. Likewise be sure to drink lots of water to prevent dehydration. SMOKING ADVISORY In recent years in the United States, we have witnessed unprecedented public and private uproar and action against the smoking of cigarettes in public spaces including our own campus, many restaurants, and domestic airline flights. This is simply not the case in many countries around the world where the smoking of cigarettes is a time-honored tradition, habit, or enjoyment. The bottom line is this more people smoke abroad in public and private spaces than you may generally experience in the United States. It is prevalent and often unavoidable, particularly in public spaces. Be prepared. Your choice not to smoke or preference that others not do so will not necessarily have any influence within the local environment and if expressed, may be considered inappropriate or arrogant. Your preference to live in a smoke-free environment will be considered by the local staff if you indicated it on the application do not expect, however, that this will always be possible given the prevalence of smoking abroad. The program staff will endeavor to honor this preference but ultimately cannot guarantee it will be able to do so. This is not to say you should not express your desire to live in a smoke-free environment or to avoid smoking while abroad just that to expect others to kick the habit out of deference to you while abroad is inappropriate. VEGETARIANISM Unless medically instructed to do so, people CHOOSE to follow vegetarian diets for reasons such as personal conviction, medical evidence which suggests it is a healthy way to eat, or personal preference. It is, nevertheless, a choice that is not widely practiced, understood, or accepted in some parts of the world. For example a meal that does not contain beef or goat, but does contain chicken or fish, is often considered vegetarian abroad. A vegetarian practice may actually be held with disdain or suspicion abroad as many cultures place greater value and significance on the symbolic role of meat for special occasions such as celebrations, religious ceremonies, and honoring guests. If you follow a vegetarian diet, you should be
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