Prepare for Travel
Once you have paid your program deposit, you will be receiving emails from the Program Assistant Jennifer Young shortly regarding flights. We will provide you will an option to reserve your tickets through the travel agent who we will be working with.
You also have the option to reserve your own tickets. If you are making your flight
arrangements on your own, you are REQUIRED to send us your flight detail and your
itinerary. November 1, 2012 is the deadline for sending in information to Jennifer regarding your flight details.
Here are some important dates to remember while booking your tickets:
- January 6, 2013 – The program starts at 9.30 am. Ideally, we would like you to arrive in Chennai latest on January 5, 2013 (we would ideally prefer you to arrive at least a couple of days ahead of time) so that you have a chance to rest and get over your jet-lag before we start our program. Once the program starts, we have a very busy schedule with not much time to relax.
- January 15, 2013 – The program ends on January 15. We will have programming on January 15, so please make your travel plans for January 15 at night or later.
For vaccines, we have used a service called Passport Health which has offices all around the US. They specialize in travel health and work with individuals to evaluate the needs based on the places they will be traveling. Many times, the local county health department may also provide vaccines. We recommend that everyone contact their own physician, or a specialist such as Passport Health to evaluate their own situation. Everyone should be up to date on the basics such as Tetanus and Typhoid. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Polio may also be recommended, but everyone should consult their own health professional. You may want to consult your physician about carrying medication for Malaria and for common issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, insect bites etc.
If you do not have a passport, you need to apply for one ASAP. For more information, please visit http://www.state.gov/. (It can take up to 6 weeks from the time you submit your application to obtain the passport).
If You Are an American Citizen
Everyone will apply for a Tourist visa. A six-month visa should be sufficient. The Indian government works with an outsourcing company for visas for US citizens, although it is possible to get one through an Indian consulate. The visa can be obtained from the outsourcing agency either by going directly to their offices, in which case it may take as little as one or two days, or by mail. Mail processing usually takes about 5 days. There are offices in San Francisco, Houston, New York, Chicago, Washington DC.
Here is the link for an application: https://indiavisa.travisaoutsourcing.com/
There will be no problem for you to get a tourist visa. If you are in California, then you can get your visa from the San Francisco office. We will be sending you a letter to submit with your application as soon as we have the final list of participants. The cost for a Tourist Visa is $73 for a 6 month visa. There is also a $20 fee to return the passport via FedEx (standard mail is not an option).
If You Are Not an American Citizen
Individuals who are not US citizens, but are on a student visa in the US can also apply through the outsourcing company. They will need to include their student visa and a copy of their documents they have signed by Alliant that show they are legally studying in the US.
Details about your accommodation will be provided to you after the deadline for payment of deposit (September 16, 2012).
Tamil is the language that is spoken in Chennai, which is the capital of the state of Tamilnadu. Though English is the secondary official language of India and is commonly spoken throughout the country, it is important to know a little bit of the local language in order to get around the city, to be safe and also begin to understand the culture. You will be required to take a short course in Tamil through the Mango language learning system available for free through the Alliant library system. Once you enroll for the India Immersion Course, you will be given the course syllabi which will give you instructions on accessing and completing the Tamil language introductory course through Mango.
Hindi is the principle official language of India. It is spoken by a plurality of the people (just more than 40%) in the country. It may be useful to learn some basic usages in Hindi, if you plan to travel outside of Tamil Nadu, especially to Northern India (visiting Taj?). Here are some useful links.
Again, you can download podcasts using itunes or purchase applications to put on your iPhone or iTouch. Survival phrases in Hindi can be found here.