Why study abroad?
The benefits to study abroad are many. Here are a few:
- Special academic opportunities
- Foreign language competency
- Preparation for careers with an international dimension
- Cross-cultural competence and understanding
How do I choose a seminar?
- PIIRS sponsors Global Seminar information sessions in the fall and early spring each academic year and in conjunction with the annual study abroad fair in the fall.
- PIIRS maintains information regarding Global Seminars, including evaluations by former participants, to assist you in selecting the program best suited to your needs and interests.
- PIIRS’ seminar administrators are a resource for students interested in the Global Seminars. You are encouraged to explore your options and discuss your plans with the administrators as well as the seminar directors.
How long is a Global Seminar?
The Global Seminars are six weeks long.
How many students attend the seminar?
Each Global Seminar has a maximum of fifteen students and a minimum of twelve. Three to five students from the host institution may also enroll in the seminar.
Where can I find the application forms?
Application forms can be found on the PIIRS website at: http://www.princeton.edu/~piirs/curriculum/index.html. Click on your seminar of choice and then on “Application Information.”
What happens once my application is submitted?
Applicant interviews for the 2010 Global Seminars will be held during the week of February 22, 2010. Acceptance emails will be sent out Thursday–Friday, March 1–2, 2010. The deadline to reserve a place in the seminar is Monday, March 22, 2010. A nonrefundable deposit of $500 will be charged to each seminar student’s account by April 1.
Should I make my own travel arrangements?
Students are required to make their own flight arrangements to and from the seminar. Transfer information will be available before you depart: transportation from the airport to the university or hotel will be arranged for you, or specific information on taxis or other public transportation to your accommodation will be provided. You will need to complete the travel database before you depart the U.S. for your Global Seminar.
What documents do I need to provide once I enroll in the seminar?
- Completed visa application form and supporting documents if required (PIIRS will help obtain the travel visa, see below)
- Passport photos (2)
- Flight itinerary
- Completed profile on University Travel Database
- Two copies of Self Disclosure health form in envelopes marked “confidential”
- Emergency contact information
My passport expires a month after the seminar concludes. Is that okay?
No. For U.S. passport holders, most countries require that the passport be valid for at least six months beyond the departure date and have at least two blank pages for the visa.
Students holding non-U.S. passports should check with their government’s embassy for specific requirements.
How do I get a passport?
Please refer to the U.S. State Department website for passport information and an application. Forms are available online or at the post offices where some offices also offer application processing by appointment. Non-U.S. citizens should contact their government's embassy regarding plans for foreign travel.
Do I need a Visa?
Yes. Almost all foreign travelers to China need a visa.
How do I obtain a travel visa for the Global Seminar in China?
The seminar administrator will assist students in determining the required visa documentation based on their citizenship. The seminar administrator will coordinate submission of visa applications with Travisa, a visa expediting service.
What happens when I arrive in Shanghai?
Students are responsible for making their own way to the hotel in Shanghai. Full details will be provided by the seminar director. Check-in date will be confirmed by the seminar director. After check-in, an orientation session/dinner will be held to introduce students to the host institution and city.
Where is the housing in Shanghai and Xi’an?
Housing will be provided by Fudan University in Shanghai and by Northwest University in Xi’an.
Can I arrive at the seminar early or leave later and stay at the seminar hotel or host university dormitory for the additional days?
The seminar housing fee collected by PIIRS covers accommodations for only the advertised dates of the seminar. At a seminar hotel, extra nights can be arranged and paid for by the seminar students. Dormitories at host universities generally do not accommodate students for additional nights; students will have to make their own arrangements, if needed, at a local hotel and cover all expenses. Your seminar administrator may be able to recommend a reasonably priced hotel in the host city.
What type of community service is planned?
The seminar includes a community service component. The seminar director will provide the full details.
Do I need health/travel insurance?
Yes. All participants MUST have proof of up-to-date health/travel insurance.
Are Shanghai and Xi’an safe for travelers?
China is relatively safe for travelers. Caution should be taken in crowed places against pickpockets. In any city, normal precautions are in order. Do not wear exposed, expensive jewelry; do not carry large amounts of cash—handle your cash discreetly; be aware of your surroundings; and don’t befriend strangers.
Read the following carefully: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1747.html
Are there any health concerns in China?
The University’s McCosh Health Center will provide information on required immunizations and other health precautions (e.g., regarding water and food).
What if I have a medical emergency abroad?
- Students are covered by the International SOS program through Princeton University and will be given an ID card prior to travel. International SOS customer service will assist with locating medical assistance as well as provide recommendations for dealing with other emergency situations. Students and parents should familiarize themselves with the International SOS program by visiting its website. (PU ID 11BSGC000022 Scholastic Comprehensive Membership).
- All emergencies should be reported to the seminar director who may consult with on-site staff to determine the best way of handling the situation.
- U.S. embassies abroad can direct U.S. citizens to medical care in a foreign country. U.S. embassies may also provide additional assistance in cases of severe emergencies.
Will I be able to purchase my preferred brand of over-the-counter medicines?
You should bring any preferred brands of over-the-counter medications such as cold and flu tablets or anti-diarrheal, etc. If you are taking any prescription medications, we advise you bring slightly more than you’ll need for the duration of your stay.
What student policies apply to the Global Seminars?
Princeton University regulations on conduct, health, safety, and academic integrity apply to all Global Seminars. Additionally, students are subject to the regulations of the host institutions. Please consult the university’s Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities publication for more information.
How much spending money shall I bring?
This depends on the individual and is really a personal decision. You’ll need enough to cover entertainment, transportation, and meals during your free time, as well as any shopping you make want to do. A general idea of expenses in China includes:
- Entertainment: A night out including dinner, drinks, and clubbing can be had for approximately 200 RMB, but it is also possible to spend significantly more than this.
- Transportation: Transportation is relatively cheap in China. Buses and subways are the cheapest option, costing between 1–2 RMB. Taxis charge a minimum of 10 RMB (minimums vary from city to city).
- Food: The amount on money spent on food can vary greatly depending on the type and quality of food consumed. Chinese restaurants typically offer meals for 10–40 RMB (~$1–6) per person per meal; Western restaurants cost between 50 and 200 RMB (~$7–30).
- Shopping: China has an abundance of inexpensive clothing and souvenirs.
How does money exchange work in China? How should I bring money?
China is still mainly a cash economy; however traveler's checks, ATM/debit cards, and credit cards are also accepted. Major hotels and most fine restaurants and stores accept credit cards. ATM cards are probably the most convenient option for accessing money while in China.
- Cash: Foreign currency may be exchanged at the airport, banks, and hotels. A passport is required. Chinese currency is known as Chinese Yuan Renminbi—CNY or RMB.
- Traveler’s Checks: Traveler's checks can be cashed at Bank of China only.
- Credit Cards: Cards are widely accepted at major stores, restaurants, and hotels. Cash advances can be drawn over the counter at most large banks with proper identification; a transaction charge may apply.
- ATM/Debit cards: ATM machines that accept foreign ATM cards are available in the downtown areas.
Let your ATM/debit/credit card bank know that you will be traveling to China and the dates of your visit. If you use your card without letting them know first, there is a good chance that they will block all payments.
Do you recommend exchanging money before leaving for China?
No. You can exchange money at the airport upon arrival or at any Bank of China branch.
What clothing should I bring?
The summer is hot in Shanghai and throughout most of China. Students should bring cotton clothing; shirts, skirts, pants, etc., as well as a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. Clothing and shoes can be bought inexpensively in China, but sizes run small. A waterproof jacket and umbrella are also suggested, although umbrellas are easily purchased locally.
Where can I do my laundry?
The dormitories typically have laundry facilities. Hotel laundry services can be pricey, so you may want to be prepared to do some wash by hand.
What’s the weather like in China?
June is the start of summer in China. Shanghai daytime temperatures average 82° F. July is typically the wettest month of the year; it is hot and humid with an average daytime temperature of 89° F.
How easy is it to find vegetarian food in China?
It is possible to find good vegetarian food in China; dishes of vegetables and bean curd (tofu) are some of the best in the world. You should be aware that vegetables may be prepared using the same utensils as those used for meat. In addition, asking for a dish with no meat is not always enough, since ground meat or ham is not always considered “meat.”
What voltage is used in China?
China uses 220 volts (the U.S. uses 110 volts) and European-style wall sockets. You will likely need a voltage converter and plug adaptor to use your appliances. Both may be available for purchase at the U-Store.
What is the best and least expensive way to stay connected while abroad?
Cell phones: Check with your carrier to make sure that your cell phone will work in China before you leave the U.S. This is an expensive way to keep in touch, but important in case of emergencies.
Internet: The seminar administrator has information regarding internet access.