Saturday, May 14, 2011

Preparing to go to Israel

I only have a few more weeks left in my Spring sememster. Its getting close to time where prospective students are waiting for their acceptance letters from Rothberg International School. So I'm going to be doing a series of posts to help new students with how to prepare for their study abroad. If you are a prospective student and have a question for me, please feel free to leave a comment to this post. If I don't know the answer to your question I can find someone who does.

Some of your preparations need to start early even before you know if you’ve been accepted or not. For instance check your passport to see if it’s up to date and how many years you have left on it. If you will be studying in the country for more than just a few months you will need to apply for a student visa. In order to get a student visa you have to have at least two years left on your passport.  A passport can take up from 4-6 weeks to process so it's best to start as early as you can especially if you’ve never had a passport because getting the documentation necessary for it can take some time. 

To get a student visa you have to contact your local Israeli consulate. Each consulate serves several states  the one you need may not be in your state. Each consulate requires different documents to issue a visa getting in contact with them early can help. Have all the documents ready but apply for the visa as late as you possibly can they usually take two weeks to process but it varies by consulate. The reason you wait to the last minute is so the visa lasts as long as possible on the other end.  I learned that consulates and embassies have shorter hours than you would expect they are only open from around 9 -3. The Israeli consulate  will not usually answer the phone before 10:15 and stops answering the phones at 12:30. They are closed for Jewish holidays and Saturday for Shabbat. This information on times they answer the phone is about the consulate in Houston, Texas I don't know if it is the same situation for the other consultates.

  The school doesn’t mention vaccines on their website but you might want to consult your primary care physican to see if you are healthy enough for vaccines. There are companies that specialize in travel vaccines there is probably at least one in your area. You tell them where you are going and they do the research to see which shots you need. They will give you a little yellow vaccine card that you need to keep with your passport it is a international accepted medical form that records your vaccines. It's nice to get the vaccines out of the way as soon as possible if you decide to get them. I was left feeling a little under the weather several days after getting the shots.

 Several months before I needed to leave I started a list of all the things I wanted to do, buy , or didn’t want to forget to bring with me.  This helped me stay organized and see what I still needed to have done. I went through the rounds of doctors getting a physical, annual teeth cleaning and got my vision checked. If you wear glasses bring a back up pair with you. I also got my eye doctor to give me a written prescription for my glasses as well just in case something horrible happened to both pairs of lenses. 

Those were some basic tips to get started on for your study abroad. I hope it helped. 

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