FAQs: Advice From an Alum, Jen Soshnik
Q. What are the arrangements for the flights?
In most cases, the professor will establish a “preferred” flight that she will be taking, and students can elect to take that flight if they would like to travel with the professor and other students who take the “preferred” flight. Students may also choose to take other flights, but they will be required to arrive in Uganda and depart Uganda within a certain timeframe that corresponds with the arrival and departure times of the “preferred” flight. In either case, students will be responsible for booking their own flights.
Q: What should we know about the flight?
A: 1. There is typically a lot of food included, along with drinks and snacks.
2. Wi-Fi is usually available on the flights, but passengers have to pay for it.
3. Free in-flight entertainment is often included. There are tons of movies, TV series, music and games you can choose from and access right from your seat.
4. Though the flights provide blankets and pillows, if you get cold easily, want to sleep or cannot get comfortable easily, you should plan to bring:
a. Extra layers
b. Compactable blanket
c. Pillow or neck pillow
In general, though, we recommend that you pack as light as possible.
Q. Where will we be staying?
A: Though subject to change, we typically stay at the following places:
Kampala: Red Chili Hideaway. Depending on how many students are enrolled in the class, and depending on what is available, you may stay in single, double or triple rooms or six-person dorms. There is storage space in each room, but it is limited. Showers and toilets are communal, and don’t expect hot water. Red Chili Hideaway has a pool area, restaurant, bar, common area and locked storage space for when in Hoima/Murchison Falls. You may also purchase a locker for your valuables, but you will also need to purchase/bring a padlock in order to secure the locker.
Hoima: Trisek Hotel. You will likely be staying in separate condos that include a living space with couches and a TV, a kitchen with amenities, a bedroom with a twin size and queen bed, and a bathroom with a toilet, sink and bucket shower. A key will be given to you in order to secure your belongings in your room. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g1933157-d8391292-Reviews-Trisek_Hotel-Hoima_Western_Region.html
Murchison Falls: Murchison River Lodge.
Most likely, you will be staying in safari tents. There are communal toilets and showers along with a restaurant, bar and pool area. You will be able to keep your valuables in one of the vans at night, or on your person at all times. Make sure to fully zip your tent, always, to keep out rain, bugs and hippos (don’t worry, if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you).
Q. Is there a washer/dryer?
A: At Red Chili Hideaway, you can pay to have an employee machine wash and clothesline-dry your clothing. Be aware that your clothing may pick up an odor and take a while to dry when drying outdoors. Also, note that it is unacceptable and very inappropriate to expect an employee to wash undergarments, so plan accordingly.
Q: What do we do about food?
A: Food is covered by the program fee. The only reason you would have to pay for your own food is if you want to buy things at the airports or want extra snacks along the way. Otherwise, the program covers breakfast, snacks, non-alcoholic drinks, lunch and dinner.
Q: What if we don’t like the food that is offered, can we refuse?
A: Yes, it is totally fine to politely decline any food that is offered to you.
Q: What should I know about taking photos or videos?
A: Jen’s Advice for Image Capturing:
1. Test your camera and empty your SD card before leaving home.
2. Bring a reliable, good quality camera that has photo and video capabilities.
3. If you enjoy taking high-quality photos and want to capture things looking their best, invest in a lens kit. Having different lens options makes a world of difference, especially when it comes to the safaris.
4. No matter if you are the best photographer in the world or the worst, the auto setting is your friend.
5. For those wanting to get to know your camera, don’t wait until you’re ready to shoot to mess around with your settling, utilize “travel and transit” for this.
6. Make sure to fully charge your battery each morning and bring an extra charged battery for backup.
7. Take tons of videos, even of still objects. I promise that you will thank me later, especially when it comes to creating your impact video.
8. Remember: be respectful of the locals. Even though most are completely fine with photographs and videos, make sure to ask first, especially if you want to photograph an adult.
9. Keep the camera steady when taking videos; it’s difficult to edit shaky clips without losing key components.
10. Document as much as you can, but do not forget to be in the moment.
Q: What are you glad you packed?
-Imodium, prescription diarrhea meds, Advil, sleeping medication, Benadryl, Cortisone, eczema cream
- Sweat proof, scent free sunscreen SPF 30+, face sunscreen SPF 50+
- Travel size Purell hand sanitizer packs from Amazon
- Off! Family Care Smooth & Dry bug spray
-Kleenex, Q-Tips and Neutrogena Make-Up Remover Wipes
-Nikon camera and 32 GB SD card
-Headlamp with extra batteries
-Pillow and travel blanket
-Passport book with RFID blocking cover
-Heavy-duty garbage bags for dirty/wet clothing
-Ziplock bags for toiletries
Q: What do you wish you had packed that you didn’t?
-Camera lens kit, camera lens cleaner
-Portable charger with outlet plug connection
-Contact lens/prescription sunglasses
Q: Do I need an adapter and converter for my electronics?
A: You will definitely need an adapter and converter (unless your electronics run at both 120 and 240 volts, which many do, so be sure to check. In that case, you will only need an adapter). I would recommend buying a nicer one rather than the cheapest option. Lots of people had issues with their adapters exploding and being unusable because they were cheap. However I had an adapter that cost $12 from Amazon and worked extremely well and quickly. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007SAOI9E/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Q: How should I dress?
A: In the city: Local businesses or off-lodging meals, women will wear skirts or pants that hit below the knee and that fit rather loosely. T-shirts or longer sleeved shirts are preferred, but it does get hot. So if you choose to wear a tank top, it cannot be spaghetti strapped, show your midriff or scoop too low. Dresses are fine as long as they follow the same criteria as stated. Men typically wear full-length pants and simple, modest shirts.
For the safaris and pre/post daily itineraries: Men and women can wear whatever they want while still being respectful of the local people who may not feel comfortable seeing a girl in a tiny crop-top shirt or short-shorts or a boy in a tight tank or shirtless. However, if you take advantage of the swimming pools, you are free to choose your bathing attire. Some women choose to bring a cover-up for time spent sitting pool-side.
Q: Can I drink the tap water?
A: No, but there will be purified water provided so that you can fill up a water bottle. It is recommended that you bring your own water bottle from home because plastic water bottle waste is a problem in Uganda. Nalgene’s are great.
Q: Do we ever get cell service?
A: Depending on your network provider, you can get international cell service. If you choose, you can purchase an international device with a local network provider when you arrive in Uganda. Your professor and guide will also have international calling, but that is for emergency use only. Regardless, the service is very unpredictable.
Q: Are we going to be able to get Wi-Fi?
A: Wi-Fi is typically available at most places we stay, but it can be unpredictable and slow. Plus, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so it’s a good time to unplug and be in the moment.
Q: Which vaccines do I need?
A: You can find information about vaccinations on the CDC website. Be sure to consult with your doctor about which specific vaccinations you need; usually your insurance company will have travel clinics you can visit. Also make sure to be vaccinated at least two weeks prior to leaving. Getting vaccinated when you are home for winter break is a great option.
Q: Where would I go if I had to get medical help?
A: If you need medical help, we are connected with a number of reputable hospitals and clinics. The specific medical facility we go to will depend on our location when you need medical assistance and the cause for needing medical assistance. Safety is our number one priority, so should you require medical care, we will take you to the facility that offers the best services.
Q: How much money should we bring for the trip?
A: Personally I brought $300, but you should not need more than $150. You must bring a crisp, $50 US bill in order to get your e-visa in Uganda. Unless you want to spend a lot of money, $100 is more than enough for souvenirs.
-You can bring either US dollars to convert to Ugandan shillings or you can bring a credit/debit card to withdraw money at an ATM in Uganda.
-Unless you want to keep it as a souvenir, if you have money left over at the end of the trip, make sure to convert it back to US dollars before leaving the Ugandan airport. There are very few places that will convert Ugandan shillings to US dollars other than in Uganda.
Q:Are there scholarships offered?
A: The number and amount of scholarships varies by year. You can contact Professor Abby Schneider for more details and to obtain the scholarship packet.
Q: Are there other opportunities to make the trip more financially accessible?
A: It is also recommended that you fundraise. Abby can provide you with a list of ideas, including hosting a BeadforLife bead party.
Q: Why should I go to Uganda?
A: There are so many reasons you should go to Uganda, and the impact you will get from this trip is limitless. What you expect this trip to be will be nothing like how it actually is, but that is the beauty of it. Go to Uganda. There is no reason not to. My top 5 reasons you should go:
1. The safari. If this is something you have wanted to do, you better do it now. With the rate at which the forests are being depleted in Uganda, there may not be much other opportunity in the future to see what you will be able to during this trip. I promise, the safari will not disappoint!
2. The people. Ugandans are the most friendly, welcoming, beautiful people I have ever met. Despite most living in extreme poverty, they somehow are always able to see the best in the world and the best in people. Everyone will want to talk to you and get to know you, and you definitely will want to do the same with them! The people you go with will become extremely important in your life and will help you grow as individuals and create friendships that may never have been possible if you didn’t go on the trip.
3. The experiences. Things you will do in Uganda, you cannot do anywhere else. The food you eat, the people you meet, the things you see, the way you feel, everything is going to be a new experience, and every experience you have will have a lasting effect on you that you would never expect.
4. The culture. Uganda is a place unlike anywhere else; the culture is so rich and full of life. Everyone who lives in Uganda loves Uganda with their whole body, mind and spirit. The cultural norms are very different from those of the United States, and going there will make you appreciate that difference so intensely.
5. The opportunity. Going to Uganda is an opportunity that doesn’t come around everyday. If you choose to go on the trip, you will have an opportunity of a lifetime. You will learn things you never could in a classroom and feel emotions you thought you never had. Coming out of Uganda, your outlook on life will be forever changed. This trip will help you grow in ways you would never expect and you would never have the chance to anywhere else.