Intern-al Affairs

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In·tern

noun
a student or trainee who works, sometimes without pay, at a trade or occupation in order to gain work experience.
verb
confine (someone) as a prisoner

If you’re travelling abroad for your intern, here are a few tips to make sure you adhere to the first definition while not being subjected to the second one.

Before You Leave India:

1.While booking your flights, a few things you should take care of: If you have a stopover at some airport before you board a connecting flight to your final destination, make sure you do not require a transit visa and are legally allowed to connect. This information can usually be found on the official website of the airport at which you are going to have a layover or of that country’s government. For example, if you are flying from Mumbai to New York via Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, check this.

This becomes even more important if you are catching a connecting flight from a different airport in the same city. We advise you to try and stay away from such flight sectors, as flight delays can mean you won’t make it to the connecting flight.

2. Make sure you have all your immigration documents sorted out and ready. This includes your passport, your visa, and any other documents peculiar to your destination. For example, the US requires something called a DS-2019 form without which student visa holders will not be allowed entry.

Check the immigration and customs website of your destination country to know about the specific requirements. You will certainly find it useful to talk to people who have visited that country or place before to get a general idea.

Once you have these, take a photocopy of all the documents (or scan them) and keep these with a trusted friend or relative back in India who can email these to you if you lose or misplace any documents.

3. If you are travelling to a country where English is not the first language, it would serve you well to have learnt a few basic words and phrases in the native language before hand. This not only puts at ease the individuals you are interacting with, but also reduces any xenophobia you might face. It’s also advisable to read up a bit on the local customs as and where applicable that will ease your process of fitting in.

4. Carry enough cash (or enough money on a Forex Card) to last all your requirements for at least two weeks. It is likely that payments for your intern will not start coming in until at least two weeks while you complete the formalities of joining the institution you will intern at. It is also possible that you are not paid until the very end, in which case you might want to carry more money. A forex card makes it easy for someone back home in India to add more money to your card if you are running low without the hassles involved in wire transfers.

Banks also provide a multi-currency card, for eg., you can use Axis Bank’s multi-currency forex travel card for all purposes. Always have some printed currency of visiting country with you before you board your flight. It is important because you might require it for taxis or buying a local sim card.

5. While some countries will legally require you to have medical insurance before you travel there, most will not. It is still advisable to buy one before you leave since the costs of not having insurance and needing medical treatment in a foreign country can be ruinous.

6. Remember to pack smart – Get a general idea of the weather of the place you visit. You don’t want to spoil your nice summer clothes while the weather is rainy there. Always carry sufficient (don’t overload) clothes which could suffice for your entire stay. This should include seasonal clothes and accessories as per the country’s weather. Having water resistant carry bags reduces your worries further.

Having personal care things according to your need, at least initially, helps a lot. However, keep the flight restrictions in mind too. Carry general medicines like aspirin, paracetamol etc. The immigration website of that country should tell you if any chemicals are banned. If you carry any specific disease related medication, keep a doctor’s certificate approving of the medicines that you are carrying. This can be of help when you get seriously ill and are forced to admit in the local hospital there, they can have an idea of the medication you were on. Carry in-flight medications, if necessary.

6. Reach the airport at least 3 hours before your boarding time so that you comfortably see through the immigration check.

If you are flying for the first time, we’ve got you covered too. First, check in with your passport, visa and e-ticket to get your boarding pass. Then, drop your main luggage on the moving belt. Then, depending on the specific country’s immigration requirements, you might have to fill a form before the immigration check. After that, go through the security​ check where you’ll a screen indicating what things to removed and keep in the tray. Then, pass through the immigration counter. And you’re ready to fly. Enjoy the airport view and other offerings but make sure you are back before your boarding time.

While In Foreign Lands:

1. Note that an Indian driver’s license will not be valid identification in many countries, and your IIT-B college ID card even less so. Hence, if you plan to travel to a different city or to a different country during your intern, or to a place such that you can not access your documents within a couple of hours, it is recommended that you carry your passport and any other documentation with you.

2. It’s a good idea to keep emergency contacts for the town/country you are situated in on your phone. These could include things like the local police department, the fire department, medical aid and other services. In the USA most emergencies can be dealt with by dialing 911 You should also keep handy the contact of the nearest Indian Embassy, in case you need any help with your documents or other assistance.
Always ensure you can contact someone back in India at a moment’s notice in case of emergencies. A well placed tweet never goes amiss either.

3. Keep maps of the city you’re visiting downloaded online, just in case you are stuck without internet and need them. If you’re travelling alone make sure you know your way around the transportation system of the city you’re in, especially at night. It’s a good idea to also keep contacts of any cab services operating within your city, in case public transport has closed and you need to get back.

4. Keep a tab on local laws and regulations regarding alcohol consumption, and/or smoking to avoid unnecessary trouble.

Precautions for the paranoid:

If you fear your luggage being opened and searched by unscrupulous Immigration Officers or being lost by negligent Aircrafts, it is best to carry your identification documents and money on your own person. This way you are not in danger of being stranded in an alien land with no money and no recourse if your luggage is lost.
Use the powers vested in you by Tim Berners-Lee to figure out how to get to your accommodation from the airport before leaving India. If no one is coming to pick you up, this is a given. But even if someone is, it doesn’t hurt to have the knowledge, in case some unforeseen circumstances leave you moored at the airport.

If there’s any tip you think we’ve missed that has gotten you out of a jam before, or that you think is important, please let us know at insight@iitb.ac.in

PS: Don’t forget to bring a handy electronic socket converter compatible with the location you’re travelling to. Not all countries have the same wall sockets as India does. We all know how torturous it can be if our electronics are dying and there’s no way we can charge them.