Travel, Passports & Visas
Students are responsible for booking their own transportation to and from Chicago. Upon arrival in Chicago, GESI students will be provided with accommodations for the duration of their pre-departure coursework. Students will then take a group flight, arranged by GESI, to and from their host-country.
GESI arranges group flights for admitted students. Airlines provide us with a base fare that will not change; however, taxes and surcharges will be added in addition to the base fare the day your flight is confirmed and ticketed. Therefore, the actual cost of your flight will fluctuate depending on when you confirm your spot in the program. Typically, the later students apply, the more the airfare taxes and other charges will increase. A list of flight numbers and schedules can be found below, and base fares will be posted later this fall. For in-country coordination and logistical purposes, students are required to travel on the flights GESI arranges.
Upon arrival abroad, they will be greeted at the airport by the site teams from Foundation for Sustainable Development (Bolivia, India, Nicaragua & Uganda), Social Entrepreneur Corps (Dominican Republic) or ThinkImpact (South Africa). Once in-country, transportation options vary. Students will be clustered in homestays that are near their work-site and each other. Students will either take a short walk to work or use public transportation. The site teams and students’ host families will assist them in navigating the area during the first few days of work.
Please note that the GESI staff books all travel for students; students should NOT book travel themselves. The costs posted below are estimates only; the exact costs are not guaranteed until tickets are booked.
Once 2014 flight information is available, it will be posted.
If you do not have a passport, you must apply for one immediately. If you have a passport, make sure it will be valid for at least six months beyond your anticipated return to the United States; if it is due to expire before then, you must renew it.
For information on how and where to apply, documentation you will need to present, application forms, and passport fees:
- Applying for a passport for the first time
- Renewing your passport
- Northwestern students can submit their application in person to the Evanston Post Office (1101 Davis Street, Evanston, IL 60201, phone: 847-328-6288). Non-Northwestern students can refer to the U.S. Department of State travel site for a searchable database of where to apply for a passport.
- General information on passport photos
- Northwestern students can obtain passport photos at any of the following locations: WildCARD Office (basement of Norris): $10 for 2 photos; CVS (1711 Sherman Avenue); AAA (1724 Sherman Avenue).
- You should get several extra photos to be used for visa applications, as necessary.
A visa is an official document issued by the government of the host country that grants entry. It is your responsibility to verify the visa requirements of your host country, and if necessary, obtain your visa. GESI is available to answer questions and provide guidance for resolving visa issues, but the embassy for each country will have the most accurate, up-to-date information. You should start this process early, as it can take anywhere from two weeks to three months to issue. Generally, you must give up your passport to obtain your visa, so international travel during the months before your departure date is often impossible.
Please note that the guidelines below are based on GESI’s past years of experience with each country, and visa requirements frequently change. It is each student’s responsibility to visit embassy and U.S. State Department websites (links posted below) to review the most current visa requirements for his/her host country. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you will need to contact the embassy or consulate of your host country to obtain the visa requirements for your host country.
Bolivia: Past students have obtained a visa upon entry at the cost of $135. For more information and to see most current requirements, visit: Bolivia visa requirements from U.S. Department of State; Embassy of Bolivia.
Dominican Republic: Visitors may purchase a tourist card upon arrival for $10. To see the most current requirements, visit: Dominican Republic visa requirements from U.S. Department of State; Dominican Republic Embassy.
Uganda: Past students have obtained a visa upon entry at the cost of $50. For more information and to see most current requirements, visit: Uganda visa requirements from U.S. Department of State; Embassy of Uganda.
Nicaragua: Past students have obtained a visa upon entry. For more information and to see most current requirements, visit: Nicaragua visa requirements from U.S. Department of State; Embassy of Nicaragua.
South Africa: To see the most current requirements, visit: South Africa visa requirements from U.S. Department of State; Embassy of South Africa.
India: Past students have obtained business visas before departing for India. Please note that India Visa Center–Travisa Outsourcing–is now handling visa applications within the U.S. as a private contractor to the Indian Embassy. According to Travisa Outsourcing, your visa application will take approximately 5 business days to process once it is received by mail. Please refer to their website and the appropriate consulates to ensure a timely and successful visa application process. In our experience, it takes much longer–up to 30 days–so start early! Please note: The recommendations provided here are subject to change at any time. Please check with Travisa Outsourcing, or an Indian Consulate or Embassy for the most updated information. Visit the Travisa Outsourcing website for additional information. Also review India visa requirements from U.S. Department of State; Embassy of India.