Preparing for an Internship
Everything You Need To Know Before You Go!
Expectations | Health | Travel | Finances | Culture | Technology | Safety | Insurance
Congratulations on this exciting adventure! At this point, we hope to have communicated that this is not a summer in Paris at the Four Seasons. This is not a summer with access to perfect wifi, glamorous Instagramming, and culinary delight (although, maybe some culinary surprises!). These placements are so culturally different that loosely holding any expectations is the best approach heading into the summer. But, we can confidently say that it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you can engage in.
We have spent more than a decade developing strategic and world-changing partnerships with the goal of making access to justice a reality across the developing world. It is through these partnerships that we are able to provide these internships for you. With that said, you who are accepted into the program become ambassadors for Pepperdine. As such, you have an incredibly important role to play in maintaining those relationships with our partners.
To learn more about what to expect for your specific program, you can review the orientation packets.
Our hope is that every single participant feels healthy and strong abroad. The reality is that many of these places knock us off our feet regardless of precautions. But, this can be mitigated!
The CDC provides all of the information regarding what vaccinations and medications are needed to travel abroad. The first priority is to go to their website and learn about the vaccinations that are necessary for the country being traveled to. We will help guide students through this process during the pre-departure meetings. For some placements, the CDC has listed "recommended" vaccinations that might not be essential depending on the internship location and they can be expensive. We want to ensure students have all the necessary information to make an informed decision.
Why the rush? Some vaccinations require six weeks to provide adequate protection before landing in the country.
Our students have found several different clinics that provide some or all vaccinations and medications for their summer abroad. These are a few that have been recommended:
Costco does not have the Yellow Fever vaccination. They work with most major insurance companies. I recommend giving your local Costco a call to see what they offer, if they take your insurance, and if you need a Costco card.
Passport health carries all of the vaccinations necessary and they have the ability
to prescribe the malaria medication. Important to call and see if they will take your
insurance and what their prices will be.
Wellness Mart, Thousand Oaks
Reasonable prices, will have most vaccinations
Healthy Traveler Clinic, Pasadena
Has the yellow fever vaccination (or will have the alternative, Stamaril).
They have a Travel Medicine program. It's unclear how robust it is and how it works
If you have pre-existing medical problems you should carry a letter from the attending physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic name of prescribed drugs. Any medications you carry overseas should be left in their original containers and be clearly labeled. Some U.S. prescription medications are illegal in foreign countries and may subject you to arrest. We strongly encourage students to contact International SOS (free service) at 1.215.942.8226 to discuss the countries you are visiting or transiting en-route to make sure your medications are not considered to be illegal narcotics in that country.
Your orientation materials will include additional information about specific healthcare resources. Also, reference our "insurance" section at the bottom of this page.
We want to give a few thoughts about how you can personally mitigate the potential of unpleasant health issues that arise from food, water, travel, etc.
- Drink bottled water only. Ensure the bottle cap is secure when opened for the first time. Sometimes vendors will refill water bottles and it's easy to identify if your cap is not secure. You might be able to purchase large tanks of filtered water for your apartment - those are okay.
- Consider skipping the ice. If you order a smoothie and it has crushed ice in it, you don't know if that water was filtered. Or if you order a cold drink and ask for ice, you don't know if that ice was originally filtered water, it likely was not.
- Be careful about raw fruits and vegetables that are unprotected. Bananas, oranges, papaya, and pineapple all have hard shells around them protecting the fruit. Apples, carrots, and lettuce are all unprotected and can carry bacteria on themselves or on the water they were washed in. If you want to eat raw fruits and vegetables, wash them yourself in bottled or purified water when you are at home and peel them if it makes sense. Better yet, cook all the raw vegetables you want to eat.
- Do not eat most street food. Especially meat. There might be some street vendors that make fresh food in front of you, that's a safer option. Here are a few reasons why not to eat ready-made street meat:
- You don't actually know what kind of meat it is: Chicken or Beef? Dog or Pork? Something else you didn't know existed? Maybe. You ask for chicken and they hand you the stick of meat in their hand. You ask for beef and they hand you the same stick of meat in their hand.
- You don't know when the animal was killed.
- You don't know how long the meat has been sitting in the sun.
- There are plenty of ways to get great meat in a safe way. Don't unleash the wrath of your stomach for the sake of street meat.
- Proactively Staying Healthy: quality sleep, quality food, water, and vitamin D.
All students participating in the summer program are required to have a valid passport. The passport must be valid for at least six months past the return date of the student's program. It's the student's responsibility to obtain or renew their passport.
Information on local U.S. passport agencies, requirements, and fees is available on the U.S. State Department website. Students should contact the SGJI team if they have questions about obtaining a valid passport.
If you are hoping to participate in the fall London program, it's wise to ensure that your passport is still valid 6 months upon your return from that experience. Also, double check that you have 3-4 pages available in your passport for visa purposes for one country, additional pages will be needed if you plan to travel to multiple countries.
Pepperdine University's Seaver International Programs website has great resources for obtaining a new passport.
Processing times vary, but to be safe, you should submit your application for a new passport within six weeks of travel. If your country also requires a pre-approved visa, you may need to start this process earlier.
Visas are required for most program participants. Visas are the responsibility of the student and, generally, are obtained from the host country's consulate. Please note that U.S. permanent residents are not U.S. passport holders and must obtain the proper visas independently when applicable.
The SGJI team will facilitate meetings with country directors or supervisors that can assist students with the visa process for their particular country.
Student safety is a top priority for SGJI's Internship Program. Please consult the SGJI Website for the most up to date information on how Pepperdine safeguards communities abroad and how students can safeguard themselves.
Living and traveling in another country can be a rich and rewarding experience, and the odds are very much in your favor for an incident-free trip. You can increase your chances of avoiding problems by developing awareness and by careful planning.
Consider the following strategies:
- Use common sense to protect your valuables. Don't wear expensive jewelry. Keep vital documents out of view. Don't carry more cash than you can afford to lose and place it on various locations on your person. Keep a list of your credit card numbers and customer service numbers reachable from your host country in your emergency envelope in order to report them if lost or stolen. When traveling, always keep valuable possessions within view if you can't hold on to them.
- Take a low-key approach. Avoid loud conversations or arguments and attempt to blend in with your surroundings. In most countries, it is very poor taste to be boisterous in public. Avoid clothing that calls attention.
- Pickpockets normally operate in crowded places like public transportation facilities, spectator events, etc. Never carry valuables in a back pocket or carry your purse behind your back. Some pickpockets will resort to cutting a tightly held purse in order to gain access to its contents. In case of theft or loss of any valuables, report it to the local authorities. The report might be necessary for coverage under your insurance policy. Please inform the country director as well.
- Learn about the places you plan to visit. Familiarize yourself with local customs in those areas.
- SGJI strongly advises students to not travel alone during the day, but prohibits students traveling by themselves before dawn or after dusk. As comfortable and safe as we want students to feel in their host country, traveling alone when it is dark is not safe.
- Learn about local laws and rules, and obey them. Your consulate or embassy has limited ability to protect you if you break the laws of the foreign country you are visiting. This is especially true in regard to drug laws, which are more rigidly enforced in some countries compared to the U.S.
- Should you find yourself in any legal difficulty, contact your country director and your consulate or embassy immediately.
Learn to Fly
Students are responsible for booking their own flights. Our team is more than happy to help assist in any way that is helpful.
When do I book my flight?
It's often cheaper to book it earlier, with that said, it's recommended that all participants coordinate flights to land at the same time. We will address this process further in our pre-departure meetings.
Delta/KLM, Emirates - Great flight prices are around $1,200. Realistically, you should be able to find round trip flights for less than $1,500.
At the latest, students are required to arrive at their program location the day before their first day of work. They may arrive earlier. Students may leave the program location after 5 PM on their last day of work, they may also stay longer. Special circumstances may be considered by program staff, but it is highly discouraged, please reach out to our team to discuss the implications of adjusted dates. Students are responsible for any and all changes to travel arrangements.
Our team flies internationally several times a year and has been doing so for many years. We've pulled together some of our best advice for making it a great experience!
- Pick your seats if you can. Whether you're a window sleeper or an aisle stretcher, select your seats on every leg of your flight so you can be as comfortable as possible.
- Arrive early. Traveling internationally brings its own unique challenges. Arriving early will mitigate the stress of any unexpected traffic or security lines. During your layovers, be cognizant of your next flight and the time it will take to get to your next gate. Some airports have extensive security and mile-long walks.
- Drink water. It's easy to get dehydrated and swollen while traveling. Not only will it keep you from cankles, it will also keep you feeling good!
- Dress in layers. Planes are notoriously hot or freezing. Control your body temperature by dressing in layers. It's not fun to be on a couple of 10+ hour flights trying to sleep in an iceberg or sauna. Also, be aware of the fact that you will be stepping off of the plane into your host country in that attire. For ladies, long pants and a short-sleeved shirt would be the minimum coverage recommended for several reasons. More details in our pre-departure meetings.
- Pack snacks. While airplane food can have some occasional surprises they aren't known for their cuisine. Pack a few granola bars, fresh or dried fruit, and nuts to keep you well nourished without the massive salt content of an airplane meal.
- Keep your valuables in your carry-on bag - medication, laptop, camera, etc.
- Be aware of theft on the airplane - this is unlikely to happen, but it's a good reminder that if you have a nice pair of headphones or your phone sitting out when you fall asleep, it's easy for someone to snag it while walking by. Put your things away if you plan to sleep.
- Toiletries. It's so nice to brush your teeth, reapply deodorant, or wash your face while traveling. Pack a few of these items so you can travel fresh!
- Bring a change of clothes in your carry-on in the event your luggage is lost or delayed.
Top four comforts for sleeping:
- Eye mask - maybe silly, but a game changer for getting good sleep on a plane
- Ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones
- Neck pillow - recommend the TRTL travel pillow
- Fresh socks - it's more comfortable to take your shoes off when you're ready to snooze, but not great to have really thin socks or no socks at all. Fresh thick socks can add an extra bit of comfort while flying.
Going through immigration may require certain information such as a housing address, in-country contact person name, phone, email, etc. Having this basic information with you upon arrival to your country will help with any immigration forms to fill out.
You will be provided instructions to help get you from the airport to your housing. This will vary depending on location and will be coordinated by the country director or supervisor.
You will be required to carry an emergency envelope that contains the following important documents:
- Photocopy of the identification page of your passport. In case your passport should be lost or stolen, this will speed up the replacement process considerably.
- Health history memo. If you have important medical information that someone might need to know in the event of a medical emergency, consider sharing a copy of this with the program director and keeping a copy in this envelope.
- Certified copy of your birth certificate. In case your passport should be lost or stolen, this will also speed up the replacement process considerably.
- Extra passport-sized photos. Four photos are required to speed up a replacement, if necessary.
- Medical prescriptions from your doctor and/or optometrist. Ask your doctor to write these out carefully and legibly so that a doctor, optician, or pharmacist abroad can identify it. Include the generic names of any medications.
- A list of credit card numbers, dates of expiration, and non-800 or 888 numbers to report loss or theft. You will need this information to report lost or stolen cards. The overseas access numbers, which usually appear on the back of the cards, differ from 800 or 888 numbers, which are not accessible from overseas. If you do not have a non-800 or 888 number on your card, call your credit card company and ask for an international access number.
- Names, phone numbers, and addresses of two emergency contacts. The first number is in case something should happen to you; the second is in case of a natural disaster or other emergency in your hometown. Both you and your parents or guardians should be able to contact this person (who should live outside the geographic area of your parents) if there should be an emergency situation where your parents or guardians live.
Types of Clothes: Business Professional, Modest Tourism, Travel Layers, Hiking/Workout
Shoes: Flats, heels, running shoes, travel shoes, sandals
Food: Bring some of your favorite snacks or treats that you might miss while you're abroad. Check in with your country director or supervisor to see if there's anything of note that you can't get in your host country
Emergency Envelope: Keep an electronic version on your phone and laptop and keep a hard copy in your carry-on bag
Random Important Items: Adapters, converter, headlamp or flashlight, water bottle, raincoat, hygiene products
Sample Budget *table
Vaccinations + Medications ($200-$600) *depending on what you already have
Accommodations ($1,400 - $1,650)
Living Necessities (phone + internet, cooking utensils, other - $200)
Travel Purchases ($50)
Total Estimate: $4,500 - $5,500
Every country has different costs and so these estimates are more like averages. What we often see is that in Ghana accommodations are less expensive, but you likely have to pay for transportation to and from your internship. However, in Uganda accommodations are slightly more expensive, but you are likely able to walk to your internship. This serves solely as a reference and we recommend that you proactively build your own budget based on the country you are going to.
We realize this is a substantial cost for many of you and so it's our hope to provide a $2,500 stipend toward the cost of your summer. Stipends fluctuate from year to year as they depend on several funding sources.
In addition to the stipend that we provide, if you are a participant in APIL (Advocates For Public Interest Law) you may also receive an additional stipend for your involvement in their activities. These stipends tend to range between $100-$400 and amounts are decided based on the level of involvement.
All sources of funding from Pepperdine, whether the $2500 from SGJI or APIL funding, will be sent as one payment through a digital disbursement.
As a large institution, making swift payments is not a strength. In order to provide you with your stipend before you get on a plane we use a method of payment called Digital Disbursements. If you are unable to purchase flights or other necessary items for your summer without the stipend, please contact our team to discuss and we will help find a solution.
In order to receive digital disbursements, students must have a U.S.-based bank account with a debit card and access to online banking. Although Pepperdine partners with Chase Bank to distribute digital disbursements, students can receive the funds through any U.S.-based bank.
Students will be sent detailed instructions prior to departure that will help them to set up their digital disbursements.
We often have a few students each summer opt for units. Obtaining units for your internship is great for two reasons:
If you take a minimum of 3 units you then qualify for federal loans (which can help
cover your summer cost)
These units help reduce your required class load in future semesters
Reasons why you might not want to pursue units:
- Units cost money. The rate is usually around $2200 per unit. Please reach out to our team if you would like the exact amount for the current academic year.
- Federal loans might be helpful, but they are still loans. We understand if taking on more debt might not be your first choice.
- There are different metrics for the number of graded and ungraded units you need to graduate - if you have planned your law school career, consider whether it makes sense to accumulate a few ungraded units this summer.
- Interns are required to write two reflective memos during their summer as well as complete an online workshop.
If you decide to pursue units here's what to do:
Visit the Externship Checklist for Registration
If you take a minimum of three units and would like to apply for loans, you can do so through the Summer Federal Aid Request. Please wait to complete the request form until it's been updated for the current academic year.
Credit and Debit Cards
Major American credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted globally. However, please note that most businesses charge an additional fee for the use of a credit card. Purchases made with credit cards are billed in the local currency and the credit card company converts the amount to dollars. Students should speak with their bank prior to departure to understand if they are eligible for a credit card with no international fees.
Since most credit card companies are major financial institutions, they receive the bank conversion rate, which is far better than may be obtained by converting travelers' checks or cash. Many money exchanges allow the use of a Visa or MasterCard to obtain cash for an often steep fee.
The most common and convenient way for students to obtain local currency is to withdraw cash from a local ATM. Be aware that banks charge fees for ATM transactions. Students typically withdraw large amounts of money at a time to reduce ATM fees, and then store cash in a secure place at their program location. Country directors and supervisors will provide students with advice on managing money during orientation upon arrival.
We recommend that students bring American dollars (new $100 bills) to convert onsite as the conversion rate is typically better for cash.
Remember to call your credit card company before departure to alert them of your travels, including the countries of your flight layovers. This protects your card from assuming a fraud charge and freezing until resolved.
As exciting as the prospect of spending a summer abroad may be, at times it will present unexpected challenges. Adapting to different cultural mores, hearing unfamiliar words spoken regularly, and even little things like buying a bus ticket or posting a letter can challenge even the most seasoned traveler. People go through these five stages in making a transition to living in another culture:
- Arrival euphoria
- Irritability and hostility
- Gradual acceptance of difficulty and difference
"Culture Shock" is the term used to describe the disorientation most people experience when they live for even a short period of time in a culture markedly different from their own. In some cases, culture shock is little more than the recognition that doing the ordinary things of life has just become more difficult. In other more pronounced cases, discomfort and/or distinct physical symptoms of psychosomatic illness occur. For some people, the bout with culture shock is brief and hardly noticeable, for others it may last much longer.
Culture shock does not result from a specific event or series of events. It comes instead from the experience of encountering ways of doing, organizing, perceiving or valuing things which are different and which threaten a person's basic, unconscious belief that his or her customs, assumptions, values and behaviors are "right." We all learn cultural cues without being conscious of them. Why do you stand in line at a checkout counter in the supermarket? There are no signs posted to say that you must do so. Standing in line at the supermarket is an unwritten rule. The new culture you are in will also have unwritten rules that may be different. These may surprise us at first and then may make our ignorance uncomfortable. Being continually faced with situations in which you are expected to function with maximum skill and speed with inadequate knowledge of the "rules" produces culture shock. Culture shock is cumulative; it does not strike suddenly or have a single principal cause, although one particular incident may be the one to spark awareness of these feelings.
Culture Shock Symptoms:
- Withdrawal (e.g., spending excessive amounts of time reading; only seeing other Americans; avoiding contact with host country nationals; avoiding going out of the house; excessive emailing, etc.)
- Need for excessive amounts of sleep
- Compulsive eating and/or drinking
- Exaggerated cleanliness
- Roommate tension and conflict
- Stereotyping of host country nationals
- Hostility toward host country nationals
- Loss of ability to study effectively
- Unexplainable fits of weeping
- Physical ailments (psychosomatic illness).
However uncomfortable culture shock may be, it passes with time. To make the most of the experience of working overseas, there are things students can do to minimize its impact:
- Prepare ahead of time for the adjustment process. Research as much as possible about the program location before you leave. Learn about customs and history. Once there, look for reasons behind everything that seems strange, difficult, confusing, or threatening. The more one knows about why people do things a certain way, the less one will be frustrated by their customs.
- Cultivate sensitivity. Do not succumb to the temptation to disparage the host culture. This temptation is especially strong when many students all feel the same frustrations. Although jokes about the country may seem like a good way to "vent," they actually heighten frustration. Remember, your feelings about the country, not the country itself, are the source of the problem.
- Be patient. Give yourself permission to relax. Forgive your fellow students. Talk about your feelings with each other. Find a host national who is sympathetic and understanding to talk with about your feelings. If you have not yet met someone, try talking to the local program staff.
- Remain positive. Be assured that the frustration will pass and focus on the positive elements of your experience!
Should you find yourself struggling with the adjustment to your new home, please seek out your country director or supervisor who can connect you with valuable resources while you are abroad, including counseling services.
Plan to use your own personal laptop during your internship.
Phone and Internet
SGJI strongly advises that you have a cellular device that is able to make or receive calls and send messages at all times. These devices should not be left on airplane mode while abroad for safety reasons. You may use your existing phone or purchase a cellular phone while overseas. We also recommend these phones have a data plan that allows you to utilize important applications when traveling like maps, email, and other relevant local information.
You will be responsible for choosing the best way to set up your phone. Country directors and supervisors will be able to assist you in navigating the options. Internet access is not guaranteed at your place of accommodation or your office. You are also responsible for providing your own internet/wifi connection. There are affordable and easy options in your host country to get this set up.
Your electronics will be an automatic target. Here are some ways to keep them safe:
- Do not walk with your phone in your hand or exposed in a pocket, secure it in a bag
- Do not use your laptop or phone in a vehicle with the windows down (particularly in traffic)
- Keep your laptop secured in a backpack while walking or traveling to your internship
- Do not leave your electronics out in the open in your house/apartment, always tuck them away or in a secure location
- Keep your house/apartment always locked with keys out of reach of windows
- Do not leave your electronics unattended in public
- Follow the lead and wisdom of locals
The Pepperdine community has a free, global Wi-Fi service available in select locations. This allows traveling students, faculty, and staff to connect securely to participating Eduroam Wi-Fi networks using their Pepperdine user ID and password.
Using Eduroam, your Wi-Fi devices will work the same as they do at Pepperdine's Southern California campuses, while providing a secure online experience. Before you travel, visit the Pepperdine Eduroam website for simple instructions to set up your Pepperdine Eduroam profile. If you have questions, please contact Tech Central at 310.506.4357.
The Global Justice Internship Program has not taken advantage of Eduroam before. We encourage students to set this up on their laptops and experiment with it in their host country.
- Communication - Whatsapp: This is the most popular form of communication internationally, if you don't already have this app, you will be required to download it so our team can easily communicate with you while abroad.
- Transport - Uber: Many of these countries use Uber as a popular and cheap form of transportation.
- Safety - International SOS: In addition to creating an online account, you are also required to download the ISOS app on your smartphone.
Check in with your country director or supervisor about any other apps that could be helpful during your time abroad.
The following are steps Pepperdine takes to safeguard the Pepperdine community abroad:
- Conduct an international travel safety briefing at orientation
- Provide In-country safety briefings
- Update emergency plans and critical incident guides that cover a multitude of scenarios
- Provide students access to a travel assistance program (International SOS) that provides students with select emergency assistance offerings
- Restrict student personal travel to higher risk locations identified by the U.S. State Department
- Ensure students receive safety and health related notices about locations they are traveling to if students log their travel
What students do to safeguard themselves:
- Fully and accurately fill out Pepperdine's travel log system for all weekend travels.
- For U.S. Passport holders: Required to enroll and log all travel in STEP (U.S. Department of State Safe Traveler Enrollment Program) which enables students and emergency contacts to receive travel advisories and alerts
- Follow safety guidelines given by Pepperdine, the US Department of State, and International SOS.
- Items like pepper spray or tasers may not be legal in the countries students plan to visit or may require a special permit. Make alternative personal safety plans as needed.
- Speak with parents/guardians about an agreeable personal travel itinerary on weekends.
- Have proper telecommunications capabilities: We strongly recommend students secure a phone that can make/receive calls and texts at all times.
Please note that Pepperdine does our due diligence in regards to community safety and cannot plan for or anticipate every emergency. We, like any other institution, cannot guarantee safety and do everything reasonable to safeguard community members.
Pepperdine provides all Global Justice participants with an emergency travel assistance program through International SOS. All participants must enroll in this program in order to participate. International SOS provides the following types of support:
- Health, safety, and travel advice
- Cultural advice
- Assistance with passport replacement
- Medical assistance, including on-call doctors and nurses, referrals for medical care, and guarantee of payment for medical expenses
- Emergency assistance
We encourage all students to contact International SOS during their pre-trip preparation process to discuss safety and health information. This is a free service. Some services are free to Pepperdine students and some services have an associated cost. Ask International SOS for details.
International SOS also offers free medical tele-consulting if using the International
SOS Assistance App available in your smartphone's app store.
International SOS contact information: 1.215.942.8226
Emergency medical evacuation services
Emergency medical services in the location you are studying/traveling
Emergency document processing
My Trips Registration
The steps needed to use 'My Trips'
- Create a user account if you already haven't used this service prior. Please do not forget your password, you will need it while abroad. Each user needs to create a user profile by entering his/her information.
- Once you have created a user profile you can access the MyTrips website.
- Create or edit your profile to match your upcoming abroad program.
- Create and modify travel plans
Once you have registered yourself, log all travel on your MyTrips account.
Forget your password?: Because International SOS is an outside service, if you forget your password you will need to email firstname.lastname@example.org from your Pepperdine email account and ask them to reset your password. Neither the Malibu IP Office nor your program staff is able to reset your password for you. If you enter the wrong password too many times you will be locked out of your account, so be sure to remember or write down your password.
Safe Traveler Enrollment Program
Students must register for STEP through the U.S. Department of State website.
Pepperdine does not pay for student travel insurance. As stated in our Global Justice Student Handbook, Pepperdine will not reimburse students for personal travel costs in the event a program is suspended. Therefore, you should consider purchasing your own travel insurance to cover any and all associated costs with personal travel (e.g., flights, hotels, activities). Flight insurance or refundable tickets may be available for purchase through Pepperdine's travel partner - Corniche Travel.
Pepperdine's Global Justice Institute does not pay for health insurance. While ISOS is an excellent resource, it is not a health insurance policy. We recommend you check with your health insurance provider to determine what international coverage they provide and if not sufficient, consider purchasing additional international health insurance.