• General Information
    • Welcome to the Alliance
    • Student Handbooks
  • Travel Arrangements
    • Booking Your Flights
    • Orientation
    • Packing Guidelines
    • Program Calendar
  • Getting Your Visa
    • Visa Application Instructions
    • Visa FAQs
  • Health and Safety
    • Student Health Insurance
    • Street Smarts, Food, and Water
    • Medication and Immunization
    • Personal Property Insurance
  • Staying Connected
    • Electrical Appliances
    • Money Matters in India
    • Student Mailing Address
    • Telephone and Internet
    • Manipal Office Contact Info
  • Additional Resources
    • Books, Films, and Websites about India

Information for accepted students in Manipal

Welcome to the Alliance

Congratulations on being accepted to an Alliance program!

Now that you have been accepted, it’s time to secure your spot and upload important enrollment documents. Check your online application to see what to do next. Most required documents can be submitted online, but certain application pieces must be mailed, faxed, or emailed per the instructions provided once you've logged in.

You are about to embark on the experience of a lifetime - one of exploration and discovery, great learning, cultural immersion, and new friendships. The Alliance staff wants you to get the most out of your experience and we know that you have many questions. Your Student Services Manager is Anna Stewart. If you have questions that are not addressed on our website, please do not hesitate to contact Anna at 888-232-8379 or astewart@allianceforglobaled.org.

If you will be applying any financial aid toward the cost of your Alliance program, you should print, complete, and return the Financial Aid Arrangements Form. You can read more about transferring financial aid by visiting our Financial Aid section.

The Alliance for Global Education
1730 M St. NW, Suite 402 / Washington, DC 20036

Fax: 202-822-2046 / Email: forms@allianceglobaled.org

Student Handbooks

All Alliance students are responsible for reviewing and familiarizing themselves with the policies outlined in the Alliance Policy Handbook and the Special Warning about Drug Offenses Abroad

You are also expected to acquaint yourselves with the recommendations, rules, and cultural expectations outlined in the Manipal Student Handbook prior to departure.

All students are asked to sign the Academic Policies Contract and Student Behavior Contract at orientation. Please also be sure to familiarize yourself with possible Disciplinary Sanctions following from a breach of these expectations.

Booking Your Flights

Airline tickets

Students are responsible for booking their own airline tickets to India. See "Program Calendar" for arrival and departure dates. Only these dates should be used when making any travel plans and it is mandatory for all students to attend their in-country Alliance orientation at the beginning of the program.

Students are required to arrive in Mumbai between 8:00pm and 12:00am (midnight) on their program start date. If you are flying from the U.S., most flights will arrive in India on the day after they depart from the U.S. All students should fly to Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai, IN. The airport code is BOM.

Students will be greeted in Mumbai by the Resident Director. As required by Indian law, ALL STUDENTS MUST CARRY A PRINTOUT of their DOMESTIC TICKET CONFIRMATION in order to enter the airport for the group flight. The following day, all students will fly to Mangalore as one group, accompanied by the Resident Director. All students are required to fly to Mangalore on the designated group flight. The group flight is not optional. The airport code for Mangalore is IXE.

The one-way flight to Mangalore is the only required group flight. Keep in mind that you will need to book your return flight to Mumbai for a day you choose after the conclusion of the program.

Reservations for the required flight from Mumbai to Mangalore should be made through SKYPASS TRAVEL, Inc. To book your ticket, please contact Willie Abraham at willie@skypasstravel.com or 512-467-8687. SKYPASS can also assist you with booking your entire reservation to and from Mumbai. If you would like to travel to India on the same flights as other Alliance students, please contact Willie Abraham.

Be sure to confirm that your flight is arriving on your program start date. Once you have booked your flight, including the required flight to Mangalore, be sure to complete and submit your Flight Form through our online application system.

Suggested websites to browse for discounted tickets:

Arriving in India

Students arriving within the mandatory time window in Mumbai will be met at the airport by the Manipal Resident Director and transported to a Mumbai hotel. For this purpose, you MUST communicate your travel plans to the Alliance before you depart for India.

After you leave the customs area and exit to the main arrival hall at the airport, look for the Alliance Resident Director holding a sign that says "The Alliance for Global Education."

Students will stay the first night with fellow program participants and Alliance staff in Mumbai, before traveling to Mangalore the following day. Manipal University is an hour-and-a-half drive from Mangalore and orientation will begin when you arrive on campus.

You will likely experience jet lag during your first few days in India. To help you adjust to the time difference, try to sleep on the plane and drink a lot of water during your trip and after you arrive. Do not consume alcohol or drinks with much caffeine.

Additional arrival details will be provided to participating students.

Early Arrivals

If you will already be in country or will arrive earlier than the official program start date, it is your responsibility to report to the hotel in Mumbai for the commencement of the program. Alliance staff in India will not be able to assist students before the start of the program.

Staying After the Program

Students planning to stay in Manipal or travel in India beyond the official program end date should research all of the required visa and registration requirements before arriving in India. Alliance staff in India will not be able to assist students after the program ends.


A mandatory orientation led by your onsite Resident Director will take place after arrival in Manipal.

Your orientation will include the following activities:

  • Introduction to the Alliance program
  • Meeting professors and staff
  • Overview of the academic program and Alliance expectations
  • Program policies (academic, student conduct)
  • Health, safety and security tips
  • Individual meetings with your Resident Director
  • Experiencing and coping with cultural shock
  • Campus tour and tour of surrounding area
  • Meeting your Indian roommates (if applicable)
  • Cultural activities

The orientation is designed to meet the following goals:

  • Deepen your understanding of the program and what to expect during the semester
  • Facilitate your introduction to Alliance staff, faculty, roommates, and your fellow students
  • Create an Alliance community and culture
  • Familiarize you with your surroundings -- the campus, neighborhood, and city
  • Teach you how to use local transportation, order food, and safely navigate your new environment
  • Establish individual academic and personal goals for your semester
  • Prepare you for the new semester both academically and emotionally

Packing Guidelines

Baggage Restrictions

Alliance-India students will be permitted only one checked bag and one carry-on. We will be traveling by van to the orientation site, and there are space restrictions for how much baggage can be brought on board. Moreover, many Indian airlines have weight allowances lower than that of U.S. airlines, some of which are 15kg/33lbs, so pack accordingly.

We also strongly recommend that your one checked bag be a big backpack. Sidewalks are rare in India, and with train and bus travel as well, backpacks are much more manageable than large rolling suitcases.

Packing Suggestions

Women's Clothing

Please plan on dressing modestly during your time in India. Though Manipal is a modern university, and you will see many Indian students wearing jeans, as a foreigner you will want to minimize the kind of unwanted attention you might receive. As you go off campus, particularly when visiting local health clinics, you should be prepared to dress in a manner appropriate to more traditional contexts.

This simply means following a few basic rules of thumb: shoulders should be covered, pants and skirts mid-calf or ankle-length, necklines not too low, all clothes fairly loose (though generally fitted is fine), and fabrics opaque. Layering is always a good idea: having tank tops, camisoles, and slips under fabrics that might be translucent, tops that are hip-length, and cotton scarves or shawls to throw over your shoulders. Often linen pants are very comfortable, and if you are in Manipal during monsoon season (fall students only) you should bring pants that can be rolled above your ankle.

Many female students buy a lot of local clothing, or even better, have outfits tailor-made! The traditional Indian salwar kameez outfits that you'll see most women wearing are always comfortable, attractive, inexpensive, practical, and appropriate.

Men's Clothing

Men may have things a bit easier when it comes to clothing, but there are a few things to keep in mind as you’re packing. Most traditional men in India wear lightweight, collared shirts with cotton pants. Male students at Manipal will likely wear typical western clothing, but you should always err on the side of more conservative. T-shirts or ripped jeans should not be worn to class. As with the women, remember that your experience in India will be enhanced if you dress appropriately for the local context.

Women’s and Men’s Clothing

Underwear: Bring plenty of underwear! It is common in many parts of India for laundry to be hung in public areas to dry (though not on campus), so try to bring modest cuts and solid colors as not to draw attention. Cotton underwear is typically best for the hot climate.

Shorts: Shorts are not commonly worn in India and are not appropriate for class, dining halls, or when off campus. Shorts can be worn in hostels and in the sports complex.

Sweater/Outerwear: Manipal is a tropical climate, so sweaters, sweatshirts, and fleece will not be needed except when traveling in the hills or in the northern part of the country before or after the program. During the monsoon season, it is good to have one lightweight shell or waterproof jacket.


  • Flip-flops or sandals – In India people commonly slip off their shoes before entering homes, temples, and even some classrooms and places of business, so you’ll want at least one pair of flip-flops or sandals that you can take off easily. They’re also easier to deal with during monsoon. Sandals are widely available and inexpensive in India, so feel free to wait to acquire a pair when you’re there.
  • Sturdy walking sandals – also a good idea, also available in India.
  • Athletic shoes – with the hills and mountains near Manipal and the state-of-the-art indoors sports complex on campus, it is a good to have at least one pair with you.
  • Sun hat/sunglasses: The Indian sun is strong, so be sure to bring adequate protection.

Dress clothes: Chances are good that you will be invited to at least one Indian wedding or other celebration while you are in India, so you'll want at least one nice outfit to wear. Women, this could be your opportunity to buy your first sari, but if you do also want to bring something from home, keep in mind the above guidelines here, too.


Please be sure to bring a full semester’s supply of any prescription medication you require. Most medications are available in Manipal, but certain brand names may not be available or there might be slight variations, so bring as much of any required medication as you will need for the duration of your stay.

Most everyday toiletries are available in Manipal, but you may want to start out with a basic supply (a few weeks' worth) of the following:

  • Sunscreen
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Your regular health supplements plus those that you may need, such as emergen-C, Omega acids, digestive enzymes, etc.
  • Basic self-medication needs (aspirin, band-aids, etc.)
  • Anti-bacterial waterless hand cleaner (you’ll probably use A LOT of this)
  • Contact lens solution
  • Feminine products (you might want to consider menstrual cups such the Keeper, Diva Cup, or Softcup. Many travelers have found them essential for dealing with issues such as lack of disposal utilities, bathroom paper shortages, long travel time without access to bathroom facilities, etc.) 


  • Laptop computer (see "Staying Connected" for more information)
  • Journal
  • Camera and charger
  • Adapter/converter for electronics
  • Small flashlight (occasional power cuts)
  • Sturdy water bottle with screw top
  • Money belt
  • A towel to use when you first arrive (a good microfiber towel that is easy to pack, absorbent, and dries quickly is highly recommended. The Aquis adventure towel is a good one to consider.)
  • Adapter/converter for electronics (these are inexpensive to purchase on site, but you should bring one with you for initial use. For more information on electrical compatibility, please visit the Electrical Applicances page)
  • Extra passport pictures (you can also get them made inexpensively in India, but as long as you're putting forth the effort to have some made in the US, you might as well get extras)
  • Small photo album with pictures of family, friends, home, and college to share with your host family/roommates
  • Travel alarm clock (the mobile phone that you will be provided with on site comes equipped with alarm capability; it may be a good idea however to have an additional alarm clock if you tend to sleep through alarms)
  • Ziploc bags (you have no idea how many uses you'll find for these!)
  • Locks for luggage or cabinets
  • Swiss Army knife (be sure to pack in your checked baggage)
  • USB "flash" drive
  • Umbrella for protection from both sun and rain (these may also be purchased locally, but it may be good to arrive with one in hand, particularly if you'll be arriving during the fall monsoon season)
  • Any favorite small games (Frisbee, cards, chess, etc.)
  • Musical instrument if you play one (this would be permitted as a second carry-on)
  • Gifts for your roommates or their families, should you travel home with them at some point during the semester (something from your college/university or unique to your hometown/region is usually a good idea)

Program Calendar

Program dates roughly follow the U.S. academic calendar:

  • Spring semester begins in mid-January and concludes in mid-May
  • Fall semester begins in mid-August and concludes in mid-December

Specific program dates are posted below. All flights should be booked according to these dates. Remember that flights from the U.S. arrive in India the day after they depart from the U.S. Be sure to confirm that you are departing the U.S. on the first date listed below.

Semester Structure

The 16-17 week semester begins with an orientation. Students are acclimated to their new environment through introductory lectures on Indian culture, training on health and safety, and given an introduction to campus life. Once students have settled into their dorms, they begin their coursework. Field excursions and site visits are woven into the semester schedule. The semester concludes with a final seminar where experiences are discussed and students are prepared for their return home.

Given the program’s busy academic schedule, weekly local activities and excursions, and field study trips, the Alliance STRONGLY DISCOURAGES students from hosting visitors until the end of the semester. Please encourage family and/or friends to visit AFTER the program has ended. Students should make their travel plans accordingly.

2014 Spring Semester Calendar

7 January 2014          Flight departure from U.S.
8 January 2014          Arrival in Mumbai
9 January 2014          Group flight to Mangalore - Orientation begins
5 May 2014                Closing Ceremony
6 May 2014                Return flight to Mumbai and U.S.

2014 Fall Semester Calendar

12 August 2014          Flight departure from U.S.
13 August 2014          Arrival in Mumbai
14 August 2014          Group flight to Mangalore - Orientation begins
1 December 2014       Closing Ceremony
2 December 2014       Return flight to Mumbai and U.S.

Visa Application Instructions

In order to study within India, all students are required to obtain a student visa. You will not be permitted to enter India without securing a visa in advance, so it is imperative that you complete the visa application process before you depart.

Instructions on how to obtain your student visa from BLS International are listed below. Please read through this information carefully. These instructions are intended for US citizens. If you are not a citizen of the United States, please contact your Program Manager for assistance.

Please remember that it is your responsibility to ensure that the appropriate visa is obtained for participation in the Contemporary India program.

How to Apply

Complete the Manipal Student Visa Authorization Form and submit this document in the student applciation portal. Your student visa sponsorship will be based on this information. For question 15, you must list the consulate that corresponds to the address on your driver's license or a major utility bill. Please refer to the consulate jurisdiction and contact details listed below to determine your corresponding Indian Visa Application Center.

Upon acceptance to the Alliance program and with Manipal University's approval, your Student Visa Sponsorship Letter will be sent to you via UPS approximately six weeks prior to your program departure date. You cannot proceed with your student visa application without this letter.

Do NOT proceed to Step 2 to initiate the online India Visa Application form until you have received this UPS package.

Complete the Online India Visa Application posted on the BLS International website.  We strongly encourage you to book an appointment and submit your visa application materials in person. DO NOT select the postal option on BLS's website as students have experienced significant delays when using this option in the past. If you are unable to submit your visa materials in person, please consider using a service like Travisa Outsourcing and allow extra time for processing. 

We recommend that you download and study the sample visa application form before completing the actual visa application form. The BLS website is best viewed using Internet Explorer. Please note that the application form must be completed without mistakes. You will need to fill out the form again if a mistake is found.

AFTER THE ONLINE APPLICATION HAS BEEN COMPLETED, YOU MUST PRINT AND SIGN THE APPLICATION. The form should be printed on two separate sheets of paper. Two sided-printing will not be accepted by BLS.

You will submit your visa application form and additional requirements to the appropriate Indian Visa Application Center that you have identified for your region in Step 1. The processing of visa applications is jurisdictional, so you must submit your materials to your assigned application center, which is dictated by your present location. Please see addresses below

Submit the following items to BLS:

  1. Online Visa Application Form: must be signed by the applicant.
  2. BLS Order Form: complete this mandatory form and submit a print out. 
  3. Passport: Passport must have a minimum validity of six months from the program end date with at least two blank visa pages. Last 2 amendment pages are not acceptable. Must be the actual passport, NOT A COPY. The visa will be a sticker in your passport.
  4. Photograph: One recent, color passport-size photograph (2x2 inches) on glossy photo paper depicting front pose of applicant's face against light background. Paste or paper clip photo on application form; do not staple.  The photo specifications are very strict.  You must follow the following instructions carefully. The instructions are also posted on the BLS website.
​        Photo Requirements
  • Center head within frame and present full head from top of hair to bottom of chin.
  • The face should cover about 60-70 percent of the photo area.
  • The applicant's head, including both face and hair, should be shown from the crown of the head to the tip of the chin.
  • The head must be centered within the frame.
  • Photo should present full face, front view, eyes open.
  • Background should be plain white colored without borders with contract colored clothes (not white clothes).
  • Photos with dark, busy, or patterened backgrounds will not be accepted.
  • No shadows on the face or on the background.
  1. Proof of Address: Applicants must submit a photocopy with proof of residence/address that matches the address on the visa application exactly. Examples of proof of address include: photocopy of state issued ID (Driver License or ID), major utility bill (Water, Gas, Electric, Sewage), or copy of valid lease with signature of landlord and tenant. The following items are not accepted: cell phone bill, credit card statement, bank statement, cable bill, or insurance forms. The address cannot include a P.O. box. Minor applicants (under 18) must provide a copy of both parents’ birth certificate or any government issued document which shows parent’s name, date of birth, and nationality.
  2. Admission Letter / Confirmation Letter: A letter confirming admission from a recognized institution along with evidence of financial arrangements for stay in India. This is your Manipal University Visa Sponsorship Letter provided by your Alliance for Global Education Program Manager.
  3. Certification Letter: A letter from the U.S. institution with complete detail of the study abroad program, and whether credit will be earned. This is your Alliance Certification Letter provided by your Alliance for Global Education Program Manager.
  4. Dual Citizenship: (if applicable) Applicants who have dual citizenship with the U.S. and another country must apply on their U.S. passport if living in the US. This requirement does not apply to applicants who hold dual citizenship with Pakistan. Pakistani citizens who have also acquired U.S. citizenship must apply for a visa on their Pakistani passport only.
  5. Fees: The total visa fee varies by jurisdictional location.  It is important to check the total visa fee before submitting your visa application, in case fees change.  A fee calculator can be found on the BLS website. Payment can only be made by cash or demand draft/money order made out to "BLS International USA." Payment must include the visa fee and BLS service fee.* Personal checks are NOT accepted. All fees are nonrefundable, even if the visa is denied. If payment is not paid in full, processing delays will occur. The payment method should be selected when completing the visa application.
  6. Complete and sign the Checklist Student Visa V 1.2 form.
  7. Citizens from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are required to complete an additional form. The appropriate form is found on the main BLS student visa page


*Please note that the shipping fees may vary.

Estimated Processing Time: 

  • Visa applications submitted in person with an appointment are usually processed within 7-10 business days for US citizens born in the US.  
  • Applications submitted by postal mail or Travisa Outsourcing will take longer to process depending on your location and the consulate.
  • Applications from U.S. citizens who require references and all non-U.S. citizens are typically processed within one to two weeks; although in some cases the processing time may be longer.

BLS does not guarantee processing time.  Incomplete/incorrect applications will increase the processing time. Use the following link to check the status of your application

For more information about the visa application process for India, please see BLS International’s website or contact a BLS office directly by telephone or email.


Before you leave the BLS Application Center, please make sure that you have the correct visa:

  1. Visa Type should read "S"
  2. No. of Entries should read "MULTIPLE"
  3. Endorsement should read "MANIPAL UNIV. KARNATAKA"
  4. Visa Agent's Signature should appear

Scan your visa upon receipt. Keep a copy for your records, and send a copy to your Program Manager via email.

BLS International Application Centers

New York, NY
BLS India Visa, USA
East 37th Street,
6th Floor, Building 13
(Between 5th and Madison Avenues)
New York, NY 10016
Phone: 1-888-683-7830
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island
Chicago, IL
BLS India Visa, USA
55 West Van Buren St.,
Suite 330, Third Floor
Chicago, IL 60605
Phone: 1-888-683-7831
North Dakota
South Dakota
Houston, TX
BLS India Visa, USA
1235 North Loop West
Suite 515, Level 5
Houston, TX 77008
Phone: 1-888-683-7831
New Mexico
Washington, D.C.
BLS India Visa, USA
220 I Street NE,
Ste. 100, 110
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: 1-888-683-7830
District of Columbia
North Carolina
West Virginia
San Francisco, CA
BLS India Visa, USA
4239 Geary Blvd,
San Francisco, CA 94118
Phone: 1-888-683-7832
Atlanta, GA
BLS India Visa, USA
5775 Glenridge Dr.
Building B, Suite 380
Atlanta, GA 30328
Phone: 1-888-683-7830
Puerto Rico
South Carolina
Virgin Islands


Visa FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about passports and visas. Please read through these and if you still can't find what you're looking for, we'd be happy to talk to you!


Do I need a passport?

YES!!!! Please visit the U.S. State Department travel pages for the most up-to-date information regarding passport application and fees. If you don't have a passport, you should apply for one immediately when you begin to think about studying abroad.


What is a visa and what kind of visa do I need to participate on an Alliance program in India?

In addition to a valid passport, you are also required to secure a student visa to enter India. A visa is an official document/seal that is glued into your passport that permits you to enter the country.


Where do I go to get a visa?

Instructions accompanying your visa application forms will tell you how to apply by mail.


When should I secure my visa?

You first need a valid passport. You can't apply for your visa until you receive a Student Visa Athorization letter from the Alliance, sponsored by Manipal University. These visa documents are sent to students according to the following timeline:

  • Fall term students - early July
  • Spring term students - early December

This mailing will also include detailed instructions on how to apply for your visa.


Should I make copies of my visa documents?

YES. Please make a copy of all visa-related paperwork


Is it possible to extend my visa so I can travel around India at the conclusion of my program?

The Alliance's sponsorship of your student visa cannot be extended for travel, research, or volunteer conducted outside its auspices. Students planning to stay in Manipal or travel in India beyond the official program end date should research all of the required visa and registration requirements before arriving in India. Alliance staff in India will not be able to assist students after the program ends.


Is it possible to travel to other countries at the conclusion of the Alliance program and then return to Mumbai to fly back home?

Yes, this is usually possible, but visa regulations are constantly changing and can be complicated. It is best to check with your Resident Director before making any plans.

Student Health Insurance


The first step to staying healthy in India is to fully disclose any pre-existing health issues or concerns on the Medical Form before you go. This allows Alliance to be sure that your needs can be accommodated in the local context, and to anticipate any care that you might require.

Failure to fully disclose any and all physical or mental preconditions might not only impact our ability to provide adequate care in India, it might be grounds for you to be sent home.  Please know that all medical information is treated confidentially by Alliance staff, and shared only on a need-to-know basis.

Student Health Insurance

All students enrolled in an Alliance program automatically receive insurance. The Alliance’s plan is offered through HTH Worldwide and underwritten by BCS Insurance Company, Oakbrook Terrace, IL. The plan also provides for political and natural disaster evacuation services with Drum Cussac (DRUM). The plan is effective throughout the duration of the participant's program. There is no deductible per injury or illness, and the maximum medical expenses of the policy for accident or sickness is $500,000. Additional information about the HTH Worldwide plan will be emailed to students upon acceptance and enrollment in an Alliance program.

Student Information

Personalized information and support for participants about health care and prescription medication is available through "Well Prepared" at www.hthstudents.com. HTH Worldwide will send an e-mail to accepted Alliance students automatically. The e-mail will contain information about coverage, the individual ID number and certificate number with HTH. Students can then print an ID card and activate a "Well Prepared" profile.

Parent Information

HTH Worldwide also has a website which includes information for parents. Parents can go to www.hthparents.com and create a sign-in with their son's or daughter's e-mail address. Parent(s) have access to provider information and health and safety services. In order for a parent to have access to any personalized information on "Well Prepared," they must request access online from their son or daughter.

Insurance Certificates

A copy of the Alliance's insurance certificate with HTH Worldwide is available here.

An outline of the political and natural disaster services with Drum Cussac (DRUM) is available here.


Please contact Anna Stewart, Student Services Manager, India, via email or at 888-232-8379. Your Resident Director will also provide information during orientation about where to seek medical attention in Manipal.

Street Smarts, Food, and Water

Street Smarts

Staying safe in India involves many of the same behaviors as staying safe anywhere in the world. Be aware of who and what is around you, avoid putting yourself in risky situations, and dress and behave in culturally appropriate ways in order to avoid making yourself a target.

Another component of personal safety that students often neglect is road safety, which is actually the number one cause of American fatalities overseas. India in particular has very high rates of road-related fatalities, and students should maintain high vigilance as they are walking (on streets which rarely have sidewalks), speak up if you are in a vehicle with a driver who is behaving recklessly, and use seatbelts wherever available.
Alliance resident staff will provide a thorough orientation to personal safety matters, with local and culture-specific tips for minimizing risk.

We want you to stay safe and healthy throughout your study abroad experience, so please never hesitate to let Alliance staff know if you have any concerns about your health or safety.

Food and Water

Paying attention to the food and water you consume is the number one way to stay healthy in India. You'll be given a thorough overview of do's and don'ts during your onsite orientation, and travel guides such as the Lonely Planet offer good standard rules to live by, but the first rule of thumb is: HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE! Dehydration is a leading cause for students having to seek medical attention, and is the most easily preventable.

Of course, you want to make sure that the water you consume does not make you sick. Plan to carry a plastic bottle around with you to fill up on filtered water wherever you can, and to always have handy. When you are eating, always ask for bottled water instead of drinking whatever is provided to you. Bottled water is inexpensive and widely available.

Also pay attention as you are showering--try not to let the tap water inadvertently pass your lips--and when you are brushing your teeth, use filtered or bottled water.

Be aware of plates or glasses that are still wet, and watch out for juice drinks that have water blended into them--even ice cream scoops left in water can be the cause of great discomfort. Coffee and tea are always safe choices, as they have been boiled.

Soft drinks, too, are a safe bet.

For food, fruits and salads are the main culprits. Rule of thumb: if it is cooked, it is okay. Another rule of thumb: if it can be peeled, then peel it and it should be okay. Grapes, for example, are not a good idea, nor the tempting salad fixings you may see that haven't been properly cleaned and dried.

That said, chances are good that at some point you will succumb to something food or water-borne. In most cases, though it will not be fun, it will pass within 48-72 hours. The key is to keep yourself well-hydrated to flush it out of your system. Many students like to bring electrolyte packets with them from the U.S. to help combat dehydration, either heat- or stomach-related. These packets are available at all pharmacies in India.
As with all health-related matters, keep the resident staff fully informed about how you're feeling, even if you don't think it's anything serious. Our staff is familiar with the kinds of medical issues U.S. students experience in India, and it is important that they be able to keep tabs on how you are doing.

Medication and Immunization


If you plan to take any prescription drugs while in India, we recommend that you take a supply to last you the entire term. Also, pack a prescription from your doctor for any medications you take to India. This is an extra precaution in case your luggage is searched and you need to verify why you are bringing the medication with you. If you plan to purchase a medication in India, you will need to present a copy of your prescription and see an Indian physician to obtain a new one. While most prescriptions and medications are available in India, it is best to bring all of the specific medications you think you will need for the term with you.

Bringing enough prescription medication is particularly important as prescription medication and even over-the-counter drugs are often held up in customs when shipped from the U.S. The student health insurance program (HTH Worldwide) can help with prescription drug replacement/shipment if needed.

If you wear prescription eyeglasses, you should bring a copy of your prescription. It is easy and inexpensive to have glasses made in India. Contact lenses and solutions are also available in India, though not all brands you are familiar with will be available.


Vaccinations are not required for entry to India, but we recommend that you consult the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and consult with your physician to determine which vaccines you may need. You should also make sure that all of your regular immunizations are up to date. The CDC also operates an international traveler's hotline that provides up-to-date vaccination requirements for any region or country you select. The number is 1-877-FYI-TRIP (394-8747).

Personal Property Insurance

We strongly encourage you to obtain insurance against theft and/or damage to your personal effects for the period of time you will be abroad. The Alliance for Global Education does not provide insurance for your possessions, nor do we provide travel insurance for any travel arrangements made by individual students. It is a good idea to check first with your home insurance provider to see what is already covered and how that coverage might be extended.

Electrical Appliances

The electrical current in India is 220 volts, 50 cycles whereas the US is 110V/60Hz. If your appliances are not dual voltage (110/220V) you will need a voltage converter or transformer, which can be purchased in India a few weeks after your arrival. If you require the immediate use of your lap top or other appliance, however, we recommend that you bring a voltage converter from home, as well as a plug adapter.

It is easy to purchase appliances (such as a hair dryer) that use the correct Indian electrical current after you arrive. A picture of the most common outlets in India can be found here. Please note that power strips allowing you to plug in your computer and other hardware of variously pronged plug types are readily available at many stores and they are inexpensive. These are not power adapters, but they do allow you to plug in almost anything.

Money Matters in India

India's currency is the rupee. At the time of writing, USD $1 = INR Rs 52.

Exchanging Money

It is best to change money in banks, hotels, and other authorized locations to which our resident staff will direct you. Do not under any circumstances exchange money on the black market. This is illegal, it may put you in an unsafe environment, and you may receive fake money. ATMs are also widely available around town, and are addressed in more detail below. The best approach overall is to have several different sources of obtaining funds in case cards, cash, or travelers checks are lost, stolen, or not viable in a given location.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are becoming widely accepted in India, but generally in larger stores or in nicer hotels and restaurants. In Varanasi most everyday money transactions in India still take place in cash. It is always a good idea to have one or two credit cards on you for emergencies, for travel outside of your host city, and/or for any higher-end shopping you might want to do, but don't plan on using them around town as you might in the U.S. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, American Express less so. Some vendors accepting credit cards will add an additional 2-3% to the purchase price with a credit card payment and require a photocopy of your passport.

ATM Cards

A convenient way to withdraw money from your account at home is to use an ATM card that has a VISA or MasterCard logo. You should not rely on ATMs as your only source of cash as they may not always work, but in general this is your best bet for getting the best exchange rate, and for avoiding having too much cash on you (or stashed at home) that could be lost or stolen.

Be sure to carry the PIN number in a safe place separately from your card, and also confirm with your bank that your ATM card will work internationally. It is best to test your card in the U.S. before you leave. We also advise that you call your bank or credit card company to let them know that you will be using the card in India. Sometimes banks may obstruct card transactions overseas in the interest of customer security. Also be sure that you are aware of any international withdrawal charges that your bank or credit card company might charge for these transactions.

Student Mailing Address

To send mail to the Alliance office in Manipal:

The Alliance for Global Education
Old TAPMI Building, Ground Floor
Manipal University
Manipal, 576104, Karnataka

To send mail to a student on the Manipal program:

Student Name
c/o Katie Jo Walter
The Alliance for Global Education 
Old TAPMI Building, Ground floor
Manipal University
Manipal 576104, Karnataka

Telephone and Internet

Time Difference

There is only one time zone in India: 10.5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. When it is 10:00pm in New York on Wednesday, it is 8:30 am in India on Thursday.

When Daylight Savings Time begins in March, India is only 9.5 hours ahead, as India does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Thus, when it is 10:00 pm in New York on Wednesday, it is 7:30 am in India on Thursday.


During orientation, you will receive more information about how to call home. Landlines will not be provided in student dormitories. Using Internet telephone booths is generally the least expensive way to call home from India, and you are able to receive calls at these calling centers as well. Students may also wish to contact their U.S. long distance carrier before they depart the U.S. and request an international calling guide. Keep in mind that using calling cards purchased in the U.S. is more expensive than using local options.

As with most of the world, however, cell phones are now the most common way to communicate in India. The Alliance will provide all students with a pre-paid cell phone on arrival. You will be responsible for maintaining a balance, and value can be easily added at nearby shops. The least expensive way to talk with your friends and family on your cell phone is to have them call you. Incoming calls and text messages on Indian cell phones are usually free. Reliance India offers inexpensive calling cards to India from the U.S., as well as a service that allows a U.S. number to be forwarded to an Indian cell phone at reduced rates.

Internet Access

The university has campus-wide WiFi and internet connections in each dorm room. Students also have access to computer labs on campus. It is important to keep in mind that WiFi campuses are unusual in India, and while Manipal is ahead of the curve, the speed of the Internet may not be as fast as you are accustomed to using to in the U.S. Off-campus, internet cafes are available and inexpensive but many students prefer purchasing a broadband data stick so that they have access to the Internet wherever they travel in India.

It is also important to know that Internet access and land-line phone service may not always be available. Power cuts are a frequent and regular part of life in India, though less so at Manipal, so plan as best you can to allow for more time than you might usually need to accomplish even the most humdrum of tasks online. Please also keep in mind that you may not have immediate access to internet during the week of orientation.

Generally, students studying abroad in India have recommended bringing a personal laptop, though the Alliance assumes no responsibility for personal items damaged or stolen while in India. If you are going to bring a laptop, consider purchasing a special insurance policy before you go. See the Personal Property Insurance section for more information.

Critical skills for success--with all things in India--are patience and an ability to roll with the unexpected. Also, remember that your priority in India is to immerse yourself in your local environment! Too much dependence on communication with home can not only hinder your ability to adapt and integrate, but it can actually exacerbate homesickness and culture shock. Try to set realistic expectations with your family and friends in the U.S. that will allow you to fully focus on this experience and your own personal growth and transformation throughout your semester.

Manipal Office Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Ground floor, Old TAPMI Building
Manipal University
Manipal 576104, Karnataka, India

Phone: +91 820 292 3207

The Alliance for Global Education, US Office

1730 M Street, NW, Suite 402
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel: 1-888-232-8379
Fax: 1-215-572-2174
Email: info@allianceglobaled.org
Website: www.allianceglobaled.org

Director of International Operations: Jonathan Ferguson
Enrollment Counselor and Program Manager: Katie Ryan

If you are experiencing an emergency outside of US business hours, please dial our 24/7 Public Safety number at 1-215-572-2900 and await instruction from the operator. You will then be contacted by an Alliance member who will assist you.

Books, Films, and Websites about India

If you need a break from pre-departure logistics, check out these books, films, and other resources about India -- the personal recommendations from Alliance staff and students!  These materials introduce many social, historical, and economic aspects about life in India and help prepare you to make the most of your Alliance experience.



Web-Based Resources

Journals and Newspapers