Everything you need to know before joining
For many new Jags, this will be their first international flight, or their first really long plane trip, or their first trip without their families. Some will be traveling way more than 24 hours from their house to the campus. Here are some ideas from a travel veteran:
* Keep your passport, wallet, airline ticket, boarding pass and S P Jain offer letter in a place where you cannot lose them. A pocket in your backpack or purse is best. Keep these items with you at all times — even if you go to the bathroom.
* Bring a hoodie, sweater or light jacket. Planes get cold, and there aren’t always enough blankets or pillows to go around.
* Put all liquids, gels and sharp things in your checked luggage. Otherwise, the security officers will take them away. You can buy things like shampoo easily in Singapore. Carry only enough for the first few days.
* Bring about US$100 in cash for emergencies. Once you reach Singapore, you can use your ATM or debit card in the airport to get local cash. Remember that you lose money in commissions each time that you convert currencies.
* Nobody uses travelers’ checks any more.
* Wear comfy clothes for the trip. Nobody is going to care what you look like when you get off the flight.
* Singapore is always rated one of the best airports in the world. It’s extremely safe, clean and efficient. Your luggage will arrive very quickly. Everybody speaks English. Do not worry about this airport.
* Students from most countries do not need a special visa to get into Singapore. (Consult the packet you got from S P Jain admissions.) You simply go through immigration in the Singapore airport, show them your passport, and they will give you a visitor’s visa. Then S P Jain helps everybody get their official student visa during orientation week. However, just to be safe, have your admission letter from S P Jain ready to show immigration, in case they want to see it.
* Bring some food. You never know when they will serve meals on planes these days, especially if you’re on a budget airline. (On shorter flights, they don’t serve any food at all.) Carrying granola / energy bars or a sandwich is always a good idea. Also, if you’ve travelled a really long ways, you will have jet lag when you get to Singapore, and will get hungry at really weird times.
* Airport food is expensive. I’ve seen a cup of tea going for US$15 at an airport in China, of all places. If you’re planning on an airport meal, bring lots of money.
* Keep basic toiletries and a few clothes (shirt, underwear) in your purse or backpack to bring on the plane. Flights can get delayed. You might have to spend the night somewhere you didn’t expect — like maybe in an airport. You might be really glad to have a toothbrush, at the very least.
* Bring plenty of things to do. Long flights have movies to watch. But sometimes you don’t get to pick your own movie, and you’re sitting behind some big huge guy who blocks your view of a shared screen. Or you’re on an airline where you don’t speak their dominant language, so all the movies are unintelligible to you. Be sure to have some non-tech entertainment, in case you run out of battery on your iPad or laptop.
* When the plane is getting ready to take off on a long flight, scope out the cabin and see if there are any empty seats together. Then as soon as the seatbelt sign goes off, dash over and claim the spot. Then you can stretch out, and sometimes even lie down. On a 10 – 14 hour flight, this extra space makes a LOT of difference.
* Avoid caffeine. It will mess up your sleep cycle. Think about bringing a few melatonin tablets (an over-the-counter supplement, non-addictive, no side effects) or some other medication to help you sleep. These will also come in handy once you get to Singapore and want to sleep.
* Alcohol and soft drinks aren’t good for you in the air.
* On a seriously long flight, try not to keep track of the hours that you’ve been flying. In other words, don’t say to yourself, “Oh great. I’ve done 37% of this sucker. Only 28.57 more hours to go.” Instead, just figure that you’re going to be stuck in that seat practically forever, and there’s not a thing you can do about it. With this kind of attitude, it’s always a pleasant surprise when the pilot announces that you’re preparing for landing.
* Airport carts are free in Singapore. Once you get to the baggage area, just grab one.
* Singapore is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. Nobody is going to be staring at you because you’re white / black / Asian / Arab / whatever. Get over it.