How much spending money do I need to bring to Panama?
The good news is that you don’t need to exchange money. The US dollar is used in Panama and the Balboa exchanges at 1 to 1.
“How much” depends on your shopping/eating habits, and how many non-program activities you want to do. However, there is not a lot of free time outside of program activities.
The Panamanian government requires that people coming into Panama have $500 dollars. However, this is lot of cash to carry and CATHALAC can usually assist new arrivals at customs so that it’s not necessary to have the full amount. Therefore, we recommend bringing $150 (for entry purposes) and a major credit card. Big bills are hard to break in Panama, so a majority of smaller bills ($10 and under) is preferable.
Check with your bank before going to Panama. Likely, you can withdraw money from ATMs with a small additional fee.
Do I need to bring a credit card?
Yes. You must bring a major credit card for emergency use for amounts more than can be withdrawn with an ATM/debit card.
Where can I keep my money and valuables?
The first rule of traveling is, “Don’t bring anything with you that you are not willing to lose.” So, big-ticket items should probably stay at home. Having said that, the lodgings are secure, and you can likely prevent any possible problems by keeping your money and valuables locked in your suitcase in your room.
Do I need to carry my passport with me all the time? How about the passport card?
Panamanian law requires that visitors carry their passports at all times. Since officials might not recognize the more convenient passport card, it’s better to carry your actual passport. The best way is to wrap it in cloth and put it in a ziplock plastic bag (to keep it dry) in your front pocket.
Can my parents/friends visit me during my free weekends?
No. Outside visits during the program are highly discouraged. It’s important to remember that the Research and Study Abroad Program is not a vacation. The program is very demanding, and even during weekends, participants are making follow-up site visits, working on their final research projects, or participating in the program’s excursions and activities. Furthermore, non-participants are not able to join program activities.
What kind of clothes do I need to bring?
You will need some good hiking shoes and outdoor clothes. Most of the program is spent in the field. Therefore, long pants and long-sleeved shirts are preferable for safety (sun exposure, insects, rough terrain).
What’s it like living in the accomodations in Panama?
Participants are housed for a few days at the City of Knowledge and about 2 weeks in the field. Lodging will be dorm, hotel or a small inn. Participants will share a room with another roommate or roommates.
I don’t speak Spanish. Can I still do the program?
Don’t worry. The program is taught in English Try to learn some spanish before you go. The more Spanish you learn, the better your experience will be, so take full advantage of learning or improving your Spanish in Panama!
Is Panama dangerous?
There are tropical diseases in Panama. However, proper prevention is very effective in staying healthy. It's hot and humid and you must keep yourself hydrated.
What is there to do outside of program activities?
No, the program is highly structured and there is very little free time for non-program activities.
Do I have to apply to and enroll through UAH to be able to participate in the program?
Yes. All participants need to apply to and be accepted to UAHuntsville BEFORE they can apply to be in the program. You can read about how to apply to UAHuntsville here. Once you have been accepted and assigned an “A Number,” you can apply for the summer program.
If all the materials are in order, US citizen and international applicants can apply electronically and be admitted quickly.
What is the application deadline?
All complete applications received by March 21, 2014 will be considered. Applications are not considered complete unless we have received ALL of the application materials:
3. Statement of Purpose
4. Recommendation Letter (must be sent directly from the Evaluator, NOT the applicant) Therefore, it’s very important to follow-up with your Evaluator to ensure that they have sent the recommendation form, and in time for the deadline.
When can I learn if I’ve been accepted into the program?
Applicants will be informed of the selection committee’s decision within one to two weeks after the deadline. Successful applicants must pass a physical, sign a letter of committment and provide a $300 comittment fee as soon as possible thereafter to hold their spot in the program. An additional $450 is due before the end of spring semester.
How do I get to Panama?
Participants will take a program arranged group flight from Huntsville airport.
Are “visiting students” eligible for financial support from UAHuntsville?
No. Only current full-time UAH students are eligible for program funding from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Therefore, visiting students are encouraged to seek funding from their home institutions as early as possible in the application process. Visiting students are highly encouraged to seek funding AT THE SAME TIME they apply to the program. If they wait until after the selection process, it will likely not leave enough time to find funding opportunities.