YMCA Summer Work & Travel USA (2009)


Work & Travel (WAT) program

- travel program for tertiary students to do a job in the country, and travel at the same time.
- up to 4 months, during summer vacation (around Apr - Aug).

Organised by external party (i.e. not a school initiative, like exchange or internship).

some companies:
- http://edvocation.com.sg/ is a new company that provides flexibility and
cheaper alternative for Work and Travel USA program.

- YMCA: http://www.internationalymca.org/SWT/Home.shtml (not able to choose which employer u want, and not able to choose which time period)
- know which state you wanna work in
- know which area of job scope you wanna work in
- know when you wanna work for

***** plan your destinations and locations u wish to visit early to save money on travelling.

Preparation Timeline (Pre-trip):

Apply for Non-immigrant visa (US Embassy)
Apply for Leave of Absence (LOA)
Book air-ticket.
- consider the shortest time period (lesser transit stops)
- mid-week flight is cheaper (plan to leave/return on Tue/Wed/Thur)
- book btw 7-14 days in advance
- accept non-direct flights with one/two stops
- any in-flight entertainment?
- shop ard for the best deals (check two/three travel websites)
for student fare - STA Travel (www.statravel.com.sg)
- booked Return trip air-ticket: SIN to JFK (NY), S$1878 (include air tax S$455).
- have to simultaneously Apply for International Student Card
Other kind of International Student Card:

booked domestic one-way air-ticket: JFK (NY) to destination, S$254 (include S$20 booking fee).
Notify Overseas Travel
- NS (www.ns.sg)

SMU Travel Declaration (in view of recent Swine Flu situation)

at least 14 days before departure,
- confirm with US employer
- confirm accommodation, address
- confirm who will pick you up at airport, and what time.

:: Standard Packing list ::
A checklist of what to bring when travelling. Things to bring:
  • T-shirts (quantity depends on # of days). e.g. 3 days = 4 T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Undergarments
  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, bathing gel, facial wash, shaver, comb, hair wax)
    note - Toiletries, perfume, liquid stuff - put in sealable bag (must check-in)
  • Bathing towel
  • Socks
  • Sports shoes
  • Sandals/slippers
  • Jacket/wind-breaker
  • Water-bottle
  • Ziplock or Plastic bags (for keeping used clothes)
  • Torch-light with batteries
  • Small bag for travelling
  • Writing materials: pen, notebook
  • Cash or EZ-link card (for transportation)
  • Mobile phone, with charger
  • Lock
  • Traveller's adapter
  • Multi-plug power extension cable
  • Credit cards and foreign currencies
  • Copy of credit card # and contact # of issuing companies
  • List of things in check-in baggage, in case need to fill out a claim form
  • Travel documents: Passport, airline tickets
  • Insect repellent
  • Sun-block lotion
  • Sun-glasses
  • Body powder
  • Clothes hangers
  • Mug
  • Plates, fork and spoon
  • Rags (for cleaning)
  • Shoe polish and shoe brush (for black leather shoes)
  • Poncho or small Umbrella
  • Cap
  • Swimming attire
  • MP3 player
  • Digital camera
  • Sleeping bag
  • Travel pillow
  • Travel guide book or phrase book
Check luggage criteria for different airlines
Laptop - carry-on to the cabin (don't check-in with luggages)
* Put some cash and basic "survival stuff" in carry-on luggage, in case check-in luggage is missing.

Luggage Tag - Name, Phone #, Address
also place contact infor inside the luggage.
* When doing the luggage check-in, double-check the airline's luggage tag (correct city, flight #, airport code).
* upon arrival at accomodation place, check for any existing damages (take pic as evidence).

Check flight status repeatedly before the flight - know your flight number and time.
Check in early if you wish to request window, aisle or other preferred seats.

Check in early - 
With baggage: 2.5 hours before departure
No baggage: 1.5 hours before departure
Board early - 
60 mins to departure: Proceed for boarding
40 mins to departure: Check-in will be closed
10 mins to departure: Boarding gate will be closed

Pick up your luggage first, before heading to the duty-free shops.

- Air-ticket
- Vaccination
- Insurance
- Visa
- Accommodation
- Transportation
- Meals (mostly not included - US$5-7)
if wanna cook-in, bring your own utensils.

Make friends with people of the trip.
- get to know more people to travel together.

:: Make the most out of this experience! ::

Travel Plan:
- Orlando (Florida): Disney's World (theme park)
~ Epcot Center (space launch experience)
~ Lilliputian (Honey! I shrunk the kids)
~ World Showcase (country pavillions, man-made lagoon)
Universal Studios (theme park)
~ thrill rides (movie-themed)
Chelsea Premium Outlets (designer stores)

- Bahamas - idyllic beach getaway.
(half-hr flight from Flordia)
- Boston - home of Harvard and MIT.
- New York
Rockefeller Centre - overlook NY city, esp. the skyline, with Empire State Building.
Metropolitan Museum of Arts (pay any amt u like)
- Income tax (rem. to apply for rebate).

fodors.com (travel guide)
Bus infor - mta.info

:: New York ::

MetroCard (5-ride): USD10
Unlimited (1-day): USD7
Unlimited (7-day): USD24 (have to wait for 18 mins, for next trip)

WhereNY.com (events happenings)
Pay-As-U-Roam (additional 20% surcharge)
USA Roaming Rates

Voice Call (Per Min)



Outgoing Local

Calling Singapore








(Source: http://home.singtel.com/consumer/roaming/default.asp?ctry=USA&network=gsm%20900%20autoroam)

List of networks that support GlobalDial 121, Prepaid Roaming, Roaming Virtual Top-Up & Safe Arrival SMS

Country Network Network Display
USA AT&T Wireless# AT&T Wireless / USA38 / 31038
T-Mobile USA# T-Mobile / TMO / Vstream / Omnipoint / Aerial

- e.g. *135*6591111111#

Your friend will then receive the following message:

"I have arrived safely in (country). Contact me via SMS as I can send & receive SMS."

> SingTel Mobile postpaid customers (including Pay-As-U-Roam customers) are charged $0.15 per Safe Arrival SMS sent

GlobalDial 121
Dial: * 121 * (country code) (mobile number) #
Singtel Internet SMS Chat (free): http://sms.singtel.com/internetsms/
SingTel myBill: https://mybill.singtel.com/login/login.asp

FXCheatSheet® US Dollar (USD) to Singapore Dollar (SGD)

FXHistory®: historical currency exchange rates

Current Time in the USA (Florida)

Video: "Guy Walks Across America" uploaded by walkUSA on Jul 20, 2010.

Count our blessings, enjoy the moment


In the press: I wrote about Adlaon, a small, rural village in the northern, mountainous part of Cebu City in Philippines where a group of us spent three weeks on an overseas community project.

The Straits Times, p B7
Date: 23 February 2009
Count our blessings, enjoy the moment

A simple makeshift ‘basketball court’ in a rural Philippine village serves as a reminder that there is much to be thankful for. — PHOTO: CHEN SHICHANG

ADLAON is a small, rural village in the northern, mountainous part of Cebu City in Philippines.
In December last year, my classmates and I spent about three weeks there on an overseas community project. This photo was taken in the evening, as villagers played basketball while vehicles drove by.
This makeshift ‘basketball court’ is formed in the middle of the road. Tree trunks are used as part of a hoop.
Watching them play, I’ve learnt that we should make the best of our current situation, count our blessings and be thankful for all the things we have now, be it education or family. We should, most of all, enjoy the moment!

Yes, I CAN! Run. YOG logo launch


10th January 2009, Saturday marks the official 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) logo launch for Singapore 2010!

CAN! (Create Action Now!), which is held at SMU Campus Green, is made up of 3 parts:
  1. CAN! Play - a sports tryout carnival:
    > modern pentathlon (fencing), equestrian (horse-riding), one-on-one throw-down wrestling and handball,
    > and a 3-0n-3 Basketball Competition,
  2. CAN! Run, a fun 2010m run around the SMU Campus area involving some 2010 participants, and
  3. CAN! Party, a concert featuring acts like EIC, DJ Inquisitive, Plain Sunset and Mi Lu Bing.
Everything is up and running by 2pm.

Should have made use of the flag poles to do some flag raising ceremony (maybe for the new logo, or to sing the National Anthem)

At 3.30pm, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and Minister Teo Chee Hean launched (by dialing to a handphone), going through some kind of mechanism created by NTU student engineers (which incorporated all 26 sports of YOG), and finally revealing the much-anticipated YOG logo.

Watch this 2 min video on the logo launch (from start to end).
"Logo launch mechanism" uploaded by 2010yog on Jan 11, 2009.

the logo incorporates:
- a red flame (representing the passion to learn and the power of positive thinking),
- a purple star (excellence and the pride of representing one's nation), and
- a crescent (dynamic youth, full of promise).

The Run is Free!
It was flagged-off (with the just launched 2010 YOG logo on the flag) by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan at about 4pm.

It's more of a walk or jog (something like The NewPaper Big Walk), rather than a run.
This is due to the narrow path, and traffic lights.

At about 6pm, the event is wrapped up with a concert, with witty 98.7FM DJ Daniel Ong and SMU student Ivee Tan hosting it.

Wishes for the future:
I hope that every organisation in S'pore can have a monthly Sports Day.
I hope that the sporting culture & spirit will live on forever, even after YOG 2010...

See ya' in Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games!

more photos at www.flickr.com

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