Marco Polo: what you need to know before leaving
As he is about to leave on the Marco Polo program in the Philippines, Romain de Charnace, a Vatel Bordeaux student, gives us some tips to prepare such a trip.
When do you have to get started?
At least eight months before!
Before I decided to register for the Marco Polo program, I looked into the administrative work and possibilities of working on-site. I drew up my budget, to make sure that I would have enough money to live on.
I also asked my family and friends what they thought about my project and if they had any advice for me.
What preparation needs to be done?
The most important thing is to take care of the visas required. Of course, if you only go to Europe, this is much easier, but it soon becomes quite complicated if you’re going farther away. Each country is different. You have to check the visa length, the type of visa, etc. For example, some countries have application deposit conditions you have to comply with. So it’s really important to anticipate things, as some administrations can be very long in processing files. Luckily for us, the Home Campus and the Host Campus were with us every step of the way.
Another very important thing to think about: taking care of your health insurance, repatriation insurance policies, without forgetting your plane tickets.
What are the main difficulties you could experience?
My main obstacle in Manila was finding accommodations. To tell you the truth, I still haven’t found any. I think that I was too late in looking, when you take the domestic context into consideration. This is because real estate agencies don’t really exist there, and you can’t really trust what you see on the internet. Today I’ll have to start visiting apartments as soon as I arrive to try to find something quickly. Luckily, Vatel Manila has a hotel, and they were able to reserve a room for me for a couple of days.
So this just goes to say that even if you’re well prepared, there are always unexpected things when you leave!
Any tips you’d like to share before flying to Manila?
I’d recommend contacting students who left in the previous years. Christophe Coulomme, the International Relations Manager, gave me the list of the 2015 exchange students in Manila. That way I was able to learn from their experience. They gave me some good practical advice, and recommended some sites to tour.
In my opinion, being able to travel is the Marco Polo program’s real bonus. And as I have family members who live in Asia, I hope I’ll be able to get to see them.
What are you expecting from this experience?