After this emotional speech – it’s time for me to give you my last useful tips!
I will have to quote my fellow colleague from Malaysia here: “The last time that a Malaysian journalist participated in this program was more than 30 years ago, so I had no idea what to expect! I was desperately searching for some practical tips online.” And here they come!
10 survival tips for WPI fellowship
- Forget all your troubles at home. Open your mind and use the opportunity to broaden your horizons. Don’t bring too many clothes! (Trust me on that – I made that mistake myself, and some of those clothes were never worn!) Ten days’ worth of outfits are enough – you can do the laundry once a week and be completely OK with that. Also, don’t bring an iron or a hair dryer, because all the hotels have them.
2. Instead – bring a bunch of business cards – all the contacts that you will make here are priceless! And don’t forget your press card. (It’s very useful in case you want to visit some museums for free.)
3. Don’t be nervous that you are going to share a room with a different fellow every single week – it’s the best possible way for you to get to know people in your group. Don’t expect to become friends with everybody, but at least be considerate of them. And be aware that some of your habits might be irritating to other people 🙂
4. Be curious, because all the people who you are going to meet are willing to answer your questions! If you always rely on your WPI colleagues to ask the questions, while you are hiding behind their backs – you are simply not for this program!
5. Always be on time! (You have no idea how hard it was for me!). Never forget that World Press Institute people invest lots of time and energy in you. The only thing they want in return is for you to be on time. Oh, and – of course – to write the BLOG….
6. We used to call it “ the huge BLOGginess.” Really, sending a piece every single week can be very challenging. So brace yourself and try to find the best possible way to express yourself – it might be videoblog, photoblog or whatever you decide. Also – I know that it’s tempting, but try not to take the “bye week” in the beginning of the program, you will definitely need it at the end, when you’ll all be very exhausted.
- Try to have quality food whatever happens – here they have very good supermarkets, but keep in mind that the prices are really high! Also – if you want to drink alcohol or buy it in the stores, it’s better to have your international passport with you because national IDs are almost always not accepted.
8. Be very careful with your personal belongings! You have no idea how painful (and expensive!) it can be to have your passport stolen! Unfortunately, a fellow of ours had that experience. It sucks!
9. Spend as much time as you can with your host families – this is the best possible way for you to get to know the real America. Also – try to talk to all kinds of people here – both poor and rich, black and white, Republicans and Democrats. Don’t be judgmental – just try to see the situation through their eyes.
10. And last but not least – you can read all my tips here but most important – try to build your own unique experience. Don’t waste your time sleeping in the hotel, just go out and live!