Tunisia FAQ

Table of Contents

Academics

Costs

Safety

Logistics

Travel

ACADEMICS:

What are the distinguishing features of AMIDEAST Education Abroad Programs?

AMIDEAST programs are designed to provide excellence in Arabic language study and area studies.  AMIDEAST programs provide Arabic language instruction in both Modern Standard and colloquial Arabic, program-related excursions, student centered academics, and other activities designed to develop students' intercultural and global competence. AMIDEAST programs also include ample opportunities to interact with local university students through facilitated dialogue discussions with students from local universities and language partners. In addition, each program is coordinated by an AMIDEAST Education Abroad Program Manager familiar with the local environment to coordinate housing, orientation, excursions, issues discussions, and other program-related activities.

AMIDEAST is distinguished by its small program size and student focused staff. Students are given opportunities to get involved in aspects of Tunisian life that they might not know to look for otherwise. AMIDEAST is also known and respected for its work with Tunisians (teaching English, administering valuable tests, etc.), not only for bringing Americans to study. Enrolling in an AMIDEAST program is also joining a recognized and locally valued organization.

 

What is the average size of a program?

AMIDEAST purposely keeps our student groups small in order to maximize the faculty/staff to student ratio. In small groups we find that students are able to get to know one another and the community in which they live. On average, our Tunisia program has 5-15 American students and you will be joining other students from different programs and countries, such as England.

 

How can I make sure that I receive academic credit from my university?

Students are responsible for making sure their home institution is willing to grant credit for the program prior to enrolling. Each institution has a different transfer credit process and AMIDEAST staff will provide documentation and other information to help you complete the process at your institution. For more information regarding grade reports and transcripts, please visit this page.

 

What is the Learn portion of the program like?

 

AMIDEAST class sizes are kept small to maximize student learning and your classmates will be among the other students on your AMIDEAST program, from a variety of academic institutions in the United States. Courses will have a work load comparable to rigorous U.S. universities.

In Tunisia you will take two 3-credit courses: Tunisian Society and Culture: Locating Tunisia and Tunisian Colloquial Arabic. The Tunisian Cultural course takes place during the first two weeks of the program, while the Tunisian Arabic course continues through the Serve portion of the program. In the cultural course, you will focus on the social history and contemporary culture of Tunisia. Field trips both in Tunis and in other parts of Tunisia are taken in complement to the lectures. There are usually two levels of Tunisian Arabic offered, one for those with little to no previous instruction in Arabic and one for those who have already studied Modern Standard Arabic, although more courses can be made if necessary. The Tunisian Arabic courses introduce students to words, expressions and structures frequently used in everyday life in Tunisia. During the Learn portion, students will receive 28 hours of Arabic instruction, plus homework. During the service portions of the program, students receive two hours of Arabic instruction, five days a week, plus homework.

 

 

Where do classes take place? 

During the first portion, classes take place at the AMIDEAST Tunis office in the Les Jardins district of the city, a short commute from the host family you will stay with while you are in Tunis. During the service portion, your classes will take place in Tunis and Rimmel/Bizerte, less than an hour north of Tunis.

 

What is the Serve portion of the program like?

 

The Serve portion of the program takes place over three weeks in Tunis and Rimmel/ Bizerte. For several days, students will volunteer at a day-camp for disabled Tunisian students in Rimmel/Bizerte. Following this experience, AMIDEAST students will return to Tunis to participate in a service learning program with Tunisian Access students. During this English-language intensive program for Tunisian high-school students, Learn & Serve students will assist with English tutoring and conversational activities. Again, Learn & Serve students will travel to Rimmel/Bizerte to volunteer at a week-long overnight camp for Access students. In the afternoons, Learn & Serve participants take Arabic courses. There is also plenty of time for students, both AMIDEAST and Tunisian, to relax in Tunis or RImmel to practice speaking Arabic or English. Once a week Learn & Serve participants will have a seminar on Tunisian culture.

 

Who are the faculty and staff?

During your Learn & Serve Program in Tunisia you will have the support of the AMIDEAST Tunisia Office staff and full time assistance from Dr. Sabra Webber. Sabra will be the professor for the Tunisian Society and Culture: Locating Tunisia. Your Tunisian Arabic teachers will most likely be returned Fulbright Language Teaching Assistants (FLTA) grantees who have spent a year teaching Arabic in the United States. Both Sabra and the Arabic professors will stay with you throughout the extent of the program. The culture course will bring in special Tunisian professors to guest lecture as well. These Tunisian professors are from a variety of institutions in and around Tunis. These lecturers possess a strong instructional experience in English-speaking environments. All faculty members have either earned post-graduate degrees from North American or European universities, or have spent considerable time at English-medium institutions as students, faculty members, visiting faculty or visiting researchers.

In addition to the faculty members, local AMIDEAST Staff will also be available to assist students with logistical needs.

 

What is the grading scale?

Courses are graded on a 4.0 scale using the U.S. letter grade system.

 

How will I receive my course grades?

Please click HERE to learn more about how you will receive grades for your time on an AMIDEAST program.

I have not studied Arabic, but would like to participate in the program. Will I encounter any difficulties communicating?

Yes, but not insurmountable difficulties. On the Summer Learn & Serve program you will study colloquial Arabic as a required course and will quickly learn enough to ask and understand the basic questions and responses to routine conversation. As the program progresses, your proficiency will increase and your difficulties will lessen. You will also find that a significant number of Tunisians speak enough English to help you if you cannot make yourself understood in Arabic. In addition, while you are serving with the Access program all of the students will know some English. While in Tunisia you will have ample opportunity to learn and practice Arabic with people you encounter.

 

COSTS:

What does the program fee include?

The program fee covers pre-departure preparation, onsite orientation, tuition, housing, a program-organized excursion, special events, transport between the Language Village at Nabeul and Tunis, and medical insurance (including medical evacuation and repatriation, and political and security evacuation coverage).

 

What costs are not covered?

Students are responsible for international airfare, local transportation costs (aside from transportation to and from the airport, for excursions, and to and from the Language Village at Nabeul), some meals, textbooks, travel insurance, optional excursions, communication and other personal expenses.

 

How much spending money will I need? 

Although our programs operate in areas of the world where the cost-of-living is significantly less than in the U.S. or Europe, we do suggest that students appropriately budget for spending money during their time abroad. The amount of spending money a student will need depends on spending habits and travel plans. Students are also responsible for phone and internet costs, outside of the AMIDEAST facilities, incurred while on the program, as well as some day-to-day living expenses such as shampoo, if you choose to buy it once in Tunisia. It is considered very thoughtful to bring small gifts to give to friends you may meet during your time abroad. Please refer to the cost section of the program on the website for an overview of expected personal expenses. There will also be more detailed information provided in your student handbook which will help you estimate the exact amount of spending money you should bring.

 

How can I access my money?

There are many international and national banks in Tunis with ATM services. ATMs in Tunisia are quite reliable, and the easiest and most convenient way to obtain cash. However, the number of ATMs available in Tunisia, particularly Bizerte, is less than what you would expect at home. You should ask your bank if they charge a fee for international ATM transactions; they may also have other recommendations for accessing your funds overseas. Traveler's checks provide added security, but are not recommended as they are not widely accepted and the exchange rate is much worse. Credit cards, especially Visa and MasterCard, are accepted at major hotels, and at some high-end restaurants, shops and grocery stores. If you plan to use one of these cards (debit or credit) you should notify your card company that you will be in Tunisia, as they often place security holds on accounts when foreign charges appear unexpectedly. Also, please make sure that you have a 4 digit pin, as some places can't accommodate longer pin numbers.

 

Are scholarships available?

AMIDEAST offers scholarship opportunities to students participating in our Education Abroad programs.  For more information, including eligibility and application process for AMIDEAST Scholarships as well as links to external scholarship opportunities please visit the scholarships section of our website. The scholarship application deadline is usually the same as the program application deadline.

 

I am a dual citizen of the U.S. and an Arab country—does this make a difference in my financial aid chances?

Yes, if you happen to be a U.S. citizen, you will be eligible for a larger number of awards as well as U.S. federal financial aid, which can be used for study abroad programs. Sometimes aid is also reserved specifically for non-U.S. citizens. You need to make sure the university is clear about your citizenship in advance so that you receive the correct financial aid information and forms.

 

 

SAFETY

How do you analyze the safety and security of the program countries?

Student safety is our number one priority. AMIDEAST has been working in Egypt for nearly 60 years, Jordan for 50 years, and Morocco for 40 years.  AMIDEAST maintains a close relationship with U.S. Embassies in the region and you will be required to register with the embassy prior to departure. AMIDEAST staff members constantly monitor the political and security situation in host countries and in other surrounding countries in the region.In order to further enhance our access to up-to-the-minute information in crisis situations, AMIDEAST contracts with a company called iJET: Intelligent Risk Systems. iJET's mission is to protect international travelers through the use of technology and intelligence. In addition to providing AMIDEAST with risk assessment reports on a regular basis, iJET also gives us the ability to immediately communicate with students and staff in the event of an emergency situation.

All students on AMIDEAST Education Abroad Programs are able to access the iJET website for background information on their local community and other places they may be visiting. Detailed information about iJET and the services available will be communicated shortly before your departure for the program country.

 

What if there is an international security issue while I am on the program?

Should a situation develop that presents a specific security risk, appropriate action, within well-defined emergency response plans, will be taken in consultation with U.S. Embassy and Department of State officials, with whom AMIDEAST maintains a close relationship. On arrival in your host country all students are provided with a cell phone so that AMIDEAST staff can contact you (and you can contact them) at any time in case of an emergency.

In addition to medical insurance, AMIDEAST education abroad students are provided with political and security evacuation services through the crisis management assistance company.

 

What if I get sick?

As part of the program fee, AMIDEAST provides medical and accident insurance for all students through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). In addition to medical insurance, AMIDEAST education abroad students are provided with medical and security evacuation coverage through CISI. You will be sent additional information about your insurance coverage through the AMIDEAST Student Portal prior to departure.

 

LOGISTICS:

Do I need to bring my laptop?

You will have access to the computer labs at both AMIDEAST's Tunis office and at LVN. Tunis also has a large number of internet cafes.

Although computers are available, AMIDEAST recommends that students bring a laptop if possible in order to complete Arabic listening activities (using DVDs) and to be able to complete homework outside of the AMIDEAST office. You may want to consider purchasing laptop insurance in case of damage or theft. Please note that Mac support is limited in Tunisia.

 

Will I have regular access to the internet?

The AMIDEAST office has a wireless Internet network. Learn and Serve students who bring their own laptops can use the network during working hours. AMIDEAST also provides access to its computer labs equipped with Internet services during specified hours. You should expect to have limited or no access to this lab one to two days per week. Tunis also has many Internet cafes, where you can use a computer for approximately 2 dinars/hour.

Internet speed in Tunisia is slower than you are used to in the U.S. because bandwidth is not as great. You should be prepared for this. Downloads can take a very long time as a result. In addition, the entire network experiences intermittent outages. This is normal, so you should adjust your expectations accordingly.

What accommodations are available for religious beliefs, practices, and observance?

Please visit the General FAQ page to learn more about accommodations.

Will I be able to use Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) in my daily life in Tunis?

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is not used for daily life interactions in any Arab country; it is only used in formal settings such as interviews and speeches. You may use MSA when looking at electronic and print media, and books. While everyone will understand you when you speak MSA, they will likely respond to you in colloquial Arabic.

 

How should I plan to dress?

Tunis is a cosmopolitan city, however, Tunisian society remains fairly conservative, thus a certain degree of modesty is recommended. While in Tunis, participants can dress casually, but women should note that certain types of dress will increase the chance of unwanted attention, such as tank tops, above-the-knee skirts and excessively tight fitting clothing. Summer is fairly hot, and we recommend wearing light-weight cotton shirts and tops for men and women. When visiting mosques or more conservative parts of the country, women should wear pants, floor-length skirts, and three quarter sleeve tops. In Nabeul, the atmosphere is much more relaxed. Students may feel free to wear more "beach wear", but recognize not all Tunisian students will dress the same. Please bring comfortable walking shoes, as you will walk a great deal on excursions – and the streets of Tunisian are not the cleanest. Flip-flops are not recommended, unless at the beach. Dressing respectfully demonstrates adaptability and will help minimize unwanted attention, especially for women. A packing list is located in the student handbook which is sent to participants prior to departure.

 

Will I have a phone?

Upon arrival, all students are supplied with a mobile phone, local number, and a small number of minutes for calling. These are pay-as-you-go phones, so when the initial allocation of minutes runs out you will have to buy a top-up card either from the mobile provider at a company store or from one of the many kiosks and small stores that sell them. The phone, along with the charger, must be returned to AMIDEAST at the end of your term. Most participants prefer to text each other and use Skype for international calls as calls can be relatively expensive to make on the pay-as-you-go phones. It is not recommended that you keep your US cell phone with you, as international phone charges tend to be surprisingly expensive. 

It is not recommended that you use your US cell phone while abroad, as international phone charges tend to be surprisingly expensive. That being said, if you have a smart phone, you can bring this along and turn off your data setting and use simply to connect to the internet. Please only do so if you are not concerned about your phone being lost or stolen.

What pre-departure information will I receive?

Students receive communication from AMIDEAST Washington, D.C. staff regarding courses, housing, insurance, packing, flights, visas and what to expect upon arrival. AMIDEAST staff is available to answer program and country specific questions and ensure students are prepared prior to departure for their host country. You should feel free to contact the Washington office with any questions you may have leading up to your program. For general questions you can email DocsEdabroad@amideast.org .

 

Will I have much interaction with local students through AMIDEAST?

During the Serve portion of the program, students will live in shared dorms with Tunisian students, as well as acting as Fellows or language partners for the Tunisian students participating in LVN. There will be plenty of interaction with local students as you help them improve their English, while you get a chance to practice your Arabic and interact with Tunisian students.

 

Will I have access to a library?

No. Please bring anything you wish to read with you.

 

Will I be able to practice my religion freely?

There are churches of various denominations located throughout Tunisia and a functioning synagogue in Tunis. Freedom of religion is guaranteed under the Tunisian constitution; however, a vast majority (99%) of Tunisians are Muslim.

 

Who is eligible to apply for an AMIDEAST Education Abroad Program?

Eligible applicants for AMIDEAST Programs 

  • Are enrolled at an accredited college or university and have completed at least one year of post-secondary study.
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale); however, applications will be considered holistically.
  • Are physically and emotionally prepared to spend 6 weeks in Tunisia 
  • Are willing to adapt to a new, potentially challenging environment.

 

What is the application process like? 

Eligible applicants for AMIDEAST Programs 

  • Are enrolled at an accredited college or university and have completed at least one year of post-secondary study.
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale); however, applications will be considered holistically
  • Are physically and emotionally prepared to spend one to eight months in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, or Tunisia.
  • Are willing to adapt to a new, potentially challenging environment

What is the application process like?

Applications for AMIDEAST Education Abroad Programs are accepted and considered on a rolling basis with the following deadlines: April 15th for fall programs, October 15th for spring semesters, and March15th for summer sessions. Despite the open nature of our application process, we urge you to complete your application as soon as possible in order to ensure space for you on your preferred program.

Students begin the application process on AMIDEAST's online application system.  Students must submit a completed application online and the following additional documents to AMIDEAST headquarters in Washington, D.C:

  • Official Transcript(s) for all college(s) or university(ies) attended
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • Study Abroad Advisor Form

After all documents are received, applications will be considered.  The Admissions Committee reviews each application individually and AMIDEAST staff inform students of their application status within two weeks of receipt of all supporting documents.

Where can I connect with other potential and past AMIDEAST study abroad students?

In order to gain a better sense of our programs we encourage you to visit our Facebook page: Study Abroad in the Arab World and our blog; Mosaic

If you are interested in hearing first hand from students who have studied abroad with AMIDEAST previously, please email edabroad@amideast.org and we can put you in touch with some of those students.

 

 

TRAVEL:

Will I need a visa to enter the country?

If you are a U.S. citizen, you do not need to obtain a visa before departing the U.S. and are allowed to stay in Tunisia for up to 3 months without purchasing any visa. You will need a U.S. passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your departure date. Further information about this process is included in the student handbook you will receive prior to your departure.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, you should contact the Tunisian embassy in your country of citizenship to inquire about visa requirements. AMIDEAST staff in Washington may be able to assist you if you encounter difficulties, but will need to know immediately if that is the case as sometimes it takes more than a month for a Tunisian visa to be issued from a consulate in the U.S.

 

How will I get from the airport to the program?

An AMIDEAST staff member will be at the Carthage International Airport holding an AMIDEAST sign to meet students arriving on the designated arrival day.  It is essential that you provide us with flight details so we know when you will arrive and on which airline. If you arrive before the designated arrival day, you are responsible for your own transportation and housing until the program begins. Pre-departure emails sent in the time leading up to your email will give you more information regarding required arrival times and dates.

 

Can my family visit me during the program?

AMIDEAST strongly discourages visits from family and friends during its programs and recommends that such visits be postponed until the end of the program. We have found that visits during our programs have the potential to have a negative impact on a student's experience. It is fairly common for friends and family to arrange visits once the program has finished. At the end of the program students have more time to spend with visitors and will be well accustomed to the country in which they are studying and able to serve as guides and cultural interpreters for their visiting family and friends.