I have been living in Miami for almost four weeks now … what a crazy place but amazing at the same time! The main reason I am writing this is so that the upcoming exchange students won’t make the same mistakes that I did and that they will have a rough guide on what to do, where to go, eat, sleep, drink and where to get a bargain because Miami is expensive and you have to be careful and wise with your money so that you get the most out of it!
Step one: VISA
So the first thing that you have to do is apply for a DS-2019: Online Non-immigrant Visa. This visa cost $180 and the you have to pay SEVIS fee which is another add on which costs $160 and after you have filled out your application and paid all your fees you will be given an appointment in the American embassy in Ballsbridge in Dublin (Park in AIB three doors down for free parking!)
When going for your interview you will need your DS-2019, a receipt of your paid SEVIS fee and you must bring two identical photos at your visa interview. Your photos must be: Printed on photo quality paper. 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) in size. This is NOT the same size as a passport photo, don’t make the same mistake I did and have to run over to the pharmacy across the road and be late for your interview!
Step two: TRAVEL
Flights to Miami are quite a reasonable price to be honest, I flew out with Aer Lingus from Dublin and flew into Miami International airport and it cost €440 return and then €50 for a 23kg bag. The flight was 9 hours long. This is new route so I would expect that they price with go up a small bit.
The visa that I got expires on the 18th of May and I finish classes on the 17th so me and the lads taught we would fly into Miami a few days before we started college for a short holiday before classes started!
So we booked a cheap motel online and when we arrived there in a cab I could only describe the area as the ghetto and the room was like something out of a horror film! So the next day we got the hell out of there and booked into a hotel near the college called the Best Western Plus, which is the perfect place to stay if you want to arrive a few days before hand and explore Miami.
Step three: HEALTH INSURANCE
if you don’t have health insurance already, you will need to get some if you want to attend JWU as you have to have cover in the USA.
JWU offer health insurance for $608 for 1 term with is really expensive! So I did a bit of research and the cheapest health insurance that I found that complies with their terms and conditions is multitrip.com. They offer cover for the whole term for 115 euros and that even includes your travel insurance! Don’t forget to waiver JWU insurance and make and let them know that you already have insurance.