Samoa

Social and Environmental Change in Oceania

Accessibility

This information is provided to assist you in identifying possible accessibility barriers and preparing for an accessible educational experience with SIT Study Abroad. You should be aware that while in-country conditions and resources vary by site, every effort is made to work collaboratively with qualified individuals to facilitate disability-related accommodation. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact SIT’s Disability Services at disabilityservices@sit.edu for additional information related to access abroad and to discuss possible accommodations.

Academics

During the coursework phase of the program, you will generally be in class five days per week for three to five hours per day. You will have short breaks between classes approximately every hour. Learning is typically assessed through written assignments/exams, oral presentations/exams, individual assignments, group assignments, journals, and reflections papers. Course readings and in-class materials are typically available in a digital format.

If you have questions about alternate format materials, testing accommodations, or other academic accommodations, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.

Program Center

The program office and its classrooms are on the ground level and is fully air conditioned. The restroom is located on the ground level. The building’s entrance, doorways, and pathways/hallways are spacious. The program does not have a separate study/library, computer space, or student lounge.

Activities/Excursions

The program includes multi-day excursions involving hiking across a lava flow, visiting a volcanic crater, and touring the coast in Samoa. A nine-day stay in Fiji and weeklong orientation in Hawai‘i also take place. You should expect to stand, walk, and hike for long periods of time. A pair of comfortable, rubber-soled, waterproof shoes is recommended. Program excursions may occasionally vary to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities.

Housing

You will live in the home of a Samoan family in the Apia area for nine weeks of the semester. The program’s other accommodations include a homestay in a village, beach fales in Savai‘i, and hostel dormitories in Hawai‘i and Fiji. The program’s homestay coordinator will be responsible for placing you in your nine-week homestay in Apia. These placements are made based, first, on health concerns, including any allergies or dietary needs, to the extent possible. Homestays offer regular access to a refrigerator for storing medication. The physical accessibility of homestay options is currently limited. If you have questions about homestay accessibility, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.

Dietary Needs

Main food staples include taro, breadfruit, and green bananas. Imported rice has also become a mainstay of the diet. Fish — both canned and fresh — and local vegetables are available. Papaya and ripe bananas are available year round while other fruits, including oranges, pineapples, mangoes, and guava, are seasonal. There are few grains, beans, or sprouts, but many leafy greens. Typical meats served are chicken and pork. Maintaining a vegetarian or vegan diet may be possible.

SIT Study Abroad works with students, program staff, homestay families, home colleges and universities, and others to accommodate dietary needs whenever possible. For more information on dietary needs and dietary preferences, please review the Student Support section of the Student Health, Safety, and Support web page.

Transportation

In Apia, you will travel by ferry between the islands of Samoa. At other times, you will travel in vans, trucks, or private vehicles. Buses and taxis do not have wheelchair lifts or ramps. This is also true in Fiji.

Urban roads in Apia and the main roads circumnavigating the island are all generally kept in fair condition, although bumps and potholes are common. Side streets tend to be gravel or dirt, and their condition varies considerably, particularly during the rainy season when ruts and bumps develop. Roads outside Apia are often narrow, winding, relatively steep, with no sidewalks or shoulders, and poorly lighted.

Technology

Computers for word processing with spellcheck, printer, copier, and scanner are available at the National University of Samoa Le Papaigalagala campus. Internet connections are slow and not always reliable. Computers and hours are limited. Wi-Fi connections or Lava Spots are available in numerous places including the SIT office but may not be compatible with Macs. You are advised to bring your own academic technology, including laptops, recording devices, flash drives, and assistive technology. High humidity and unstable electric currents can impact electronic devices. It is recommended that you fully insure your electronic property against loss or theft.

If you have questions about assistive technology, note-taking accommodations, or other academic accommodations, you are encouraged to contact the SIT Office of Disability Services as early as possible.

Health Resources

The national hospital is located in Apia, and there are several small district hospitals on Savai‘i and in outlying areas of ‘Upolu. Healthcare facilities in Samoa are adequate for routine medical treatment but are limited in range and availability. Treatment for complex illnesses and emergencies, as well as related laboratory work, generally need to be done elsewhere. Payment for medical services is covered by your health insurance if the provider is notified prior to or during the medical service. Pharmacies may not carry prescription or over-the-counter medicines typically available in the United States.

Once admitted to the program, you are encouraged to discuss any questions or concerns about accessing health services or medication while abroad during the health review process. Read more about the health review process and the summary of benefits for student health insurance.

Requesting Disability-Related Accommodations

To request disability-related accommodations once admitted, you should contact the Office of Disability Services. For more information about the accommodation process, documentation guidelines and a link to the accommodation request form, please visit the Office of Disability Services website.

Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact Disability Services at disabilityservices@sit.edu or 802 258-3390 as early as possible for information and support.

Additional Support Resources

MIUSA (Mobility International USA) is a cross-disability organization serving those with cognitive, hearing, learning, mental health, physical, systemic, vision, and other disabilities. It offers numerous resources for persons with disabilities who wish to study abroad and/or engage in international development opportunities.

Abroad with Disabilities (AWD) is a Michigan nonprofit organization founded in 2015 with the goal of promoting the belief that persons with disabilities can and should go abroad. AWD works diligently to empower clients to pursue study, work, volunteer, and/or internship opportunities outside of the United States by creating dialogue, sharing resources, and spreading awareness.