We have compiled answers to some of our most frequently asked questions related to the Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center International Service trip. If you do not see your question or would like more information, please contact us.
Trip Costs / Flight
Travel costs are subject to change. The following is an approximate indication of expenses for your trip:
|Air Fare||$550 (approximate and responsibility of the individual)|
ROMP requires each participant to pay $800 by check or money order, payable to ROMP. The fee covers in-country transportation, housing, and food while in Zacapa. Housing costs are included for the two nights in Antigua.
Your fee to ROMP covers your accommodations in Guatemala. However, each participant is responsible for the cost of travel to Guatemala; as well as food and entertainment while in Antigua; and possibly the shuttle ride from Antigua to the airport.
Currency can be exchanged at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) located in the airport, Zacapa, and Antigua. If you choose to exchange money before you arrive, Guatemalan currency is the quetzal (GTQ).
ROMP requires a $200 deposit no later than three months prior to arrival. This will verify that we have enough students for the service trip. The balance of the money will be due two months prior to arrival.
Air travel is the responsibility of each individual. Participants arrive from different areas of the United States. You may depart from wherever you wish, but you must arrive by 3 p.m. to Guatemala City on the designated date so your Volunteer Cohort has sufficient time to travel to Zacapa. After NUPOC receives deposits and confirms a cohort of volunteers, we will notify you to book your flight. You must email your itinerary to your NUPOC-IS Trip Liaison. You may use any travel website to find flights. Arrival and departure information will vary according to each Volunteer Cohort and will be updated by email. Always communicate your up-to-date itinerary with your NUPOC-IS Trip Liaison.
You are welcome to raise funds for your upcoming trip. In past years, volunteers have written personalized letters about their NUPOC International Service trip to friends and family and requested donations. If you would like more information about ROMP to put into your letter, go to the ROMP website. ROMP is a tax-exempt, non-profit public charity, and all contributions are tax deductible in accordance with IRS Code 501(c)(3) and under section 170(b)(1)(A)(vi). Friends and family, who wish to donate money, may mail a check directly to ROMP or pay through Paypal, and will receive a tax-deduction. Donors who send money on behalf of a NUPOC-IS participant must write the clinician's name and the NUPOC trip date on the check's memo line (i.e., John Smith, NUPOC trip 2015) or write a note on Paypal. This enables ROMP to track and confirm all financial contributions. To track the money you have raised, please ask your donors to inform you about their contribution. For complete instructions, direct your donors to ROMP's Donate page.
Guatemala Housing and Living
Accommodations will be arranged for you during the week of your stay. NUPOC-IS participants will stay at Hotel El Atlántico, a modern hotel with 84 rooms. All rooms are air-conditioned, have a private bathroom and cable TV. Internet access is available. The hotel features amenities such as restaurants, a swimming pool, gardens, children's playground, and a gym. Located in Santa Cruz, Zacapa, the hotel is located near the Carretera al Atlántico, a main highway that connects Guatemala City with Puerto Barrios and the Caribbean coast.
If you arrive early in Guatemala City or stay for a few extra days, you may choose from internationally known hotels (i.e., Westin, Intercontinental) or smaller, local establishments. One recommendation is the Hotel Villa Española. It is a quaint, safe, comfortable hotel with a friendly staff.
Hotel Villa Española
2A Calle 7-51
Guatemala City, Guatemala 331-7417
The quetzal, named for the colorful and elusive national bird, is the Guatemalan unit of currency. The quetzal is divided into 100 centavos, and coin denominations are 25, 10, 5 centavos, and 1 centavo. Bill denominations are 50 centavos and 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 quetzales. Learn more and see images of Guatemalan currency at the Bank of Guatemala website (in Spanish). Confirm the USD to GTQ exchange rate. Please note that cash exchange of US dollars for quetzales can be transacted at the Guatemala Airport. Many banks, such as BanQuetzal, will exchange US dollars for quetzales for a fair rate. Traveler Checks are widely accepted in Guatemala. Credit Card Advances and ATM withdrawals are the easiest way to obtain quetzales.
Tipping is not the norm and it is not absolutely necessary. However, unless a tip is included in a restaurant meal, a 10 percent tip is greatly appreciated. Bargaining is the norm in Guatemala’s many markets and shops, but not in urban shopping centers. Hand-crafted textiles are affordable and may be attractive as souvenirs for family and friends. Overall, goods are inexpensive, but expect to negotiate. Usually, Guatemalans double the fair price for all items that foreigners wish to buy. Have fun negotiating a bargain.
Health and Safety
Be aware that crime exists in Guatemala. Pickpockets and purse snatchers are a common hazard in Guatemala City and in central markets. As drug trafficking and gang activity increase in Guatemala, violent crime is on the rise. You can improve your personal security by always traveling in a group. It is not recommended to travel alone in Guatemala City. Antigua night life and restaurants are excellent, but we strongly recommend that you stay together in groups. To minimize your exposure to theft, always stay with a group, even when traveling by tuk-tuk (a local three wheeled taxi).
Review your immunizations and health history with your doctor. Confirm that your immunizations are up-to-date. Travel to Guatemala does not require additional inoculations/medications; however the following immunizations are recommended for travel to Central America:
- Hepatitis A (two vaccines, six months apart), or Immune Globulin (IG)
- Hepatitis B, particularly if you expect to be exposed to blood
- Rabies, especially if traveling to rural areas
- Booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles
Some volunteer participants opt to take malarial prophylaxis. Although malaria is uncommon in the Zacapa region, it is always a possibility in Guatemala City or Antigua. Consult your physician or an infectious disease specialist to determine whether malarial prophylaxis is advisable for you.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an excellent source of information for travelers. The CDC’s comprehensive booklet, Health Information for International Travelers, provides an annual summary of disease, immunization, and general health advice. Obtain it free on the CDC website.
It is mandatory that each participant purchase international health insurance through Highway to Health (HTH) Worldwide, even if you already are covered by other insurance. You must purchase HTH coverage for all nine days. The total cost per volunteer participant is approximately $15 and is subject to change.
Northwestern University contracts with HTH Worldwide to provide health insurance for all students and employees who travel outside the United States to study or conduct University business. Visit the NU HTH link at: http://www.northwestern.edu/risk/abroad.htm and follow the registration link provided in Enrollment Procedure for HTH Worldwide Insurance.
Finally, you must email the NU-HTH International confirmation of registration to your NUPOC-ROMP Trip Liaison.
The SOS website provides up-to-date information about immunizations, health, hospitals, doctors, and security. Enter your NU membership number to access detailed information: http://www.internationalsos.com/en/.
The Center for Global Health, within the Institute for Public Health and Medicine asks Feinberg students to complete the Personal Health Form to ensure that they are aware of the travel services, supplemental health insurance, and health services that are available to them and to ensure that students have made proper preparations to safeguard their mental and physical health and safety while participating in a medical educational program and/or clinical rotation at an international site. Please note that prime responsibility for your well-being rests with you. Submission of this form does not place any obligations on Northwestern University or its agents. Additional details can be found on the Center for Global Health’s Resources and Forms page, including information on the International SOS services, HTH supplemental health insurance, and the Student Health Plan.
Refer to our emergency contacts information related to the international service program.
NUPOC students volunteer at the Kevin O'Halloran Rehabilitation Clinic in Zacapa, Guatemala.