You have probably heard a great deal about East Africa and Uganda, but like any region, the specific details within one area will vary greatly. Read our FAQ's to find out more about your location!
Throughout your semester you will also travel with USP to locations within Uganda and to the country of Rwanda.
You will spend a few weekends in the highland regions of the country, where temperatures can become cooler, into the 60s, so be prepared to layer on those occasions!
You will be living in the central region of Uganda, just north of Lake Victoria. Mukono is equidistant from the capital city of Kampala to the west, and the source of the Nile River in Jinja to the east. The terrain is quite hilly in the central region of Uganda, and it is also very green! Uganda Christian University is on a sizeable hill, so you will get plenty of exercise walking to and from class and into Mukono Town!
When you travel to the east for Rural Home Stays, you will see the plains of Uganda and the highlands of the Mt. Elgon foothills. The plains are covered with sparse vegetation, including various palm and acacia trees, and are flat as far as you can see. The highlands, however, are marked by tall hills and lots of green vegetation.
Additionally, students often plan their own weekend trip to Western Uganda for a safari, and many also revisit the town of Jinja for whitewater rafting on the Nile.
In the United States it is easy to stay connected to family and friends. But what about in Uganda?? How can you get in touch with USP classmates and new local friends? How will you stay up to date on what is happening back home? In the FAQs below we discuss common questions related to communication and technology.
Additionally, if you have a phone with international call/data capabilities or one that connects to wireless internet, you will be able to use it in Uganda.
It is cheapest for friends and family to call you from the US. Otherwise, you will have internet access substantial enough to support your regular communication back home. While Skype can be more difficult to get working given the amount of bandwidth it requires, most students who are persistent manage to figure it out.
Please also keep in mind that most of your papers will needed to be printed at a print shop, which is a small stand that prints documents from flash drives or CD’s for a small fee (less than $.05 per page). So, if your tablet does not have external ports, consider bringing a laptop or plan to borrow a friend’s laptop to load your papers onto a flash drive.
It is important and fun to read about life in the Uganda Studies Program, but at some point you need to actually get there. So what do you need to know before you step on that plane? Read these FAQs about travel to find out!
Be advised: There are a number of requirements needed for the passport application. And after you submit the application, it generally takes 4-6 weeks until you receive your passport. To apply for a passport, visit the U.S. Department of State’s website. To renew your passport, visit the U.S. Department of State’s website: http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html
If you are a not a citizen of the US or Canada, you may need to apply for an entry visa prior to travel. If this applies to you, we will be in touch with you about this upon acceptance.
While your time with the Uganda Studies Program is sure to be an eye opening adventure, your main purpose in being there will be to learn. In fact, we think this is half the adventure, especially since you will be learning through doing and serving in addition to time in the classroom. Read these FAQs to find out more about the program’s academics.
Beyond Faith & Action, your credit load will depend on your emphasis. USP is unique in that it offers an academic track for declared social work majors who wish to complete and receive credit for their junior or senior level social work internship while studying in Uganda. Other USP coursework is in areas of theology, politics, history, literature, and language, all in relation to Uganda and East Africa.
For a sample of coursework, see the USP Academics page: https://bestsemester.com/locations-and-programs/uganda/academics
The Faith & Action and practicum/internship courses will take you outside of your classroom into home stays, non-profit organizations, ministries, and historical and cultural centers throughout Uganda and Rwanda.
Students at USP have the opportunity to take a Cross-Cultural Practicum (3 credits), which includes a practicum of 40 service hours throughout the semester and an option to do more hours for credit if you wish. You might complete these hours at a school, outreach ministry, clinic, or another service provider. You will be placed at a practicum site for the Cross-Cultural Practicum once you arrive in Uganda and will be matched based on your interests.
Are you a social work major? Keep reading! The Uganda Studies Program offers a rare opportunity to complete a junior or senior level social work practicum of 150 or 400 hours, respectively, under the supervision of the USP Social Work Coordinator (Lisa Tokpa, MSW). Please note that you should be a declared social work major to apply for the Social Work Emphasis.
For more information about the Cross-Cultural Ministry Practicum and the Social Work Emphasis and practicums, visit the Academics page of the USP Website.
If you study Luganda, you will be able to practice your new language skills with your host family and at your practicum or internship site. Although Swahili is not spoken by many Ugandans, it is a very useful language to study if you plan on returning to work or do ministry in Kenya, Tanzania, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Swahili is more widely spoken. This truly is an incredible opportunity!
Mark Bartels began the Uganda Studies Program in 2004 and is still its current director. He is a graduate of Wheaton College, where he studied Political Science and Christian Education and received a Master’s degree in Educational Ministries.
Rachel Robinson and Lisa Tokpa are each program coordinators who teach classes, coordinate practicum experiences, oversee homestays, and lead student trips. Rachel graduated from Gordon College, where she studied Visual Art. She also has a Master’s in Community Art from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Lisa completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology and Business Administration at William Jewell College. She also has a Master’s in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Eddie Tokpa also works for the program as an adjunct faculty member teaching African Christian Theology. Eddie graduated from Daystar University and Africa International University in Nairobi, Kenya where he received his Master’s in Global Missions.
You have probably already figured out that your day-to-day to life in Uganda will look quite different than it does right now. But you might be wondering exactly how different, right? In this week’s FAQ series, we will answer some common questions about daily life in USP.
If you decide to live with a host family in Mukono, Uganda, you will walk to and from campus during the week for your classes, and spend evenings and weekends with your family. Host families live between 5 and 40 minutes away from UCU.
If you choose to live on campus, you will stay in dorms on UCU’s campus. You will share a room with other USP students, UCU students, or both! If you prefer this option but still want a glimpse of life with a host family, don’t worry! You will have the chance to experience a two-week long home stay in Mukono at the beginning of your semester to get a taste of life with a Ugandan family, and will be able to visit with them throughout the remainder of your semester in Uganda.
No matter where you choose to live in Mukono, you will get to live with a Ugandan family in a village for a week in the middle of your semester. You will get to live the rural lifestyle, an experience described by USP alumni as truly unforgettable!
At other times, you may taxi. Yes, you would be traveling by taxi. But they are not taxis as you know them. In Uganda, a ‘taxi’ refers to a 14-passenger van with a ‘conductor’ who shouts out the window where the vehicle is heading. A slight nod of your head will tell him to pull over and let you on board, where you will pay him your 2,500 shillings (~$1.00) to get to the capital, Kampala. Alternatively, you may take a ‘private hire,’ which more closely resembles in practice (and in price) what we call a taxi in the US.
On any program-related travel, you will travel by private van or bus.
The host of USP, Uganda Christian University, is part of the Anglican Church of Uganda. Many other denominations are represented in Uganda as well. Students say that they experience substantial spiritual growth and renewal through regularly attending a local church in Uganda as they see their faith through a new cultural lens.
If you are a social work student, or are enrolled in the Cross-Cultural Ministry Practicum, you will visit your practicum site. During those times, you will build relationships with vulnerable Ugandans and those who serve them.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays you will join the community of Uganda Christian University in Community Worship. This equivalent of a chapel service brings together students, faculty, and neighbors of the university in a lively worship service.
In your free time, you might spend time getting to know Mukono and the capital city of Kampala, going on safari, or rafting the Nile River!
Of course, this will all vary on occasion: When you are experiencing life in rural Uganda, you will dig in the garden, care for livestock and prepare food; On your many retreats, where you will enter into deep reflection and discussion with your peers and USP staff as you process your experience; And when traveling through Rwanda, you will learn about the country’s culture and history.
Excited to try some unique, local cuisine?! Your Ugandan hosts will introduce you to lots of new foods if you’re up for it. Give the following a try if you’re feeling adventurous: white ants, chicken gizzard, fish brains, or grasshoppers!
These bonds within your USP community will be a wonderful complement to the new relationships that you will also build with Ugandans: your host family, fellow students at UCU, coworkers at your practicum or internship site, and many others with whom you will interact during your semester.
One of the most thrilling, and simultaneously challenging, aspects of your time abroad will be learning about Ugandan culture by actually participating in it. How will that happen? What will it be like? Read these FAQs for answers to your questions about culture and language.
There are many differences between life in Uganda and the US. You will spend the first couple of weeks in Uganda going through what is called “country shock.” During this time, you’ll adjust to the most tangible differences about life in Uganda. Some of these include:
Weather and climate: Uganda is on the equator, so it is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny for most of the year.
Food: Ugandans eat mostly grains like rice and potatoes with sauces comprised of beans or meat stews.
Laundry: You will be doing laundry by hand all semester – no washing machines or dryers!
Getting around: Expect to do a lot of walking on dirt roads to get almost anywhere within the university and surrounding town. The area is very hilly, so you will get plenty of exercise.
Expressions: Even though your Uganda peers speak English, there are some phrases that will be strange to hear. For instance, to say that someone hasn’t seen you in a while, they might say that you “have been lost!”
After a few weeks, this will all be second-nature for you!