Wednesday, 4 May 2011


Before I tackle some of the questions we are hearing the most from admitted candidates, a word on connecting.

There are many ways to learn about SAIS. The days of the bulky course catalog are just about over -- although if you ask politely, we might be able to find you one. Most everything has gone digital.

SAIS Bologna and SAIS DC have their own websites. Both SAIS and SAIS Admissions have Facebook pages. The main page is called The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, and the Admissions page is Johns Hopkins SAIS Admissions.

You can also find SAIS on Twitter, Linkedin, iTunes and YouTube.

Current SAIS Bologna students have created a Facebook group for admitted candidates. If you would like to join, go here and make a request. It's a great forum for discussing the issues you consider most important.

There is, of course, this blog. And there is old-fashioned email. If you have a question that is not answered elsewhere, please send an email to me, Amina Abdiuahab or SAIS Bologna Admissions.

On to the questions.

Where can I get information on pre-term?

This will give you the rundown on pre-term in Bologna. Did you know that one can participate in pre-term in Washington and then come to Bologna for pre-term here? For information on the Washington pre-term, which runs from July 25 to August 23, click here.

When should I arrive in Bologna?

If you are participating in pre-term, you have to be here in time for pre-term classes, which start on August 29. Salvatore starts helping students find apartments on August 18. My advice would be to get here between August 18 and 25 so that you can find an apartment and start settling in. It will allow you to focus fully on your studies once pre-term begins. It may be a mini-term, but they pack a lot of teaching and study in to those 4 weeks.

If I'm not participating in pre-term, when should I arrive?

Fall semester classes start on October 3. Would I recommend rolling into Bologna on the evening of October 2? Let's put it this way: it's no secret that Salvatore's stable of apartments will dwindle as students settle in during late August and September. September is a wonderful month to be in Europe -- it's generally sunny and dry. The earlier you come, the more likely it is you will have settled down by the time classes start, ensuring a smooth start to your studies. You catch my drift.

What about housing? How hard is it to find an apartment?

Of all of the challenges you will face as a SAIS student -- and there are a few -- housing in Bologna is for most students one of the easiest. If you take advantage of Salvatore's services, he all but tucks you in once you've arrived here. Get in touch with Salvatore after you arrive, and the rest is normally smooth as silk.

Do I have to take the concentration that I marked as my first choice on my application?

No. You are free to choose your concentration after you start your studies. The one exception is International Development. To do that concentration, you have to be admitted as part of the admissions process.

But if you chose another concentration, you are not bound by that selection. Keep in mind that you will have to satisfy the academic requirements of a concentration (either functional or geographic), plus the requirements for international economics. And don't forget the language proficiency requirement. So you can't wait until the last semester to make a choice.

How difficult is it to get a visa?

Most students get their visas after submitting to a non-lethal dose of bureaucracy. There are exceptions because different countries have different hurdles. The key here is to get on it early. Non-U.S. applicants will receive a letter from the SAIS Bologna Admissions after they matriculate; the letter asks authorities from the student's country to issue a 12-month visa starting August 2011. Students who thereafter have difficult obtaining a 12-month visa should contact our office. For more information, click here.

U.S. candidates coordinate through Erin Cameron in the SAIS DC Admissions Office. For more information, click here.

Tomorrow is Open House in Bologna. We hope to post some video of the event tomorrow evening for those who cannot come. We did a post on the DC Open House last month.

Nelson Graves