Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I get academic credit for this internship?
In order to get credit, you should talk with your academic advisor. If this experience is approved, sometimes funding is available through your department. We are willing to do whatever we can to help you. In general, after phone and email conversations before your arrival, we have a good sense of what you need out of your stay here. When you come, we will set goals, and work very hard to accomplish them. At the end of your stay here, we will write an evaluation and submit it to your school.
2. Is there a deadline for applying to the internship?
No, there is no deadline, as we operate year-round. You are welcome to come when you can. The minimum stay is one month, and the maximum stay is six months.
3. When I am at the farm, how can I connect to the internet?
We provide access to wireless internet service, which is available in the kitchen area (the common space for all interns and guests). This is available at a small charge of around $1USD per day. Be aware that internet service here has a mind of its own – you should expect that internet service will be poor on windy days, rainy days, and even just when the internet provider decides to keep us on our toes.
4. Should I bring my phone?
Sure, for taking pictures! For phone calls, it’s much too expensive to have an international calling plan with your home phone service provider. We have a phone with a Jamaican international calling plan, and we make this available to interns for calls home (no charge to call family). If you are staying for more than one month, and you would like to have a phone of your own, you can buy a cheap Jamaican phone. For around $20 USD, you can purchase a phone in the nearest town, and for around $3.00 USD, you can purchase 90 minutes of international calling time. International texting is pretty cheap on these phones.
5. Should I bring my laptop?
Please do! If you do not bring your own laptop, you’ll have to borrow someone else’s to keep your blog or to go online to keep in touch with friends and family online, to take care of school business, etc. It makes life more difficult for everyone if you leave your laptop at home.
6. Why is there a cost for this internship?
There is a cost because it costs to have interns stay here. Food, electricity, water, gas, staffing costs associated with having interns here – all of this would have to come out of our family’s pocket if interns did not pay their own way. As Kwao (your host) says: “Everything here needs money and work to make it run, so everyone who comes should contribute their share of both money and work!” We have never had anyone complain that the experience wasn’t worth what they contributed for their room and board. The room and board fee is $900 US for each month.
7. How should I pay the room and board fee?
When you are accepted to be an intern, we will email our bank account information so that you can wire the fee from your bank account. We must receive the fee before you come. It is this money that we use to take care of you while you are here.
8. Is it possible for my parents to talk with you before I come?
Of course! We are always happy to talk with parents, and have, in the past, even connected parents of applicants with parents of past interns. If you are interested in asking a past intern questions, our past interns are willing to be connected by email or phone. Please have your parents start by visiting the blogs kept by our past interns. This will help them imagine what your daily life will be like once you are here. Links to intern blogs can be found by scrolling though our Blogs page.
We have also had mothers (no fathers, yet), sisters, aunts, girlfriend and boyfriends of interns come to visit during the last week or so of the interns’ stay. Let us know if any of your family or friends are interested in coming to visit while you are here.
9. Will I have roommates?
It depends on when you come. If you come during the summer, our busiest time, you will definitely have roommates. If you come during the winter, there’s a chance that you might get your own cabin.
10. Should I bring cash for buying souvenirs or personal items, or will I be able to access my bank account from Jamaica?
You should travel with a small amount of cash, but know that you can easily access your American bank account from the ATM at the local bank in Annotto Bay, which is a short drive away.
11. Is there a list of things that I should pack?
Yes! It’s actually important to bring as many of these items as you can. Nothing is on the list by mistake! Many interns decide not to bring a first aid kit, or mosquito repellant, but then they end up using their roommates’ bandaids and bug spray. You should bring:
- a flashlight, preferably solar charged or rechargeable;
- bug repellant, more than you think you’ll need – you’ll use it (please bring a natural spray from the heath food store – some sprays are so toxic, they warn you about contaminating water with it and killing all life in waterways!);
- lightweight pants and long sleeved shirts (this is for evening-time mosquitoes and for cool rainy days);
- lightweight clothes, in general (the faster clothes can dry on the clothesline, the better. Also, you’ll find that, in the heat, clothes are oppressive and that airy, lightweight things just feel better);
- at least one nice outfit in case you want to go to a dance, to church, or to a festival or stage show;
- one other decent outfit for going to trainings or meetings;
- shoes that can get wet, like sturdy, hiking sandals. Flip flops are good for walking from the shower back to your house on the rock walkway. Tennis shoes are good for long walks or working in the garden;
- a small first aid kit that includes an itch reduction cream or spray and an allergy medicine like liquid Benadryl, which is good for reducing swelling if you get a bee or wasp bite, or if you have an unexpected food reaction. We have also found neem and tea tree essential oils to be great for most fungal infections, cuts, infections and scrapes, and goldenseal powder is essential for treating deeper cuts. Gauze pads and tape are important. Another essential addition to your kit is Solarcaine spray for burns – we use fire on a daily basis, and we’ve found that this spray kills the pain of a burn;
- of course, a swimsuit and sunscreen;
- for beekeeping, please bring some light colored jeans, socks that can go over the cuff of the jeans, and some tennis shoes. If you have your own bee veil or jacket, by all means, please bring it. If you don’t, we happily provide veils and jackets;
- some reading material for rainy days;
- a towel;
- a small umbrella;
- snorkel, mask and fins, if you like to snorkel; and
- almost everything else that you need will either be provided by us or (like toothpaste, shampoo or other personal care items) can be purchased in the local big town, Annotto Bay.
12. Who will pick me up at the airport? Is there a cost for airport pick-up?
There is a cost for transportation from and to the airport. If you fly into Montego Bay, the cost is $150 US each way. If you fly into Kingston, the cost is $100 each way. You can either add the cost of transportation to the room and board when you wire it to us, and we will pay the driver, or you can bring cash and pay the driver yourself. American money is fine. Sometimes we can pick up interns and sometimes we send Jimmy, a safe, reliable local driver. Whoever picks you up will have a sign with your name on it, and he will meet you outside of the airport. Before you fly, you will get a description or a photo of the driver, his name and cell phone number.
13. Is there anything I should think about while traveling?
You do NOT need a visa to come to Jamaica if you are a U.S. citizen and are coming for less than 3 months.
You will need a return ticket when you come, or the immigration officials will not let you into the country.
When you are going through customs, they will require that you fill out our information (as your destination) in a form. You should have our name, address and phone number written on a piece of paper in preparation for that. If you don’t have the information, your customs process will be prolonged by up to an hour. Here is our contact information:
Yerba Buena Farm
Robins Bay P.A.
876-788-5154 or 876-343-1121
14. What should I do before I leave to get ready to come?
We can provide links to interesting websites in an email. You can get ready by learning as much as you can about bees.
You will want to call your bank and let them know that you will be in Jamaica. If you do not notify them, there is a (small) chance that the bank machine will take away your card when you use it to withdraw cash in Jamaica.
As you get yourself physically ready to come, you might consider taking goldenseal capsules daily for just the week before you come. It will make your blood slightly bitter, and you will be less attractive to mosquitoes. Whatever bites you do get will be less likely to be irritated and get infected.
As you get yourself mentally ready to come, know that you will be living on a farm. You won’t get that classic tourist experience – on the contrary, you are coming as a time and energy donor, to work on projects that will benefit the island. So, you will live a life that has a Jamaican rhythm – waking up early to work in the garden before the sun is hot, eating Jamaican food, walking, walking, walking, people, people, people, dirt, rain, bugs, village kids wanting you to play with them, sound system music booming up at the road and everything else that comes with being part of a small, rural community. Hopefully, what is uncomfortable about your life here will be outweighed by what is beautiful, interesting and fulfilling.
15. What about travel insurance?
You are responsible for arranging your own coverage, if you want it. I see nothing wrong with being more prepared! AIG is a reputable insurer. For small medical problems, we will bring you to the hospital or a private doctor, and parents do not have to worry about costs associated with that. We had an intern break her leg while here, and her treatment cost her nothing. Health care in Jamaica is free to everyone, regardless of citizenship. For major medical problems, we would need to be in constant communication with parents, so please provide an emergency contact person’s information to us before you come.