“You had to be flexible, have back up plans and be able to let things go, go with the flow. It took time and shared understanding as well as sensitivity of how we approached and presented the ideas.” – Maya
Who is eligible for the course?
The course is open to undergraduate and graduate students in all faculties at OCAD University. Eligible students must be second year standing or higher. Students who meet these requirements must submit an application and be approved by the course instructor in order to enroll in the course.
How does this course fit into my program requirements?
Design Abroad counts as 1.0 elective credits for students. To best understand your program requirements, visit Student Advising. If you would like to meet with a Student Advisor, virtual or in-person appointments can be booked Monday through Friday. Meetings can be booked up to two weeks in advance.
In-person drop-in appointments are available Tuesdays to Thursdays between 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 1 to 3 p.m. Visit us on Level 5, 230 Richmond Street West. Please note, we can accommodate a limited number of drop-in requests. You may have to wait to see an Advisor.
How do I apply for Design Abroad?
You can submit your application online here:
This application includes a 250-word essay describing why you want to be part of the course and how you see yourself contributing to the team of student designers and a mini-portfolio of your work. This mini-portfolio should contain 3 to 5 projects that you will feel best exemplify your ethos/point of view and abilities as a designer. Your portfolios should provide descriptions of the work shown and how it ties to your emerging design practice. The application deadline for the 2024 class is November 12, 2024, at 11:59PM.
What kind of projects will I working on as part of this course?
Each year the the course runs, the project focus is different. There is no prescribed project or outcome year-to-year and thus the scope of the projects will vary. The students in the course and the partnering organizations together shape the process and final products.
The areas of focus and type of organizations that students may work with include:
- Community development
- Environmental conservation
- Human rights
- Economic empowerment for women
- Educational skills for children
- Social enterprise for people with disabilities
How much does the course cost in total?
The 2024 course costs are below:
Program Fee – Accommodation, Food & Program Support $0-2595*
*Eligible students will pay $0 for the Program Fee. Funding
subsidy for domestic undergraduate students is provided
through the Global Skills Opportunity program. More details
are at the bottom of this page.
Round Trip Flight Toronto/Pokhara – there are no direct flights $810-2560*
Round Trip Flight Toronto/Kathmandu – approximately $2300
Round Trip Flight Kathmandu/Pokhara – approximately $260
*These are estimates – you will book your own flights and
meet the class in Pokhara. Eligible students will be provided
with a maximum of $1750 for their round-trip airfare.
30-day Tourist Visa $70*
This is the rate for Canadian citizens.
Weekend Trips (cultural activities, local hikes, etc.) $95*
*This cost could change slightly based on 2024 rates set
by local tour guides.
Tuition for 1.0 Credit Course $1345*
*These are estimated tuition fees for 1.0 credit for domestic
students not enrolled in the laptop program. Confirm your tuition rate at:
Total Estimated Costs with Funding Subsidy $975
Total Estimated Costs without Funding Subsidy $5320
Total Estimated Costs including Tuition with Funding Subsidy $2320
Total Estimated Costs including Tuition without Funding Subsidy $6665
*These costs are estimates and subject to change; costs will be confirmed by start of February.
Why does it cost this much?
At first it may seem like a lot of money, but when you break it down it is very affordable for three weeks of travel in Nepal while earning 1.0 credit (the equivalent of two 0.5 credit courses). The costs above include your round trip flight, accommodations for the entire trip, nutritious homemade food, continuous support staff/translation services while on the ground in Nepal, studio space, and weekends activities. You could NOT get the quality of service and access to the community and local culture for this price if you travelled on your own. Plus, by earning 1.0 credits in three weeks, you can free up your schedule to work, graduate sooner, and benefit from other cost savings in the long term.
Do I have to pay tuition to be part of the course?
Yes, every student who is part of Design Abroad must register for the course and pay tuition for 1.0 credits. There are no exceptions. Even if you are graduating right after the course ends or you do not need the credit, you still need to take Design Abroad for credit and pay tuition for the course.
I am an international student; do I pay international tuition for this course?
Yes, this course is the same as any other course offered at OCAD U in terms of tuition. International students pay the international tuition rate for this course.
Are there bursaries available for this course?
OCAD U seeks to reduce barriers to participation and increase the engagement of underrepresented students in international learning opportunities. Funding for domestic undergraduate students is provided through the Global Skills Opportunity (GSO) program. Target groups are defined through this program as follows:
Low-income students: either having 1) been approved for a Canada/Provincial Student Loan, Canada Student Grant or similar non-repayable student financial assistance in your province or territory for your current program of study OR 2) In the absence of receiving non-repayable student financial assistance, can provide information to demonstrate that they require financial support to cover the estimated costs/expenses of this course.
Indigenous students: First Nations, Métis, or Inuk (Inuit). This includes urban and unaffiliated Indigenous peoples.
Students with disabilities: For the purposes of this program, disability is defined as a difficulty or impairment due to a long-term condition or health problem and/or experiences a limitation in their daily activities. Students do not need to be registered with OCAD U’s Student Accessibility Services, rather they are only required to only self-identify.
This funding is to assist with flight and estimated costs for accommodation, meals and local travel are available to domestic undergraduate students who self-identify as one or more of these groups. Along with your application you will be asked to self-identify in order for us to gauge student funding eligibility. Note, your responses will not affect the evaluation of your application to participate. To receive these funds, eligible participants must participate in pre-departure training and will be required to submit GSO forms and travel forms.
*PLEASE NOTE: Students who have already received this funding are not eligible. Priority will be given to students who have not already received GSO or GEP (Global Experience Project) funding through previous opportunities
Is financial aid available for this course?
Part-time and full-time OSAP may be available for students who are eligible. This can bring tuition costs down for you. OSAP is dependent on your individual financial situation and is determined through the help of the Financial Aid Office. Stop by or make an appointment with Financial Aid to learn more about your OSAP options.
Where in Nepal does the course take place?
We will be staying in Pokhara, Nepal, and we will be working with a partnering organization based there.
Where will I stay while in Nepal?
Students will stay in a small, high-quality hotel located in Pokhara. It offers comfortable accommodations for travellers. Two to four students will share a comfortable room with two to four beds. There are shared bathrooms with showers. Free WIFI is available throughout the premises.
What kind of food will I be eating while on the course?
The course tuition include three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) a day during your 14-day stay in Nepal.
Participants can expect a variety of healthy meals and snacks to be available throughout their visit to Pokhara. Additional options are available for purchase at nearby grocery stores and restaurants, if desired.
What if I have food allergies?
With advanced warning, some dietary restrictions can be accommodated
Do I book my own flight or do we travel as a group?
Because students may be traveling from different cites and countries, booking flights will be up to each person individually. Plan to fly into Pokhara International Airport (PKR). There are no direct flights from Toronto to Pokhara. You must travel through Kathmandu. Eligible students will be provided with a maximum of $1750 for their round-trip airfare.
Students will be met at the airport by course staff and travel together to the course location in Pokhara. This offers students the flexibility to join the course from any location in the world and to choose the best connections for your journey. Students may choose to extend your stay before or after the course to further explore Nepal.
Students will arrive to start the course in Pokhara, Nepal on May 12, 2024, and depart from Pokhara at the end of the course on June 1, 2024. If you are arrive outside of this time or arrive to Nepal by other means, you will need to arrange your own transport to Pokhara.
What is the weather like in Nepal in May?
During May, Pokhara experiences an average high-temperature of 30.1°C and a low-temperature of 18.4°C. There may be days of rain as “Pokhara in May showcases a blend of summer heat and monsoon rain” (https://www.weather-atlas.com/en/nepal/pokhara-weather-may).
What is appropriate to wear during the course?
The dress code is comfortable but conservative. Do not bring any tight fitting, short or see-through dresses, skirts or shorts. Spaghetti straps and short shorts are often considered inappropriate at the program sites. GVI t-shirts are worn every day on project; you can handwash them in the evenings. Outside of project, note that very short shorts, miniskirts or revealing bikinis will draw unwanted attention.
What level of physical fitness is required for this course?
It is recommended that you build up your physical fitness in the weeks preceding your time on the project. The heat and altitude can make walking and working in this environment difficult when you first arrive. Do not underestimate the heat and altitude – it is typically the most significant health and safety consideration. Having a good level of fitness before you arrive will make it easier for your body to acclimatize.
Do I need visa to travel to Nepal?
Yes, you need a visa to visit Nepal for this three week course. You can apply for a 30-say Tourist Visa when you arrive at the airport. Requirements are dependent on your citizenship and the intended length of stay passed the timeframe of this course. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct visa for your trip. Course faculty and staff are available to provide you guidance on this. You can learn more here:
What is the currency in Nepal?
The Nepalese rupee (NPR) is the national currency of Nepal, For an up-to-date currency conversion, visit the website, www.xe.com/ucc.
Most of your expenses (meals, water, cultural activities,) are covered in your tuition for this course, however you might want to have spending money for eSIM/SIM card, bottled drinks, snacks, clothing, toiletries, souvenirs, etc. Allow for a budget of about $50 to $100 over the three weeks, depending on what you choose to spend.
Pokhara is a city with shops for buying all kinds of basic items such as snacks, toiletries, souvenir items, clothing, etc. However, you may not be able to find specific brands or other items locally, so come prepared.
It is advised to contact your bank and credit card company before flying and let them know you will be traveling. Some banks will block credit cards due to security reasons if illegal activity is suspected.
Is it safe to travel in Nepal?
Pohkara is considered safe for its own residents as well as for tourists. Student safety is a main priority for OCAD University Continuing Studies and GVI while on this course, including ground travel, accommodations, and students’ work in the community.
For information about security issues in Nepal or other countries you are traveling to please see the following resources:
Information for Canadians Abroad:
US Government State Department:
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office:
Australian Government Travel Advice:
New Zealand Government Travel Advice:
Whenever travelling you should be aware of the risk of opportunist crime and take common sense precautions to minimize the chance of becoming a victim. The vast majority of visits are trouble-free, but if you have any specific questions about your safety and security on the program please contact the course faculty.
What is access to healthcare like in Nepal?
There are medical facilities in Pokhara, with English speaking doctors available for emergencies. There are emergency procedures, first aid trained staff, and safety briefing in place.
Please consult your primary care provider (doctor, GP, etc.) or visit a travel clinic for further information. Please be forthcoming about any health issues before you join the course. Failure to do so may have serious consequences for you, the staff and other participants, including your removal from the course, possible serious injury or infections. It is recommended that you take a credit card with you to ensure you can get immediate treatment in the event of a medical emergency (if suitable insurance is held, you will be reimbursed by your insurance company).
What kind of vaccinations will I need?
Public Health Agency of Canada suggests various vaccinations when traveling in Nepal. To determine what preventative vaccinations and medications are good choices for you, consult a doctor, nurse or health care provider, or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks or more before you travel. Depending on what vaccines and medications you choose to take, you will need to budget this expense which can cost in the range of $200 or more (for doctor’s visit, injections fees, and prescriptions, if not covered by your health insurance. For more info, visit https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/nepal or your home country’s public health site.
Do I need to have travel insurance?
Yes, you are required to have a travel health care insurance policy that covers health costs above and beyond OHIP during the dates of your travels in Nepal. If you opted into OCAD University student insurance, you are covered while you are traveling outside Canada. If you opted out of OCAD University student insurance, you must check that your policy covers you while traveling abroad.
Trip cancellation is optional. You can obtain travel insurance through banks, Blue Cross, Manulife, as well as other providers. Be sure to read through the details of your policy to understand what is covered and what is not covered during your time abroad. For more information about travel insurance, read this article, http://www.lonelyplanet.com/canada/travel-tips-and-articles/76903.