The University of Belize welcomes students from over twenty different countries every year. The Department of Student Services offers these students the following information to help them settle into their Belizean existence and to make the most of their UB experience. Please take note of the following information prepared just for you and contact the Coordinator of Student Services for assistance.
Renting A House/ Apartment/ Room
Be sure to know and understand Landlord-tenant laws or rules so you can understand your rights and responsibilities from the beginning of the contract and before signing up it.
Read your contract carefully. Make sure it has an exit clause to protect your right to move out of a rental without any legal problems.
Check the utilities (water, light, gas, water, air conditioner), furniture, among other things included in the contract before signing it. In addition, you should ask about house maintenance and expenses (keep in mind that
most of the houses do not include butane gas).
Don’t forget to contact your Landlord whenever the property needs repairs. It’s your responsibility to inform the Landlord on time avoiding the damages to get worse.
You should know that the Phillip Goldson International Airport is outside the main city, so you should have some money within your budget to get to your final destination. You can take a taxi which usually will cost around $30 Belizean Dollars ($15 USD) to Belize city. Once you arrive at the bus terminal in Belize City you can take a bus, to the city of Belmopan. The trip will take about an hour. If you want to take a taxi from the airport to Belmopan, it will cost around $150 Belizean Dollars ($75 USD). You can catch a taxi from the airport to the Bus Terminal in Belize City and then catch a bus to Belmopan. Those buses charge $6.00 or $7.00 per trip. The $7.00 price is for an express trip to Belmopan, without stops along the way.
Once in Belmopan City, you can move around using a public bus or a bicycle. The cost of the shuttle buses inside Belmopan is $2 Belizean ($1 USD). These vans or small buses are called “Busitos” and there are two routes. 1 that goes to “Las Flores” and the other that goes to “Garden City”. It’s better to buy a bicycle (around US $150 for a used bike or around US $200 for a new bicycle) You will also find taxi stands within the city that you can access on the street or by calling them to your location.
If you want to go outside of Belmopan, the transport terminal that has different routes and schedules. However, we recommend you take one to the city of Belize where there are more variety of routes and buses depart more frequently.
If you enjoy walking through the city you will find exclusive routes for pedestrians who enjoy walking or jogging as a means of transportation. In this case, you should wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.
We recommend you to bring light clothes and sheets because the weather in the country during most of the year is hot. However, during the month of December and January, the weather becomes cold, so we recommend you bring some warm clothes and blankets. Belizeans dress very casually for school or to go out on weekends. At the same time Belizeans, dress rather conservatively for work.
Bring a rain jacket, umbrella, hiking boots or well-supported walking shoes. Bring a cap or hat and sunglasses to manage the hot sun. Bring a light and heavy jacket to keep warm in the cool and cold months (December and January).
In Belmopan, you can socialize in a restaurant, at a friend’s apartment or at a nightclub. There are art galleries, international cafes and restaurants specializing in food from several countries including Lebanon, Argentina, Taiwan, Honduras, Jamaican, Central American, Italian and Belizean.
There are two cinemas in Belize City.
Most of the restaurants with accessible prices are Chinese. There are a lot of public places where you can practice sports especially football and basketball, also tennis, rugby, and baseball.
One of the major attractions in Belmopan is the beautiful and fresh mountain stream called Roaring River. Students go for a swim or to spend an afternoon picnic at the river about twenty minutes from campus.
If you practice a religion, here in Belmopan you can find a vast variety of churches to attend; these include Anglican Evangelical, Catholic and Baptist.
All foreign students coming to study at the University of Belize are expected to arrive during the last week of July. They will each get a 30 day tourist visa upon entering any of the borders into Belize. After checking in at the University, students then confirm their housing and get settled in. During the first week of classes, foreign students submit their passports to the office of Student Services along with the cost of their multiple-entry student visas ($300Bze.). The Student Services Office will submit the passports to the Immigration Office for multiple-entry student visas. Foreign students will be able to leave Belize for weekend trips to either Guatemala or Mexico with their multiple-entry visas at no extra cost.
The University of Belize has a full time counselor who provides professional mental health services to students either face to face or online. The Department of Student Services also provides health information and some first aid medication. In the case of more serious medical needs, the university refers students to the free public referral hospital in Belmopan. Students can also use the specialty clinics and private hospitals around Belmopan that offer physical therapy, imaging services and nutrition in addition to secondary and tertiary health care.
Foreign students can open personal saving accounts at any of the commercial banks or credit unions in Belize. They can also receive money from all over the world via Western Union or MoneyGram. Some students use their international credit cards to access funds from their home accounts or to pay for services. Students who receive Government of Belize Regional Language Center Scholarships are paid a monthly stipend of $600 Bze. which they collect by cheque from the university’s accounts payable office.
Belize is a multi-cultural country of many ethnic backgrounds. During the year most of the ethnic groups host a celebration of their culture which makes the country a perfect destination for celebration of culture. Students can travel all over the country to participate or observe the colorful, music filled, celebrations of food, drink and culture.
Here are a few:
La Ruta Maya Canoe Challenge is a four day canoe marathon whose participants paddle for over 170 miles across the breath of the country. Cross Country Cycling Classic, this is the premier cycling race of the year and the winner is considered the most important athlete in the country.
Garifuna Settlement Day is celebrated on the 19th of November throughout the country but most widely in the historic location where the Garinagu people first came to Belize as immigrants escaping exile in 1823. The celebration includes a re-enactment of the arrival in large canoes filled with staples such as casava and plantains which they introduced into the Belizean diet. Festival goers enjoy music and can join in on many impromptu drumming and dance celebrations across the town of Dangriga. The experience is highlighted by the many delicious Garifuna foods that are on sale including fried fish and coconut milk soup (Sere), sweet potato pie, mashed boiled plantains (Fufu) and casava porridge (Sahow).
Lobster Fest is a gastronomic festival that celebrates the mouth watering delicacy at the start of the fishing season when its legal to fish lobsters. The Festival takes place on one of the islands and provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy the beauty of sea, sand, sun and delicious lobster dishes.
The Annual Agricultural Show is the largest gathering of Belizeans and takes place at the Show Grounds on the outskirts of Belmopan City. Fair goers can partake in fun outdoor activities, buy plants, watch a rodeo, eat a variety of foods, enjoy the largest beer garden in the country, challenge themselves on carnival rides or swim in the river.
The Taco Festival in Orange Walk Town in the north is a tribute to this unique delicacy that originated in Mexico. Over the years the Belizean palate and cooking skills have changed the typical taco served in Mexico to one in which the meat is stewed with local spices to create a special treat. The meat is rolled in fresh, factory-made corn tortillas and served with an onion and tomato and chilli sauce. Belizeans travel from all over the country north to enjoy this delicacy amidst music concerts, cultural dances and partaking of the many alcoholic beverages around.
The biggest show in Belize is also the largest public party in which thousands of Belizeans gather in the old capital, Belize City for the annual Carnival; the highlight of the September National Celebrations. The first Saturday in the month of September sees children, teenagers and adults take to the streets in Carnival Maas Groups to gyrate to the latest SOCA music and vie for the crown of Best Maas Band. Thousands more line the streets dancing, drinking and eating as they await the carnival parade which runs from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm behind a string of oversized trucks loaded down with speakers spouting dance music as loud as it is evocative. Get ready to let go of your inhibitions as you jump into the public Mass Band at the end of the parade.