On Uganda

Yen Phan

Yen Phan
Year/Track: 2012

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Three Guys in Uganda

Living & Studying in Kampala

Information about Kampala

As the capital city of Uganda, Kampala has a vibrant population of nearly 2.5 million, by far the largest city in the country. Because Kampala serves as a base for various international governmental and non-governmental organizations, it has a distinct international presence. The United States has an embassy in Kampala as do many other major countries. Kampala is considered to be amongst the safest international cities in the region. Regional chain stores feature international brands, and most necessities are readily available.

Language of Instruction

English is the official language of Uganda, and all activities will be conducted in English. Students also will be able to converse comfortably in English with local residents.

Student Housing

ILI-ACLE staff will arrange lodging and other details of their stay in Kampala. Housing arrangements in secure two or three bedroom apartments located in Kampala will be made for students for the duration of the Practicum. Lodging will be in shared apartments, with individual bedrooms, one bathroom, and a small kitchenette. The apartment will be in a secure facility, with 24-hour security, near the center of Kampala. The housing costs are included in the program fee for the Practicum. Housing will be available for students enrolled in the Practicum from May 27, 2014 through June 26, 2014.

For the Field Placement, ILI-ACLE staff will assist students in locating secure housing in Kampala. This housing cost is the responsibility of the student.

Classroom Facilities

The seminar will be conducted in a classroom at ILI-ACLE. Computers are also available at ILI-ACLE and students will have Wi-Fi access to work on their own computers. ILI-ACLE facilities are in a modern office building.

Every effort is made to accommodate persons with physical, medical and/or learning disabilities; however, Pacific McGeorge cannot ensure that the housing and classroom facilities used in the Uganda summer program will meet the same standards for accessibility as do the facilities of the school's campus in Sacramento. Persons with disabilities that affect mobility should particularly note that developing countries such as Uganda present significant barriers to mobility over which Pacific McGeorge has no control.

Study Space, Internet Access, and Access to Legal Databases

Students will have access to the internet and be able to access Westlaw, LexisNexis and other databases. They will be able to connect remotely to most of the McGeorge Law Library's (or their home library's) databases.

Students will be provided space in the ILI-ACLE facility to study during regular business hours, and have access to computers with internet connectivity. Additionally, the apartments where students will be housed have dining/kitchen tables that may be used as study desks, and the housing will have Wi-Fi internet connectivity. Please note, however, that as in most developing countries, Wi-Fi connections are not always constant. Students may not always be able to connect to Wi-Fi in the apartments. For the Practicum, internet sticks that operate through the phone lines will be provided as part of the program fee. The internet sticks allow for internet connection even when Wi-Fi is unavailable.

Grading and Performance Assessment

Assessment will be based on a composite of either an exam or another evaluative tool (e.g., a written paper and presentation) and the work-product generated for the Practicum, The final exam, if any, will be given on the last of class instruction, June 20, 2014.

Grading will comport with Pacific McGeorge's grading practices. Students attending from other law schools should seek guidance from their home institution as to whether course units will be credited and how grades will be reported on their official transcripts.

For the Field Placement, assessment will be in accordance with the usual Field Placement office requirements. Student performance will be assessed on the basis of their journal entries and evaluations by their supervising attorneys.


Transportation to and from the airport is included in the program fee. Some local transportation will be provided when the entire group is engaged in an activity (e.g., opening and closing dinners; legal excursions). On a day-to-day basis, students will be responsible for their own transportation to and from their work sites and to and from the ILI-ACLE offices. ILI-ACLE staff will provide advice on local transportation options. Public transportation is available in Kampala through public buses, shared mini-buses ("taxis" or "matatus"), and private taxis ("special hire"). There are also "boda-bodas" — motorcycle taxis — but these are not recommended. Mini-buses are generally the least expensive way to travel, but can be somewhat confusing to navigate. The conductors and fellow commuters are usually helpful, however, and will point confused travelers in the right direction. ILI-ACLE staff will give advice to all students based on where they are living and where their work sites are located. Students may also be able to walk to many of the work sites. General safety measures associated with traveling in any large city should be observed.


Kampala's international character is evident in the variety of cuisine available. A full meal is generally available for less than $10 USD, and at smaller, local canteens, full Ugandan meals, consisting of matoke (mashed plaintains), peanut sauce, posho (pounded corn), rice, beans, meat, gravy and chappati — are often available for about $5 to $12. Upscale establishments charge higher prices, and gourmet meals generally cost between $20 and $30. Traditional Ugandan buffets are prevalent, but international cuisine is widely available, including Chinese, Indian, Italian and Ethiopian. Local markets and grocery stores offer a range of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other food items for students who wish to prepare their own meals. Because of the variety of meal options, vegetarians and those with dietary restrictions can usually find suitable options.

Living Expenses

A budget of $30 per day is estimated to cover student living expenses not included in the program fee: food, additional transportation costs, and miscellaneous personal expenses.


Uganda is largely a cash-based economy. Within the center of Kampala, exchanging U.S. dollars for Uganda Shillings is fairly easy. Foreign exchange bureaus and banks line Kampala road in the center of town. Smaller notes — $20 or $50 — are exchanged at a lower rate than $100 bills, and bills printed before the year 2006 are generally not accepted or are exchanged at a lower rate. Students are advised to keep U.S. dollars in cash handy, as traveller's cheques are not widely accepted. ATMs are readily available throughout the city, accepting most Visa debit cards. Mastercard and American Express are not as widely accepted.


Ugandans are well-known for their hospitality and warmth, and Kampala's local residents are no exception. Local residents are generally willing to provide directions, advice, or conversation. Although Kampala is one of the safest cities in the region, common sense and vigilance are always required. Students should be aware of their surroundings and belongings at all times, securing all valuables and taking care not to flaunt jewelry (which should be worn very minimally) and other valuable possessions. Large handbags should not be carried in the city center. Care should always be exercised when travelling at night and when interacting with strangers.

Cultural Awareness, Local Laws & Civil Rights

When traveling abroad, you will have many new cultural experiences. You are reminded that you will be governed by the laws and regulations of the host country, and you need to be mindful that some of the host country's rules will vary significantly from the United States. An important aspect of the summer study abroad program is to be alert to these cultural and legal differences.

In recent years, Uganda has undergone law reform in many arenas, which has brought about improvements in the administration of justice, proffered a greater respect for the rule of law, and strengthened its economy. However, Uganda does not recognize or protect all of the same civil rights and personal liberties that you might experience in the United States. One example of these significant cultural and legal differences pertains to Uganda's treatment of its LGBT community. Although Kampala is considered to be a more open and tolerant city, the reality is that Uganda has not been welcoming to the LGBT community and its legislature continues to consider legislation that would call for harsh criminal treatment of homosexual sexual acts. The proposed legislation has been widely condemned by many nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

One important reason that Pacific McGeorge has sought to pursue a summer abroad program in Uganda is to provide a venue where our students can study how law reform occurs in a developing country. The United States maintains an embassy in Kampala, and many U.S. agencies, such as USAID, have a strong presence to assist Ugandans in moving their country and laws forward. Therefore, we encourage any of our students to participate in the program, and we will provide advice on how to have a safe, practical learning experience. However, we must again remind all who participate in the program that they must be alert to the local culture and that they are subject to the laws of Uganda.

Please pay attention to country conditions when traveling abroad.

Visa Requirements

Students will need to acquire their own visa and the cost is not included in the program fee. As of October 2013, the fee for a three-month tourist visa is $50. The visa can be obtained upon arrival at Entebbe Airport for $50.00 or can be obtained through the Ugandan Embassy in Washington, D.C., prior to the trip (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1051.html).

State Department Travel Information

For information about travel conditions, advisories, and warnings about travel in Uganda issued by the U.S. State Department, consult: http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1051.html

Health Advisory

Students must have a yellow fever vaccination and certificate in order to enter Uganda. No other vaccinations are required, but the U.S. State Department suggests that persons traveling abroad consult with a health care professional to determine which are appropriate in each individual's case.

Students traveling to Uganda are advised to obtain anti-malarial medication and other vaccinations at least 10 days prior to arriving in the region. It is recommended that students are up-to-date on routine vaccinations, such polio, hepatitis A and B, tetanus, etc. Anti-diarrheal medication, insect repellant, sunscreen, and alcohol-based hand gel are useful when traveling in the region.

For more information about required and recommended health precautions, the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of State have Uganda-specific information.

While many medications are easily available in Kampala, students are advised to fill any regular or critical prescriptions before arriving in Uganda to ensure availability. In particular, contact lens solution and birth control medications can be expensive and difficult to obtain. Some visitors find that the dust and pollution in Kampala can irritate contact lenses and spur allergic reactions. Students should not drink tap water and are advised to only drink bottled water.

International Law Institute-African Centre for Legal Excellence Staff

The host partner organization, the ILI-ACLE is a global affiliate of the International Law Institute in Washington, DC, which has been working towards rule of law reform across the developing world since 1955. Building upon decades of success of the ILI, ILI-ACLE has established itself as a permanent African institution based in Kampala, Uganda over the last 15 years and one of the most respected providers of professional level training and technical assistance broadly related to law, governance, finance, and project management in sub-Saharan Africa. The core strengths of the Institute include judicial restructuring and reform, alternative dispute resolution, good governance and anti-corruption, public procurement reform, commercial law reform, legislative drafting, human rights, international criminal law and access to justice.

Administrative Office

The administrative office is located in the ILI-ACLE office building in downtown Kampala.

International Law Institute
African Centre for Legal Excellence
East African Development Bank Building — 4th Floor
4 Nile Avenue
P.O. Box 23933
Kampala, Uganda
Tel: +256.414.347523
Fax: +256.414.347522


Contact Ly Lee, Summer Abroad Programs Coordinator
Pacific McGeorge School of Law
3200 Fifth Ave.
Sacramento, CA  95817
Email | Phone: 916.739.7021 | Fax: 916.739.7363