What is Laika Academy? Laika Academy is an Australian-based social enterprise providing innovative educational programs. Our focus is on immersive, overseas experiences for university students. We think that the best way to learn is to dive in and explore an issue, a country and a culture.
'Laika'? Where does that name come from? Laika was Earth's first orbital space traveller! Laika was a stray Moscow street dog turned cosmonaut who travelled onboard Sputnik 2. We think she's worth honouring by naming our organisation after her. More here. Or on Wikipedia. The name aims to capture the spirit of adventure, exploration and discovery.
Where is Laika Academy based? We like coffee - so have decided that Melbourne, Australia is a good place to call home.
What sets Laika Academy apart? Our passion is providing high quality educational programs - in fact, that's why we exist. With significant experience delivering programs across Asia and globally, we know what makes for an excellent study tour and conference. We also work closely with universities to develop great programs that also work within degree programs.
Who are the people behind Laika Academy? We're a team of professionals passionate about education and international collaboration. All of our programs engage local and international experts as facilitators, and you can find out more about our team here.
Is Laika Academy a political or religious organisation? No. We welcome participants from all cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Laika Academy is a 'social enterprise', what's that? Social enterprises are businesses that exist to serve a social purpose. In our case we are interested in educating a generation of globally minded professionals and preparing them to address important global challenges.
Programs and Applications
What programs are coming up? You can find our list of upcoming programs here.
What happens once I apply? Once you apply we will review your application. If accepted, you will receive an invitation to one of your program choices. Once you accept our invitation and confirm you will join the program, we will send you a checklist of steps to work through. Once you have paid your deposit we will regularly send you pre-departure information via email and the group Facebook page. We will also organise face-to-face pre-departure briefings in Melbourne and Sydney, and an online briefing.
Is it ok that I don't speak *local language*? Yes. Our programs are all in English, and we included a basic language lesson, so you can say, "please", "thank you", and "this is the best phở I've ever eaten".
I'm not a current student, am I eligible to apply? In general, our programs are designed for current university students, or recent graduates. Specific eligibility requirements are listed on each specific program page. If you're still not sure if you're eligible (or think you should be), the best thing to do is get in contact.
How can I make my application more likely to be successful? We select on motivation, interest and ability. When you are applying, make sure that you communicate why you're interested in the program, what you can offer, and how it will impact your future career. We also use rolling applications, so applying early is one of the best ways to improve your chances of being successful.
I can only make it to a part of the program, am I still eligible? No. Participants need to be available for the full program duration. If you're unavailable for one program, we encourage you to find one you can attend fully.
What if I don’t get my first program choice? We try our best to place people in their first program choice. But we ask for three options as in some cases your first program choice may not be available or may be full.
Can I attend the program if I'm under 18? Unfortunately we can't take minors on this program. We strongly encourage you apply when you are 18.
Do I get to meet my fellow participants before we go? We hold pre-departure meetings in Melbourne and Sydney, and an online briefing before the programs. We encourage you to come if you can. We also encourage you to reach out to the group via the program's Facebook page and organise meetups and chats.
Costs and Funding
What are the costs of attending these programs? The costs are outlined on each program's information page.
What are options for funding Laika Academy programs? There are a range of funding options available - including the OS-HELP loan program. More information is here.
Do these programs receive academic credit? All Laika Academy programs are designed to receive academic credit or meet a work experience, placement or internship requirement. We will support you by providing documentation, course outlines to support you count your experience towards an elective or degree requirement. Your university, however, is the one that will decide if it does count. More information on academic credit here.
Are deposits refundable? No - if you withdraw from the program, these funds aren't refundable, although we are open to transferring it to another program.
What language are the programs in? English. We included a basic language lesson, so you can have a few words and phrases up your sleeve. Any language you can learn will improve your experience.
How are payments made? We accept payments via bank transfer. We don't keep any financial information.
Preparing for Your Trip
What should I pack? What to pack and other preparations will be in your Program Information Pack which will be sent to you once you have been confirmed on the program, after you apply are an are accepted. Packing light is always the right choice!
Do I need to purchase travel insurance? Yes. Comprehensive travel insurance will be required for all participants, and you'll need to send us a copy for our records. Check with your university to see if you are covered under their student travel insurance policy.
Can I travel before or after the program? Yes. Feel free to use the program as a launchpad to explore the region.
Will I be provided with an invoice or receipt? Yes. This will be provided at time of payment. If it doesn't come through just contact us.
Should I take electronic devices such as tablets or laptop computers? Yes. Smart phones are a good choice - it lets you both take photos and stay connected back home. Just make sure it's unlocked - you can get cheap SIM cards in country. Laptops (if they are fairly portable) can be a good option to do research and work on your projects. If you don't have these, don't stress it.
Do I need to take my mobile phone? We recommend that people take an unlocked phone. Local phone options, including data, are often cheap and a great way to stay connected.
What do I need to wear? We will give you some more information for each specific program - but the general attire for the program is neat and comfortable travel clothes, appropriate for site and community visits. One set of nice clothes for more formal visits is recommended.
What if I've never travelled before? You are in for a fantastic experience! This is an excellent introduction to the world of travel, supported by a professional team and amazing peers. If you don't have a passport you should apply for one as soon as possible - it may take a while. Researching about the country you are headed to and talking to others that have been is a great idea to get comfortable and prepared for the experience.
Can I travel with other participants? There will be a Facebook Group set up for this program - you are free to connect with your other participants to arrange your travels.
Will you assist with organising my flights and travel? We aren't a travel agent - so unfortunately can't assist with that process. We can suggest some useful websites though: > STA Travel - Student focussed travel agent > Kayak - Flight search engine > Student Flights - Travel agent with deals for students
Do I need a visa? You may need a visa, depending on which country you are travelling to. Please visit the embassy or consulate website for the place you are travelling to. Ensure your visa dates include your arrival and departure dates, and the whole time you'll be in-country.
When should I arrive in-country? You should aim to arrive on day one of the program, prior to 5pm (local time). Please note that we will pick you up from the airport if you arrive on the first day of the program.
When can I check in to my accommodation? Usually you can check in from around 2pm on day one of the program. If you arrive earlier than this you can drop your bags at the hotel and then go and explore. Please note that if you arrive during the previous night (say 12pm), you will need to arrange a hotel for that night and transport to the hotel from the airport.
Can I stay in my own accommodation or with family? For safety and logistical reasons, all study tour participants must stay in the program accommodation for the duration of the program. If you arrive early, or plan extra time after your program then you are welcome to choose your own accommodation.
Can I join part of a program? You need to participate in the whole program as you will be working in groups and your group needs you to be present for the whole time.
Can I do something else partway through the program, or will there be time for my own activities during the program? We have a really busy and fun schedule planned for each program. There may be occasional free evenings or free time, but plan on being with the group for the whole two weeks.
Do you pick me up from the airport? Yes, we will pick you up from the airport if you arrive on day one of the program. If you arrive early for your own travel you will need to organise accommodation and transport from the airport to your accommodation. You will need to meet us at the program hotel on day one.
What happens if I need to cancel? Please contact us as early as possible. We will do our best to accommodate cancellations and changes.
Do you provide support for developing new programs? We'd love to discuss this - please get in contact.