1. Do I need a visa? If so how do I go about getting it?
ALL, EXCEPT Bangladesh, Maldivians and Indian nationals, require visas to enter Bhutan. However, international faculty members coming to teach at RTC should not worry about this, as the college will take care of your visa.
2. How do I get to Bhutan?
Faculty living in India often come to Bhutan overland. Faculty from more distant countries normally fly to Delhi or Bangkok where they pick up Druk Air or Bhutan Airline (only from Bangkok) flights to Paro, Bhutan’s only international airport. Some flights also come in from Singapore, Dhaka and a few cities in Northern India. RTC can provide you with an update on current gateway cities for air transportation.
3. What is the weather like?
During the winter seasons (December to mid-March) it can get very cold and dry (-4°C - 15°C), while in the summer seasons (June to August) it can get very wet and humid (15°C - 26°C). The annual monsoon season begins in mid-June and ends around mid-September. The strength of the monsoon varies from year to year, but in this part of Bhutan it is not the continuous heavy rain experienced in some other parts of Asia. The best months are from mid-September to the end of October, and from March to May, when the days are generally clear, warm and pleasant with very little rain.
4. Can you tell me a little more about the national language?
“Dzongkha” is the national language of Bhutan. It is a South Tibetan language that is somewhat similar to Sikkimese. However, international faculty/staff/students should not worry about the language barrier as many Bhutanese are conversant in English.
5. Will I be given on campus housing?
Senior administrators and faculty will be allocated on campus housing in the following priority:
1. All senior administrators who are expected to live on campus (as decided by the Director).
2. Faculty accompanying students for semester long programs (i.e. Wheaton).
3. Faculty from outside SAARC countries*. (SAARC refers to the regional grouping of the 8 South Asian countries)
4. Faculty from within SAARC countries*.
5. Bhutanese faculty.
Most expatriate faculty members decide to live on campus as do some of the Bhutanese faculty and staff. If on-campus housing is full, it is possible to rent lodgings in areas not too far from the campus.
6. Can you tell me more about the college and its location?
Royal Thimphu College is Bhutan's first and only private college. RTC is located among the silent and green cypress-hedged valley of Ngabiphu, providing a serene peaceful learning environment, yet close to the main city, Thimphu.
Royal Thimphu College offers general degree programs (BCA, BBA, BCOM, and BA English Studies, BA Economics, BA Pol.Science/Sociology, BA Mass Communication, BA Anthropology, BSc. Environmental Management and BSc Nursing & Midwifery) under the auspices of the Royal University of Bhutan. RTC’s objective is to contribute to educational excellence in Bhutan and to become an institute of international repute attracting outstanding students from Bhutan and abroad. The College aims to provide the best possible education to its students, while keeping its fees affordable and competitive with those in the region. Royal Thimphu College is widely acknowledged to have the best facilities in the country.
7. How far is Royal Thimphu College from Thimphu city?
Royal Thimphu College is only a 15-20 minute drive from Thimphu City.
8. What are the means of transportation to and from the city?
You can either choose to take a taxi, the staff bus, or the city bus which runs quite frequently, especially during the morning, late afternoon and early evening. We will give you the schedules when you arrive at RTC. Alternatively, some faculty members choose to buy a car.
9. How many dining halls or cafeterias are there on campus?
We have 1 dining hall, 1 canteen and 1 dry canteen (only fast food) on campus.
10. Is there a grocery store on or around the campus?
Unfortunately, we do not have a grocery store on or around the campus area; you will have to go to the weekend market which is located in Thimphu city. We do, however, have a small book store on campus where you can get your stationary, shampoo, soap, chips, noodles, chocolates, etc. As the inventory in grocery stores is rather limited, if there is anything you “can’t live without” consider bringing a modest supply of it.
11. Are expatriate faculty members required to wear the national dress while teaching/on campus?
No, expatriate faculty members can dress as they would for professional work in their home country.
12. Are there laundry services on campus?
There are a couple of coin-operated washing machines available for use by faculty living on campus.
13. Are there decent shops in Thimphu where I can buy clothes, electronics and household items?
While high-end clothes, shoes, electronics, etc. are very limited in the country there is a decent supply of reasonably-priced imported apparel and electronics in the local shops. You may wish to bring whatever is necessary with you to the extent possible. Household goods, such as sheets, blankets and towels, pots and pans, etc are available here.
14. What should I consider bringing that I might not think of?
Long underwear and slippers are useful in the winter as central heating is not available in most places.
Bring needed footwear, especially if your feet are large, as the range of sizes available here is somewhat limited.
Essential/prescription medications, as they may not always be available here.
Converters for any appliances that were made to function at 110 volts rather than at 220 volts which is the standard here.
15. Are the apartments furnished or unfurnished?
The apartments are furnished. The list of items issued to apartment types B, C and D differ slightly. Once you have been given an apartment type, you can contact our administrative officers to get the list of items provided in the apartment type you have.
16. Are there things we can rent from the college for our apartments?
Yes, you can rent things like televisions, ovens, extra heaters, and cooking gas from the college.
*Cooking gas can be refilled at the college store.
17. What all do I have to pay for in addition to rent if I live in a college apartment?
If you live on campus, you will have to pay for your electricity, broadband internet (there is free wi-fi) and phone.
18. Can you tell me a little bit about banks and ATMs at the college or in Bhutan?
We have 1 ATM machine on campus. In addition, there are several major banks in Thimphu for your checking account and for your currency exchange.
19. Is there a hospital on or near the college campus?
We have a small health center with a health assistant to assist with everyday medical problems. Students/staff/faculty experiencing more serious medical problems will be referred to the Thimphu National Referral Hospital which is only 15-20 minutes away.
20. Are prescription medications available in Bhutan?
Yes, prescription medications are available in Bhutan. However, supplies may be limited or a little different from what you may get in your own country. Therefore, we suggest you assemble a medical kit with general health and all prescribed medications you may require during your stay here.
21. Can I have glasses made up in Bhutan?
Yes, you can have glasses made up at the local optical shop.
22. What are the policies for inviting guests?
Expatriates who have been working in the Kingdom for a minimum period of 6 months can invite 2 guests a year to come for a limited time without paying the fees normally required for those visiting Bhutan. Immediate family members (spouse and children) are not considered “guests” and can visit for limited periods without charge as well. Of course, if you have minor children they may accompany you during your entire stay here.
23. What about my children’s schooling?
We can suggest good schools for your children. However, you will have to talk to the principal/teacher and get them enrolled yourselves. The school’s academic year begins in late February/early March. Both public schools and private schools are available in Thimphu for most grade levels.
24. Do we need special permits to travel outside Thimphu?
Yes, you will need special permits to travel outside of the Thimphu–Paro area - the administrative officers will take care of all permits as long as you let them know a few days beforehand.
25. Are the weekends (Saturday & Sunday) considered a holiday?
Yes, Sunday is a holiday, but Saturday is considered a half day (till 12:30 PM) for faculty other than those teaching in the evening Continuing Education program, which also has Saturday afternoon classes. The college observes most but not all national holidays.
26. Do we get summer and winter breaks? How long are they?
The colleges’ academic year is based on a two semester system (of approximately 18 weeks each); the academic year begins in the first week of August and ends in late June or early July. Therefore, Royal Thimphu College has short summer breaks (3 weeks) and a long winter break (2 ½ months).