Center for International Programs

International Student Services

Pre-Departure Arrangements

Confirm Enrollment
Once you receive your visa for Saint Joseph’s University, you should inform us immediately that you will be studying here. PLS College students should inform the PLS Director of Admissions of your plans to enroll at Saint Joseph’s.

Undergraduate Day students must return the Enrollment Confirmation Form that was included with your acceptance notification plus the appropriate deposit. This is due by May 1st for students beginning in the fall semester so you should not wait until you receive your visa to deposit. Plus, the sooner you send in your deposit the sooner you reserve your space in the Freshman Class and the better your chances of getting your choice of on-campus housing.  You can email the CIP office to let us know when you receive your visa.

Travel Arrangements
You should also start looking into flight arrangements and book your reservations as soon as possible. Try to fly to Philadelphia International Airport instead of New York’s JFK or LaGuardia, or the Newark airport. It will be easier to arrange transportation from Philly International than from any other airport. Keep in mind the program start date on your I-20 or DS-2019 and the date of CIP’s mandatory International Student Orientation. You must schedule your arrival so that you are here to attend this orientation. MS Computer Science students have a placement exam a few days earlier, so plan to arrive in enough time for your test. But you cannot arrive too early, either. Students are not permitted to enter the United States more than 30 days before their program start date. Undergraduates will not be able to move into university housing until the day before orientation.

Health Care
The university requires all undergraduate and foreign-born students to submit a Health Evaluation Form. Please meet with your family doctor or health care provider as soon as possible so that you can complete any vaccinations before you leave home. Return the completed form either before you depart, or as soon as you arrive in Philadelphia.

When meeting with your doctor, discuss your intent to study in the U.S. so that s/he can make recommendations on how best to manage your health. Healthcare in the United States is extremely expensive. If you have any chronic health conditions you need to have a plan in place to take care of yourself. The university does have a Health Center and a Counseling Center on-campus that can help you with basic concerns like colds, the flu, upset stomachs, adjustment issues and the like. However their services are limited and access for graduate students to the Counseling Center is restricted to a few visits each school year. Get an extra supply of any prescription medication you take, and have your doctor write out a detailed prescription for you to bring with the medication that includes a generic name and specific dosage instructions. Also get your eyes checked, bring an extra pair of glasses and/or contact lenses, and your prescription. Visit your dentist and have anything that might develop into a problem fixed before you leave home. Vision and dental care is not covered by regular health insurance in the U.S.

Money Matters
Visit a bank in your country to learn the requirements for exchanging money and the value of your own currency in the United States. Know how much United States currency is worth in your own money before you get here. The basic unit of currency in the United States is the dollar, and is represented by the "$" symbol. Paper money is green and is referred to as a bill, or bills. The most common denominations are: $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. Coins are worth less than a dollar and their value is described in "cents," which are equivalent to 1/100th of a dollar. Coins used in the United States are the penny (1 cent), nickel (5 cents), dime (10 cents), quarter (25 cents), and half dollar (50 cents). There is also a $1 coin, but it is used much less often than its paper equivalent. Together, bills and coins are often referred to as "cash."

You should bring some U.S. cash with you so that you have money available for the taxi ride from the airport, tipping, telephone calls and start up expenses. You will probably need about $100-200 for the first few days. There will be exchange facilities at most major airports but they charge very high fees. The rest of your money you can bring in the form of traveler’s checks or some other form that you can use over the course of the first few weeks to get settled in. Students living off-campus will need to find apartments and usually must pay the first month’s rent and a security deposit (several hundred dollars), purchase furniture and other necessities for the apartment if you do not find one that is furnished for you, buy groceries and other food, purchase books and other school supplies, etc. Expect that you will need quick access to an additional $2,000. Later you can have your family send more to you after you get settled in and have a bank account. You will need to pay your tuition and fees before you start classes, so make sure you have those additional funds separate from your start-up money. Check with your credit card company at home to find out if your card is usually accepted in the United States. Be aware that many businesses will not accept credit cards for very small purchases, and others, such as taxi cabs or small vendors, may not have the facilities to process credit card purchases at all.

What to Bring
You must carry with you on the plane your passport and I-20 or DS-2019, financial support documents, and any other important identification papers. Do not put your immigration documents in your checked luggage, you will need them before you pick up your suitcase after your flight. You should also carry your start-up money with you as well. Remember to have at least $100-200 in cash to get you through the first few days. Put a change of clothes and your toiletries in your carry-on bag in case your luggage is lost.

The weather in Philadelphia varies considerably from season to season. You can get an idea of what to expect from this chart, although many times in the summer it feels hotter because Philadelphia is very humid, and during the winter it can feel much colder because of the wind chill:

Philadelphia

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average Temperature

30°F

/

-1°C

33°F

/

1°C

42°F

/

6°C

52°F

/

11°C

63°F

/

17°C

72°F

/

22°C

77°F

/

25°C

76°F

/

>24°C

69°F

/

20°C

56°F

/

14°C

46°F

/

8°C

36°F

/

2°C

Average Low Temperature

23°F

/

-5°C

25°F

/

-4°C

33°F

/

1°C

42°F

/

6°C

53°F

/

12°C

62°F

/

17°C

67°F

/

20°C

66°F

/

19°C

59°F

/

15°C

46°F

/

8°C

38°F

/

3°C

28°F

/

-2°C

Days Below Freezing

25

22

14

2

0

0

0

0

0

1

8

20

Average High Temperature

38°F

/

3°C

41°F

/

5°C

52°F

/

11°C

63°F

/

17°C

73°F

/

23°C

82°F

/

28°C

86°F

/

30°C

85°F

/

29°C

78°F

/

25°C

66°F

/

19°C

55°F

/

13°C

43°F

/

6°C

90°F/32°C or Above Days

0

0

0

0

1

5

9

6

2

0

0

0

Statistics from ClimateZone.com

For today’s weather, visit The Weather Channel and you will get the current forecast in Philadelphia!

As you can see you will need clothes of all different weights to be comfortable throughout the year. You should definitely have a lightweight jacket or sweater for spring and fall, and you will need a very warm coat with hat, scarf, gloves and boots for the winter. Students who come for the fall semester will have time to purchase these things before the cold weather begins, but students arriving for the spring need to carry extra warm clothes on the plane with them to put on as soon as they land. Students dress for classes according to comfort and personal preference. Jeans and t-shirts are the norm for undergraduates. Many of the American graduate students work and come to class in business or business casual clothes.

It’s a good idea to bring things that remind you of home, both to make yourself feel more comfortable as you settle in at school and so that you can show to your new friends. Bring pictures of friends and places that are important to you, traditional and contemporary music, special mementos, arts and crafts, and traditional clothes (great for international events on-campus!). Any small items that might be expensive to purchase are also a good idea to bring with you. Make sure you have some type of alarm clock so that you don’t miss any important meetings or classes before you go shopping. Likewise, have with you one set of personal toiletries (deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, shampoo and conditioner, and make-up). You should also have at least a bed sheet and light blanket with you, a towel and maybe a pillow, because you might not be able to get other linens right away. If you plan to bring your own laptop, look into electric adapters so that you will be able to plug it in without damaging it. A bilingual dictionary is also great to have because you may have trouble finding one for your language if you wind up needing it.

Do not bring very expensive items, anything that can be construed as a weapon, drugs, food or plants. You don’t need to bring notebooks, paper, pens or pencils with you. Nor should you bother to buy your school books until after you arrive – the books required vary from year to year and professor to professor, so it’s best to wait until you are sure of the classes you will be taking. You should also wait to get most electrical appliances in the U.S. since ones from home will probably not work here. Snow boots are a must but wait until you arrive because they are bulky. You can buy extra toiletries once the ones you bring run out, and you can get extra sets of sheets, towels and a comforter for your bed here, too. Remember that you need to bring clothes for at least half a year and two seasonal conditions, and you are restricted by weight limits on your luggage. Bring what you need, and either buy or ship the rest later.