Information for New International Students Skip Navigation

Information for New International Students

The staff in the Office of International Student Services (OISS) is eager to welcome you to Hamilton, New York and assist you as you make your new, temporary home here and work to reach your educational and personal goals.
Please look over this booklet for important information that will help you make an easy transition to university life. Feel free to contact us if we can be of assistance to you.

Christina Khan, assistant dean and director of OISS
Makiko Filler, program coordinator, OISS

(Please note: you will receive a copy of this information in the I-20 packet)
Arrival Information
Colgate University is located in Hamilton, NY, which is approximately a 50 minute drive southeast of Syracuse, NY. Due to its rural location, transportation from the airport to Hamilton can be very costly, with private taxi fares exceeding $200.

As a service to international students, OISS will arrange for transportation for students arriving to Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR) on August 20, between the hours of 7:00 a.m.- 10:00 p.m.. If you wish to utilize the free transportation, you should indicate this on the “OISS Arrival Survey” that will be sent to you via email, no later than August 1.

Those driving to campus should plan to arrive to campus on August 20 before 4:00 p.m. Students who choose not to arrive on August 20, or who will arrive to another airport will need to arrange for their own transportation to Colgate.

Colgate offers an On-Demand Shuttle Service operated by Birnie Bus for all Colgate students, faculty/staff, and visitors. Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance by calling 315-824-1260 extension 232 or by emailing
New International Student Orientation (ISO)
New International Student Orientation (ISO) is an exciting experience designed to prepare you for life at Colgate as an international student. At ISO, the OISS staff, as well as current student leaders and other Colgate faculty and staff, will help you get acquainted with campus and will cover important topics such as immigration regulations, taxes, services offered at Colgate, adjusting to life in the USA, American classroom expectations, and opportunities for campus involvement.

There will be several social events and activities scheduled to give you an opportunity to form friendships with your fellow international students. We will also organize a trip to local shopping centers so that you can purchase a cell phone and essentials for your room.

Meals will be provided for you during scheduled ISO activities. ISO will take place starting with your arrival on August 20 through August 23. You will then join the rest of the Class of 2017 for New Student Orientation (NSO) starting on August 24.
Mandatory Check-In with OISS
As an international student in F-1 visa status, Federal regulations require that you check in with the Office of International Student Services.

We have scheduled designated check-in times during ISO for you to meet with Christina Khan or Makiko Filler. During this time, we will review your immigration documents, answer any immediate questions you may have, and make a copy of your documents for your immigration file.
Financial Concerns
You will have many immediate expenses upon arrival including supplies for your room, books, and personal items. It is advisable to have at least U.S. $800 available to cover these immediate expenses. It is not advisable, however, to carry large amounts of cash. A combination of cash, traveler’s checks, and credit/debit cards is more secure.

Two banks near campus, NBT Bank and Oneida Savings Bank, will allow you to open an account without a Social Security number. Most students prefer NBT Bank because they operate an ATM on-campus. You will have the opportunity to open an account during ISO.

Please note that if you have an on-campus job, you cannot receive a paycheck until you receive your Social Security number which may take up to a few months.
Health Services and Insurance
Student Health Services provides routine medical care and promotes wellness through education to Colgate students. You may visit Student Health Services regarding illness, injury, testing, immunizations, women’s and men’s health issues and testing, prescriptions, and many more, at little to no cost. They are a fabulous resource and you will have the opportunity to meet with the staff of Student Health Services during ISO.

Mandatory Health Insurance
All international students are required to have U.S. health insurance coverage. Unless you already have comparable coverage with a U.S. insurance company, you will need to purchase Colgate’s student health insurance policy. Policy information will be made available on the Student Health Services page. The cost for the 2013/2014 Academic Year is $834.

Required Medical History Report and Immunizations
Colgate University requires that all students submit a completed medical history report and receive the immunizations listed on the form. If the immunizations are unavailable or costly in your home country, you will have the opportunity to get your immunizations from Student Health Services during ISO. The cost will be covered by your student health insurance if you are enrolled in Colgate’s student health insurance policy.
Hamilton, NY has four distinct seasons. Since you will be arriving at the end of the gorgeous summer season, it is recommended that you plan ahead and bring some warm clothing (coat, sweater, etc.) with you. Many students bring things such as winter coats, boots, hats, gloves, and scarves from home, while others choose to purchase them after they arrive.
What should I pack?
Packing can always be a challenge. Not only do you need to anticipate the things you might need in your room, but you also need to navigate the baggage policy of your airline. We recommend that you pack only the things that you will either need immediately upon arrival or that will be difficult or expensive to purchase in the USA. If you do not know if an item will be available in the US, you can always check online retailers such as,, and, to name a few, to check the price and availability. You will need to be able to carry your luggage up to your residence hall without assistance, so make sure that your bags are not too heavy for you to lift. Some students choose to mail boxes of personal items to their Colgate Postal Box in advance of their arrival. You are more than welcome to do this, but keep in mind that you will only be able to pick-up your packages while Mail Services is open (Monday- Friday 10:00 am- 4:00 pm).

Residence halls are not furnished with linens, so it is your responsibility to make arrangements to have bed linens for your first night at Colgate. Many students choose to purchase their bedding from and have them delivered to Colgate in advance of their arrival. also carries “Dorm-in-a-box” sets that are very economical and can be purchased online if you have a credit card.

Many students also choose to purchase some bed sheets at home and bring them in their luggage. The dorm mattresses are size Twin XL which measures 99 cm by 203 cm and is longer than the standard twin size. There will be a trip to a shopping center during ISO during which you will have the opportunity to purchase bedding and other supplies for your room. A basic sheet set which includes a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and one pillowcase starts at $25. You should plan to spend roughly $100-200 on bedding.

There are few clothing store options in Hamilton, so you should plan to bring clothing with you. Since the weather can change very quickly, we recommend that you bring a jacket/sweater and heavy coat with you. There are several events on campus for which many international students choose to wear traditional clothing. If you feel you might want to wear traditional clothing for special cultural events, you are encouraged to do so.

Carry-On Bag
Since luggage can get lost or delayed, it is important that you pack the following items in your carry-on bag or personal bag: cash/credit cards, immigration documents, change of clothing, travel-size toiletries (shampoo, toothbrush, etc), blanket, and medication (if necessary).
Cell Phones
One of the first items students want to purchase is a cell phone, but this can be difficult if you do not yet have a credit card or Social Security number (SSN).

There are three main types of cell phone plans in the U.S.: pay-as-you-go, prepaid, and monthly.

Pay-as-you-go plans allow you to charge your phone with credit and you will pay only for what you use.

Prepaid plans charge you a set amount each month, but offer more features (such as unlimited texting) and are usually less expensive than pay-as-you-go plans. These two plans can be obtained without a SSN, but you will need to purchase the phone yourself.

Monthly plans offer the most features and will often give you a free phone when you sign a two-year contract; however, you will need a SSN and if you do not have any credit history in the USA, will require that you pay a deposit (about $300).

Many students get together and share a monthly family plan with someone who already has a SSN as a way to get the features they want from their cell phone service and lower their monthly cost. The carrier with the best reception in the area is arguably Verizon Wireless. You can read more about the prepaid and monthly plans on their website. There will be time for you to purchase a cell phone during ISO.
Use the checklist below as a guide to help you prepare for your arrival to the USA and your first weeks at Colgate University. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all of the things you should do, but simply a help to you so that you can be prepared.

- Receive your I-20 from the Office of International Student Services.

- Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and print your receipt. Information on the SEVIS fee can be found at

- Apply for and receive your F-1 student visa at a U.S. Embassy. Be sure to follow the Embassy's instructions for non-immigrant visa applicants and provide all of the required documentation. (Note: Canadian citizens do not apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy. F-1 visa status is given at the border crossing or port of entry when you present your I-20 and supporting documentation.) For more information, read the sheet titled Applying for an F-1 Visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate that was included with your I-20.

- Learn about your immigration status by visiting Study in the States website.

- Join the “International Students of Colgate University Class of 2018” Facebook group if you would like the chance to connect with fellow classmates. Request to join the group here.

- Book your flight to the USA. Plan to arrive to Syracuse International Airport (SYR) on Tuesday, August 20, between 7:00 am- 10:00 pm. See page one of this booklet for more details.

- Notify OISS of your flight schedule/arrival plans by completing the survey that will be sent to you via email.

- Prepare your finances. Anticipate how much money you will need to cover your immediate expenses upon arrival in the USA and plan accordingly. Refer to page two for more information. Please note that if you have an on-campus job, you cannot receive a paycheck until you receive your Social Security number which may take a few months.

- Complete your Medical History Report and get the necessary immunizations.

- Enjoy your flight. You have embarked on an exciting journey to fulfill many of your personal, academic, and professional goals. Take a moment to reflect on all of the hard work that has gotten you to this point in your life. For information on what to expect at the port of entry, read the information sheet titled What to Expect at a US Port of Entry.

- Arrive to Syracuse International Airport. If you are arriving on August 20 between 7:00 am - 10:00 pm and have completed the “OISS Arrival Survey” by August 1, a Colgate representative will be at the airport to welcome you as you get off your plane. With the exception of flight delays, if you will arrive outside of the scheduled arrival time, you will be responsible for your own transportation to Colgate.

- Attend New International Student Orientation (ISO). ISO will take place starting with your arrival on August 20 through August 23. A detailed orientation schedule will be emailed to you in early August.

- Attend New Student Orientation (NSO) with the Class of 2018. You will receive information about NSO from the Dean of First Year Students.

- Have a great semester! Study hard, get to know your professors, and participate in campus activities to make friends and feel more at home. The OISS is always here to assist you to make your time at Colgate successful and memorable.