Pre-Arrival Information for International Students
administration, faculty, and staff of Union University welcomes you to our
university and to the Jackson, Tennessee area.
The purpose of this attachment is to assist you, as much as possible, in
preparing to leave your homeland and to arrive in a new area.
This is probably one of the most exciting (and possibly nervous) times in
your life thus far. We want to make the transition as easy as possible.
This information will assist you in arranging your travel to the United
States and in planning your educational career at Union University.
Please read it carefully.
Mary Beth Martin
Institute for International and Intercultural Studies
Phone (731) 661-5031
Unless you are a Canadian citizen, you must obtain a
passport and a visa (a permit to enter the United States).
Student Visa (F-1): Unless
you have previously verified alternative visa status, you will find enclosed the
Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20) necessary for acquiring a student (F-1)
visa. Present the Form I-20 with
your passport to a United States consular officer at a United States consulate
or embassy to obtain a visa application.
Canadian students must present Form I-20 to US Immigration officials at
the United States-Canadian border.
DO NOT enter the United States on another school’s I-20.
To do so and then enroll at Union University would be a violation of US
Immigration Service regulations.
DO NOT attempt to enter the United States on a visitor/tourist visa (B-2)
unless it is designated “Prospective Student” by a consular officer.
The US Immigration Service rarely authorizes a change of status from B-2
Exchange Visitor Visa (J-1): Students whose expenses are paid by an
international organization or a US government agency, or who participate in a
University exchange program may receive a Certificate of Eligibility for
Exchange Visitor Status (Form IAP-66). Present
this form to the consular officer when applying for a J-1 visa and present it
again at the port of entry.
You will be
informed of any health and immigration requirements when you apply for your
visa. A physical examination may be
required. The University further
requires, as a condition of enrollment, that all students have a Medical History
and Health Evaluation Form completed by a physician and submitted to the
University Health Services. You
must comply with certain immunization requirements.
If you do not do this before leaving home, you must be examined by a
physician at your own expense after you arrive.
and clothing needs: Tennessee has a varying climate with four distinct seasons:
Temperatures vary considerably from year to year.
During spring, summer and fall moderate periods of rainfall occur; snow
falls occasionally during the winter months.
Three basic types of clothing are essential in winter; heavy jackets or
overcoats; warm hats; scarves and gloves are needed.
During chilly autumn and spring days, jackets are worn outdoors, sweaters
indoors. A lightweight jacket is
sometimes necessary for cool nights during spring, summer, and fall.
Most students like to bring typical examples of arts, crafts, traditional
dress, photographs, records or tapes, maps or other items descriptive of their
country and culture, both to show interested Americans and to provide a touch of
home decoration in their new homes. You
may want to bring items you use regularly that may not be readily available, or
may be more expensive in the United States – for example, eyeglasses, cameras,
watches, portable radios. You may
also have the opportunity to visit a duty-free port where such items may be
purchased at a reduced cost.
If you live on campus, basic furniture is provided in campus residence
complexes, but bed linens, blankets, pillows, and towels are not provided.
You may purchase these items once you get to the United States if
desired. If possible bring a
bedsheet, a light blanket, and a towel with you from home or purchase them
before moving into the residence complexes.
You can obtain a booklet on customs regulations at the consulate or embassy where you acquire your visa. Prohibited items include some foodstuffs, narcotics, and items for resale.
Since students are expected to buy required textbooks for all courses,
and supplemental reading materials for review and research are available in
libraries, you need not bring any books used in previous study.
It is best to purchase electrical appliances after you arrive: appliances
manufactured outside the US may not be compatible with the power supply or may
not be allowed in residence halls.
Until you have a mailing address in Jackson you may have your letters (not parcels) mailed to you at the following address:
UU Box # 3148
c/o International Student Office
Union University Drive
for arrival” should be marked on the envelope. The University cannot be
responsible for the security of any mail forwarded.
If you plan to come directly to Jackson, TN from your
US port of entry, you will save money if you purchase your domestic travel
ticket with your overseas flight. Otherwise
you will need extra money in US dollars to purchase an airline or bus ticket to
Jackson. Exchange rates and US
taxes generally make it more expensive to buy tickets after you arrive.
Before buying an airline ticket, you should shop for the most economic
fare. Some national air carriers
offer student rates, and organizations often contract with travel agents for
group rates. Bookings for discount
fares usually must be made months prior to departure.
The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) arranges
Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific passage for groups and individuals.
You may contact CIEE at one of the following addresses:
28A Poland St,
(Oxford Circus) England
18 Graf Adolf Str.
4000 Dusseldorf I
49 rue Pierre Charron
Sanno Grand Building Room 102
0-14-2 Nagata-cho 2-chome
Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 100
205 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017
CIEE also sells an International Student Identification Card, which
provides for reduced-rate air, bus, and train tickets; accommodation discounts
in major cities; discounts for certain services and shopping; and traveler’s
health and accident insurance for the duration of your trip.
(You really won’t need the insurance since you will be covered from the
time you leave your home until you arrive back at your home by your Union
University International Student Insurance Group policy.)
You may send baggage in advance of your arrival; the
University has storage facilities for luggage, trunks, or packages. Send to the
International Student Office at the address on page 2.
Regardless of the cost for excess weight, it is usually better to bring
all personal baggage with you on the plane (check with your travel agent and
airline for size and weight limitation) rather than to ship it separately.
Even if you spend $100 for excess weight, you will save money, since a
shipment of large parcels often cost at least that much.
You also may require the services of an agent to arrange for customs
clearance and forwarding of unaccompanied parcels. Such services are expensive and result in considerable
It is a good idea to exchange currency for US dollars before your departure, but you should not travel with large amounts of cash since there is too much danger of loss or theft. If you anticipate bringing large sums of money to the United States, ask a bank about the safest and most convenient means of carrying or transferring funds. If you make arrangements for funds to be transferred in US dollars to a US bank before you leave home, that money will be available to you when you arrive on campus. Foreign currency is not available in most US cities, and the University and all local businesses accept only US dollars.
When you arrive in the US, you should have sufficient funds to cover your
expenses until you arrive at the campus. The
amount depends, of course, on your travel plans.
Once you have decided your itinerary and estimated your expenses, you
should purchase traveler’s checks in US dollars for the amount of money you
need. Traveler’s checks, obtained
at banks or travel offices, can be cashed by banks and by most businesses,
including hotels, restaurants, and airports.
It is also advisable to carry a small amount of cash – at least fifty
dollars in paper currency and two or three dollars in coins or “change” for
telephones, baggage lockers, bus fares, and tips.
The lower denominations of US paper money are $1, $5, $10, $20 bills;
coins are 1 cent (penny, $0.01), 5 cents (nickel, $0.05), 10 cents (dime $0.10),
25 cents (quarter, $0.25), and 50 cents (half-dollar, $0.50).
When you arrive in the United States, a US customs inspector examines your luggage to determine compliance with customs regulations concerning personal items.
At the time of your US Immigration Inspection, you must show your
passport and surrender your I-20 or IAP-66.
Page 3 - 4 of the I-20 or the pink copy of the IAP-66 is returned to you
for future use. The immigration
officer issues the entry permit, Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record), and
staples it into your passport.
If you have a problem with customs or immigration, contact the
International Student Office at Union University immediately.
Arrival in a strange city in a foreign culture can be a confusing experience. If you desire, a Union University representative will meet you on your initial entry to the US if you contact your Enrollment Services Counselor at least three (3) weeks in advance. They will meet you at the Memphis, Nashville, or Jackson, Tennessee Airport and bring you directly to the campus.
If time permits, you may enjoy staying in the port
city or any city for several days as a way to begin your educational trip.
Any stay, however, is likely to be very expensive unless carefully
planned in advance. Specific
information on expenses, places to stay and eat, sightseeing, and transportation
is available from travel agents and travel books (Let’s
Go: USA, published by St. Martin’s Press and distributed by Fleetbooks,
and Where to Stay USA, published by
CIEE, are two good references generally available in bookstores).
In US cities, bus or train service is considerably less expensive than
taxis unless you share the ride with other people.
If you need a taxi, ask the driver to tell you the approximate rate and
then pay the exact fare shown on the meter.
It is customary to tip the driver 15 percent of the total fare.
You are expected to arrive at the University no later
than the arrival date specified on your I-20 or IAP-66.
The University’s orientation program begins on this date.
It is very important that you attend the orientation program to become
familiar with the University and its resources, meet with advisors regarding
academic planning, and become familiar with the community.
You will also need to move into housing, get settled, and learn about
University procedures and regulations, register for courses, recover from travel
fatigue, and begin the transition to life in a new environment and cultural
Orientation materials, sent to you separately, include instructions on
where to go when you arrive on campus. If
you arrive before the designated date, report directly to the International
Student Office, located in the Office of Admissions and Retention which is
immediately behind Union Station in the Penick Academic Complex.
All students under the age of 21 are required to live in university housing. We
are primarily a residential college. Students who have already reached the age
of 21 are permitted to live off-campus if they apply. Students living on campus
must purchase a meal plan for use in the cafeteria and/or snack bar. Meal plans
include 20 meals, 12 meals, and 7 meals per week plans. Students may choose to
purchase meals using the "block plan" which allows a student to use 100 or 150
meals during the semester. Students who have kitchen apartments must purchase at
least a 7-meal/week plan or the 100 meal/semester plan; others with non-kitchen
apartments must purchase at least a 12-meal/week plan or the 150 meal/semester
plan. All students may purchase more meals per week than the minimum required.
All students under the age of 21 are required to live in university housing. We are primarily a residential college. Students who have already reached the age of 21 are permitted to live off-campus if they apply. Students living on campus must purchase a meal plan for use in the cafeteria and/or snack bar. Meal plans include 20 meals, 12 meals, and 7 meals per week plans. Students may choose to purchase meals using the "block plan" which allows a student to use 100 or 150 meals during the semester. Students who have kitchen apartments must purchase at least a 7-meal/week plan or the 100 meal/semester plan; others with non-kitchen apartments must purchase at least a 12-meal/week plan or the 150 meal/semester plan. All students may purchase more meals per week than the minimum required.
Cost estimates for a single student on a minimum budget are listed on your form I-20 or IAP-66. Some government agencies or banks in your country may require a statement of projected costs: you may present a copy of that statement to any authority needing this information.
Because enrollment in summer school is voluntary, these cost estimates do
not include costs for taking courses in June, July, and August.
Depending on the number of courses and the level of study, summer
enrollment would cost an additional $1500-$4000.
Full payment of tuition fees, and other charges is due at registration
(when you enroll for classes).
If you wish to deposit funds in your University account before arrival,
you may send a check to Student Accounts, Union University, 1050 Union
University Drive Jackson, TN 38305. Write
on your check the student identification number assigned to you by the
University and make the check payable to Union University.
You may withdraw funds from Union University, as you need them as long as
your bill is paid.
No financial aid is available from the University for international
students beyond academic scholarships.
Do not proceed to the University with the expectation that you may be
awarded an assistantship at a later date; plan on meeting your own educational
expenses for the duration of your studies.
No long-term loan funds are available through the University.
All students must therefore bring enough money to cover their expenses.
Married students who wish to have their families’ join them should
realize their financial burdens. A
married couple who can live inexpensively will require at least $1500 more per
year than a single student. An
additional $1000 is necessary for each accompanying child for a minimum standard
of living. Visas are not issued to the family of students unless they
have sufficient funds for dependents in addition to the amount required for the
single student. Many students find
it is best to delay bringing their families until they have found housing and
settled in the community.
Health insurance is very important.
Because of the high cost of medical care in the United States, Union
University sponsors a health insurance program that is mandatory for all
international students. The cost is included on your student account.
Optional coverage is available for your spouse and/or child (ren) if they
will be joining you. The insurance
covers doctor’s visits, hospitalization, medication, laboratory tests, medical
evacuation, repatriation, and other related costs.
There are some exceptions. More
specific information will be provided when you arrive.
Direct this information to Mr. Carroll Griffin, Director of Admissions,
1050 Union University Drive, Jackson, TN 38305.
If you have private family health insurance and wish to use it in lieu of
the required health insurance, the policy must be approved before you arrive
by the Designated School Official at Union University.
Academic advisors help students plan their academic programs to achieve their educational aspirations and career objectives. Because it is important that you build a coherent and thoughtful program with an advisor who knows about academic options, procedures, policies, and regulations, you should come prepared to discuss your academic interests.
Courses taken at another institution must be evaluated by a staff or faculty advisor before academic credit can be transferred to Union. Your academic advisor will notify you of any transfer credit after you arrive.
The International Student Office is a central
reference point for international students.
The office provides technical, advising, and counseling services for
students; coordinates programs of special interest to international students;
and serves as an advocate for international student concerns.
Students are required to report to the office upon their arrival in
Jackson and keep the office informed of changes in their addresses, curriculum,
and status. You should address all questions regarding the maintenance of
legal status in the United States to this office. You are invited and encouraged to maintain close ties with
the office throughout your educational career at the University.
If your plans change, and you decide not to attend Union University,
please return the Certificate of Eligibility to the International Student Office
and notify the Admissions Office of your decision.
If you wish to defer your admission to a subsequent semester, indicate
your decision when you contact these offices.
If you arrive before the residence complexes open, or if you are over age 21 and plan to live off campus and have not yet found an apartment, you may need to stay in a local motel. The following list gives you an idea of motels that are convenient to the campus or inexpensively priced. Rates are subject to sales tax and may not include breakfast. All rates are subject to change.
Comfort Inn 668-4100 $55 1 mile 1-800-228-5150
Fairfield Inn 668-1400 $52 4 miles 1-800-228-2800
Holiday Inn 668-6000 $79 4 miles 1-800-465-4329
Hampton Inn 664-4312
We hope this information is helpful to you, as you arrange for your new educational experience. You are encouraged to reread it and carefully note the items that pertain to your situation. Please pay careful attention to your requirements and obligations. To summarize:
sure your travel documents are in order.
Do not finalize your arrangements to depart until you have your
passport, Certificate of Eligibility, and visa stamp. You may enter the United States only if your Certificate of
Eligibility is endorsed to the university to which you intend to enroll.
care of your financial obligations and arrange for proper monetary transfer.
Carefully review requirements for obtaining foreign exchange.
Make sure you have adequate funds.
to arrive on campus on the date designated.
If you wish to live on campus, pay your housing deposit and apply for
residence complex accommodations promptly.
Be prepared to discuss your academic plans and interests. Do not rely on others to plan your program for you. Do not register for classes without seeing an advisor during the orientation program.
you do not plan to enroll at Union University in the semester for which you
have been admitted, return the Certificate of Eligibility to the
International Student Office, and notify the Admissions Office of your
Again we wish you a warm welcome to Union University.
If you arrive on campus after working hours (after 4pm) and need
emergency assistance, please call Safety & Security @ 1-731-661-5036.