What do I need to know before I arrive to LaSalle?
Before you arrival at La Salle, it will be helpful if you take note of the following checklist so that your transition here goes smoothly. When you come to Orientation, please bring the following: passport, visa, SEVIS I-20, completed health form, and health insurance (if covered). Health insurance DOES NOT need to be purchased until you arrive in the United States.
La Salle has both graduate and undergraduate housing. Please visit Administrative Services for more information about living on-campus. When applicable, housing deposits for on-campus accomodations can be paid through the Office of Student and Accounts Receivable.
Brother Augustine Center for Off-Campus and Commuter Students
The Director of Off-Campus Communities and Off-Campus Community Coordinator act as advisors and liaisons for students who commute from home or live in off-campus apartments or houses. The Brother Augustine Center for Off-Campus and Commuter Students houses the Center’s office and includes a resource/lounge/small meeting area. The Commuter and Off-Campus Student Association (CAOS) plans social and educational activities so that students may become involved, meet one another, and be connected to campus. For additional information about Philadelphia, please click on the link, Living in Philadelphia.
Leases and Contracts
Most housing is rented on a contract or lease basis; that is, you agree to live in the unit for a stated period of time - most often 12 months. (You must also sign a lease if you live in University housing.) This means that you are legally responsible for all rent payments for that period whether or not you live there, unless some alternative arrangement is made with the property owner. It is occasionally possible to sublet, which means that the person renting the room or apartment rents the unit to another person. Such an arrangement must be carefully investigated before agreeing to it either as a renter or subletter. A deposit and the first month's rent are usually required when signing the lease. The deposit is equivalent to one or two months’ rent. The property owner in whole will return this amount or in part when the contract terminates. Damages, cleaning and/or repair charges will be deducted.
Before signing a lease, read it carefully and understand all of your obligations. If you have questions about the lease, check with the property owner before you sign it. Obtain a signed copy for your own records. Do not rely on a verbal agreement. Make sure you have everything in writing. Be sure you understand fully what the lease says before you sign it. Once you have signed it, you are responsible for all of its terms.
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You will need to open a United States bank account. Many banks cater to students and offer free accounts to students. We will make an effort to arrange for a bank representative to meet with students during orientation. Establish United States banking connections before you leave home. To transfer money to the United States, you can instruct your home bank to issue a foreign draft on a United States bank in Philadelphia. Clearance on a draft between banks in different parts of the United States can result in a delay of up to three weeks in making funds available. Since there are expenses that must be met immediately upon arrival, you may want to avoid unnecessary delays. A few United States banks have branches in foreign countries. These could be used if the United States bank is located within the vicinity of Philadelphia. If not, all large United States banks have what are called "correspondent" foreign banks with which they have established financial connections. In most countries, you can find a local bank that has correspondent relations with a United States bank in the Philadelphia area. A transfer of money from one correspondent bank to another requires obtaining a draft from the home bank and presenting it, with personal identification, to the United States bank. The United States bank will then give credit in United States dollars. You may also request that your bank at home "wire" money to you once you have opened an account at a Philadelphia bank.
La Salle has Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) machines on campus. The banks represented include Wachovia, Bank of America, and Trumark Credit Union. You can open an account with more than one bank if you choose to do so. You should visit the websites of the bank and learn more about the different accounts available. There is a Beneficial Bank location two blocks away from main campus. More information will be provided at orientation.
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Currency Exchange and Usage
Before your arrival, you may want to exchange money into U.S. dollars so that you have cash available upon your arrival. Traveler’s checks may be helpful, too, but not all stores and restaurants accept them. Make an attempt to bring travelers check for denominations of less than $100.00.
Before leaving home, visit a bank in your country to learn the requirements for exchanging money and the value of your own currency in the United States. Know how much United States currency is worth in your own money before entering the country. The basic unit of currency in the United States is the dollar, and is represented by the "$" symbol. Paper money is green and is referred to as a bill, or bills. The following are common denominations: $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 dollar coin, but it is used much less often than its paper equivalent. Together, bills and coins are often referred to as "cash."
After arriving in the United States obtain several United States coins and bills for tipping, telephone calls and miscellaneous expenses. There will be a bank for this purpose at most major airports. Be aware that many businesses will not accept credit cards for very small purchases, and that others, such as taxi cabs or small vendors, may not have the facilities to process credit card purchases at all. Such businesses may require cash for all purchases.
Currency Restrictions and Transfer of Funds to the United States
Before finalizing your plans to arrive in the United States, please become familiar with your government's regulations regarding currency restrictions and the transfer of funds. Some governments restrict the amount of money that can be taken out of the country. Others may restrict funds until a letter confirming enrollment has been received from the admitting institution in the United States. Also find out what letters, if any, are required from the University in order to authorize the transfer of funds.
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When applying for housing, bank accounts, and cell phones, it is helpful to have a credit card. If you can apply for a credit card before your arrival; its highly recommend it.
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Most international students purchase cell phones soon after arriving in the U.S. for domestic and international calls. If you are interested in obtaining service while studying in the US, a number of cellular telephone companies offer a pre-paid (pay before use) service and a monthly payment plan for a specific number of minutes per month. Additional charges may be applied like taxes, over use, and surcharges. An example of services in the US, includes but not limited to, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, ATT, Tracfone, Sprint, and Virgin Mobile. For additional information regarding cellular telephone services, please click on, Living in Philadelphia.
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The United States does not have a socialized health care system, so La Salle University requires students to have health insurance coverage in case medical issues arise during your stay here. This coverage may be purchased here or your home country as long as it is translated in English. Proof of coverage is required every semester to register for classes.
A health application form is available online at La Salle University’s Student Health Center. We strongly suggest that you have all required vaccinations, including a TB test (TB test must be done in last 3 months), preferably before your arrival. If you wait to complete this requirement here, it could be very expensive and inconvenient. All international students who have lived in a high-risk country for tuberculosis (TB) in the last five years (Asia, Africa, South America, Central America, and Eastern Europe) whether graduate or undergraduate must receive tuberculosis (TB) testing. Students will be suspended from classes if they fail to comply with this requirement. Visit the Student Health Center’s website for the complete list of requirements and forms.
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Customs and Culture
Customs and culture in the United States may be very different from those to which you are accustomed. Prepare yourself for these differences by securing information at the nearest United States Embassy or Information Service Center, or, better still, by talking with persons in your home country who have visited the University or the United States before. There are a number of multicultural student associations that sponsor events and activities throughout the academic year.
You should come prepared for changes in the weather: very cold winters, hot summers, and pleasant days in between. Winter temperatures can easily drop to 10°F (-12°C). Summers in Philadelphia can be very humid, with temperatures reaching 100°F (37°C) or higher.
Current weather conditions in Philadelphia may be found at the National Weather Service.
Plan to wear warm clothing during the winter months (November-April). An overcoat is a necessity. Clothing for rainy weather is also needed. You may find it helpful to bring national costumes to wear to certain campus events and international celebrations or to speaking engagements around the city, but this is a matter of personal choice.
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