Exchange Student Guide

Congratulations on being selected for the University of Minnesota exchange program!

This page explains important requirements for arriving in Minnesota, and it also offers advice for making the most of your experience here. I encourage you to bookmark it for easy reference in the future.

If you have any questions, you can reach me at [email protected]. I'm excited to welcome you to campus soon!


Adriana Castelo
Assistant Director of Exchange Programs

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Before You Arrive

1. Take time to read through the Student Guide website!

You are responsible for the information provided to you through this website. The guide contains all of the necessary information to help you complete the following tasks. Bookmark this page for easy reference.

2. Complete all Forms and Waivers
3. Activate your University of Minnesota (UMN) email
  • Set up your student account, also known as your internet ID.
  • Go to to initiate your account.
  • Your student account gives you access to your University email, tuition bills, and critical information from instructors and administrative offices.
  • When asked for your Social Security number leave that section blank.
  • For technology support, go to
4. Update all contact information, check this website, and answer emails
  • Please make sure the contact information you have provided to us is up-to-date.
  • Always check your email and our website regularly for new information.
  • Remember to read and save ALL materials sent to you from ISSS and the University of Minnesota. These materials will provide answers to most of your questions.
5. Apply for a visa
  • You will need to apply for a F-1 visa. See the Applying for a Visa section below for more information.
  • Remember, all international students MUST obtain a proper visa in order to study in the U.S.
  • You will not be able to participate in this program without completing your visa paperwork.
6. Apply for University-owned housing and sign up for the International Early Arrival Housing for temporary housing, if needed, before the semester begins
7. Complete immunization requirements for the U.S.
8. Complete the International Student Preparation Course
9. Request any necessary health, disability, or other accommodations 

The University of Minnesota is committed to accommodating students with disabilities. Please see the Academic Support section below for more information.

10. Bring your official English proficiency test scores

If you have not asked your testing agency to send your official TOEFL, IELTS, or MELAB scores to the University of Minnesota, bring an official copy.

11. Pack for your trip!

Refer to the What to Bring section of this handbook.

12. Leave copies of important documents with a family member or friend
  • Remember that any important documents related to your travel (e.g., passport, credit cards, health insurance) should be copied and left with a family member or trusted friend while you are at the University of Minnesota.
  • If your original documents get lost, the copies will help in the process of receiving replacement documents.
13. Prepare for cultural learning
  • Living in another country can be a very exciting experience. It is important, however, to remember that it can also cause anxiety and stress.
  • For more information about cultural shock and study abroad see the Culture Shock section.
14. Review the Student Code of Conduct

All UMN students must read and understand the Student Code of Conduct.

15. Sign Up for Optional Activities:

After You Arrive

1. Move into housing

2. Upload your documents to MyISSS 

3. Remove registration holds

4. Attend Exchange Student Orientation and Global Gopher Experiences

5. Update your “current mailing address” in your MyU account

6. Finalize class registration

7. Cancel or add any classes by the end of the first week of the semester

8. Check and read your UMN email regularly

9. Check the Finances tab in MyU and pay "Amount Due" by due date

10. Have fun!

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Applying for a Visa

Terms to Know

F-1 visa: Nonimmigrants temporarily in the United States to study full-time at an academic or language institute (a sticker in your passport)

I-20: Immigration document issued for F-1 students that show enrollment at a university

ISSS: University of Minnesota International Student Scholar Services office. If you have questions about visas, please contact this office. 

CBP: Customs Border Protection

USCIS: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System): All students and scholars with F-1 status have a record in the U.S. SEVIS immigration database. By law, ISSS must report to SEVIS regularly and provide specific information about each student and scholar at the University.

Steps to Apply for a Visa

After being accepted as an exchange student, you will receive an I-20 document which you will use to apply for your F-1 student visa. Caution: Do NOT enter the United States in visitor status (B1/B2 or Visa Waiver). Individuals with these immigration statuses are not eligible to register for an academic course of study. If you have questions about any other visa types, contact ISSS

1. Pay the SEVIS Fee.

Once you have your I-20 document in your possession, you must pay the SEVIS fee before applying for an entry visa or entering the United States. This fee is charged by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and it is not administered by the University of Minnesota. To pay the fee, visit

2. Locate the Nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Your Home Country

Embassy and consulate information (including locations and document requirements) is available at

 3. Schedule Your Visa Interview Appointment

Your local embassy or consulate will have specific instructions for scheduling an appointment. Waiting times for an appointment can be lengthy (up to several weeks or longer), especially during the busy summer months. Schedule your appointment as soon as possible after receiving your visa documents.

4. Prepare Documents For Your Visa Interview

All visa applicants must provide the following documents to the U.S. embassy or consulate at the time of their application:

  • Valid passport
  • I-20 document
  • Admission letter (or print out of electronic admission notification)
  • Documented proof of financial support for, at least, one year (scholarship or assistantship letter, bank statement, etc.)
  • Receipt of SEVIS fee payment
  • Visa application forms (available from the U.S. embassy/consulate)
  • Any documents requested by embassy/consulate
5. Practice for Your Visa Interview

We recommend practicing your visa interview with a family member or friend!

Importance of Name Consistency

To avoid problems or delays in obtaining your visa and entering the United States, ensure that the name printed on all of your immigration documents is written exactly as it is shown in your passport (specifically, the Machine Readable Zone on the bottom of the biographical page). Always write your name clearly, and:

  • Do not use punctuation (such as hyphens, apostrophes, periods, or commas), numbers, or non-English letters or markings.
  • Do not use “nicknames” or shortened names.
  • Do not include prefixes or suffixes (such Dr, Mr, Ms, II, Jr, MD).
  • Spaces can be used between multiple names, and always use them consistently.
  • If you only have one name, write your name in the Surname/Primary Name field and leave the Given Name field blank.  

Visa Denials

If your visa is denied, ask the consular official to provide a written explanation of the denial, and then contact ISSS for assistance.

Administrative Processing and Security Clearance Checks

Some visa applicants will be subject to additional screening that will delay the issuance of the visa. This is NOT a denial. Most applicants who are subject to administrative processing or a security clearance check will receive a visa within one to two months (although, it can take longer). You cannot prevent additional screening or security clearance, and ISSS cannot intervene to speed up the process. 

Maintaining Your Legal Status

As a student, it is your responsibility to maintain your immigration status and to inform the University and/or International Student and Scholar Services when there is a change in your situation, such as a change in program information, registration, personal information, or dependent information. Learn more about maintaining your legal status in the U.S.

You must maintain your legal status at all times while you are in the U.S. F-1 students who allow their legal status document (I-20) to expire and do not reinstate or apply for an extension within the prescribed grace period (60 days for F-1) are “overstayers.” If you become an overstayer, you are in violation of your legal status and your U.S. entry visa stamp may be canceled, and this may affect your ability to reenter the U.S. in the future.

When you travel around the U.S. or leave the country temporarily, be sure to carry your passport and I-20 with you.

If you plan to leave the country for any period during your exchange program, you must notify ISSS staff. 


If you have questions regarding your immigration status, you can speak with an ISSS advisor.

Visa Considerations Prior to Returning Home

F-1 visa holders can stay in the U.S. for up to 60 days after the end date on their I-20. Students who wish to travel within the U.S. for a longer period of time should consult with an ISSS advisor to discuss legal options. Be aware that if you exit the U.S. during the 60-day grace period, you will not be allowed to reenter the country because your student visa status will have expired.

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When to Arrive

We suggest our students arrive between August 22 and August 26 to attend UMN welcome events for new students. 

If any of the following circumstances apply to you, we suggest you arrive 2-3 weeks before classes begin:

  • You have chosen to live off-campus in privately-owned housing and need to secure accommodation (see the Housing section below for more information) 
  • You have an "AZ hold" and you would like to take the English proficiency exam. You should arrive early to allow extra time for the exam to be scored and register for classes.

What to Bring

General Recommendations

People in Minnesota prefer to dress casually, both in and out of the classroom. Feel free to dress informally during most of your program. It's a good idea to pack one formal outfit for special occasions.

Don’t forget the essentials, such as medication and identification documents. You don’t want to arrive at the airport without your passport! Make sure to pack enough prescription medication to last you for the duration of the program.

For students choosing to live in university housing, please refer to the suggested packing list from the Office of Housing and Residential life. 

Sample Packing List

Please note that this list is only a guide. Most of the items listed here, other than certain prescription medication and travel documents, can be purchased in Minnesota. 

Information about packing restrictions on international flights can be found on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website, or by checking with your airline.

  • passport & photocopy of passport
  • visa
  • vaccination certificate
  • prescription medications
  • health insurance card
  • extra spending cash for gifts, meals, and activities not included in the program
  • credit/ATM card (for emergencies or instead of cash)

Fall, Spring, Summer

  • shorts / skirts / sundresses
  • light jacket / rain jacket
  • sandals


  • thermal clothing or many layers of clothing
  • winter coat
  • thick gloves or mittens
  • warm winter hat and/or earmuffs
  • thick shoes or boots
  • winter scarf
  • wool socks

All Seasons

  • casual shirts
  • sweater(s)
  • jeans or casual pants
  • belt
  • swimming suit
  • pajamas
  • fitness / outdoor shoes
  • dress shoes
  • socks
  • underwear
  • hat
  • sunglasses
  • watch
  • 1 semi-formal outfit
  • razor for shaving
  • shaving gel
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • soap
  • shampoo / conditioner
  • deodorant
  • towel
  • sanitary items (women)
  • comb / hairbrush
  • other personal care items (hair products, makeup, fingernail clippers, hand lotion, etc.) 
Other items to consider 
  • small backpack for day trips and classes
  • camera
  • notebook
  • folder
  • pens
  • books, music player, or other entertainment
  • headphones
  • umbrella
  • sunscreen
  • snack for the plane
  • wall socket adapter (North America uses the NEMA Types A and B connectors)


We are fortunate in Minnesota to experience all four seasons. However, Minnesota weather can also be unpredictable. To help you prepare for your time in Minnesota, we recommend referencing for an overview of monthly climate data for Minneapolis.

Arrival at the Airport

Immigration and Customs

Immigration and Customs is a security checkpoint staffed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The staff might ask you some questions about your travels. After Immigration and Customs, you will proceed to Baggage Claim to collect your checked bags.

Baggage Claim

Baggage claim at MSP is similar to other large airports. You can check the TV screens as you walk through the claims area to see which port has your flight’s luggage. Each port is numbered.

Here’s a tip! Tie a ribbon or something else distinctive to one of the handles of your luggage. This will not only help you to find your own bag, but also prevent someone from mistakenly taking yours!

Lost Luggage

Sometimes, accidents happen and the airport might have misplaced your luggage. If you have searched the conveyor belt and still can’t find your bags, locate the Lost Baggage counter for assistance. They will ask for your address during your stay in Minnesota (so make sure you have the information about your residence hall or other housing on hand), and they will hand-deliver your lost bags to you as soon as they have retrieved it.

Transportation to Campus

There are several options for you to get from MSP to campus. 

Where to Go?

Fall semester students who requested Radius or Yudof Hall may move in anytime after August 15. Fall semester students living in Centennial Hall will need to reserve International Early Arrival Housing. Spring semester students should contact their housing in advance of arrival to request an early move-in date.

There is no cafeteria service on campus before school begins, so students will need to visit local grocery stores or restaurants (see the Shopping & Eating section for more information).

Priorities Both Before and When You Arrive

International Student Preparation Course

The University of Minnesota’s international student orientation begins with an online preparation course. All new international students must complete the International Student Preparation Course. This online program is designed to help you learn about your immigration status and prepare for success at the University of Minnesota. You should complete this orientation prior to your arrival in Minnesota.

The online orientation will help you:

  • Learn critical rights and responsibilities of international students
  • Learn of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) programs
  • Learn about accessing health care and understanding insurance coverage
  • Receive an introduction to valuable campus and community resources
  • Review expectations of students at the University

The International Student Preparation Course is mandatory for all exchange students.

Upload Your Documents to MyISSS

After arrival, you must scan and submit your documents using the ISSS Check-in: Document Check form in MyISSS. The documents you need to submit are:

  • Passport biographical page
  • I-20 form
  • F-1 visa
  • Most recent I-94 record of entry to the U.S. (you will receive this when you enter the United States)

The AI registration hold on your student account will not be removed until you have completed International Student Preparation Course and the ISSS Check-in.

Complete English Proficiency Testing

Students with a low English test score may be required to take an English test when they arrive on campus. They may also be required to take a supportive English class during their first semester, in addition to their other coursework.

If you have an AZ hold on your student record please contact the Minnesota English Language Program for advising on how to remove the hold before orientation. If you plan to take the English proficiency test offered by the University of Minnesota, you should arrive by the mandatory arrival date.

Exchange Student Orientation

All exchange students will participate in a specially designed orientation session before the start of your classes. During orientation, you will get to know more about:

  • Course Registration
  • Health and safety for travelers in the U.S.
  • Minnesotan and American culture
  • Emergency information and resources during your time at the University of Minnesota
  • American academics and classroom etiquette

Obtain UMN Identification Card

Every University of Minnesota student must obtain a UMN ID card. The “U Card” is your key to many campus services and facilities, such as the library, recreation center, computer labs, and residence hall dining rooms. Once you arrive on campus, you can obtain your U Card by bringing your passport to the U Card office in Coffman Union between 8:00 am and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. There is no charge for the card. For more information, visit the U Card Office website

Sign Up for Phone Service

Cell Phones

If you want a cell phone in the U.S., contact one of the wireless companies in the Twin Cities. You can find a complete list of major wireless providers and their locations online (such as AT&T, Nextel, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon).

Remember to bring an official ID (passport) with you to the store. It will be required for most services including getting a new phone, signing a new contract, or getting a new SIM card. Some companies require a Social Security Number (SSN) if you want to be billed for your service. There are also options for obtaining cell phone service without an SSN, such as “pay-as-you-go” plans and prepaid phones.

Dialing in the U.S. and Twin Cities

For reporting an emergency: Dial  911 from any phone to request fire, medical (serious illness or injury), or police assistance.

All other telephone numbers in the United States have ten digits, for example:  612-555-9000. The first three digits are the “area code.” The area codes in the Twin Cities area are 612, 651, 763, and 952.


Students may open a bank account in the U.S., even if they will stay only one or two semesters. There are several banks with campus branches that are accustomed to working with international students. Having a U.S.-based bank account will make paying University charges much easier. 

Culture Shock

a visualization of the phases of culture shock

Model adapted from S.H. Rhinesmith, (1975). Bring home the world: A management guide for community leaders of international programs

When you travel to another country, you are choosing to place yourself in an unfamiliar environment. The people, the language, and even the food will probably seem different from what you are used to in your home country. This can be a great experience! You will learn much more about U.S. culture while you are here in Minnesota living alongside Americans. However, it is also important to remember that sometimes, these experiences can be overwhelming, uncomfortable, or just plain hard to understand!

It is very common for travelers to have these feelings of apprehension or discomfort. They are all a part of what we call “culture shock.” Culture shock can happen to any traveler, and it is important that you learn how to understand your own culture shock and eventually overcome it so that you can accept and enjoy the environment around you.

The diagram above is a depiction of the “cultural adjustment model.” It illustrates the emotional highs and lows that occur naturally when you are out of your comfort zone for an extended period of time. The model starts with pre-departure and continues through your return home. Experiencing these ups and downs while in another country is normal and will likely be experienced by all students in some way.

Your experience may be mild or extreme during your time in Minnesota. If you are not experiencing any ups and downs at all, you may not be engaging enough with your program or classes. Remember, you chose this program to experience something new and different from home. Embrace it, even if you feel uncomfortable at times! If you are experiencing extended lows, though, it is very important to discuss your situation with ISSS staff. Here are a few tips for dealing with culture shock:

  1. Remember to take time for self care: eat a healthy diet, get fresh air, maintain a healthy sleep schedule, and exercise.
  2. Stay in touch with friends and family, but limit contact to a few times a week to allow your mind and body to adjust to your new living environment.
  3. Join a fitness class, student group, or club to make new friends.  

Students often say that dealing with cultural adjustment upon returning to their home country is more difficult than cultural adjustment experienced while in the U.S. This can be attributed to many factors, and is commonly referred to as reverse culture shock. After a new and exciting experience, it can be difficult to adjust back to a normal routine back at home. Also, because family and close friends may not have experience traveling abroad, it might be difficult to find others who understand what you experienced. If your emotional lows upon returning are excessively low, or seem out of character for you, the most important thing to do is to talk to someone.

Remember, everyone who has traveled abroad has to deal with culture shock. It’s part of the experience! And talking about it helps you better understand that experience.

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University Housing

You have three different University housing options to choose from. Each one offers something unique and they are all located close to classroom buildings, libraries, shopping and recreational areas. Residents may participate in social, educational, cultural and recreational opportunities, and benefit from the services, skills, and time of a committed on-site staff.


Radius living room

Radius is one of the newest housing options managed by the University. It features apartment-style accommodations with full kitchen, living room, and private or shared bedroom; located a few blocks off-campus, near Dinkytown.

Yudof Hall

students lounging in Yudof Hall

Yudof Hall is one of the most conveniently located on-campus housing options, just steps from both Coffman Memorial Union and the Boynton Health Center. Yudof features apartment-style accommodations with kitchenettes, living room, and private or shared bedroom.

Centennial Hall

Front desk staff at Centennial

Centennial Hall offers the quintessential U.S. dormitory experience with the option to have a single, double, or 3-person suite. Bathrooms are shared and meals are provided in the dining halls.

Arrange Your Own Housing

If you prefer to make your own housing arrangements, start by visiting the University's Off Campus Living office for the most up-to-date information on how to select housing, an overview of local neighborhoods, and other useful tips.

We strongly advise against entering into rental agreements with people unknown to you, or for apartments you have not seen.

For assistance with off-campus housing, you can visit or contact the following University of Minnesota office:

Housing & Residential Life
Comstock Hall East
210 Delaware St. S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Tel: (612) 624-2994
E-mail: [email protected]

Temporary Housing

If you choose to live off-campus, it may take a week or more to find permanent housing after arriving in Minnesota. Fall semester students can stay temporarily in a campus residence hall from mid-July until one week before classes begin for about $26 per night. This must be reserved in advance through International Early Arrival Housing.

As a reminder, students planning to look for housing off-campus are encouraged to arrive by early August to start searching. The rental housing market is very tight, especially at the start of a new school year. Students seeking a four- or nine-month lease may need to allocate extra time to their search.

Local Neighborhoods

The University of Minnesota is located in the center of the state’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Students interested in shopping, eating, or exploring beyond campus are delighted by what these cities have to offer. Below is a short list of some of the unique neighborhoods near campus.

Neighborhood Map


Dinkytown is one of the most popular destinations for students and the heart of the East Bank of campus. The streets of Dinkytown feature an array of cafes, coffee houses, restaurants, bookstores, and shops.

Stadium Village

Stadium Village, right across from the southeastern residence halls, is a central location for students. There’s a restaurant on every corner, offering everything from bagels to lo mein to burgers and fries. 


Cedar-Riverside is a well-known neighborhood off of the West Bank. It has an interesting blend of collegiate, artsy, trendy, and funky influences. The neighborhood is home to theaters and music clubs, ethnic and vegetarian restaurants, co-ops and cafes.

St. Anthony Park

St. Anthony Park is near UMN's St. Paul campus. A quaint community of shops and restaurants are clustered about a half-mile from campus. It is a suburban neighborhood of malls, shops, movie theaters, and restaurants.

Downtown Minneapolis

Downtown Minneapolis is just a 5-minute bus or light rail ride from the West Bank. Downtown will have everything you need - stores, restaurants, a library, bars, theaters, and plenty of events. See the skyscrapers, watch a parade, or just explore the heart of the city.

Downtown St. Paul

Downtown St. Paul is a quieter city center than Minneapolis. Famous for its theaters and museums, Downtown St. Paul is a great place for trying new restaurants, relaxing in the park, or watching the boats on the Mississippi River. 

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Course Options

Non-Degree Status

Exchange students are admitted to the University as non-degree students. As a non-degree student, there will be restrictions on the courses available to you. Because we cannot authorize exceptions, students need to be flexible regarding the classes they take.

Course Selection

At the University of Minnesota, you are able to choose from a wide variety of courses, even those located in departments outside your major. We will work with you to help you enroll in the courses you need. You should refer to the University’s Class Schedule Builder to gain a sense of what specific courses are offered in your areas of interest. Courses cannot be guaranteed. If there are specific courses you must take to be able to gain credit at your home institution, please note those on your course selection form. We are unable to confirm available courses prior to your arrival. However, you will receive course advising help after you arrive in Minnesota.

Please note:
  • All courses are offered on a space-available basis.
  • Undergraduate students are eligible to enroll in undergraduate courses (those listed as 0xxx-4xxx).
  • Not all courses are offered every semester.  
  • Economics (ECON), Chemical Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering courses are not available to exchange students. 
  • Courses in Sports Management, Statistics, and those offered by the Carlson School of Management are very popular. Exchange students may only be able to take 2-3 courses from these areas per semester.
  • Course registration will be finalized after students arrive on campus.


Some courses will have prerequisites, or courses that you should take prior to registering for the class. If you have already taken equivalent prerequisites at your home university, you may be able to take the course. If you are not sure, or if the permission of the instructor is required, you will need to check with the professor or department once you arrive on campus. It is not possible to receive permission in advance to take upper-level courses and we ask that you also do not contact faculty or departments in advance, as they do not know which restrictions apply to exchange students.

Course Load and Evaluation

A normal undergraduate course load is 12-16 credits per semester. All exchange students are required by U.S. immigration regulations to take a minimum of 12 credits each semester, regardless of the level of coursework they are taking. 

Most courses at the University of Minnesota are two, three, or four credits. The number of credits is based on the number of hours you spend in class each week. For example, a four-credit class will meet four hours per week. You should expect two to three hours of work outside of class (reading, doing assignments, etc.) for each hour spent in class.

The U.S. education system consists of frequent testing. Students should be prepared for an intense workload, and they should be cautious about taking too many classes or extracurricular activities in their first semester. In addition to the final exam, most classes will have a mid-term examination. Weekly assignments of short essays or quizzes (short tests) are also common. Although many types of examinations are used, multiple choice, true/false, and short answer exams are the most common in 1000-level courses. 3000-, 4000- and 5000-level courses usually involve essay examinations and 8- to 15-page research papers. Working in groups with other students is also common.

Course Numbering System

The University classifies courses as 1000-, 2000-, 3000-, 4000-, 5000-, 6000-, or 8000-level. The 1000- and 2000-level courses are introductory and are generally taken by first- and second-year students. The 3000- and 4000-level courses require some knowledge of the subject, and are generally taken by third- and fourth-year students. 1000 and 2000-level courses often involve large lecture sessions (100–500 students), complemented by smaller discussions or labs (20–30 students). Lectures are usually taught by professors, while the labs and discussions are led by teaching assistants (advanced graduate students). 5000-level courses are graduate level, although advanced undergraduates with sufficient academic qualifications may take these. 8000-level courses are advanced graduate seminars and are not open to undergraduate or exchange students. 6000-level business courses are not open to exchange students.

Minnesota English Language Program (MELP)

Want to improve your English? If you are interested in improving your English skills before beginning your academic classes, the Minnesota English Language Program (MELP) offers an Intensive English Language Program during the summer. MELP also offers American English Courses during the school year for credit, including courses focused on Grammar, Pronunciation, Reading & Writing, and Listening & Speaking. To learn more, please contact MELP at [email protected], visit their website, or meet with them at 216 Pillsbury Dr SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455.


Registration Time

You will register for classes during orientation. We are unable to confirm available classes prior to your arrival; however, you will receive advising help before registering for classes.

Registration Holds

It is essential that you take action to remove the registration holds that are on your student record before your registration time (to see a list of the holds on your record, go to MyU and click on the “Holds” tab). You will not be allowed to register for classes until these holds are removed. ISSS will either permanently or temporarily remove the AI (“Determine Visa Status”) hold from your record after you complete the International Student Preparation Course and attend the ISSS Welcome Session. If you have an AZ (“ESL”) hold, you must take steps to remove it when you arrive in Minnesota to avoid a delay in your registration. More information will be provided in your pre-arrival emails. Read more information on removing common holds.

Grading Status

In most cases, students can take courses pass/fail (S/N) rather than for a letter grade (A–F). However, be aware that it is not possible to receive a letter grade at a later date if you elect to take a class pass/fail. Be sure to check with your home institution about grade requirements in advance. Note that undergraduate international students must maintain at least a 2.0 (C) average each semester in order to remain in status with their visa requirements. 

Canceling and Adding Classes

You may change your registration within the timeframes — and with college scholastic committee/instructor approvals — shown on the Onestop Website. This is usually within the first one to two weeks of each semester. If you have questions, contact the exchange coordinator.

Building Your Schedule

The University has developed a Schedule Builder to help you choose from available courses:

  1. Go to and click on the “Academics” tab.
  2. Under “Enrollment Tools,” select “Schedule Builder.”
  3. Type in the course you wish to register for into the “Search for courses…” box. Click “Search.”
  4. If you do not know the specific course, select “Subjects.” They are divided by course levels (i.e., 1xxx, 3xxx, 5xxx) in different tabs at the top of the page.
  5. When you have found a course, select the down arrow from the “Add course” button
  6. Repeat steps until you have selected all courses. You can review your selections under “Courses/Sections” on the left hand side.
  7. Click “Build Schedules.”
  8. Look through schedule options and determine which one is for you. Open sections are noted by the green check mark Waitlist sections are noted by the yellow clock Closed sections are noted by the red X.
  9. When you have selected the schedule you would like, you can click “send to Shopping Cart” button.
  10. Select A-F grading and enter permission numbers.

Abbreviations and Terms

The University uses a lot of abbreviations and special terms. Check out our guide to common abbreviations and terms to help you through the registration process.

Academic Support

There are a number of resources and academic support services on campus that can help you be a successful student. You should first reach out to the exchange coordinator and ISSS’s Academic Services.

Academic Advisors

With all of the choices for the classes they can take, students often want to talk with an academic advisor. The first thing to remember about academic advising is that you, as an exchange student, are primarily concerned with fulfilling requirements for your home university. You should discuss your program carefully with the appropriate contact person at your home university and have a good idea of what types of courses you should be taking at the University of Minnesota. A typical course load is 12-16 credits per semester  of undergraduate-level work. 

Do not contact advisors or professors at the University of Minnesota until you arrive on campus and meet with our staff. Exchange staff will identify academic advisors who will be able to meet with you once you arrive.

Academic Integrity

A key to your success on campus is understanding U.S. standards and practices regarding academic integrity. Please take the time to review this important information:

Academic Support Units

The University of Minnesota has many resources on campus to help you with everything from writing essays to making friends. Here are a few of the many offices on campus you should be aware of, including a map of where to find them!


The University of Minnesota Libraries provide a wide-range of collections and services to all students, faculty, and staff of the UMN. The collections contain materials in many languages and expert librarians and staff are skilled in supporting international students.

The library provides an online guide that can be found on their website at This guide helps to orient those new to the University and connect students with helpful resources and programs specific to their area of study. 

Workshops, tutorials, and guides can assist with any of information needs. These resources can be done face-to-face or accessed online.

Disability Resources

The University's Disability Resource Center facilitates access to learning, working, and participating in campus life for anyone with a disability.

If you have a disability (i.e., visual, audio, mobility, learning, etc.), contact your exchange coordinator at least two months prior to arrival, who will work with the Disability Resource Center to provide appropriate accommodations.


You can request a variety of transcripts from the University of Minnesota on the MyU website:

  • Official (electronic or paper)
  • Unofficial

Note: If you request a transcript directly from the Office of the Registrar before your grades have been posted, you will receive an incomplete transcript, as your request will be processed right away.

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Insurance Coverage

The U.S. insurance and health care system is often confusing to international students and is usually very different from that of their home countries. For example, a “national” health insurance plan is not available for all U.S. citizens or international students.

Insurance for each student begins at the start of the semester and runs until the day before the next semester starts. So, if you arrive for fall semester, your insurance will begin in August and end mid-January.

Boynton Student Health Benefit Plan

Medical expenses in the U.S. can be extremely high—one day in the hospital can cost well over $10,000—even for routine care. To prevent international students from worrying about their health and being responsible for high medical bills, the University requires all international students to carry the University’s Student Health Benefit Plan (SHBP). The SHBP will cover most costs, typically 80%-100% of your medical bills. You may often end up paying just $10 per office visit, called a “co-payment.” 

Exchange students will be automatically enrolled in the SHBP. You should NOT purchase alternative U.S. health insurance from a private insurance company.

Types of Care

Primary Care 

Boynton Health Service is a primary care provider conveniently located on the University of Minnesota campus. Boynton’s services include primary and urgent care, mental health care, dental and eye clinics, a pharmacy, a women’s clinic, physical therapy, and more. Free flu shots are available at Boynton too.

Boynton Health Services has a checklist for international students.

Learn about the different types of health care services you will find at Boynton.

Urgent Care (After Hours) 

When you have a non-emergency illness, minor injuries, or discomfort, call Boynton’s Medical Information Nurse at 612-625-7900 (phone answered 24 hours a day) to find what type of service you might need.

You can also visit an urgent care provider without an appointment. Fairview Urgent and Same-Day Care is available at various locations. You can also find additional urgent care providers or a network doctor, clinic, or hospital.

Do not go to an emergency room unless your condition is a true emergency.

Emergency Medical Assistance

If you need emergency medical assistance or an ambulance, call 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency room. 


The Student Health Benefit Plan covers prescription drugs only when dispensed at the Boynton Health Service Pharmacy, so it is recommended that you get medicines prescribed by your doctor to be filled at the Boynton Pharmacy. More information on Pharmacy Benefits is available at the SHBP website.

When appropriate, you might want to purchase Over-The-Counter (OTC) medicine for times when you have mild cold symptoms, a minor stomach issue, or mild pain. OTC drugs do not require a doctor’s prescription, and you can purchase them at pharmacies and grocery or convenience stores. OTC medicines are not covered by the Student Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) but may save you time and money. 

Mental Health 

In the U.S., it is very common to seek counseling services or mental health assistance when people experience stress, loneliness, helplessness, homesickness, depression, sleep problems, eating disorders, and anxiety in daily life. It is also quite normal for international students to experience those feelings because of difficulties with cultural adjustment, communication in English, new friendships and relationships, and studying in a new cultural context. Read more about cultural adjustment or culture shock under the Arrival in the U.S. section above.

Students may seek care at the Boynton Mental Health Clinic. Another option is the University Counseling and Consulting Services, which is fully confidential and free of charge for students.

Other helpful counseling and mental health resources at the University include:

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Estimated Expenses

2023–24 Exchange Semester Fees

Student should check with their home institution and their UMN acceptance letter for tuition benefit details.

Tuitionvaries based on exchange agreement 
University Feesmandatory$1,332
International Health Insurancemandatory$1,795
Housing and Meals (estimate)$1,386/month x 4 months$6,389
Fees, dates, and activities are subject to change.

More information on student fees and other details can be found on the Onestop website.

Exchange Tuition Benefits

When specified by an agreement, exchange benefits provide tuition for 12-20 course credits per semester for those admitted as undergraduates. The minimum credit load for non-degree seeking undergraduates is 12, as regulated by the University and the U.S. State Department. There is no additional tuition charge for any credits over 12, but we advise that exchange students do not take more than 16 credits per semester. Tuition benefits for the exchange do not cover:

  1. Courses in the Professional Schools and other courses that have a special tuition rate 
  2. Special course fees (for example, music lessons, sports equipment, art supplies) 
  3. Online “Unite” courses in the College of Science and Engineering.

If you take classes of the sort listed above, you are responsible for paying all tuition and fees incurred.

ISSS will make arrangements to pay exchange benefits for the appropriate programs. However, you must pay any charges which are your responsibility (such as housing charges, special course fees, the cost of a bus pass, etc.) during the first week of classes and directly to the University to avoid being charged late fees.


Timing of Bills

Your total fee statement for tuition, fees, insurance, and campus housing will be posted to your student account once you are registered for courses, and must be paid in full by the first due date. If you do not pay your bill in full, you risk having your course registration cancelled, thereby violating your visa status. Students living in campus housing will also be billed a $25 Housing Application Fee.

Pay Tuition with FlyWire

International students can pay tuition online through their Student Account by using Flywire. This is a service that allows you to bypass international transfer fees and access foreign exchange rates that are more favorable than those offered by banks.

To take advantage of this option, log in to MyU and go to the “My Finances” tab. Select “International Payment” when making your payment. You will need to create an account with Flywire, so have your student ID and information available. Watch this short video — made just for international students — which explains the process. Learn more at

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Explore Campus

The Twin Cities campus of the University is really two campuses: the Minneapolis campus (within ten minutes of the bustling downtown) and the St. Paul campus (a spacious, rolling campus on the edge of a charming city neighborhood). The campuses are linked by a special shuttle bus system that is free of charge.

Minneapolis Campus

The Minneapolis campus spans the Mississippi River, and its east and west banks are connected by a double-decker bridge. The Carlson School of Management (CSOM), College of Liberal Arts (CLA), College of Education & Human Development (CEHD), College of Design (CDes), College of Science and Engineering (CSE), and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs are all located on the Minneapolis campus. You will have less than a 20-minute walk to get from the residence halls to anywhere on the campus.

  • The East Bank, where many students take most of their classes, is the University’s birthplace. Its mostly traditional architecture testifies to the University’s long and very distinguished history as a land-grant institution.
  • The West Bank reflects the University’s expansion upward and outward in the geometric red-brick buildings that rise against the backdrop of the Minneapolis skyline. International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is located on the West Bank.

St. Paul Campus

About three miles away (15 minutes by the free campus bus), you’ll find the picturesque grounds of the St. Paul campus. With 3,700 students enrolled in the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) and College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Sciences (CFANS), the campus has a “small college” atmosphere, complete with small classes and a relaxed, neighborly feel.

Maps and Tours

Find out more about campus by taking a Virtual Walking Tour or by downloading campus maps

Organizations and Activities

Student Organizations

Student groups are a great way to engage with the campus community. There are more than 750 student organizations on campus, so you can find a group to join—no matter what your interest. We have everything from cultural groups, to career and academic organizations, to clubs that are just for fun. The groups are most active during fall and spring semesters. There are limited activities available during January and summer months. 

Student Unions & Activities 

Student Unions & Activities provides a place for the campus community to get involved, experience events, and develop skills to enhance the social, educational, and cultural environment of the University of Minnesota. They plan a variety of events, from rock concerts to trivia nights, and offer discounts and coupons for fun activities in the community. You can also find a place to study, go bowling, or meet with friends at one of the student unions:

Cultural Centers

Make sure to check out the Cultural Centers on Coffman’s second floor. Many students say this floor is a great place for meeting new people and relaxing between classes, and the Minnesota International Student Association (MISA) has a room just for you!

Sports and Recreation

Recreation and Wellness Center

The University's Recreation and Wellness Center on campus is a great place to workout. Among other amenities, they offer fitness centers, an indoor climbing and bouldering wall, and the Outdoor Adventure Rental Center. Minnesota Semester and Summer Session students have free access to the facility.

Intramural Sports

All students are welcome to join an intramural sports league (non-professional, non-competitive sports teams), offered through the Recreational Sports department.

Gopher Sports

Join in on the action by watching one of the many University sports team games. Tickets are very affordable, and the games are a great way to socialize and meet other students.

School Pride at UMN

Exchange students can’t help but notice the tremendous amount of school pride that permeates our campus. In fact, it can seem overwhelming, but it’s such an integral part of an American university experience that we encourage all of our students to join in!

Maroon and gold are the University's official colors; Goldy Gopher is our official mascot; and students will find all sorts of t-shirts, sweatshirts, and other gear with the UMN logo around campus.
School pride is most often displayed at sporting events. American college sports can be highly competitive, attracting some of the best athletes in the country and making the competition very fun to watch. The beauty of being a spectator is that it requires no training, just the willingness to show up and cheer on the Gophers. However, showing school spirit is not just reserved for sporting events. Students can also see and feel school pride when they hear the marching band, attend a student theatre or dance performance, or join in any of the annual events such as Homecoming week. In fact, most of our students return to their home university full of UMN pride and gear after their semester or year with us.

The University of Minnesota has a great website explaining the history and foundation of school pride. 


Programs for International Students

Global Gopher Experiences

Start your University of Minnesota journey in the best possible way with Global Gopher Experiences! This is a special opportunity for you to meet other new international students, prepare for classes, discover the University’s amazing services, and get advice from experienced international student leaders. These take place the weeks before classes start. 

Global Gopher Academy

The Global Gopher Academy is a customized pre-orientation program that will give you an early start to your new life at the University of Minnesota. You will have time to experience an American classroom, learn strategies for bridging cultural challenges, and prepare to succeed academically and personally at UMN.  Offered Fall semester only.

Registration is required, as space is limited. 

International Buddy Program (IBP)

The International Buddy Program wants to ease your transition to the University of Minnesota! As part of IBP, you will be matched (based on mutual interests) with a current undergraduate student to be your mentor. Your mentor will contact you before you travel to campus to help you prepare, guide you around the UMN and Twin Cities, teach you about academic and support resources, and be a familiar face on campus. IBP also hosts fun events throughout the semester! The IBP is available in both the fall and spring. 

Other Programs for International Students

ISSS organizes programs for international students wishing to gain leadership experience and meet international and domestic students. Many of these programs will accept new students during your first semester. 

  • Cross-Cultural Discussion Groups: Gathers small groups of international and U.S. students to explore cross-cultural issues and perspectives.
  • Small World Coffee Hour: Invites all students to learn about new cultures in a relaxing social environment.
Leadership Opportunities: 
  • Cross-Cultural Leadership Retreat: A highly interactive, high-energy retreat that becomes a living laboratory of what it takes to work with people from vastly different cultures.
  • Culture Corps: Enables international students to share their unique perspectives in classrooms and on campus.

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Minnesota Culture

"Minnesota Nice"

Ask any American what they think Minnesotans are like, and you’re sure to hear that word: nice. The polite, helpful, and non-confrontational attitude found in this state has become very iconic. Some outsiders love the attitude, since it means you feel welcomed and you know that you can find help if you have a problem. Others think it is frustrating because they feel like Minnesotans don’t act “real;” they see the politeness as a mask that hides what a Minnesotan really wants to say or do.

For better or worse, "Minnesota Nice" is a huge part of the culture in this state, and it is important that you understand how to interpret this attitude. 

Shopping and Eating

There are numerous small shops, groceries, and eateries around campus. On the Minneapolis campus you will find most of the shops and eateries in Stadium Village (near the residence halls) and in Dinkytown (just north of campus).


If you wish to purchase items for your room or apartment (such as sheets, pillows, lamps, clocks or kitchen utensils) you should consider making a trip to Target or IKEA. Items are very reasonably priced at these two stores. Other popular places to shop include The Mall of America, The Quarry, Rosedale Center, and Twin Cities Premium Outlets.


University cafeterias may not be open when you arrive on campus, so we have compiled a list of popular restaurants and groceries.

Acadia CafeAfro DeliAl's Breakfast
Bombay PalaceBurrito LocoChipotle
Five GuysGandhi MahalHong Kong Noodles
India Palace Jimmy John’sKeefer Court
Kimchi Tofu HouseKowloonMesa Pizza
Naf Naf Middle Eastern GrillNamaste Cafe Punch Pizza
QdobaShuang ChengShuang Cheng
Tea House ChineseTown Hall Brewery 

There are multiple grocery stores near campus which are accessible online or by lightrail or bus, such as:

Coborn's grocery delivery service
Cub Foods (grocery store)
CVS and Walgreens drug stores (limited food selection)
Fresh Thyme (grocery store)
Little India (Indian grocery store)
Shanghai Market (Asian grocery store)
Shuang Hur (Asian grocery store)
Target Express in Dinkytown (limited food selection)
Towfiq Grocery (Somali grocery store)
United Noodle (Asian grocery store)
Whole Foods Market (upscale grocery store)

Cost of Living Chart

The following is a sample cost of living chart for an average college student living in the Twin Cities. Your actual expenses may be more or less, depending on your spending habits.

Restaurants$10-20 (add 30% for tax and tip)
Half gallon of milk$1.50-2.50
Loaf of bread$3.00-4.00
Meat for sandwiches$6.00/lb.
Bottle of soda$1.50
One-way bus or light rail ticket$2.00-2.50 (depending on time of day)
Taxi from airport to University$30-50
Uber/Lyft from airport to University$20-25 

Things to Do


The Twin Cities is home to a nationally recognized music scene, including two world-class orchestras, several community orchestras and chamber groups, and scores of rock, jazz, folk, blues, country, and other music clubs. This is the home of Prince, Bob Dylan, The Replacements, Soul Asylum, and others.


A much-celebrated theater community with more than 80 professional theater companies—including the nationally renowned Guthrie and the Penumbra (the first professional black theater company in the country)—are located here.


Every April, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festive shows hundreds of foreign film at theaters in or around St. Anthony Main (north of the Minneapolis campus). There are a vast array of commercial theaters located nearby, featuring everything from art films to mainstream Hollywood hits.

Visual Arts

Those wishing to see art can visit many locations including the University's Weisman Art Museum (located on campus), Minneapolis Institute of Art, Walker Art Center (one of the premiere modern art museums in the country, including an acclaimed outdoor sculpture garden), the Minnesota Museum of American Art, and hundreds of privately owned galleries.

Lakes, Parks, and Outdoor Recreation

A huge park system runs throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul. It includes a network of parkways, waterways, walking and bicycle paths, nature trails, and cross-country ski trails, and it is accompanied by the hundreds of lakes in the metro area for boating, swimming, wind-surfing and ice skating.

And More

Minnesota has professional baseball, football, hockey, soccer, and basketball teams; two zoos; shopping, night life, restaurants, and the Mall of America (or “mega-mall”). Another great resource is the Twin Cities Multicultural Directory which allows you to search for a range of different churches, services, etc. 

In the words of one exchange student: “It’s not a problem of finding something to do; it’s a problem of not having enough time to do everything!”



According to U.S. immigration law, international students are eligible to work on campus for up to 20 hours per week during the semester and 40 hours per week during official school break periods. However, you should not rely on receiving a position to fund your stay in the U.S.. In addition, most international students find the required course load (students must take a full load of classes) very challenging and sometimes overwhelming. Thus, we recommend that you do not rely on earning income during your first semester on campus.

Working on campus means that you are employed by an office or organization of the University, and you receive a check from the University’s central payroll office. Working for a local restaurant or any other private organization is illegal.

Most student jobs are posted online. Since most employers seek students to begin work immediately, we suggest that you wait until you arrive on campus before beginning your search.


The Twin Cities benefits from a variety of public and University transportation options. Students can access free campus buses and/or buy an inexpensive semester-long pass for local buses and light rail train lines.

On-Campus Transportation

The University has a great free campus bus system for getting around. Find bus stop locations and check their frequency.  

Additionally, there are two more travel aides on campus that are especially helpful late at night: the Security Monitor Program’s free escort services, and the free Gopher Chauffeur.

  • Safe Walk will send a uniformed escort to walk with you at night on campus or in the surrounding areas. Just call 612-624-WALK (9255).
  • The Gopher Chauffeur is a University ride program provided by Boynton Health Services. Call to reserve a pick-up at 612-388-6911.

Metro Transit

Metro Transit is the name of the Twin Cities's bus and light-rail system. Stops are located throughout the University campuses for easy access, and can take you almost anywhere.

Metro Transit’s website provides schedules, fare prices, maps, and travel options for your convenience. If you prefer a hard copy, the University also has popular bus schedules in the student centers (Coffman Memorial Union and St. Paul Student Center), and in the West Bank Skyway.


Minneapolis and St. Paul are known for being bike friendly. Biking is a popular way to get around campus and the surrounding neighborhoods. We even have multiple short-term bike rental options.

A bike-share program called Nice Ride has stations all over the Twin Cities, including many on campus. These bikes are designed for short rides, and they can be rented for one trip or by monthly or annual subscriptions.  

Some students may wish to purchase a bicycle to use on campus and around the Twin Cities (there are numerous bike trails within the city, near its many lakes, and throughout its regional parks). There are several bicycle shops near campus and even new bicycles are reasonably priced. The University’s ReUse Center also has an auction of used bikes twice a year. A high-quality lock is recommended (like a U-bar or Kryptonite). Any bike store will have books and maps of bike trails in the area.

International Drivers License

Because of the good public transport system in the Twin Cities, it is not necessary to drive while in Minnesota. However, some students want to take extended road trips outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. If you would like to rent a car and need a valid driver’s license you can find more information here.

Campus Safety

SAFE U: Campus Safety

Safety and security are among the University of Minnesota’s top priorities. The University has its own professional police force, the University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD). The 911 Dispatch Center monitors nearly 2,300 security cameras on campus around the clock. There are 200 yellow phones for emergency, medical, and service-related calls, and 20 blue-light emergency call boxes located throughout campus. The University provides a free escort service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In the event of an emergency on campus, such as criminal activity and severe weather, the University uses multiple methods to notify the campus community and general public about the nature of the emergency, how to respond, class or event cancellations, and campus closure.

SAFE-U is the University's emergency notification text messaging system. Contact [email protected] to add numbers or update your phone number. This is mandatory.

You can report a crime that is not an emergency to the University of Minnesota Police Department at 612-624-2677 or submit an online police report.

Avoid walking alone especially at night.

  • Call UMPD’s Safe Walk service at 612-624-9255 (4-WALK) for a free escort between any campus locations and your housing. For more information, visit UMPD.
  • You can also call the Gopher Chauffer at 612-388-6911 for Free Safe Ride Home between 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

If you experience sexual harassment or assault, relationship violence, or stalking, consider calling the Aurora Center 24-hour help line at 612-626-9111. It is a fully confidential and free service.

Gun-Free Campus

University policy prohibits students, employees, or visitors to possess or carry a weapon while on University property, except for authorized personnel such as police officers and military personnel. More information at the Board of Regents Policy: Possession and Carrying of Weapons.

Alcohol and Illegal Drugs

The legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21. If you are under 21, you cannot possess or consume alcohol. Providing alcohol to anyone under 21 is also illegal. Read more in the University's policy on alcohol. Drinking in a public place, such as a park, is illegal. Never accept drinks from strangers. Do not leave a drink unattended at a bar or party. The purchase, use, possession, or distribution of any drugs considered to be illicit, illegal, or a controlled substance is prohibited by state and federal law.

Equity and Diversity

Under state and federal law and University policy, all students have an equal chance to participate and succeed in academic activities without discrimination based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, and sexual orientation. The University values diversity and strives to be free from discrimination and harassment.

The University currently has more than 5,100 international students from 130 countries enrolled at the University. Of the 900 student organizations registered with the Student Activities Office, more than 150 have a multicultural focus. The University of Minnesota made the top 25 list of most GLBT-Friendly campuses in the U.S. and hosts 40 GLBT (gay, lesbian, bi and transsexual) student organizations and initiatives. International GLBT discussion and support group information is available on the ISSS website

While studying in the U.S., you may find yourself confused or upset by experiencing stereotypical assumptions, name-calling, accusations, and discriminatory remarks. Prior to departure, take some time to research the U.S. cultural norms, customs, immigration patterns, historical and current conflicts, political policies, and laws. Understanding these will help you avoid frustration and anger, which could lead to confrontational and dangerous situations.

If you experience any issues with discrimination, contact GO Minnesota staff. You can also reach out to the University's Bias Response and Referral Network.

Timely Warnings

The University of Minnesota issues Timely Warnings to the campus community for crimes that occur on University property or in areas adjacent to campus. The Department of Public Safety is required to issue Timely Warning Notifications for crimes that meet the criteria under the Federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. These warnings are not meant to scare or upset students, but to inform them of crime information.

Timely Warnings are distributed via email to all University of Minnesota Twin Cities students, faculty and staff. Because a well-informed community is an asset to public safety, Timely Warnings include as much information as possible about the incident and the suspect – including the detailed description of a suspect as provided by the victim. That may include a complete physical description of the suspect such as race, approximate age, height and body type, as well as any unique identifying characteristics such as an accent, a distinctive article of clothing, or a vehicle used in a crime.

Personal Safety

Plan for Emergency Communications: Emergency Contact Card

You will be provided with an emergency card at orientation. Keep this card with you at all times and make sure that it includes the following information:

  • U.S. home address and phone
  • 911 and non-emergency phone number
  • Escort Service Number
  • Gopher Chauffeur number
  • Aurora Center phone number
  • GO Minnesota Contact
  • ISSS Contact
  • Embassy or consulate of your home country in the U.S. (phone, email, address and website)

Make several copies: one for you to carry with you at all times, one for home right next to the phone or bed, and another for your family.

If you have a smart phone that works in the U.S., it is highly recommended that you install the University of Minnesota App on your phone. Also, add all of your emergency contact information to your smart phone.

Safeguard Important Documents, Personal Information, and Valuables

Take special care of your travel documents, such as passport, visa, and tickets, keeping them with you in a safe, secure place.

  • Make a photocopy of your passport including all the pages that have any entry clearances or immigration stamps, and keep this copy separate from your passport.
  • If you do lose your passport, contact your Embassy and GO Minnesota staff immediately and give them your passport details
  • Do not give your name, telephone number, home address, or e-mail address to someone whom you do not know well.
  • Never give out your personal information, credit card number, or Social Security number through email.
  • Do not leave your property and valuables unattended or unsecured.
  • Bring enough cash to cover your immediate needs. Bring a credit card, if you have one.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash with you when you are out. Carry a minimal amount of valuables.
  • Be aware of others around you at cash machines, and try not to use cash machines at night or in poorly lit areas.
  • Give up your valuables if you are threatened. Do not resist. Your life is most important and is not replaceable.
Friendships and Relationships
  • Never get in a stranger’s car or go alone to a stranger’s home.
  • Never hesitate to say NO. Saying NO does not make you a ‘rude’ person. If you really want to be very polite, then you could say, “No, thank you.“
  • Avoid confrontation. It is better and safer to walk away if you are being provoked or hassled.
  • Meet a date in a public place or stay around others. Avoid isolation and darkness, especially at the beginning of a new relationship.
  • Go to parties with your friend and look after each other. Always have safe transportation home.
Housing Safety
  • Do not prop open entrances to buildings.
  • Always lock your door, especially when you are inside sleeping or when you go out.
  • Never open the door for strangers. Use door peepholes. Ask for ID or meet them in the hallway.
  • Know the neighborhoods and neighbors where you live and walk around. Know what stores and restaurants are open late as a temporary safe haven.
Sexual Harassment and Assault

Sexual harassment and assault is a very serious and complex issue around the world. Sexual and relationship violence may not be openly discussed in your country, but sadly, it does occur all across the world. In the U.S., 86% of sexual assault victims are female and 14% are male. Regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, socio-economic status, ability, physical appearance, or nationality, sexual or relationship violence can happen to anyone.

Laws on and definitions of sexual assault, harassment, and rape in the U.S. may be different from what you have learned in your country. In the U.S., sexual harassment and rape are very serious crimes. All forms of sexual harassment are illegal. Regardless of the cultural context, please know that you always have the right to feel safe. It is NEVER your fault if you are sexually assaulted or abused.

Sex without consent is considered rape. If you are in an uncomfortable situation, be direct by saying "No," "Stop that," "I don't like that," or "I don't want that." Leave and get yourself somewhere safe, then talk with someone you can trust in the U.S. immediately. Consider reporting to GO Minnesota program staff or calling the Aurora Center's 24/7 helpline at 612-626-9111 as soon as possible.

The Aurora Center is a fully confidential service, and you can request someone who can speak your native language.

Legal Resources

In the unlikely event that you run into any legal problems while a student at the University, you may contact University Student Legal Services for assistance.

Last updated: February 12, 2024