Preparing for FMU & the United States
Health Requirements, Immunization, and Insurance
International students are required to complete a health history form, supply dates of previous immunizations, and have a current PPD, which is a TB skin test. The current immunization form must be presented to FMU Student Health Services before the student will be allowed to register for classes. This form is sent to all students when they are accepted at FMU. A full listing of the required immunizations is available from the FMU Admissions Office.
Health insurance is mandatory for all international students. International students are required to obtain health insurance for at lease $50,000 coverage. If this insurance is not obtained before arrival at Francis Marion University, the student will not be allowed to register for classes and pre-registered courses may be dropped. FMU has a partnership with an insurance carrier regarding student health insurance. Please contact the ISA Office for more information or go to www.studentinsurance.com for the FMU insurance form.
Items to Bring
Climate and Clothing Needs: South Carolina has warm/hot weather from May to October, with temperatures usually ranging from 50 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 38 degrees Celsius). Cooler temperatures, ranging from 20 to 70 degrees F (-7 to 21 degrees C) usually occur from December to March. Students will need a heavy jacket during the winter months. Most students will purchase additional items for inclement weather (such as umbrellas, raincoats, etc.) upon their arrival.
Personal Items: Most students like to bring typical examples of art, crafts, traditional dress, photographs, tapes, maps, or other items descriptive of their country and culture to show interested Americans and provide a touch of home decoration to their new homes. Students may want to bring items they regularly use that may not be readily available, or may be more expensive in the United States. Examples include cameras, watches, personal electronics, or items available mainly in their home country.
If living on campus, basic furniture is provided in campus residence halls and apartments, but bed linens (twin long), blankets, pillows, and towels are not provided. If possible, students should bring a light blanket, a bed sheet, sheets and a towel. If that isn’t possible, you should plan to purchase them before moving into the residence hall. The ISA Office will provide transportation to local merchants to make such purchases.
Items not to Bring
You can obtain a booklet on U.S. Customs regulations at the consulate or embassy where you acquire your visa. Prohibited items include open containers of food, narcotics, agricultural products and goods for resale. Required textbooks and supplemental reading materials are available for purchase or in the University library. You do not need to bring books used in previous study.
It is best to purchase electrical appliances after your arrive. Appliances manufactured outside the United States may not work with our electrical system. The United States electrical system is 110 volts.
Until you have a mailing address in Florence, you may have your letters (not parcels) mailed to you in care of the:
Office of International Student Affairs
Francis Marion University
P O Box 100547
Florence, SC 29501-0547
“Hold for Arrival” should be marked on the envelope. The University cannot be responsible for any mail.
If living on campus, students may receive mail in a box assigned to them and packages may be received at the FMU Housing Office. Specific mailing addresses are sent with student housing assignments. Once you recieve your specific mailing address, please use it for all written correspondence.
Students living off campus may consider renting a postal box at a local U.S. Post Office upon their arrival. While there is no post office on campus, the ISA Office will arrange for weekly trips to a post office during the academic year.
Traveling to the United States
International students must arrange for transportation to Florence, South Carolina between 2 and 4 days prior to the beginning of classes. If requested at least two weeks in advance, the ISA Office will arrange for transportation from your arrival point in Florence (usually the Florence Airport or Bus Depot) to the FMU Campus.
Transportation: If you come directly to Florence from any U.S. port of entry, you will save money if you purchase a domestic travel ticket with your overseas flight. Otherwise you will need extra money in U.S. dollars to purchase an airline or bus ticket to Florence. Exchange rates and U.S. taxes generally make it more expensive to buy tickets after you arrive.
Before buying an airline ticket, you should shop for the most economical 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 several months prior to departure. The Council for International Education Exchange (CIEE) arranges trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific passage for groups and individuals.
CIEE also sells the International Student Identification Card, which provides for reduced air, bus and train tickets; accommodations discounts in major cites; discounts for certain services and shopping, and traveler’s health and accident insurance for the duration of your trip. Travel arrangements through the CIEE are optional, and are not required by FMU.
Luggage and Baggage
Please do not send baggage or packages in advance of your arrival because the University does not have storage facilities for luggage, trunks, or packages.
Regardless of cost for excess weight, most students find it better to bring all personal baggage on the plane (check with your travel agent or airline for size and weight limitations) rather ship it separately. Students shipping items separately may require the services of an agent to arrange for U.S. Customs clearance and forwarding of unaccompanied parcels. Such services are expensive and result in considerable delays. Once you arrive, you may receive packages and parcels if you are living on campus.
Many students find it more convenient to exchange their local currency for U.S. dollars before their departure. It is important to not travel with large amounts of cash, due to the danger of loss of theft. If students anticipate bringing large sums of money to the United States, they should consult with their bank about the safest and most convenient means of carrying and transferring funds. Some students make arrangements for funds to be transferred in U.S. dollars to a U.S. bank before they arrive in the U.S., and that money is available immediately upon arrival. Foreign currency is not available in most U.S. cities, and all local businesses (including FMU) accept only U.S. currency.
Students arriving in the U.S. should have sufficient funds to cover expenses until they arrive on campus. The amount depends on individual travel plans. Most students choose to use traveler’s checks, which may be obtained at banks or travel offices and can be cashed by most businesses, including hotels, restaurants, and airports. Most vendor’s in the United States also accept major credit cards, such as Visa or MasterCard.
It is also advisable to carry a small amount of cash – at least one hundred dollars in paper currency and two or three dollars in coins for bus fares, telephones, baggage, lockers and tips.
Arrival at the University
Students are expected to arrive at the University no later than the arrival date specified on your I-20 form. There will be an orientation program to become familiar with the campus and its resources. Students need to secure housing, get settled in, and learn about University procedures and regulations, register for courses, recover from travel fatigue, and begin the transition of life in a new environment and cultural setting. See the section on Traveling to the United States for more information.