IPOP Mentors & Participants 2019

International Pre-Orientation Program (IPOP)

Please complete this form as soon as your flight is booked. 

Upside-down world map: Who says north is "up"?

The world, like a ball, has no top. Top is a matter of habit, convention, and emphasis. If you look at the world from only one vantage point, you miss so much. Our lives are enriched when we see things from a different point of view! (What's up? South! WORLD map)

Planning for IPOP 2020

Grinnell is an international-student-friendly campus and we are eager to meet you! Your success is the primary focus of the Office of International Student Affairs (OISA). We are fluent in the regulatory needs of non-immigrant students and the nuances of cultural sojourn. We will help you navigate these issues so that you can focus on your academic priorities!

Faculty and staff partners support diversity and inclusion in the classroom and throughout campus life. The local community welcomes inter-generational friendship and cross-cultural exchange through Friends of International Students (FIS) and our Cultural Attaché program — both programs offer the opportunity to get to know our town. The International Student Organization (ISO), one of many student-led groups, will invite your participation as they celebrate identity and build community. Grinnellians are engaged in campus life — through varsity or intramural athletics, volunteer service, student government, study abroad, campus employment, etc.

We look forward to getting to know you!

Karen Edwards, Associate Dean & Director of International Student Affairs, PDSO/RO
Brenda Strong, Assistant Director of International Student Affairs, DSO/ARO
Mollie Ullestad, International Student Advisor, DSO

IPOP participants must arrive on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020.

  • If you will arrive before Aug. 16, you must make your own arrangements for lodging and/or transportation. You could stay in Des Moines and meet our IPOP shuttle on Sunday. Late arrivals require advance permission from the OISA. For F visa holders, a late entry can result in a denial at the U.S. Port of Entry.

International students are required to attend IPOP, and U.S. global nomads are also invited. 

  • International students usually secure F-1 student visas to study in the U.S. Most of Grinnell’s international students are degree seeking, and intend to spend four years working toward a bachelor’s degree.
  • Global nomads (sometimes called third culture kids) are individuals who have spent significant parts of their childhood outside of their passport country(s) — often because of a parent’s occupation.

You should fly into the state capital, Des Moines, Iowa, which is 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Grinnell — a one-hour drive.

  • During IPOP, the College only provides transportation from Des Moines International Airport.

On Sunday and Monday, you will move into your room; explore campus; submit required paperwork; open a bank account; and complete your medical check-in. F-1 visa holders must present your immigration documents, and we will also offer shopping shuttles and social programs. Required sessions begin on Tuesday — you will learn about regulatory issues, academic culture, and campus life. Students who apply to participate in Friends of International Students (FIS) get to meet your host! It will be an action-packed week, and New Student Orientation begins on Friday.

All IPOP participants are assigned a mentor (an upper class student leader) and a group of amigos (which is Spanish for ‘friends’). The OISA, your FIS host, your mentor, and your amigos will all be valuable partners as you transition to Grinnell. Your IPOP mentor will contact you this summer via your @Grinnell.edu email address.

Most international students arrive on their own — but if your family travels with you to Grinnell, we hope to meet them! Please confirm their attendance when you complete your IPOP Pre-Arrival Registration & Transportation form. Family members are invited to participate in several sessions on Tuesday, Aug. 18 — including the Opening Plenary, a campus tour, and dialogue with staff and faculty guests. Most family members depart on Aug. 19.

Please make advance reservations for your family’s lodging and transportation. There is no local taxi service, so please consider distance from campus when you book a room.You can reserve seats for you family on the Aug. 16 IPOP shuttle from Des Moines to Grinnell (billed to your student account) and you can pre-arrange their return airport transportation via Facilities Management 641-269-3300.  If your family plans to rent a car, you should arrange for pick up and drop off at the Des Moines Airport.

  1. Immigration Documents:  Students seeking F-1 status must complete the I-20 Request Form. Upon receiving the I-20, you must submit your SEVIS Fee and initiate the VISA application process.
  2. Explore the IPOP webpage.
    • Friends of International Students: As soon as possible (and before June 1), submit the (FIS) Student Form if you would like to be matched with an FIS host. This opportunity is for IPOP participants only, and most students really enjoy it! FIS hosts are local families and individuals who want to help introduce you to the town, and befriend you throughout your first year at Grinnell (many friendships last longer). The website offers more details and priority is given to students who apply early. FIS students and hosts meet each other at a reception during IPOP.
    • IPOP Registration & Transportation Form: All IPOP participants must submit this form as soon as your flight is booked (and before August 1). It asks about dietary needs and emergency information, as well as your transportation plans.  
      • If you need transportation to campus, use this form to reserve a seat on the IPOP airport shuttle from Des Moines International Airport on Sunday, Aug. 16 (do not sign up through Facilities Management). We will try to assist you regardless of your arrival time. Since we are accommodating a large number of arrivals, you may need to wait at the airport. If your flight changes, call or email the OISA at 641-269-3703. Your student account will be billed $30 per seat, and you may also reserve seats for family members. Shuttle riders receive your room key and IPOP packet en route to Grinnell.
      • If you do not need a seat on the IPOP shuttle, we still ask for your travel arrangements to help us plan. Upon arrival, you will need to visit the OISA to get your room key and IPOP packet on the first floor of the HSSC, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Aug. 16 or 17. (If you notify us about an after-hours arrival on Aug. 16, we can arrange to leave your key and packet at Campus Safety.)
  3. Once you gain access to your @grinnell.edu account (in May), you should monitor it daily. Multiple offices will use this account to communicate important action items related to housing, First Year Tutorial, health and immunizations records, tax status, etc. Checking and responding to your email promptly is an essential habit to establish, since this will be your primary path of communication with the College for years to come.
  4. You may order linens (sheets & towels) online via the Pioneer Bookshop & Dorm Co.  If you order prior to July 15, your items will be delivered to your residence hall room prior to your arrival. 
  • Address: Your Name, Grinnell College, 1115 8th Avenue, Grinnell, Iowa 50112 (OISA phone: 641-269-3703) 
  • If you order late or purchase items through a different vendor, consider that private packages are only available in the College mail room during business hours (Monday- Friday, 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.).
  • Grinnell’s student beds are sized 36 inches by 81 inches ‘extra-long twin.’
  1. Please bring 15 small gift items (a favorite snack or souvenir from home).  Inexpensive pre-packaged items are preferred. On the final day of IPOP, there will be a gift exchange among your new Amigos! A small gift for your FIS host is welcome, but not expected.
  2. Contact Disability Resources if you or a family member need accommodation during IPOP or during the school year.
  3. Please “like” Grinnell College OISA on Facebook!

If you already hold F-1 status because you are currently attending secondary school in the U.S., please contact the OISA as soon as possible to discuss the process of releasing your SEVIS record to Grinnell College, and to consider the validity of your current F-1 visa.

If you will pursue an F-1 visa to enter the U.S.:

  • Present your name exactly as it appears on your Passport.
  • Your Grinnell contact: Karen Klopp Edwards, Associate Dean & Director of International Student Affairs PDSO/RO, 1226 Park Street, Grinnell College, 641-269-3705.
  • Your U.S. residential address: 1115 8th Avenue, Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA 50112.
  • Canadian citizens do not need an F-1 visa, but you do need to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee, and you will need to present your I-20 and the SEVIS I-901 Payment Confirmation at the Port of Entry in order to secure F-1 status.
  1.  Pay your I-901 SEVIS FEE
    • After your I-20 has been issued, you must submit the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor (SEVIS) Fee. The SEVIS fee is $350.00 for F-1 visa applicants, and it must be submitted before you can proceed with the student visa application process. The I-901 SEVIS I-901 Payment Confirmation is required evidence to present during your F-1 visa interview. It is also wise to retain this document for presentation at the U.S. Port of Entry.
  2.  Apply for your F-1 STUDENT VISA at a U.S. Consulate

Tips for your F-1 VISA Interview

When you visit the U.S. Consulate for your visa interview, bring your: DS-160 Visa Application Confirmation; Passport; Form I-20 (signed in blue ink); I-901 SEVIS Fee Payment Confirmation; Grinnell College Letter of Admission; financial documents; and secondary school completion documents.

  • The U.S. Department of State supports hundreds of advising centers around the world. EducationUSA centers offer free advice about the visa application process in your region, as well as information sessions about other pre-departure topics. Locate your nearest EducationUSA.

The visa interview is your opportunity to convince the U.S. consulate officer of your intention to be a student in the U.S. and to return home after you graduate. The officer may ask casual questions about the weather, or they might even ask you to find Grinnell, Iowa, on a map. They might ask specific questions about the College, or  what you plan to study, or how you will pay for your expenses over summer break. The more you know about where you are going and why, the better you will do.  Here are some additional tips:

  • Consular officers are under pressure to conduct a high number of interviews. Many decisions are based on first impressions. Keep your answers short and to the point. You will have 2-3 minutes — if you're lucky.
  • Your primary purpose for coming to the U.S. is to study. While some students may receive special permission to work off-campus, such employment is rare and incidental to the main purpose of completing a degree.
  • The interview will be conducted in English, to show that you are ready to be a full-time student — in English. Be prepared to explain why you want to study in the U.S., why you selected Grinnell College, and why you value a liberal arts education.
  • The F-1 visa requires ‘non-immigrant intent,’ which means that you do not plan to immigrate to the U.S. permanently. Be prepared to articulate this intention. Ties to home might include relationships with family and friends, financial prospects and investments, and/or career prospects at home after you graduate.
  • The visa application asks about your social media engagement and your digital footprint may be reviewed by consular officers and border agents. Social media posts and searchable files or photos can impact your visa eligibility and/or your Port of Entry experience.
  • The officer needs assurance that you have the ability to afford your education. They want to know that you won’t drop out of school or take a job illegally. Your chances are improved if your parents are sponsoring you. If anyone else is sponsoring you, be prepared to explain why they are willing to commit thousands of dollars towards your education. You may need to provide evidence of your funding — confirming liquid access to the funds required for year one, and a reasonable expectation that the funding can be sustained over four years.
  • Applicants from countries with severe economic problems, or with strained relations with the U.S., can have more difficulty securing a visa. Be especially prepared to communicate your intent to pursue and fund your studies, and to return home to your life and career after graduation.
  • You might bring transcripts, exam results, or anything else that demonstrates your academic commitment — but, the content and the context of supporting documents should be clear at first glance.
  • Maintain a positive attitude, and never engage the officer in an argument or a lie.
  • If your visa is denied, request the reason in writing and ask for a list of documents they suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal. Contact the OISA to let us know your situation, and make an appointment for a second visa interview. Gather information to address the deficiency — because you must bring new information to a second interview in order to justify reconsideration.

Think carefully as you pack for this adventure. Contact the airline to find out the weight limitations. The more you bring, the more you have to haul through the airport, load onto the bus to Grinnell, and carry up the stairs to your residence hall room!  Student rooms are equipped with a study desk, chair, chest of drawers and a bed.  Items like a study lamp, wastebasket, or school supplies, will be easier to buy here after you arrive.  

The College does not offer pre-arrival storage. If needed, you may contact C & K Storage at 641-236-3418 (this local company coordinates summer storage for students). If you need to ship items, you can mail them to yourself, but the package may not arrive prior to Aug. 10. 

In August you’ll be able to access your personal campus mail box number and combination via GrinnellShare. Your address will be:  Your name & box #, Grinnell College, 1115 8th Avenue, Grinnell, IA 50112 U.S.A.

Items that you should bring from home include:

  • Academic Documents: If you intend to request credit for College level work from another institution, you must submit official documents (certificates, transcripts, results, etc.) prior to fall registration.
  • Adapter: Electrical outlets in the U.S. provide 110-volt alternating current (AC) at 60 cycles. It may be easier and more cost effective to purchase new electrical equipment here.
  • Clothing: Bring clothes you enjoy wearing! Students usually dress casual, so jeans and a T-shirt are appropriate. You might also want one or two semiformal outfits, since students do dress up for special events. If you are coming from a warm climate, carry a light sweater to use as you acclimate. You will have time to buy winter clothing later in the fall.
  • International Driver’s License: If you plan to drive in the U.S. you will need an Iowa license. It is helpful if you secure an International License in advance.
  • Cultural Items and Family Mementos:  There will be many occasions for you to share your culture on-campus and in the local community. We hope you will bring traditional clothing, photographs, music, recipes, and other mementos to share. These items can also be helpful for personal reasons — especially if you become homesick or nostalgic as you adjust to your new environment. 
  • Learn how to cook before you leave home: Most meals will be taken in the dining hall, but students often become homesick for familiar food. You will have access to cooking facilities here, and if you stay on-campus during winter or spring break, you will need to cook for yourself! Bring recipes and favorite pre-packaged spices or snacks that recipe will come in handy when you are invited to cook a dish from home for the International Student Organization’s annual Food Bazaar!
  • Money: We recommend that you carry approximately $800-$900, since you will need to buy your books and equip your room. Few banks can exchange foreign currency within 24 hours, and it will take a few days to get your local bank account settled (there will be time for this during IPOP). Carry a combination of traveler's checks, cash, and/or bank checks in U.S. currency. 
  • Pack your positive attitude, too. This is going to be an amazing adventure!

Each day, millions of people pass through U.S. borders to conduct business, study, or travel as tourists. Department of Homeland Security requirements will affect your entry experience, so be prepared to approach it with a positive attitude. The F-1 visa allows you to enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the start date listed on your I-20. You must enter the U.S. on or before your start date, and a late entry is likely to be denied.

You will need to present the following documents to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer:

  • Passport and F-1 Visa;
  • Form I-20 (all 3 pages, signed in blue)
  • I-901 SEVIS Fee Payment Confirmation
  • [Financial documentation may also be requested]

Claim your luggage and pass through U.S. CBP procedures. If the inspecting officer asks why you wish to enter the U.S. you may inform them that you will be an undergraduate student at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. They will take your photo and fingerprints. If the officer has additional questions, you might be re-directed to “secondary inspection.” This is standard procedure. In some cases, the officer will ask for your Grinnell College contact (the Office of International Student Affairs). In other cases, they might issue Form I-515A, which allows temporary entry and requires immediate follow-up with the OISA. If you don’t have the required documents, or if the officer is not satisfied with your case, they do have the discretion to deny your admission. We predict, however, that you will experience a successful entry!

When the inspection is complete, the officer will place an admission stamp in your passport to reflect the class of your admission: “F-1, D/S” (Duration of Status). Once you have entered the U.S. you will be able to access and print your I-94 arrival/departure record (we will help you do this during IPOP). The I-94 is updated electronically every time that you exit and re-enter the country, so we will advise you to maintain printed copies of each entry.

  • This process is slightly different if you enter the U.S. through a land border.

Travel Tips

  • Carry your immigration documents on your person.
  • Carry contact information for OISA (641-269-3703) and Campus Safety (641-269-4600). 
  • Most airlines forbid items like pocket knives, nail clippers, or fluids over 3 oz. in your carry-on luggage, and they will be confiscated.
  • Electronic devices, online activity, and social media posts are subject to search by visa and border officials.
  • Dress for comfort! A light sweater and a neck pillow are a good idea.
  • Secure U.S. currency before you travel, or in the first U.S. airport. 

OISA staff are fluent in the regulatory issues facing students and exchange visitors who don’t hold U.S. citizenship or permanent residency. Immigration status impacts access to opportunities, services, and benefits, and all international Grinnellians are invited to bring questions our way. You will be treated with respect and privacy. If your regulatory needs exceed our purview or expertise, we will encourage you to pursue legal counsel outside of the College.

Most international Grinnellians hold an F-1 visa. The OISA is responsible for the institution’s compliance with the Student and Exchange Visitor System(SEVIS), and we will teach you about your F-1 documents and your responsibilities, limitations, and benefits. We will also offer advice about managing paperwork and keeping good records.

A few examples of F-1 responsibilities, limitations, and benefits, include:

  • You must maintain full-time enrollment (12 credits minimum), with limited exceptions.
  • You may work on-campus up to 20 hrs/wk while school is in session, and up to 40 hs/wk during breaks.
  • Many F-1 students participate in off-campus study, course embedded travel, and/or internships — but there are unique visa challenges so advanced planning is very important.
  • The OISA provides travel and re-entry advice as it relates to your status and maintaining date-valid documents. Re-entry, for example, requires a date valid travel endorsement. Regulations require that you carry valid documents during domestic travel as well.
  • You may enroll in summer courses on another campus as a transient student, maintaining your SEVIS record with Grinnell, but you cannot work on that other campus.
  • When you declare your major the OISA reports it in SEVIS and issues a new I-20. Access to U.S. based internships or employment, paid or unpaid, is limited to work that is “directly related to your major”
  • You will have access to Curricular Practical Training (for off-campus engagement that is curricular) and Optional Practical Training (12 months per degree, to use immediately after you graduate). Students with S.T.E.M. majors (Biology; Biochemistry; Chemistry; Computer Science; Economics; General Science; Mathematics; Physics; Psychology) have access to 24 additional months of practical training.
  • You must have an offer of employment before you can apply for a U.S. Social Security Card. We will extend an offer upon your arrival, and the OISA coordinates transportation during IPOP to Social Security Administration in Des Moines. We also encourage you to secure a REAL ID (a State I.D. Card or Driver’s Permit/License).
  • You are required to file a U.S. Federal Tax Return even if you don’t work on campus. The OISA provides free tax software for students and scholars.
  • An arrest, even for misdemeanor charges, can have very negative consequences for non-immigrants.
  • You must make normal progress toward your degree completion. A program extension (beyond 8 semesters) requires pre-approval through the OISA.
  • Upon graduation, F-1 students are typically eligible to: 1) pursue graduate studies; 2) use Optional Practical Training authorization; or 3) leave the U.S.  Students on OPT or STEM OPT maintain F-1 student status and continue to report through the OISA.
  • OISA handouts are posted on GrinnellShare (login required).

Academic Advising, Tutorial, & Course Registration

In June you will receive an email from the Academic Advising Office asking you to state preferences for your First-Year Tutorial course, which is a course required of all first-year students. You need to enter your choices online by the end of June, and you will be notified about your tutorial placement before you arrive. Rather than being a class to teach you mastery of material (subject matter), this class emphasizes the development of skills you need to be a successful Grinnell student (critical reading, writing, discussion and oral presentation skills).

Your Tutorial instructor will serve as your academic adviser for your first two years at Grinnell. You will meet during NSO, at which time you will register for the rest of your courses. In many educational systems around the world, university students are expected to focus on a specific field of study. Students pursuing a liberal arts education — at Grinnell and elsewhere — take a wide variety of courses and do not declare a major until their second year. This allows you to become familiar with several academic fields and gain a better understanding of the intersections among disciplines, while also developing mastery in one chosen field of interest. As a Grinnell student you have the privilege of developing your own program of study, and your academic adviser will help you with your course selection through individual advising sessions. Your adviser will introduce you to the options available and will help you select an array of courses spread among the humanities, sciences, and social studies. 

Read more about new student planning.

Athletics

Grinnell College is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III (NCAA DIII) and offers twenty “varsity” sports, in which one-third of the student body participates. For DIII athletes, academics remain the primary focus. Grinnell students are also involved in club sports (like Frisbee and Water Polo); intramural sports (like Badminton; Cricket; or Ping Pong).  In addition, the College’s impressive athletic facilities (including a natatorium, exercise room, indoor track, dance studio, etc.) are open to all students at no extra cost.

If you have questions about athletics at Grinnell, feel free to email coaches directly, contact International Athletes and Allies at , or visit the Pioneers website.

Disability Resources and Assistive Technology Services

Grinnell College strives to create an environment that allows people of all abilities to do their best work. While the word “disability” can imply various conditions and may be subject to stigmas or negative stereotypes, in the U.S. and around the world, it is important to acknowledge your right to request and receive reasonable accommodation for your functional limitations (e.g. physical/sensory/psychiatric disabilities, chronic illnesses, mental illnesses, and temporary injuries). An accommodation is any adjustment, modification, or service that allows an individual to experience fuller access to an environment. This may mean additional time for an exam or written notes for a student with a documented learning disability, a room on a first floor for a student in a wheelchair, or the use of an assistive learning technology such as Read and Write Gold for reading text on a computer. 

If you have or suspect that you have a disability and would like to learn more and/or seek accommodation options, please contact John Hirschman, coordinator of student disability Resources, or visit Disability Resources on GrinnellShare..

Books

You will need to buy or rent the text books that are required for each of your coursesStudents should budget at least $450 for books each semester. Textbooks are costly, but you can save money by purchasing used books or by renting them from the Pioneer Bookshop. Many students purchase or rent books through online providers at a lower cost. Some students purchase e-books to read from their lap top or Kindle. There is also a well stocked lending library, located in the Center for Religious Spirituality and Social Justice (CRSSJ).

Campus Employment

F-1 students are assigned a campus job upon arrival, which has the added bonus of helping facilitate your access to a U.S. Social Security Number. It is realistic for students to work 8-12 hours per week.  It is possible to work as many as 20 hours per week, but that might not be wise since Grinnell’s academic program is so rigorous. Most initial job assignments are in Dining Services, where the starting wage is $10.00 per hour, with bonuses available for working steadily from semester to semester. You are encouraged to accept this position, but you will also have the option to pursue other positions on campus. Open campus positions are posted online through the Handshake system on the Careers, Life and Service website.  If you plan to remain on campus during winter or summer break, it would be wise to look for a campus job that also hires students during breaks.

Cell Phones

Campus residence halls have one landline telephone on every floor, for emergency purposes, but there are no longer telephone extensions in individual student rooms. Most students use services like Skype or Viber, and/or they typically secure a personal cell phone. There is no hurry to purchase a working cell phone, since there is Wi-Fi on campus.  Grinnell has stores in town for U.S. Cellular, Verizon & Cricket. There is also good cellular service for Sprint or AT&T in Grinnell, but we do not have a local provider (there is an AT&T store in Ankeny, about one hour drive from Grinnell). Students offer mixed reviews about the quality of local cellular coverage through T-Mobile — service in the Midwest is limited.

You must be 18 years old to purchase a monthly phone plan, and most plans require a U.S. SSN (which takes about three weeks, upon submitting your application during IPOP). Alternately, some students purchase pre-paid plans which are available to anyone.  You can, for example, purchase a pre-paid phone plan through large carries (like Verizon, Cricket or U.S. Cellular), or you can purchase pre-paid phones (like Straight-talk, Netphone, or Tracfone) online or at our local Wal-Mart. Some current students advise new students to avoid using a phone from home with a U.S. SIM card, due to poor service and high cost.  It is wise to research this on your own, or to consult with your IPOP Mentor, or with staff in Grinnell’s office of Information Technology Services.

Computer Access

While there are many public computers and printers on campus, most students bring their own computer. There is wireless access throughout campus, and you will be provided network storage server space to save data that is accessible from any College public computer.

Information Technology Services: 641-269-4901; email the technology services desk

Financial Aid

Grinnell’s international student tuition grants are offered on the basis of financial need at the point of initial admission to the College. We are committed to providing a consistent aid package that is renewed on a yearly basis. Moderate increases to grant assistance are made annually as costs rise. The maximum timeframe to receive aid is eight semesters. Grinnell will not increase (or decrease) your award for changes to your family’s circumstances, such as fluctuations in exchange rates or additional family members in college. No changes are made for loss of sponsorship. Need based aid does not fluctuate based on academic achievement, but recipients of merit based awards must maintain at least a 2.75 GPA to remain eligible for the award. Of course all students must maintain satisfactory academic progress according to standards prescribed by the college.

  • U.S. Citizens apply for and receive financial aid based on CSS Profile and FAFSA guidelines.

Health Insurance & Health Care

The U.S. health care system offers excellent care, but the system can be challenging and costly to navigate. You will receive specific guidance from Student Health & Wellness (SHAW), and there will be sessions about health care and health insurance during IPOP and NSO.

Grinnell College requires all enrolled students to carry health insurance. You will be automatically enrolled in a Student Health Insurance plan through Arthur J. Gallagher & CO.

  • If you already carry health insurance through another U.S. provider it is possible to waive the College plan through a strict vetting process to confirm that your policy covers comparable benefits. If you do secure a waiver of the College plan, need-based financial aid may be reduced. Contact the Office of Financial Aid with questions.
  • Grinnell College does not benefit financially from your enrollment in the Student Health Insurance plan.

Benefits and detailed plan information is available. This plan offers year-round coverage, worldwide. The premium for 2019–20 is $1,774. The 2020–21 premium should be determined by June 1, 2020. The cost will be billed on your fall statement. Questions about health insurance may be directed to Jim Mulholland, Director of Compensation and Risk Management (641-269-4818); or Dustin Smith, Ramsey-Weeks, Inc. (641-236-3141, 715 5th Ave.). Grinnell students also have the option to purchase Dental Insurance through Delta Dental of Iowa. You will receive more information about health insurance and the dental insurance option with your tuition bills.

As an enrolled student, you will have easy access to SHAW, which is located in the center of our campus. SHAW staff includes registered nurses and counselors who provide health and counseling services to Grinnell students. With the exception of modest, at-cost fees for a few medical tests and supplies, these services are delivered free of charge. Read more information about these services, support for after hours care, and medical providers in the local community

  • All students are required to submit health and immunization records to SHAW. This ensures the College that you and your peers are properly vaccinated, and it assists us in coordinating the care of those who become ill or experience health related emergencies. You will receive instructions this spring and you will need to complete the required forms by the July 15 deadline, including:
    • Student Health History and Immunization History
      If you have not had all of the required immunizations, it is wise to get them before you leave home. They are very expensive in the U.S. and the Student Health Insurance might not cover the full cost.
    • Medical Provider Report of Health Evaluation
      Print this for your physician to complete and sign.
    • Consent for Treatment of a Minor
      This is required if you will be under the age of 18 when you arrive.
    • Tuberculosis Screening
      If you answer yes to any of the screening questions, you must download and print the TB Screening Form and take it to your physician to complete. Please review the form with your physician so that they clearly understand what is accepted for this requirement. A negative chest x-ray alone does not meet the requirements for the TB screening. If you need to have TB testing, you are encouraged to do this at home before traveling to the U.S.  If testing is not available in your home country, SHAW can arrange for a Grinnell physician to give you the blood test at a cost to you of approximately $100.00. If the confirming blood test is positive, you will be required to have a chest x-ray (also at your expense, at an approximated cost of $100.00) to rule out active TB, and treatment for latent TB exposure would be provided by the state of Iowa at no cost to you.   

Questions may be directed to Deb Shill, Director of Health Services.

International Student Organization (ISO) and Other Student Groups

ISO is one of the largest student groups on campus. The ISO Cabinet, which is elected by the membership, works to build community across cultures, and they organize special events that celebrate your presence on campus. They look forward to welcoming you to campus, and they invite you to participate! 

Student life on a residential campus is driven by YOUR engagement. The Student Government Association is very active in policy decisions and campus social life, and international students are invited to participate and lead. There are many additional student organizations that focus on anything from a specific cultural or religious affinity, to unique hobbies or special interests. Getting involved with student clubs and organizations is a great way to meet new friends, contribute to our active campus life, and gain practical leadership skills.

Other active student groups have included the African & Caribbean Student Union (ACSU); App Dev; Badminton; Chalutzim; Chinese Student Association (CSA); Cricket Club; Frisbee Club; International Soccer Club (ISC); Friend of Slavs; Muslim Student Association (MSA); Model UN; Student Organization for Latinos/Latinas (SOL); South Asia Student Organization (SASO); and many more.

Living on Campus

Grinnell’s residential community fosters social and personal development, encourages self-governance, and compliments your academic goals. All students are required to live on-campus, with limited exceptions for seniors and rising third-year students. On arrival, you meet your residence life coordinator (RLC), community adviser (CA), and community adviser mentor (CAM). RLCs are professional staff who live in the halls and support community life. CAs & CAMs are trained peer leaders.

New students are assigned a residence hall room and matched with your future roommate(s) based on the information you provide on the online Roommate Form. Answer all questions on the form honestly — to ensure the best possible room/roommate match! Your roommate and hall assignment will be available in late July through GrinnellShare. When assignments are final, students receive an email from the Office of Residence Life that provides instructions on how to obtain your room and roommate information. Most first year students are paired with one roommate and assigned a double room; some are assigned to triples or quads. 

During academic year breaks, you might choose to travel with friends or participate in break programs through the College. That said, Grinnell allows international students to remain in your campus residence room during these breaks at no extra charge. Registration, via the OISA, is required for winter break. Many campus services remain open with limited hours (library, athletic facilities, Student Health and Wellness, etc.). Campus Safety remains open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The dining hall is not open over winter or spring break, so students typically cook (there are modest kitchens). The OISA also offers some social programing during winter break.

Students who stay in Grinnell during the summer can apply for campus jobs or research opportunities. You can secure on-campus housing for a fee, or you might choose to rent or sublet a local apartment. Students can face challenges at the start and the end of a term when trying to store belongings, or book affordable flights while abiding by residence hall exit and entry policies — let alone getting to and from the airport. There are resources to help you meet these needs, but you need to plan ahead! The same open and closing dates and times apply to all students.

Five-Year Planning Calendar

Shops and Services in Grinnell, Iowa

Grinnell’s quaint downtown area is located just three blocks from campus — and there is a lot to offer considering our rural location. You’ll find Hotel Grinnell; Bikes To You (selling used and new quality bikes and merchandise); The Strand Movie Theatre; The Pioneer Bookshop; a variety of local restaurants and food/drink establishments; an active Community Arts Center, and numerous other businesses (Brown’s Shoe Company; Anna Kayte’s Clothing Boutique; Ace Hardware; etc.). There are also several second hand clothing stores in town that supply clean, used clothing at a reasonable cost, like Phase 2 Consignments; Goodwill; and Second Mile – an option that many students take advantage of. There is also a discount store (Wal-Mart) just south of town, with several nearby services. In addition, the College also offers occasional weekend shopping shuttles to Des Moines and Iowa City.

Tuition Payments for Students

College fees are due in the Office of Student Accounts by July 27, 2020.  In late June you will be billed the amount for the fall semester only.  Your account will be available through GrinnellShare.  If mailing your fees to arrive on time in July is difficult, we encourage you to use our online international payment options through flywire. Checks are also accepted, if they are drawn on a U.S. bank in U.S. dollars, payable to Grinnell College.

If you have not paid this bill by registration, you will not be allowed to enroll.  Since students are not allowed to register if their fees have not been paid, notify the Office of Student Accounts, 641-269-4100, in advance if you will be bringing your payment with you. This office is located in the Admission and Student Financial Services building (ASFS). Learn more about international back transfers..

Weather in the Midwest

temperature scale shows comparison of celcius to fahrenheit

Temperatures range from 90˚F (32˚C) during hot summer days (July and August) to below freezing, 5˚F (-15˚C) in the cold Iowa winter (January and February). Winter in Iowa can be challenging, but we’ve been thriving for many generations, and we know that you can handle it!

  • It will be hot when you arrive in August, and most students will wear shorts/skirts, t-shirts, and sandals at that time.
  • In September it can be warm during the day and cool at night.
  • It grows gradually colder in October and November, and your clothing will transition to jeans and a sweatshirt, with a hat and light jacket.
  • By mid-November, you will need a winter coat, boots, hat & gloves.
  • The coldest time is typically in January and February, and the cold begins to subside in late March or early April.

If you come from an area where the weather is temperate, you should include funds in your first semester's budget to purchase winter clothes.

2019 IPOP Mentors (2020 Coming Soon!)

  • Aarzoo Bhimani

    Aarzoo Bhimani '21

    Aarzoo is a biology and sociology major, with a pre-med track, from La Croix-sur-Lutry, Switzerland, and Rajkot, India. Before coming to Grinnell, she attended the International School of Lausanne, Switzerland. Aarzoo speaks fluent English, French, Gujarati, and Hindi, and some German and Polish. Her favorite place in the world is Krakow, Poland. “I lived there for only 3 years, but got quite attached to the place. It is a beautiful city with many cultural and historical sites, and AMAZING cuisine!” Aarzoo is a member of the International Student Organization (ISO) cabinet for 2019–20, and has a great relationship with her Friends of International Students (FIS) host family. “We see each other almost weekly, and we treat each other like real family. We are able to share personal conversations, and have formed a deep attachment. This connection is something I will hold onto for the rest of my life.”

  • Sang Yoon Byun

    Sang Yoon Byun '21

    Sang Yoon is a computer science major from Seoul, South Korea, and he attended the International School of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for secondary school. He speaks English and Korean, and considers Annapurna Mountain Trek (Nepal), Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage (Spain), and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) as his favorite places he has traveled to. Sang Yoon also served in the South Korean Army for two years (while on leave from Grinnell), where he says, “I met many wonderful people in so many wonderful places.” Here at Grinnell, Sang Yoon likes to cook food on Friday evenings with friends. He also taught himself to play the guitar, and he has performed on stage during the ISO Cultural Show. He is in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) chapter at Grinnell, which is focused on teaching basic programming to children. Sang Yoon meets with his FIS host family for meals, and his favorite quote is: “Let him think that I am more man than I am and I will be so" — Ernest Hemingway

  • Mon Castro Gomez

    Montserrat "Mon" Castro Gómez '21

    Mon is a French and gender, women, and sexuality studies major from Querétaro, México, where she attended John F. Kennedy International School of Querétaro. She speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French, and recently participated in a Grinnell Global Learning Program (GLP) titled, Tolerance and Intolerance, where she traveled to France and Germany to study intolerant and extremist outbreaks of xenophobia, racism, and antisemitism. Mon’s favorite place she has traveled to is Gourdon, France — but she says that her home in Querétaro is her favorite place in the world. Her hobbies include languages, feminist theory, ramen, and the color purple. At Grinnell, Mon writes for the Scarlet & Black (college newspaper); she is part of the Student Organization of Latinxs (SOL); and she has a Friends of International Students (FIS) host family. She says, “My hosts are two lovely women that have been very helpful and nice to me. We have very interesting conversations. I've enjoyed spending time with people outside the college. The FIS relationship offers the potential for a two-way learning environment.”

  • Huandong Chang

    Huandong Chang '22

    Huandong is an intended computer science major from Tianjin, China, where he attended Nankai High School. He speaks English and Mandarin, and he loves to travel! Singapore is his favorite place that he has visited. Huandong loves all kinds of sports, including tennis, soccer, and weight training. He also loves cooking Chinese food, and he is the president of the Chinese Student Association (CSA). He says that his FIS host family has been a great help in learning more about Grinnell. “When we get the chance to meet, we talk about what is happening on campus, and we talk about experiences in other countries — since we all love to travel, and my host family has been to Europe as international students. The College provides me with a strong academic environment and support, and interacting with my host family helps me learn outside of the classroom.”

  • Arunima Fatehpuria

    Arunima Fatehpuria '21

    Aru is a psychology major with an intended statistics concentration from Kolkata, India. She attended La Martiniere for Girls before coming to Grinnell, and speaks English, Hindi, Urdu, and Bengali. In her spare time, Aru loves cooking and baking. “I have chai ‘sessions’ with some of my other South Asian friends when we haven’t caught up in a while. I also enjoy coming up with recipes using ingredients available in DHall.” She is also involved in the International Student Organization (ISO) and the Rosenfield Committee. She worked as assistant stage manager for the theatre department; as a teacher’s assistant at Grinnell College Preschool; and as the international admissions intern within the Office of Admission. Aru’s favorite quote is, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” — Gandhi

  • Pratik Karki

    Pratik Karki '20

    Pratik is a computer science and economics major with a statistics concentration from Kathmandu, Nepal, and New Zealand. For secondary school, he attended Rato Bangala School in Kathmandu, and he can speak English, Nepali, Hindi, and Spanish (elementary). Pratik participated in Grinnell’s Global Learning Program titled “Immigration, Refugees”, where he traveled to Mexico, Spain, Greece, and Germany; and he studied abroad in Budapest, Hungary for a semester — but his favorite place in the world is still Kathmandu. In his free time, Pratik enjoys playing the guitar (hard rock/blues) and drawing sketches. He is involved in Grinnell Model UN and AppDev as an Android development lead, and he also has a Friends of International Students (FIS) host. He says, “Most of my best friends were people that I met in IPOP.” Pratik’s favorite quote is: “You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it." — Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront (1954)

  • Muzi Li

    Muzi "Annie" Li

    Annie is a mathematics major from Beijing, China, and she speaks English, Mandarin, and Spanish. Before coming to Grinnell College, she attended Beijing No. 8 High School. She spent spring 2019 on a studying abroad program in Madrid, Spain — to practice her Spanish and learn about European culture. She has enjoyed most of the places she has traveled to, but her favorite place will always be her hometown, Beijing.  Annie enjoys watching TV shows and movies, and she also has a great passion for food around the world. She has been a Grinnell College community advisor (CA) and the event coordinator for the Chinese Student Association (CSA), and she has a Friends of International Students (FIS) host family. Annie’s favorite quote is: “If opportunity knocks, build a door.” — unknown

  • Nhi Ngo

    Nhi Ngo '20

    Nhi is a computer science and mathematics major from Hanoi, Vietnam, where she attended the Foreign Language Specialized School. She loves Hanoi because “it is a peaceful city with a lot of delicious and cheap food.” Nhi speaks English, Vietnamese, and Mandarin, and has traveled to Singapore, London, and throughout the U.S. Her hobbies include makeup, watching Korean drama, arranging handmade flowers, and writing Chinese characters. At Grinnell, she is also involved in the Vietnamese Student Association, which involves regular potlucks, performing in the International Student Organizations (ISO) culture evening, and organizing Vietnamese food stall study breaks. Nhi also has a Friends of International Students (FIS) host. She describes her host mom as “very empathetic. She knows that I might miss food from my country, so she will often bring me Vietnamese snacks, or ask me to cook a Vietnamese dish with her. She is a great source of support and I feel very comfortable confiding in her about my hardships and joys.”

  • Nana Okamoto

    Nana Okamoto '20

    Nana is a classics and sociology major. Home for Nana includes JapanSingaporeGermany, and the U.S. She speaks Japanese, Latin, and English, and for secondary school she attended ICU High School in Tokyo, Japan. Nana is a captain of the Women’s Cross Country team and she is active in the International Student Organization (ISO). She participated in course-embedded travel last spring, where she went to Greece and the UK to learn about the ownership of Greek sculpture. She likes photography, movies, and makeup, and she is currently working on a podcast about sex, gender, and sexuality. Nana is also a part of Friends of International Students (FIS). “I had surgery last summer, and my host family stayed with me in the hospital, and let me stay at their house during my recovery. I was so glad to have that kind of support in an unexpected and stressful situation. They have two cats, two dogs, and as of last December, a new baby! Their house is full of life, and visiting for dinner is a perfect break from the Grinnell grind.”

  • Aabid Shamji

    Aabid Shamji '20

    Aabid is a computer science major, statistics concentration, from Kisii, Kenya. Before Grinnell, he attended Aga Khan Academy (Mombasa, Kenya). He speaks English and Swahili, and he pretends to speak Hungarian (after a semester abroad in Budapest). Aabid’s favorite places in the world are Kenya and Budapest. “Hungary is a culturally rich country with an equally captivating history. Budapest is in the middle of the cross roads between east and west, providing an incredibly unique exposure to Central Europe. Kenya is also great – with rich cultural diversity, friendly people, lush landscapes, and a perfect climate.” Aabid is on the African Caribbean Student Union (ACSU) cabinet; he is president of the Model UN club; and he works for the computer science department, ITS, and AppDev. He also enjoys sailing, scuba diving, photography, traveling, and dogs. His favorite quote is: “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” — Roger Caras

  • Calvin Tang

    Calvin Tang '20

    Calvin is a physics and music major from Hong Kong SAR, where he attended the Canadian International School of Hong Kong. He speaks English, Cantonese, Mandarin, and beginner German and Italian, and he recently studied abroad in Milan, Italy, through a music and innovation program to take jazz courses and work on saxophone performance. Calvin’s favorite places he has traveled to are Berlin, Germany, and Tokyo, Japan. “I love the history and culture of Berlin and I love the hustle and bustle of Tokyo — and the amazing food!” In his free time, Calvin enjoys listening/playing music, watching TV, and playing basketball, board games, and 8-ball pool (“the real kind!”). He is involved in Jazz Ensemble and Friends of International Students (FIS) and he is the incoming vice president of the International Student Organization (ISO). Calvin is also in a student band called Migratory Birds. Calvin has a unique interest in airplanes — particularly fighter jets — and he dreams of becoming a pilot!

  • Ishaan Tibrewal

    Ishaan Tibrewal '21

    Ishaan is an economics and psychology major from Kolkata, India, where he attended St. Xavier’s Collegiate School, and participated in an exchange program to Kunming, China. He speaks English, Hindi, and Bengali, and one of his favorite places is Boston. In terms of hobbies, Ishaan loves playing all kinds of sports and outdoor activities. He likes listening to music, cooking, and watching movies. “I’m the person who laughs for way too long after the joke is over, and I am always napping in awkward places.” Ishaan is on the varsity tennis team, and he is a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He served as Student Government Association senator; he takes part in intramural soccer; and he taught an Ignite course to second and third graders. He is active in Friends of International Students, “This program is great because you get to know a family away from home, who are super supportive. My hosts come to watch my tennis matches, and I have also spent Thanksgiving with them.”

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