Pre-arrival information


Before you arrive

Start Smart before you arrive

Are you ready to join us at the International Study Center? To help you prepare for your study abroad adventure, we’ve designed a free 1-2 week introductory course to help you adapt to studying with us. Through Start Smart, we’ll introduce you to the skills you’ll need as an international student so you begin university with confidence.

Confirm your offer with us today and secure a place on Start Smart by paying a confirmation payment. Once you’ve confirmed your place, you’ll:

  • Meet and interact with our staff before you arrive
  • Meet your future classmates and become a part of a supportive international community
  • Join interactive sessions
  • Develop transferable study skills as you learn on your own schedule
  • Take part in interactive one-to-one and group discussions
  • Practice speaking in English and get feedback from your tutors
  • Gain a certificate of completion before joining your program.

Things to bring

You can buy almost anything you need nearby, but it’s useful to bring the essentials as well as clothes and personal items to make your new room feel like home. 

The basics

When living on campus, you will be provided with a bed, chest of drawers, closet space, a desk and chair in your residence room. You can buy bed linen on arrival.


It is important to bring clothing suited for the weather: at James Madison University you will experience four distinct seasons. Average temperatures range from 0 degrees Celsius in January to 27 degrees Celsius in July. There is below-freezing weather and snow in winter and daytime high temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius in mid-summer.


Although James Madison University has computers and printers for student use, it may be useful to bring your own computer and printer to use in your room or study areas.


Bring your cell phone with you. In your welcome package along with your immigration document (I-20 or DS2019), there will be a CampusSIMs card that will allow you to configure your new sim card prior to leaving your country, so that you can use your phone as soon as you arrive in the U.S.

Your first days in the United States

getting involved in the communitytraditional campus buildingsstudents working togethersigning up for societies

Do not worry if you feel nervous when you begin your studies in the United States. It’s perfectly normal and you’ll found that many others will feel the same way. The International Study Center offers support services, from health to homesickness. Visit our support page for more details.

James Madison University will offer a student orientation shortly after you arrive. Take advantage of meeting all of the other international students and get to know your International Student Advisor. During your student orientation you will learn about:

  • Important guidelines to maintaining your visa status
  • Classes to take for your first semester
  • The University’s rules and regulations
  • The layout of the University
  • Activities and events on campus
  • Purchasing books and supplies
  • How to open a local bank account
  • Setting up your telephone’s voice mail and answering system
  • Your meal plan

Your first few weeks in the United States

The first weeks of the first semester for every new student are a busy time during which everyone is learning about the campus and classes while making new friends.

Getting to know your university

  • Get to know the campus so that you can familiarize yourself with where you need to go when registering for the semester, attending classes, getting your meals and visiting new friends.
  • Find your Academic Advisor’s office and make an appointment. Your Academic Advisor will help you decide which courses you should take and guide you through the registration process at your university.
  • Find the Student Identification Office to get your student identification card. It will be your passport around the campus.
  • Take advantage of the facilities and services at James Madison University. Check out the Student Union, the Recreation Center, Student Bookstore and the Library.
  • Try and see one of the University’s sports teams.
  • Don’t forget to ask questions, people are happy to help.
We’ll get you to where you want to be – Read our latest guidance for current students, or find out more about online learning.