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Arrival Information and Orientation

Exchange students are required to attend all of the Exchange Student Orientation, coordinated jointly by Exchange Coordinators and the International Students and Scholars Office. During the multi-day orientation, you will meet other exchange and international students, go through immigration processing, complete a health screening, learn about campus resources, and more. The orientation starts about a week before the start of the semester. A specific arrival date is available below and will also be provided in your acceptance letter from admissions.

Exchange students are required to attend all of their orientation. It is expected you will arrive in the United States and Ames, Iowa by your reported arrival date at the latest. If uncontrollable circumstances will require you to arrive later, please contact your exchange coordinator and the Office of Admissions at Arriving later due to less expensive flights or wanting to visit other US cities first are not excuses for not arriving in Ames by the arrival date 

August Entry 2024 (Fall semester or Academic Year students)
  • Arrival Date: August 17 or 18. Orientation will start on August 19, Monday.  

There are multiple ways you can get from the Des Moines International Airport to Ames and campus.
Airport Shuttle
Plans are being discussed with ISU's Department of Transportation about shuttles to campus for exchange students. When we have more information, students will be informed. But shuttles will only be available on the arrival dates, August 17 and 18. Students who arrive prior to or after these dates are responsible for their own transportation to campus.
Uber or Lyft
Uber and Lyft are popular modes of transportation for international students. To use Uber or Lyft, down their mobile application(s) on your phone. You will need to set-up payment with your credit card information. Once the app is set up on your phone, you can request pick-up from your current location to your destination in Ames. Price can vary depending on the day/time, but is typically around $90 USD (including tip).
You can find the queue for taxis directly outside of baggage claim. The price can vary, but anticipate around $100 USD (excluding tip).
Arrive with US Dollars
There are no currency exchanges at the Des Moines Airport, so you must have at least $200 US dollars with you when you arrive in Des Moines (in $20 bills or smaller) for meals and local transportation. If possible, you should obtain some US dollars in your home country before traveling to Des Moines. You may also exchange money when you first arrive in the US at your first Port of Entry (i.e. Chicago, LA, New York, etc).

Delayed luggage
Because of the large number of connecting flights students may have in order to reach Des Moines, it is not uncommon for baggage to get delayed en route. We suggest you bring at least an extra day's worth of clothing and any essential personal items (medications, etc.) with you in your carry-on luggage in the event that your luggage gets delayed. Pack all of your immigration documents in your carry-on luggage as well. 

Special instructions for luggage: Please put your name and Iowa State University in English somewhere on your luggage. This will help us locate any luggage that is lost or delayed.

ISSO New Student Orientation

Click here for all the information on Orientation including transportation to campus, housing during orientation, the schedule, FAQs, and more. This website will continue to be updated as there is new information to share.