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Arrival Information and Orientation


Exchange students are required to attend all of the International Student Orientation organized by the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO). 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 up to 10 days 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 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 admissions@iastate.edu. 
 

August Entry 2019
  • Undergraduate Students: August 14 to August 24 (Arrive No Later Than August 13). 
  • Graduate Students: Graduate Student Orientation: August 5, 12, 20, or 21 (Arrive No Later Than August August 22).
    • Graduate students do not attend the same orientation as undergraduate students, instead there are more independent orientation sessions. Graduate exchange students are encouraged to attend the social activities of the orientation, which are open to all students, and to also attend the exchange student specific orientation sessions. Contact your exchange coordinator for more details on the exchange student session for Fall 2019. 
January Entry 2020
  • Undergraduate Students: January 6 through January 12 (Arrive No Later Than January 5). 
  • Graduate Students: Graduate Student Orientation: TBD
    • Graduate students do not attend the same orientation as undergraduate students, instead there are more independent orientation sessions. Graduate exchange students are encouraged to attend the social activities of the orientation, which are open to all students, and to also attend the exchange student specific orientation sessions. Contact your exchange coordinator for more details on the exchange student session for Spring 2020. 

Orientation typically starts up to 10 days before the start of the semester, and some new exchange students may choose to arrive before that day when housing may not yet be available. Temporary housing for orientation is available for students who arrive before they can move into their on-campus housing is available. Information for Fall 2019 is available on the Temporary Housing website, Spring 2020 is not yet available but this page will be updated when it is available. 
 

There are multiple ways you can get from the Des Moines International Airport to Ames and campus. Here is a list of different options, provided by ISSO (step 3 on their orientation webpage).
 
Executive Express - (recommended)
ISSO has partnered with Executive Express to provide all incoming international students a FREE shuttle service from the Des Moines International Airport to Ames. This free ride is only available to new ISU international students. The baggage limit is 2 items in the back and a small personal item (that can be stored on your lap). There is a $15 fee for every additional bag.
 
To register: Email temphousing@iastate.edu and a registration link will be sent via email.

Drop-Off Location: If staying in temporary housing, select "Orientation Housing" as the drop-off location. If staying at an alternate location, select "Home Drop-Off" as your drop-off location.
 
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).
 
Taxi
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