Information for New Students

Before you arrive to study your Global Pathway Program at the International Study Center, you may have some questions about what to expect when you arrive on campus, and what it is like living in Bellingham

Let us help you get ready with helpful tips, packing lists, and a check list of important tasks to complete to prepare for studying abroad.

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.

Prepare to Study Abroad

Before you join us at the International Study Center, there is an important checklist to complete to confirm your placement and ensure everything is ready for your arrival.

1. Confirm Your Place

After you have applied and received an offer of a place to study at the International Study Center, you must pay your deposit to confirm your place. To see what payment if needed to confirm your place, you can view our fees and pay online. Paying your deposit will allow you to begin your student visa process.

2. Apply for Your Visa

After paying your deposit, the University will release your I-20 immigration document. Keep this document in a safe place. You will need your I-20 to pay any additional immigration fees, apply for your student visa, and when you enter the USA.

3. Book Your Accommodation

Western has 16 residence halls to suit all living styles. A Student Enrollment Advisor will help you secure your student accommodation after your application is accepted.

4. Book your travel

After receiving your student visa, you can book your travel to the USA. Bellingham International Airport is the closest airport to campus. You may need to arrange a flight to Vancouver International Airport or Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where you can take a bus or a connecting flight to Bellingham.

Join us online

Gain the skills to succeed on your student journey with a place on our free Start Smart course.

Find Us at Western

The International Study Center is located in College Hall, at the heart of Western's campus.

Your New Home

Live on-campus to be near your classes, close the University events, and at the heart of the student community.

What Do I Need?

There are a few essential items you will want to pack in your hand luggage while traveling, and you might have a few special items you want to bring from home. You will be able to find most of what you need in local shops after you arrive, like home decor for your residence hall, clothing, toiletries, electrical items, and much more.

Essential Documents

It is important you bring any essential study documents in your hand luggage so they are easily accessible. This includes:

  • Your valid passport and visa
  • Offer letter
  • English language test results
  • Evidence of funding for your tuition fees and living costs as certified financial statements and Affidavit of Support
  • Accommodation documents
  • Insurance documents.


If you have any necessary medication, it is important you travel with this in your hand luggage. Sometimes during travel luggage can be delayed and you don't want to be without the necessities. Any prescriptions will need to be translated into English, so they are easily recognized. Be sure to check with your airline to understand what is allowed on your flight.


You will study in a relaxed atmosphere at the International Study Center with no formal dress code. You should pack the clothing that makes you comfortable, like jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers. Bellingham is known for its rainy weather, and a light rain jacket will be suitable for most of the year. If you are traveling in the winter, you will want to come prepared with a winter coat. You can buy any other clothing you need once you have arrived in the many local shops.

Your First Week

When you arrive at the International Study Center, you will be quickly welcomed into University life and the Western community. To start the year, you will join Western Welcome Week, held by the University. This weeklong event is full of informative and fun activities to help you get to know the campus, staff, facilities, and meet other students. There are even tours of Bellingham, so you can learn your way around the city.

At the International Study Center, staff are ready to help you transition into life abroad, including opening a bank account, understanding your program, and registering with the University.

Visa and Study Documents

Learn about the documents you will need to supply in order to study abroad in the USA and to be accepted to your chosen program.

Join the Community

Students watch the sunset over Bellingham Bay.

You will love Western's welcoming community and active student life. Learn about the opportunities and adventure that await you.

Find out more about starting your studies or check the latest COVID-19 information.