FIUTS advances international understanding through cross-cultural experiences, student leadership, and community connections.
Getting Started in Seattle
Part 1: Packing, Banking and Cell Phones 
Pre-Arrival Email #5 for Winter Orientation
   Hello again!
At this point you probably still have many questions about life in Seattle like what to bring, where to open a bank account, and how to keep in touch with your friends. This e-mail will hopefully answer some of those questions.

Want to get ahead and start networking with fellow international students new to the UW this year? You can visit our FIUTS UW International Students Facebook group and the FIUTS website. We also have a lot of information and advice for you compiled by past international students and staff in our International Student Handbook on topics like housing, banking, phones and more. 
Quick Links
Join the FIUTS UW International Students Group on Facebook to get a head start meeting other UW international students.
Packing For Seattle
The rumors you've heard about Seattle rain are true: it rains frequently throughout the year, and we often have grey, overcast days. But don't worry, we get plenty of sun, too! 

Every Seattleite should have an umbrella, sunglasses, a warm jacket, walking shoes for all of the hills, and clothing for temperatures ranging from slightly below freezing in winter up to around 85 degrees Fahrenheit/30 degrees Celsius in summer. Seattle is a very casual city, and most students wear jeans and casual clothing to class.​

You will probably also want to pack a rain-proof jacket, both for wearing on campus and for enjoying the many opportunities to explore nearby beaches and mountains, including participating in FIUTS events and activities!   ​

laptop computer is an important tool. There is free wireless internet on campus and in various businesses around the city. U.S. outlets have two prongs and 110 voltage, which means that you may have to bring/buy a converter or leave your appliances at home. In addition to any personal things that make you feel at home, you may want to bring some interesting items from your home country such as photos, candy, books, etc., to show your friends and host family and to give as gifts.​
ABODA Furnishings is Seattle’s leading furniture rental provider for international university students. With outstanding quality, service flexibility and contemporary styles, we’ll help you settle quickly into your new home. We offer exclusive student discounts and deliver within 48 hours. Give us a call or check us out online! 425.883.9491,,
Banking in Seattle
If you are staying in the U.S. longer than six months, living off campus, or planning to work in Seattle, then you should open a bank account at a local bank. You will need your passport or other official photo ID. Research the types of services different banks provide, the accompanying fees, and how to transfer funds from your home institution. You can read more about money and banking in the International Student Handbook.

Banks compete for your business, so don't be shy about asking questions or shopping around. You should be able to open a student account for free at most banks. Every bank will give you a credit or debit card and checks once you open an account. Most shops, restaurants, and other businesses in Seattle will accept major credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard, as well as traveler's checks.
Cell Phones
Cell phone companies charge different rates and offer different types of contracts and services. Plans can range from $30 - $100 per month depending on how many minutes you use. Most companies require a minimum contract duration of one year, but some have special deals for students, and most contracts include a free phone.
Pre-paid phones are an alternative to contracts, but they are much more expensive if used frequently. To set up a contract service plan you will need a Social Security number (except for prepaid or "to go" phones), a state-issued ID and debit or credit card with a Visa or MasterCard symbol. If you do not have a Social Security number or debit card, you may need to pay a large deposit of a couple hundred dollars.

​You can find a list of popular cell phone companies in our International Student Handbook. ​
ISS Tip of the Week:
Entering correct off-campus address information into MyUW is very important! The government checks all international student addresses against a database from the U.S. Post Office. Small differences can cause an address check failure, and this will block your registration in SEVIS.

The most common mistake is including the name of an apartment!

International Student Health Insurance Plan
The International Student Health Insurance Plan (ISHIP) provides crucial medical benefits during your time at the UW. Do you feel sick and need to see a doctor? Want to see a dentist or eye doctor and wondering where to go? Wondering how to use your medical benefits in the U.S.? Come by Hall Health Center and talk to your ISHIP counselor, Chris Dessert. Email the ISHIP Office at or call 206-543-6202. He can answer the questions you have about your ISHIP and how healthcare works during your time at the UW. Also, find answer to your frequently asked questions on the ISHIP website.

UW international students are required to enroll in ISHIP and are automatically enrolled for student-only coverage each quarter they register for classes. You may waive ISHIP coverage if you meet certain criteria.
Check out the International Student Handbook for more detailed information about Seattle media resources, what our city is famous for, descriptions of different neighborhoods, shopping and more! If you are looking for short-term or long-term housing, visit our housing resources page.

Next week's orientation email will have more information to help you get to know the city of Seattle. As always, contact us if you have any questions!


Amy Bergstrom
Manager of Student Programs
FIUTS: Foundation for International Understanding Through Students
Contact FIUTS