Pre-Arrival Information


Seattle temperatures are moderate, rarely above 30°C (86°F) or below 0°C (32°F). During January and February, you will want to be prepared for cold weather and rain. It may snow once or twice during the winter. Temperatures average around 8° to 10°C (46° to 50°F) but can dip to 0°C at times. Summers are usually mild with the occasional heatwave.

Currency Exchange and Financial Arrangements

If you received an I-20 form then you have already provided us with documentation of sufficient financial resources for your first year of study. All students are expected to make full payment for the quarter by the tenth day of each quarter. The Student Financial Services office will meet with us during International Student Orientation to help you know how to work with them.

Currency exchange is available at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and at most banks. Traveler’s checks are commonly accepted in the U.S. and would be better than carrying large amounts of cash. You may wish to have enough in traveler’s checks to pay for at least your first week in the USA. There is a convenient bank on campus, and we will offer guidance in setting up an account as part of International Student Orientation.

Medical Insurance and Screening

All international students are required to enroll in the University student medical insurance plan each quarter. You can find more information about SPU's health insurance requirement here. Every international student must also complete a self-reported health record and provide an immunization record including a test for tuberculosis, or else receive the immunizations at the SPU Health Center. More information about insurance will be provided at the International Student Orientation.


Unfortunately, we cannot offer airport pickup to students. There are several transportation options from the airport that will get you to your destination. Seatac Airport has a great page that lists all of the transportation options and where to find them at the airport. These include public transportation (bus, light rail), taxis, car-share services and shuttles. 


SPU housing fills up quickly, so if you intend to live on campus and have not submitted your housing forms and deposit, you should contact Housing and Meal Services immediately.

Housing and Meal Plan Services

Phone: 206-281-2188


There is limited on-campus housing for graduate students, but plenty of opportunities for housing exist near campus. You can find out more about on-campus housing opportunities at


Living with an American family can be a good idea if you are single and new to life in the USA. A few local organizations coordinate international homestays. You may contact them directly for more information about their programs and availability.

Please note that this information referral is not a recommendation or an endorsement of the services they offer. This could also be a good option for school breaks during the year, when you may have to move out of the dorms.

For other off-campus living options, see our Additional Housing Options page.

Pre-Arrival Checklist

  • I-20 form
  • Valid passport & U.S. visa
  • Documents from your sponsor if you are a government/corporate sponsored student
  • Make financial arrangements – traveler’s checks, exchange currency to USD, etc.
  • Plan for arrival transportation from the airport
  • Plan temporary accommodation at a hotel/homestay, if needed
  • Plan for housing (on-campus or off-campus)
  • Register for International Student Orientation
  • Register for any other orientation you are eligible for - new student, transfer express, departmental, etc.
  • Pre-register for classes through NSA (New Student Advising) if you are an undergraduate student, or your graduate program department if you are a graduate student
  • Immunization records and health insurance
  • Computer/laptop
  • Cellphone