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Before You Arrive

The #1 Thing to Know

You will receive a UW IFSS or ISS Pre-Arrival Packet email. Read it closely before you travel!

Stages of Adjustment

When you arrive, there will be many emotions: excitement, joy, sadness and many others, perhaps all at the same time. This is normal. Be patient with yourself.

At first, you may experience interest and excitement. With lots of new things to see and do, you will enjoy America like a tourist does.
The honeymoon begins to wear off, and you will experience challenges in communication and cultural differences that will make you feel very tired and embarrassed.
In this stage, you learn to laugh at the mistakes you make in communication, cultural differences, and other things, and not be very embarrassed at them.
Then one day, you’ll walk in the door and see your new friends, and while it won’t be exactly like home– you’ll realize you have made a home here.

Through these stages, it is a good idea to find help from friends you can trust and who respect your culture. We would be honored to answer your cultural questions, and help you in becoming comfortable in a new culture!

Weather & Clothes

Sep – Nov


3°C to 23°C (37°F – 73°F) You’ll want a light jacket.
Madison is wonderful in the fall, and you can look forward to cooler weather and beautiful foliage!
Nov – Mar


-18°C – 0°C (0°F – 32°F) Invest in a thick coat.
Fun fact: don’t touch metal objects unless you have gloves on! Learn to “shuffle like a penguin” to avoid slipping on the ice.
Mar – May


3°C to 23°C (37°F – 73°F) You’ll want a light jacket and a raincoat.
Madison begins to shine in spring when all the beautiful flowers come out
Jun – Aug


15°C – 36°C (59°F – 97°F)
Keep the light jacket but also get out the swimsuit.
Summer is Madison’s best season and the whole reason many love living in Wisconsin.

If you can’t get appropriate clothing where you live now, no worries – we will help you! Just get connected with us.

University Housing

You can look for housing that is near campus using the University Housing information.
Many international students live in Eagle Heights.
University Housing

Off-Campus Housing

You can look for housing further off-campus by looking at a general apartment search in Madison.
Things to Check:
  • Ask if utilities like heating and electricity are included with the price of the apartment.
  • Ask if there is a separate cost for parking a car.
  • Be prepared to make a security deposit (making an extra payment at the start of your stay). If the apartment is clean when you move out, they will give back some or all of the whole amount of the deposit. 
Search Apartments

Health Insurance

Insurance is extremely vital. A severe accident or injury can set you back financially by hundreds of thousands of dollars easily.

Student Health Insurance Plan

Health insurance is a requirement for all international students, scholars, and others in your immediate family (spouse, child or children) unless you have a waiver while you are in the United States per UW Madison. The University provides health insurance. You will need to buy the health insurance yourself.
Learn More

Helpful Definitions

  • Deductible: The amount you have to pay first before the insurance company starts paying.
  • Co-insurance: How much you have to pay. If you need to pay 10% of the bill, the insurance company pays 90% of the bill.
  • Maximum Out of Pocket Expenses: The highest amount you can pay, usually in a year, before the insurance company starts paying.
  • Annual: one-year
  • In-Network: A group of hospitals and specific doctors (even of those hospitals) that have an agreement with an insurance company of how much they will be paid for exams, time in a hospital, and many other things. If it is not an emergency, the website allows you to look up who is “In-Network” or call the two Networks call center for help.  Always go to In-Network hospitals and doctors if nearby. Otherwise, you will pay more.
  • Out-of-Network: hospitals and specific doctors (even of those hospitals) that do NOT have an agreement with an insurance company (like SHIP). You will pay more money if you use this network. 

We are here to help, if you need assistance please first get the appropriate medical care and then let us know how we can care for you.

Bringing Children?

Information about schools:
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