International Guide

Welcome new International Students! One of the goals of ISA here at Northwestern is to connect with prospective students before they arrive in Evanston. We want to welcome all international students, and answer any and all questions that they may have about the Northwestern experience, from academics to the social scene and what it's like to be an international student adjusting to college life.

For this reason, we help call every admitted international student individually through the Global Wildcats program so they have the opportunity to ask us questions. This is done in April, after all the decisions have been released and students are making that essential final choice - 'Where do I enroll now?'

To help ease the stress of preparing for your new life in Evanston, we have compiled the International Students' Guide to NU here on the website. It contains important and helpful advice to make that transition run smoother by providing some advice through our own experiences. Take a look and hopefully it will answer many of your questions!

Creating Bank Account

US Bank is convenient because it is the only bank with a branch and ATMs on the Northwestern campus. All you need to open a new checkings bank account is your passport and Wildcard! The process is relatively simple and fast since the staff is used to the influx of new international students at the beginning of the year and should be able to sort out any issues you might have.

The closest US bank branch is in the ground floor of the Norris University Center (next to the bookstore) with ATMs throughout campus. Once your bank account is set-up, you can also use your Wildcard as a US Bank debit card if you prefer.
You can find more specific information about possible options on the US Bank website:

Other, somewhat less convenient, options are Chase and Citibank which are located in downtown Evanston. Citibank is the only international bank, with branches throughout the world so it may be more convenient for your money transfers.

Residential Life

Housing application

Check out the housing guide on North by Northwestern and decide what dorms you want to live in. It is essential that you find out more about the housing process as soon as you can since these may vary from year to year and applying ealry often gives you advantages when actually selecting your room. Do not forget to write required essays for residential college dorms!

Here is the link:

Stuff to Actually Bring

As you're getting ready for college, one of the most prevalent concerns is what to pack and how to fit it all in the couple of suitcases you have. The ISA has compiled a list of items and possible everyday essentials that you should bring based on our own experiences.
The list is not entirely exhaustive since it is a general guide, but we hope it will prove to be useful to you:
  • Toiletries and Bathroom Related Things
    • Shower caddy (to carry all your bath products in)
    • Bath robe (because you have to walk through the hall from the bathroom to your room)
    • Towels (2 bath, 2 face)
    • Slippers
    • Q-tips
    • Band-aids
    • Bath products, razors, toothpaste, etc.
    • Medicine (cough drops, vitamins, aspirin, etc.)

  • Bedding
    • Comforter and covers
    • Blankets (optional)
    • 2 sets of sheets (twin size extra)
    • Mattress pad
    • 2 pillows and pillow-cases

  • Laundry Needs
    • Laundry detergents
    • Laundry basket
    • Shout Stain Remover
    • Bounce Sheets for Drawers

  • Dorm Room Needs
    • A fan (if you happen to live in a dorm with no AC)
    • Storage bins (for excessive clothing, etc.)
    • Lamp (light bulb)
    • Fridge (smaller than 3 cubic inches!---as required by the university: )
    • A side table (if you like to put stuff next to your bed)
    • Hooks, removable adhesive, hangers for your clothes (if you like to hang stuff)
    • Alarm clock (if you can't wake up to your cell phone ringing)
    • Water bottle
    • Plastic Plates/Cups/Spoons/Forks/Chopsticks
    • Decorative Stuff(posters, plant, calendar board, etc.)
    • Post-its/pins
    • Tissues
    • Air Fresheners

Finally, don't forget to bring your clothes! Chicago's winter is extremely cold, so bring lots of layers!

Transportation from O'Hare


This is the best option, especially if you have a lot of luggage and are exhausted after flying for gazillions of hours. As soon as you land, call one of these companies to arrange a pick-up:

Alternatively, you can simply use the taxis that constantly pickup new passegers at the taxi stop outside of the airport terminal.

They usually have a flat rate of around $35 but make sure to ask for the price beforehand because sometimes if you do not, they will start the meter and you will end up paying way more (at least $40). The ride should take around 40 minutes. Also, remember in the US you are expected to tip taxi drivers. A normal tip for a $35 cab ride would be $5 and if you decide to tip less than $3 then you should have a good reason to do so.

Public Transportation

The "L"
You want to stay away from Chicago's "metro" (the 'L' for "elevated", original right?) if this is your first time in the city or if you have a lot of stuff with you. Getting from O'Hare to Northwestern takes at least an hour and a half and you probably won't have enough space for your luggage. It costs $2.25 for a single ride which gets you all the way to campus. If you decide to hop on it.
These are the directions:
  1. Take the CTA Blue Line (Loop) train from O'Hare to the Washington stop in Chicago's Loop.
  2. Exit the train and walk through the pedestrian tunnel to the Red Line (Howard) train's Washington stop.
  3. Take the Red Line (Howard) train north to the Howard stop.
  4. Exit the train and transfer to the Purple Line (Linden) train.
  5. Take the Purple Line train north to the Foster stop in Evanston.
  6. Walk east on Foster about two blocks until you arrive at Sheridan Road. You will be right in front of Kellogg. Refer to the campus maps to find specific locations
Pace Bus

Take bus Route 250 from O'Hare to the Davis Street CTA station in downtown Evanston (about half-a-mile from campus). See the Pace web site for the Route 250 schedule, map, and fares. It is usually around $2.00 and takes about an hour. Note that you need exact change! To take it, you need to ride the O'Hare rail towards the "Kiss-n-Fly" stop in Parking Lot E/F. If you ask anyone in the airport, they will know where that is! Again, I do not recommend this if you are travelling with a lot of luggage or if you are arriving late at night.

International Student Orientation (ISO)

The Undergraduate International Student Orientation (ISO) is a pre-Wildcat Welcome, 3-day program hosted by the International Office (IO) designed to help international students become acquainted with life at Northwestern University.

Organized in collaboration with the International Student Association (ISA), the biggest international student group of campus, ISO will be a fun, exciting, and informative program geared specially towards assimilating international students into a new environment.

Besides introducing students to downtown Evanston and the beautiful Chicago city, ISO also provides a great platform for students to make new friends and familiarize themselves with what will be a second home to them for the next 4 years.

Check out the ISO 2015 page page for more information.