Navigating college can be challenging on its own, but doing so in another country often increases the learning curve. In this article, senior Bruin (and former New Student Advisor) Francisco Escobedo shares tips for international students and their families to thrive at UCLA.

Author: Francisco Escobedo is a first-generation rising senior from Eastvale, CA. He is currently an intern for the Parent & Family Association, and he loves connecting with and providing resources to fellow Bruins and their families. Frankie is also involved with New Student & Transition Programs (NSTP), the Student Alumni Association (SAA) and the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP).

1. Free writing and printing resources are available on campus.

Students seeking additional writing help can reach out to the Undergraduate Writing Center or the Writing Success Program. The Community Programs Office computer lab, located in the Student Activities Center (SAC), offers up to 100 pages of free printing per quarter.

2. Students struggling to meet basic needs have a place on campus.

The Community Programs Office (CPO) Food Closet, located in the SAC, is a “no questions asked” communal food pantry that provides students in need with fresh food and hygiene products. UCLA also offers the Economic Crisis Response Team (ECRT) as a resource for students in need of emergency financial support, and the Financial Wellness Program for those seeking to improve their financial literacy.

3. The Dashew Center can help you travel.

The Dashew Center for International Students & Scholars (DCISS) has a travel authorization request form for F1/J1 students and scholars. An “out-of-country” form is available for J1 scholars should they wish to leave the U.S. for more than one academic quarter. 

4. Know your local banking options.

Wescom Credit Union has a physical location at the Ackerman Student Union. Whether students are saving up for a laptop or purchasing a meal plan, Wescom is committed to supporting their every financial need. Bruin Banking Benefits are specially designed for UCLA students and include perks like unique loan opportunities, checking account promotions, free financial education resources, and more. Wells Fargo and Chase banks have ATMs on campus and full branch locations in Westwood Village.

5. Consider starting a new cell phone plan.

There are multiple wireless carriers in Los Angeles, but AT&T and Verizon Wireless are most centrally located with storefronts in Westwood Village.

6. Financial support is available for international students, too!

The following sites have financial support resources that are open to international students & scholars: Unigo, MPower Financing, and Big Future College Board.

7. Get involved in one of UCLA’s extensive research programs.

Those interested in exploring research in any department on campus may visit the Undergraduate Research Center (URC). The URC also has STEM-specific programs and opportunities geared toward the social sciences and humanities.

8. International students can work on campus.

If a student wishes to work on- or off-campus, they are allowed to do so for a maximum amount of 20 hours per week. Depending on their visa, some students may have to submit employment documentation to DCISS. Visit this DCISS web page for information on working requirements, suggested on-campus employers and teaching assistant opportunities.

9. Get to know UCLA’s common phrases.

There are many UCLA-specific acronyms and phrases that take some getting used to. This article can help you become better acquainted with the language of UCLA.

10. Review the Dashew Center’s guide for resources that may be useful for international students on campus.

From sponsor and arrival resources to important academic topics and safety information, this helpful guide quickly links you to a number of important resource and topics for being an international student at UCLA.