Frequently Asked Questions About Studying Abroad


When should I arrive and depart?

We request that you arrive at Whittier College one day before Orientation. Be sure to email your travel plans to your exchange coordinator in the Office of International Programs so we know when to expect you on campus. You will then be advised about how to collect your room key.  

Students must vacate the residence halls by noon the day after the last final exam. Please be sure to return your room key directly to a Residential Life staff member.

May I arrive earlier or depart later?

If you would like to arrive earlier to campus or stay later in Whittier, you can make arrangements with the Doubletree by Hilton Whittier Los Angeles for your lodging. The Doubletree is within walking distance of the College. Be sure to ask for the "Whittier College" discount.

How do I get to Whittier College from the airport?

While Whittier College cannot provide transportation to and from the local airports, each one offers a myriad of options. Taxis, Uber/Lyft, and car rentals will likely be the most convenient way to arrive at Whittier but we recommend you visit your destination airport's website for full details on transportation. Foreign drivers wishing to rent a vehicle in the United States may need to be 26 years of age, hold an International Driving License, as well as a credit card valid in the United States. All rental requirements should be confirmed directly with the car rental company.

What will happen when I arrive?

The day of your arrival at campus has been left open for you to move into your room and settle in.  A Whittier College staff member will be available to assist you in locating your dorm.

What will happen during Orientation?

During the afternoon of Orientation, you will attend a meeting for international and exchange students. At this time, you will have the opportunity to meet current international and domestic students and become acquainted with your fellow entering exchange students.
You will also attend a series of meetings and events described in the Orientation schedules below. Please note those activities listed as “mandatory” (marked with a globe) and “highly recommended” (highlighted in yellow).

Where will I live on campus?

Housing assignments will be emailed to you a few weeks prior to your arrival. You will be housed in either a residence hall on campus or in a shared, off-campus apartment. Residential Life will take your preference into account; however, housing assignments are based on availability. Exchange students must live in Whittier College housing. Please note that students living in the residence halls must also sign up for a meal plan of at least 10 meals per week.

How much money should I bring with me?

You should bring the equivalent of $500 USD when you first arrive. If you do not want to buy USD before you leave, you can withdraw USD from an ATM at your arrival airport.  Remember that you will need some money up front for airport transfers, for books and personal expenses, as well as to open a bank account after your arrival. You can exchange foreign currency at local banks or at the airport.

If you have a credit card or bank debit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo, you can also use these cards to make purchases, as most stores and restaurants will accept this form of payment.  Remember to inform your banks and credit card companies at home about your U.S. travel plans, as well as inquire about any international transaction fees they may charge.

Prior to your arrival, the Office of International Programs will email you a list of anticipated expenses, which will include charges to expect from the College, as well as other costs to anticipate during your stay.  Please use this information to plan your budget for the semester.

What forms of identification will I need?

Please know that your passport will function as your primary form of identification until you obtain a College ID card at registration. If you have other forms of identification, such as an International Driving License, you may want to also bring that with you.

When do I register for classes?

Prior to your arrival, the Office of International Programs will assist you with your class registration. To review course offerings or your upcoming semester, see the Schedule of Classes.

For Fall semester, we request that you send us a list of desired courses and required application materials by the second week of April, in order to ensure your enrollment in these classes. The Fall semester begins the first week of September. From this date, you will have an additional week to add courses and three weeks to drop any of your courses.

For Spring semester, we request that you send us a list of desired courses and required application materials by the second week of September in order to ensure your enrollment in these classes. The Spring semester begins the last week of January or the first week of February. From this date, you will have an additional week to add courses and three weeks to drop any of your courses.

How do I transfer my credits?

In order for your courses to transfer back to your home university transcript, you will need to request with the Registrar that an official transcript be sent to your home university.  It is very important that you specify on the request form that the transcript be sent only after grades have been posted for the semester. The cost is $5 per transcript.

When and how do I pay my bills?

Fall students will need to pay the full balance on their account by the first Friday in August. Spring students will need to pay the full balance on their account by December.Detailed information on billing amounts and procedures will be prepared and sent to you well before these due dates. You will be sent a Tuition Payment Agreement (TPA), confirming the amount you owe and reminding you to pay the balance. You may contact the Office of International Programs if you have specific questions pertaining to your bill. Also, please refer to the Costs & Billing page for a detailed breakdown of the costs.

Paying your bill by wire transfer or credit card are perhaps the best available payment options. Other payment options include personal or cashier's check in USD, payable to "Whittier College" or cash. Further details about these payment options will be included with your TPA.

How do I access my student account?

One to two months prior to your arrival, you will receive a letter about your student account, which will include login instructions and your username and password. Once you log in to your account, you can review your course schedule, required online forms through Moodle, and your student account balance.

What should I bring with me to Whittier?

Use the following as a checklist of items to either bring from home or buy in the U.S. Keep in mind the size of your room and that you will be sharing it with your roommate. Also, please note that you can order bed linens (sheets, pillow, pillowcase, and a blanket) to be delivered to the College prior to your arrival, as well as any possessions that may be too bulky to carry in your luggage. Items can be delivered to the College Mail Room.

For travel to the U.S. (Items you should bring with you)

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Original Health Forms
  • Money, as previously described
  • Clothes
  • Personal grooming items (comb, brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, feminine hygiene, etc.)
  • Personal items (photographs, journals, memorable items from home, music, CD player, alarm clock, watch, etc.)
  • Essential medication
  • Bath towel
  • Backpack

For life at school (Items you will need to purchase upon arriving in Whittier or send ahead by mail)

  • Linens, sheets, mattress pad, pillow, pillowcase, blanket (mattresses are extra-long)
  • Books
  • Stationary items (pens, paper, notebook, calculator, etc.)
  • Lamps
  • Hangers
  • Jacket
  • Umbrella
  • Other clothes
  • Computer supplies (optional, the school has computer facilities)
  • Fan
  • Laundry detergent, fabric softener

How can I send my belongings ahead of time?

If you wish to send a box ahead so that you do not have excess baggage when you travel, please use the following instructions:

(Your name)
(Your residence hall, room number)
C/O Mail Room

Whittier College
13406 East Philadelphia St.
Whittier, CA 90608

When will I be able to open a bank account, go shopping, etc?

Throughout Orientation week, there are several allocated "free hours," during which you can open a bank account (not especially recommended for exchange students, but more for international, four year students), set up your telephone service (such as buying a US cell phone), tend to personal business, shop, and get yourself settled in.  In terms of shopping for your new residence, we advise that you wait until your roommate has moved in before deciding what to purchase; additionally, Residential Life staff typically organize shopping trips for entering students during Orientation week.

What's the weather like in Whittier throughout the school year?

Keep in mind that the residence halls are usually pretty warm, especially during the start and end of the academic year, which fall within Southern California's summer season. Daytime Whittier temperatures in late fall and throughout spring average about 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit, but can drop down to 50 degrees at night. The winter months will generally produce some rain but no snow, and the temperature is around 60 degrees during the day and 38-45 degrees in the evening.

What if I get sick after I arrive?

Your health insurance plan in your home country may not be valid in the United States. In this case, the College requires you to obtain a student health insurance policy through our contractor, which will cover you during your stay. You will be billed for this with your other fees due to the College, and an estimate will be included in the fees previously mentioned.

If you feel sick, please visit the Student Health & Wellness Center, which can treat you for minor symptom . In the case of a medical emergency or more serious health issue, the Health & Wellness Center will assist you in contacting emergency services or an appropriate medical provider.

Who is my contact person at the College?

Please refer to our Contact Us page.

Who should I contact if there is an emergency?

In the case of an emergency, you or your family can contact Campus Safety around the clock at 562.907.4211.