Tips for International Students

The following tips for incoming international students in the Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University are listed in order to make your transition easier. More information can be found on the International Student Orientation webpage.

Obtaining a social security number

Without this, you cannot open a bank account or sign a rental lease. You will need to go (in person) to the Social Security Office at 317 South Drake Road. It will take seven to ten business days for your social security number to be sent out to you. Be sure to have adequate cash (or traveler's checks) on hand to cover your expenses until you can open a bank account. Social Security Office phone: (866) 331-9088.

Finding a place to live

Typically, students start looking for an apartment three to six months prior to the move-in date. Some apartment complexes require specific documentation to approve rental leases. For example, you may be required to be working full time, or have an employed Michigan resident to co-sign for you. Thus, it may be difficult to find an apartment that would allow international students to lease. If you prefer to live alone, arranging for on-campus housing during your first year or semester is an alternative.


There is a free transit service that runs through campus.

Getting a driver's license

When you arrive in Kalamazoo, it is important to obtain a driver's license immediately. Your driver's license also functions as official U.S. identification. You will need to go to the Secretary of State located at 3298 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo. Phone: (888) 767-6424.

Health insurance 

You will be required to have health insurance.

Canadian students

Things for you are a little bit different. Depending on the province that you are from, you may not need to purchase new health or auto insurance. Further, you may not even be required to transfer your Canadian license to a Michigan license. Most provinces require students to return to their permanent homes every three months in order to keep their Canadian health and auto insurance. However, this requirement may be different from province to province, check with your local Driver's Licensing Bureau and Provincial Health Insurance administrators.