Pre-Arrival & New Student Resources

Once You Arrive

When you arrive on campus, it is natural to feel excitement and nervous. To get settled smoothly into your life as a USF student, review each of the sections below to get off on the right start.

If you are living on campus and know which room you have been assigned, go directly to the front desk at the residence hall where you will be living. If you do not know what room you have been assigned, you will need to contact the Student Housing and Residential Education (SHaRE) during business hours for your room assignment. If you arrive when SHaRE cannot assist you, you will need to find alternate accommodations for a place to stay. Look at short term housing options on the Off-Campus Living website (select Housing Search Resources from the left navigation panel).


International Student Orientation (ISO) takes place before the start of classes and is mandatory for all J-1 and F-1 visa holders. At ISO you will have a chance to learn about your student visa status, get tips for academic success and cultural adjustment, get to know campus resources, and more. Please find the ISO dates, location and schedule online as the semester approaches on the ISO website.

In addition to International Student Orientation, you will also have an orientation for your degree program. Both orientations are mandatory and will help you begin your program with the information you need.

Undergraduate students should attend the New Student Orientation (NSO), which will take place right after the International Student Orientation and before classes start. This program will cover important information about your major and the expectations of your program. During NSO there will be an opportunity for you to speak with an advisor about your course schedule and make changes to your classes as needed. As NSO approaches, details about the schedule will be posted online.

Your student ID (Mobile One Card) is your access to campus buildings and can also be your meal ticket if you have a meal plan. Go to the One Card website to set up your Mobile One Card. If you meet any set up problems, please go to their office at University Center 5th Floor during their business hours (Mon - Fri 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM).

  • MUNI (San Francisco Municipal Railway) operates San Francisco's buses and subways. If you own an eligible Mobile Device, you can use the MuniMobile App for your transportation needs around the city. The MuniMobile App allows you to manage your USF Muni Pass quickly and conveniently. If you will not have a car, or if you expect to use the bus on a daily basis (or at least a couple times per week), then the MUNI Pass can save you money and is very convenient to use. Without a pass or MuniMobile, each bus ride is $3 and exact change is needed each time. Most students have found the MUNI Pass to be very useful and cost effective. To learn more about planning your commute via MUNI, please visit MUNI website.
  • Undergraduate students who pay the Transportation Fee as part of their tuition are eligible for a Fall & Spring semester Muni pass. You are eligible to set up your Muni Mobile App on the first day of each semester. Simply set up your Muni Mobile App with your USF Muni Pass for unlimited rides around the city. As a friendly reminder, Muni passes are only available during the Fall and Spring semesters.
  • For students who do not have an eligible Mobile device, please visit the One Card office located in the University Center on the 5th floor for further support. More set up instructions will be provided on their website

Shopping and Eating Near USF and Beyond:

Dining and Entertainment Near USF: USF is located in a section of the city often referred to as “NOPA,” (for North of the Panhandle). Although many of the immediate streets around campus are residential, you do not have to go far for some great eateries.

  • Clement & Geary streets: explore this area for a great variety of cheap Asian fare and Asian markets too.
  • The Haight: walk down Haight St. for exposure to San Francisco’s history as a “hippy” destination and try some affordable food ranging from Middle Eastern, to Italian, to Thai.
  • Divisadero: make the trek to Divisadero St. for a change of scenery and food options, such as Ethiopian, Japanese, and American fusion.

Search for restaurants and restaurant reviews on Yelp. Or stay in and get food delivered from hundreds of San Francisco restaurants at Grubhub/DoorDash/UberEats.

Shopping and Resources in the SF Bay Area:

  • Target at Geary & Masonic St: Walking distance from USF Main Campus. This discount superstore has everything from housing items to clothing and footwear. 
  • Stonestown Galleria: on 19th Ave in San Francisco. This shopping mall has a wide range of stores and a great place to buff up your winter wardrobe that you thought you wouldn’t need in San Francisco. 
  • Union Square in downtown San Francisco: Located in San Francisco’s financial district, Union Square to Market St. is the premier San Francisco shopping area. Come with energy and comfy shoes, you may walk miles.
  • Craigslist on the Internet: Craigslist is a one stop site for apartments, housing, and used items ranging from furniture to cars. Definitely recommended, but use caution when purchasing items through individual sellers. There are many fraudulent listings on this site. Never pay for something in advance or meet someone alone. Go to:

Grocery Shopping Near USF:

  • Lucky at Fulton & Masonic: a large grocery store with groceries as well as hygiene and basic household items. One block from the main campus.
  • Trader Joe’s at Masonic & Geary: a medium sized store with affordable specialty items and gourmet natural foods.
  • Safeway at 7th Ave & Cabrillo: a large grocery store comparable to Lucky. Close to Pedro Arrupe! 
  • Arguello Market at Arguello and McAllister: a specialty store with limited groceries, but more prepared food choices for quick meals. Delicious sandwiches!

Banking in the United States:

To open a bank account, you will need to bring your I-20 or DS-2019, passport, I-94 card/Admission Record, and cash to deposit. To obtain your Admission Record you can visit the Customs and Border Protection website for You DO NOT need a Social Security Number to open a bank account. If the bank representative tells you that you need one, politely let them know that you know that you do not need one to open an account. If they still want one, ask to speak with someone else at the bank. USF does not endorse any particular bank and there are many to choose from. Important things to consider are banking fees, bank locations, Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) locations, and wire transfer options with your bank in your home country. 

Getting a Cell Phone:

  • HOW: Most cell phone companies will ask for a deposit, credit card or a Social Security Number. The ISSS vendor letter ( can help explain your student status and financial ability.  
  • WHAT: Choose a cell phone, a provider, and a service plan.  There are lots of options which can be compared online.  Some students like to bring their own phones and get a SIM card to put in it.  Other students like to choose a no-contract or pay-as-you-go plan for less commitment, and others have started “family plans” with friends to get a better price. 
  • WHY NOT: With modern technology there are many ways to communicate across national boundaries and oceans.  Consider using Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp and other video and messaging services to talk with friends and family back home. Prepaid phone cards for long-distance/international calls can also be a smart way to get in touch with relatives who don’t use the internet.
  • WHERE: Cell phone companies have many small stores throughout San Francisco where you can buy a phone and set-up a plan. ISSS also has complimentary SIM cards for use on any unlocked phone.

* If you would like to get a pdf list of local banks and cell phone companies, please email our office at