There are several important steps to take to prepare to leave the Iowa City and the University. These include:
- Payment of Bills. This information pertains to those who are living off campus. Please remember that gas, electric, and telephone bills are generally one month "behind" the actual services provided. When you discontinue these services, be sure to pay for the services used during the current month, and to contact all businesses (such as the utility, telephone, cable companies) that currently bill you to give them your forwarding address.
- Payment of U-Bill. Any miscellaneous charges that are made on your university account appear on a University Bill issued at the beginning of each month. Depending on the time that you make those charges, they could appear on a bill that is issued after you depart for home. For this reason, it is very important to visit the Cashier's Office in Jessup Hall shortly before you leave Iowa City to settle your account. Unpaid U-bills will "freeze" all of your official University of Iowa records, making it impossible to issue you a transcript to reflect your academic achievements here.
- Housing Contract. All housing contracts are for the entire academic year. If you are only studying here for the Fall semester, you will need to cancel your contract for the following spring semester. To do this, you should go to Burge Hall to speak with a member of the Housing Office staff BEFORE YOU LEAVE.
- Health Insurance. If you are remaining in the U.S. to travel after the semester ends, your insurance coverage must remain in effect for the length of time you are here. If you are going home immediately after the semester ends, your insurance should automatically lapse at the end of May. Contact the exchange coordinator if there are problems.
- Forwarding Address. The ISSS is often asked to help locate former international students, and we sometimes wish to mail items to alumni abroad. We also very often receive mail intended for students who have already left. In order for you to receive future correspondence from the university in a timely fashion (including your final bills from the cashier’s office), you need to change your residing address (and, if it has changed, your permanent address) online. Using the university’s ISIS system log in with your HawkID and password. Then click on the <Student Records> tab, and under the Student Life Management heading, click on Change Address. The Current Residing address update page should pop up, but in order to change your address to an international address, follow the extra instructions in the paragraph that ends: “If you wish to update a Residing Address in a non-United States or Foreign format, click here.” Once you click to change your screen to a Foreign format, you should find all the data entry fields you need. When you finish, be sure to click on the <Submit address update> button at the bottom in order to actually submit your changes.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to order a copy of my transcript for my home university?
No, this is automatically taken care of by the Office for Study Abroad. We will order your official UI transcript as soon as it is available, then mail it directly to the exchange coordinator at your university or sponsoring organization (e.g., ISEP). This usually happens within 2-3 weeks following the end of the semester. If you want additional transcripts, you will need to make arrangements with the Registrar's Office to purchase them.
What should I do if I am planning to stay to continue my academic studies or get a job?
If you intend to remain for the next session and work on campus, undertake J-1 Academic Training, or transfer to another university in the U.S. to continue your studies, meet with an International Student and Scholar Advisor during walk-in advising hours to learn about the proper immigration procedures.
What preparations should I make for taking care of my taxes at the end of this calendar year?
If you did not work while you were a student here, you do not need to pay any income taxes. However, if you did take a part-time on-campus job while you were attending the University of Iowa, you may be eligible for a refund on taxes withheld from your paychecks.
Employers (like the University of Iowa) are required to mail tax-withholding reports to employees every January. These forms are called "W-2s," and must be included in any tax filing you submit to the Internal Revenue Service, which is the U.S. government's tax collecting organization.
If you have departed by the time your W-2 is issued and mailed, it should be forwarded to us c/o the Office for Study Abroad, and we will, in turn, forward the form to you at the permanent home address you listed on your application to become an exchange student. The ISSS web site has comprehensive information about U.S. income taxes.
How can I prepare psychologically for my return home?
Many international students are unaware of the degree to which they have changed while in the U.S., and have not thought systematically about the changes that have taken place at home during their absence. As a result, they underestimate the degree of "reverse culture shock" they will experience when they get back.
Research and suggestions from returning international students have shown that it helps to think in advance about those changes, and to prepare oneself for the adjustments that going home will require. The Canadian Bureau for International Education has published a "Guided Fantasy for Returning Students," to help with this "constructive worrying." Here is a slightly abridged version:
- How will you feel physically? How tired do you think you will be?
- Who will be there to meet you?
- What is the first thing they will do or say to you?
- Where is the first place you will go on arrival?
- Who would you want to meet you?
- What do you think will be your first obligations on that day?
- What sorts of things will others expect you to do within the day or two after arrival, and how will they express their expectations?
- How will they imagine you have changed?
- What friends, if any, do you think you will miss in the U.S.?
- What will you say when asked, "What was it like in the U.S.?"
We sincerely hope that you have had a beneficial experience here in Iowa City. If you are leaving, we hope everything goes well for you at your new location. If you are staying here to continue your studies, we hope your academic work goes well, and that you have a rewarding experience.
How can I stay in touch with my friends from the University of Iowa?
The university has an excellent website for all UI alumni to be able to contact each other, stay informed about events in the campus and local community as well as explore career opportunities through other UI alumni. Visit the UI Alumni Association. Facebook pages, including the Global Buddies group, will also help keep you connected to your friends after you return home!
How can I share my experience as an exchange student with others?
We welcome you to share with us your photos, letters, personal websites, etc. as well as other links that you have found to be useful or interesting about your experience in the U.S.! Check out these resources from our former exchange students: