Pre-Departure Advice


What to leave home

  • 220–240 Volt electrical appliances: In the United States, 110-120 Volt electricity and AC power are the standard. Plugging in an appliance with different electrical standards can ruin your appliance or cause other damage. If you do want to bring an electric appliance from home, consider buying a Volt Converter. Volt converters can be easily purchased at any of the electronics stores in the United States, such as Best Buy, RadioShack, etc. 
  • Perishable foods, meats, most plants and animals: Consult the U.S. Customs website to learn what items are not allowed to be imported.
  • Bedding and towels: Dominican University of California will provide you with appropriate sheets and towels upon your arrival at a cost.
  • School books: You will need to buy new books upon arrival.

What to bring with you

San Rafael has a Mediterranean climate: Summers and early falls are warm and winters and late falls are cool. The average temperatures in San Francisco Bay Area range from around 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 27 degrees Centigrade).

During summer and early fall, students often wear short pants and t-shirts to class. In the late fall and winter months, warmer clothes like sweaters, coats and rain gear are necessary.

  • You may bring your personal belongings, photos, arts and crafts, maps and any souvenirs that will remind you of home and that will help you share your culture and traditions with your fellow students and campus community.
  • If you wear glasses, get a prescription from your eye doctor.
  • If you need regular medication, get an adequate initial supply as well as a prescription from your doctor. Bring any medical documentation you can and translate it into English.
  • If you wish to begin driving as soon as you come to California, bring your driver license and its translation into English or bring your international driving license.
  • Bring about $200 in cash (in small denominations, $5, $10, $20) to use as spending money when you first arrive in the United States. You might not be able to access your debit/credit card accounts right away and the local U.S. banks do not exchange money as a routine procedure.

How to arrange for mail

Until you have a mailing address at Dominican University of California, you may have your letters mailed to you in care of the GEO. Make sure that the words "Hold for arrival" are written on the envelope. Use the following address:

Global Education Office (GEO)
50 Acacia San Rafael, CA 94901

Store important numbers

  • passport number
  • travelers cheques’ numbers 
  • bank account numbers (not passwords)
  • flight numbers 
  • contact numbers and an emergency contact number

Write these numbers on a single sheet of paper, or on your PDA, and keep it in your handbag or on your person. This way you won’t have to take out your important documents every time you are asked to fill out a form. Leave a list of these important numbers at home so your family can use it in case of emergency.

Make a photocopy of all important documents and carry those photocopies separately. Keep a set of photocopies in each piece of luggage, in case one of your bags is misplaced or lost in transit.

Airport to Campus Transportation

Dominican provides assistance for all our international students who need it, with transportation options from the San Francisco or Oakland airports to the University.

Two weeks in advance of your arrival, please e-mail both [email protected] and your flight information, date and time of arrival. 


Bedding, Towels and SIM Phone Card

Dominican University will provide you with sheets, pillows covers, towels and a  SIM card for the fee of $130. Make sure that you bring a GSM unlocked phone so that you may use the SIM card. Upon your arrival you will be given:

  • Twin bed sheets, a pillow, and a comforter
  • Two towels
  • Phone card  worth $10 (The card comes with 10 minutes of credit time)


Date of arrival

U.S. immigration regulations state that new students entering on an F-1 student visa will only be eligible to enter the United States thirty calendar days or less prior to the beginning of the program date or start date, as indicated on the SEVIS I-20 form.

For new F-1 students, this reporting date is indicated in the question number 5 of the I-20 form. Please consider this date carefully when making travel plans to the United States.