Global Brown Center

Incoming Students

On behalf of Brown and its international student community, we are thrilled that you have been accepted to Brown University. Upon your arrival to College Hill, you will find a ready welcome from many members of the Brown community.

If you are entering the United States on a visa as an undergraduate first-year, transfer, or visiting/special student, your initial point of contact for I-20 and visa related matters will be the Office of College Admission, which will issue initial and transfer I-20 forms upon your submission of required documentation. Instructions on required documentation are made available on the Admitted Student Website at the end of March each year.

Once you have matriculated at Brown or if you are a graduate student, your main point of contact for all visa related matters will be the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS).


Plan Ahead

Brown's academic calendar has several long breaks, including Thanksgiving (a U.S. holiday celebrated in late November), winter break (after finals end in December through the start of the spring term in late January), spring break (typically the last week of March), and, of course, summer.  Being on campus during these times can be a wonderful chance to catch up, enjoy Providence, or get a break. They can also be times when students can feel isolated as most undergraduates and some graduate students, faculty, and staff are not on campus.

Planning ahead for breaks is important, including where you'll stay and eat. For more information about housing, dining, and services available during the Winter Break, please review the Residential Life website. 

Additional resources

We will provide a Banking Fair during International Undergraduate and Graduate Orientation, but here's some info to get you started. If you would like additional information, please consult with staff in the Office of International Student and Scholar Services and view the OISSS page on Banking

How to Open a Bank Account

The three banks that are closest to Brown's campus are Bank of America, Citizens Bank, and Santander Bank. make sure to investigate the terms and conditions of each bank before you open an account. If you do not have a social security number, remember to bring two pieces of identification (student ID and a passport) and your I-20 form, as it may be necessary when opening a bank account.

Checking vs. Savings Accounts

  • Checking Accounts

Checking accounts ensure safe and quick deposit of checks, including foreign checks, and are oftentimes free to open. They offer a convenient and safe way to store large amounts of cash. Once you open a checking account, you receive a debit card that allows you to pay for items and services in stores and online without having to carry cash in your wallet.

  • Savings Accounts

Savings accounts should be reserved for money that you do not wish to access readily. When you open a savings account, you keep a certain amount of money in that account and do not use it unless absolutely necessary. The benefit of putting money in a savings account is that you can accumulate interest and earn more money over time, and it also helps you budget your money.

Please note that interest earned through a savings account may be taxable. Furthermore, some banks charge a penalty fee for withdrawing money from a savings account before a fixed amount of time elapses. Fortunately, many banks allow you to transfer or withdraw money into other accounts (such as a checking account) at any time without incurring penalty fees. Please ask your bank before you withdraw or transfer money from a savings account.

ATM Machines

Automatic Teller Machines, or ATMs allow you to deposit, transfer, or withdraw money using your debit card. ATMs are located on Thayer Street and inside the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center.

Please use caution whenever you access an ATM. It is recommended that you use ATMs in safe, secure places—especially indoors, and avoid making withdrawals after dark. Avoid accessing the ATM if someone who looks suspicious is following you or "hanging around" the ATM machine for no apparent reason. You must input your PIN number whenever you use an ATM. This is a unique code which you should never share with anyone else. Make sure no one around you sees you input your PIN number. Please also note that some banks charge a service for ATM transactions, especially if it is an ATM machine that belongs to a bank other than your own.

Safety Tips

  • Do not share your checking card PIN number with any one, not even with a close friend or relative. Your PIN number is the unique access code that you must enter whenever you purchase items or services or make transactions through an ATM machine. This code is private-sharing it with another person could put your money at risk of being stolen!
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash in your wallet or purse. Only carry enough cash that you may need for the day. Avoid "flashing" your cash in public. Use a checking (debit) card to make transactions, so as to avoid losing cash or getting robbed.
  • Carry your purse, wallet, or backpack close to your body and keep a tight grip on it.
  • Do not carry your id card and your checks in your wallet. It would be better to keep them separate (e.g. keep your id cards in your wallet in one pocket, and your checkbook in another pocket. If you lose your checkbook, contact your bank immediately so that no stranger or thief can access your money.
  • Do not write your PIN number down. Memorize it!
  • Make a list of all of your credit cards, checking account numbers, and identification cards. If anything gets stolen or lost, you should contact the police immediately and give them the list. You must also contact your bank as soon as possible to prevent a thief from accessing your money


Checks are typically used to pay for monthly bills such as rent, telephone, cable, water and electric bills. The benefit of using a check is that once it is cashed, you have proof of payment through the bank. Banks usually scan copies of checks that have been cashed or deposited, which allows you to view the checks conveniently through your online account statement. PLEASE NOTE: it is a very serious offense to write checks without having sufficient funds in your account. Please make sure you have enough money in your checking account before you write any checks. A "bounced" check can result in fees from the bank, fees from the vendor, and other potential financial and legal consequences.

Check out this step-by-step tutorial that explain how to write a check.

We will provide a Cell Phone Fair during International Undergraduate and Graduate Orientation, but here's some info to get you started. If you would like additional information, please consult with staff in the Office of International Student and Scholar Services and view the OISSS page on Utilities

There are a variety of cell phone companies around the Providence area. The four most popular companies are Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. All four companies offer coverage throughout the U.S. and if your plan allows for it, international coverage. Wireless plans in the U.S can be very different from plans outside of the U.S. Therefore, make sure you carefully read everything before you sign up for a particular plan; in particular, please be certain to ask specifically about international calling rates, messaging plans, 3G/4G network fees and capabilities (if applicable), contract agreements, and possible overage charges.

Cell Phone Plans

To get a cell phone and a plan, there are two main options: 1) a prepaid plan, or 2) a two year contract. 

  • Prepaid plan have slightly higher rates on outgoing calls, messaging, etc. However, they are convenient for international students and scholars. Prepaid plans offer the same services and network capabilities as contract plans, but do not require a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) or a hefty deposit. 
  • Contract plans require a two-year contract commitment as well as a SSN for identity and credit check purposes. A large deposit ($100-$500) is required in lieu of a SSN, but usually, cell phone companies will refund your initial deposit after twelve months of good standing. It is important to note that breaking the contract will result in heavy penalty fees.

Most cell phone companies offer family plans. Family plans allow up to five lines to be on the same contract. Keep in mind that it is difficult to add/ drop lines once the contract is signed without paying a penalty fee. Family plans are inexpensive if you know multiple individuals signing up for a contract plan.

Popular Cell Phone Companies

Verizon Wireless

  • 216 Thayer Street
  • 401-270-4330 
  • Prepaid plan information
  • A deposit is required for a contract plan for individuals without a SSN but will be refunded after 12 months of good standing. You do not need a SSN for prepaid plans.


  • Providence Place Mall, 3rd Floor
  • 401-270-4903
  • A deposit is required for a contract plan for individuals without a SSN but will be refunded after 12 months of good standing. You do not need a SSN for prepaid plans.


  • Providence Place Mall, 1st Floor
  • Prepaid plan information
  • A deposit is required for a contract plan for individuals without a SSN but will be refunded after 12 months of good standing. You do not need a SSN for prepaid plans.


  • metroPCS is an option for international students and scholars who are staying less than a year in the U.S. metroPCS does not require a contract or SSN to get a phone and service plan. The plans are month to month. Service in only available in major U.S. cities.
  • 55 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI 02903
  • 1-888-863-8768

Introductory information about getting to Brown is below. You may also find these on-line resources helpful:

When to Arrive

Move-in dates for undergraduate international students are the Tuesday and Wednesday before General Orientation (typically the last week in August). Please consult International Orientation for this year's date. Please remember that international students studying at Brown on a visa cannot arrive in the United States earlier than 30 days from the start of International Orientation. Those that do choose to arrive earlier, must provide for their own accommodations prior to the move-in dates.

Graduate and Medical students should consult with their departments. 

About Providence, Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island's capital city, is ideally located, with easy access to major East Coast cities and desirable New England destinations. The city is 80 km from Boston and just over 300 km from New York City.

Transportation Options

By Air

T.F. Green Airport is located in Warwick, about 16 kilometers south of Providence. InterLink, a train station accessible by skywalk from the airport terminal, is served by Amtrak and Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA). You can take the MBTA Commuter Rail to the Providence Train Station and take a taxi cab from there, or you can take a cab directly from the airport.

Logan International Airport is located in Boston, Massachusetts. Peter Pan buses bound for Providence stop at terminals A, B, C, and E. Alternatively, you can take the Boston Subway Silver Line from terminals A, B, C, or E to South Station, where you can take the commuter rail to Providence.

By Train

The Providence Train Station is served by Amtrak and Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA). From the train station, you can take a taxi cab to campus.

By Bus

Providence is served by Peter Pan and Greyhound bus lines, which stop in downtown Kennedy Plaza. From there, it's a short walk or taxi ride (less than a mile) to Brown.

By Car
From points north or south

Take I-95 North or South to Exit 22A, Memorial Blvd, in Providence. Continue down Memorial Blvd and turn left on College Street. At the top of the hill, where College Street intersects with Prospect Street, you will see Brown’s Van Wickle Gates. Please then reference the campus map to navigate to your destination.

From points east

Take I-195 W take the Gano Street Exit (Exit 3). Turn left on Gano, and, shortly after, turn right on Wickenden Street. Turn right on Hope Street. Continue north on Hope Street, then turn left on George Street. You will then go through two intersections before coming to Brown Street on your left and the Main Green on your right.  Please then reference the campus map to navigate to your destination.  

Taxi Cab Phone Numbers
East Side Taxi 401-521-4200
Economy Taxi 401-944-6700
Gemini Taxi 401-855-2170
Rhode Island Taxi 401-272-1222
Walsh Cab 401-943-3636

Before leaving for the United States, please be sure to review information sent to you by Brown. 

Suggestions from Brown Students

Below are recommendations for what to bring from students in the International Mentoring Program.

Important Papers

Travel Documents are more important than anything else! Your Passport, I-20 and any other form of identification are what matter most.


Providence is a city which gets all 4 seasons, so pack accordingly.  Summer can be warm and humid. Bring comfortable shorts, skirts, flip-flops and other summer wear. In the fall, things cool down and by this time a warm jacket is recommended. Winter is cold and wearing several layers, a warm jacket, snow or water proof shoes, and full length trousers/jeans are a necessity. Spring is beautiful when generally a light jacket in the evenings is more than enough. Information about average monthly temperatures in Providence or Rhode Island can be found on-line, including and, as can general information about the climate

Brown is a pretty informal school, and so apart from weather considerations, feel free to dress exactly how you like. If you ever find that you need to do some shopping, there are plenty of stores within walking distance of campus, or you could even make a trip to Boston or New York where there are even wider selections of stores.

Other School Stuff

Having a computer is very useful though not absolutely mandatory, because the libraries on campus and other facilities have several computer clusters. However, since most of your classes will have a website, and you might be handing in home-work online, as well as typing out all your assignments and papers, having a computer in the room is very convenient. The Brown Computer Store as well as other nearby stores tend to have special deals on computers in the early Fall, so if you'd like, you could wait to purchase one upon your arrival. 

Remembering Home

Carry some photographs, or your favorite books or movies, or some food from your home country. There are always those odd days when you want to share memories with your new friends, or just want to look back at some of the times you had before coming to Brown. These things take up little space, and can just give you that extra comfort in a new place.

Bedroom Stuff

There are numerous stores near campus and at the Providence Place Mall where sheets, pillow covers, as well as curtains, rugs, clocks, mirrors and other things you might need to do up your room with are available, so you don't need to carry all these from home. You can also order linens from Brown Student Agencies for which will be available on-campus upon your arrival. 

Surviving Providence Winters

Winter Jacket: It is essential that you have a warm jacket for when it starts to get cold. There are many different styles and options, but a common choice among students are jackets stuffed with down feathers, which are available in water-proof material. A good place to shop would be at the Providence Place Mall or in Boston if you're able to get there, and a good time would be early in the semester because the beginning of winter is hard to predict, and it's always good to be prepared before-hand.

Layering: Wearing several layers really helps staying warm, especially during the winter when nothing else seems to work! So a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath a short-sleeves t-shirt, underneath a thin sweater, underneath a thick sweater, underneath the above-mentioned down jacket, and you will soon forget how cold it is!

Footwear: This is really an essential part of feeling warm. Warm socks, and snow-proof shows can make a huge difference to beating the cold.

Scarves, Caps and Gloves: These are great additions which add that extra warmth, and help deal with the wind. Keeping your neck, ears and hands warm can greatly influence how warm you feel on the whole.

Additional Information

International Orientation (IO) is a pre-orientation program for undergraduate international students to begin learning about Brown’s campus, academic and co-curricular offerings, as well as building relationships with other international students prior to New Student Orientation.
International Graduate Student Orientation is designed to welcome and assist international graduate students at Brown University, providing essential information and resources to help smoothly transition to life in the United States.