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Coming to Vanderbilt


When to Arrive

Immigration regulations allow F-1 and J-1 students to enter the US up to 30 days before the program start date on our I-20 or DS-2019.

Graduate students are encouraged to arrive between August 4 and 14. During this time, current Vanderbilt students will be in the ISSS office to help answer your questions and provide extra support as you get settled and prepare for classes.  Please note that some graduate programs, such as Owen and the Law School, require an earlier arrival.

Undergraduate international students who will live on campus are scheduled to move in on August 12 and 13.

Introduction to Nashville

Vanderbilt University is located in Nashville, the capital city of Tennessee, in the southeastern region of the U.S.  Nashville has a dynamic film, video, and recording industry and is affectionately known as “Music City, USA.” It is also noted for health care, publishing, insurance, finance, and education. A rapidly growing city, metropolitan Nashville has a population of more than 1 million. Vanderbilt is ideally situated just five minutes from downtown. Nashville is a city of students, with more than a dozen colleges and universities attracting some 30,000 students from the U.S. and around the world.

Please take the time to view the University’s excellent introductory page to our beloved city and ISSS’s Life at Vanderbilt resource collection.

Climate: Nashville has a mild climate. Summers are humid; winters are cold. Summer temperatures range from 68°F (20°C) to 90°F (31.6°C). Winter temperatures range from 32°F (0°C) to 50°F (10°C). Nashville experiences 2-3 light snowfalls per winter.

Dress: People in the U.S. dress casually. Shorts and t-shirts are the norm during summer. Jeans, sweaters, and jackets are common in the winter. Formal attire (suit and tie for men; pants-suit, skirt, or dress for women) is appropriate for business meetings, interviews, or certain social events.

What to Bring

Bring available funds for at least two months in Nashville. Initial move-in expenses can be high. Salary payments for teaching or research assistantships will not be issued until the end of September. Please plan your finances accordingly.

You may also wish to bring: alarm clock, pillow, towel, bed sheets, and enough clothes for one year of changing temperatures. Remember a warm winter coat and gloves, plus an umbrella for our rainy days. You may include cooking utensils (rice cooker, steamer, etc.), or you may purchase items in local stores and shopping malls.

ISSS will have pillows and linens available for purchase to make your first night on campus comfortable! Packages include a pillow, sheet set, blanket, bath towel, washcloth, and laundry bag and may be purchased for $40 (cash or U.S. check). Students may purchase linens at the ISSS office upon arrival in August.

If your country has a national dress or other traditional materials, please bring selected items with you. ISSS and international student organizations offer opportunities to share your culture with U.S. citizens and other friends in the international community. People will ask you about your home country, so consider bringing pictures of your hometown, family, and places/people/things that you can share.

Travel & Transportation

Please be prepared to pack only two carry-on bags for your flight to the U.S. – U.S. airports allow only two small bags to be brought with you on airplanes. Remove all luggage locks at the U.S. customs checkpoint, as all luggage is subject to security checks. Please also be prepared for personal security checks. Individuals are often asked to remove their shoes when walking through airport metal detectors (www.faa.gov/passengers/index.cfm).

Remember, you may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days in advance of the program start date (for F-1 students, see I-20 item #5; for J-1 students, see item #3 on the DS-2019) and you may not enter after that date. Check here for Mandatory Orientation Information.

Transportation to Vanderbilt University from the Nashville International Airport:

  • Nations of Nashville is a faith-based nonprofit organization that will match you with a local Nashville family to pick you up from the airport.  Suggested donation is $10, but can also do for $5 for students on a tight budget.
  • Grand Avenue Transportation offers chauffeur pick-ups from the airport. Chauffeurs will meet you at Baggage Claim at assist you with your baggage. Discounted Vanderbilt rates are availalbe beginning at approximately $51.30 for destinations near downtown and Vanderbilt’s campus. Reservations can be made online.
  • The Gray Line shuttles run from the airport to the Marriott West End (closest stop near campus) for about $14 one way. Service begins at 5:00 am and runs until 11:00 pm
  • Taxis are available for a fee of approximately $25 one way. (It is common to tip the driver $1 per suitcase.)
  • Additional shuttles and buses can be found on the Nashville International Airport website under Ground Transportation:http://www.flynashville.com/
  • Upon request, and arranged well in advance, students may be met by a representative of an international student organization. Some international student organizations may be found at:
  • http://www.vanderbilt.edu/studentorganizations/subject-listing-of-student-organizations#cultural

Accommodations & Temporary Housing

For a list of nearby hotels with special Vanderbilt pricing, visit:http://www.campustravel.com/vanderbiltvisitors/index.htm

The following options are better suited for those who need to stay for more than a few days while waiting for on-campus housing or an apartment.

On-Campus Residents

Students who will live on campus should apply for a housing assignment between April 1 and June 1.  Information and instructions can be found at: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/ResEd/main/

Students will be notified of their housing assignment by the Office of Housing & Residential Education in early August.  Please contact them directly with questions. (Phone: 615-322-2591, Email: resed@vanderbilt.edu).

Off-Campus Housing

Information and resources for finding off-campus housing can be found in the Life at Vanderbilt section of our website.