Office of International Student and Scholar Services

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is part of the Center for International Programs at St. Mary’s University. ISSS provides international students and scholars with advice, information and referrals on matters such as immigration, employment and overseas travel.

Additionally, ISSS assists students with issues related to social and personal adjustments to a new culture, as well as practical matters related to living in San Antonio, Texas.

Our team is excited to meet you at the International Student Check-in. We hope the information provided will be useful to you as you prepare for your arrival to St. Mary’s.

If you have any questions, please contact Maria del Mar Aponte, Director of the Center of International Programs, at 210-431-5091 or

Important Dates

Fall 2023

International New Student Check-in
Thursday, August 10, 2023
Time: 11:30-12:30
Location: UC- B

Fall 2023 Classes Begin
Tuesday, August 15, 2023

For a full listing of the Academic Calendar, visit

Important Offices

We encourage students to become familiar with the most frequently used and important offices on campus.

Business Office

Law School Admissions

Office of Admission

Office of Graduate Admission


Residence Life

Student Health Center

Technical Support Center

Arriving to St. Mary’s

Arrival Confirmation Form

Along with this Pre-Arrival Checklist and Packet, you should will receive a link to an Portal to Complete Arrival Confirmation Information. Please make sure you have submitted this form prior to your arrival. If you have not received it, email


St. Mary’s Pickup

If you selected to live on campus, airport pickup is provided, however, there is limited availability for this service. To schedule your airport transportation pickup, email your flight number and expected arrival time to

Taxi Service

Taxis are available outside baggage claim at the airport. For assistance, contact an airport ground transportation agent. Estimated cost for a taxi is $30 to $40. Rates may vary and are subject to change.

Campus address is: One Camino Santa Maria, San Antonio, Texas 78228.

Note: Most taxi drivers are familiar with St. Mary’s University and can drop you off directly at your residence hall.

For more information about taxi service and costs, visit

Living On Campus

Spring 2019 students who wish to arrive before Aug. 14, 2018 must arrange stay at a hotel. If you have not received your housing assignment, contact Residence Life at For information about on-campus housing options, see Living on Campus.

Short-term and Weekly Lodging near St. Mary’s

InTown Suites
6625 Bandera Rd.
Leon Valley, Texas 78238

Motel 6
7500 Louis Pasteur Dr.
San Antonio, Texas 78229

4934 NW Loop 410
San Antonio, Texas 78229

InTown Suites
6451 Bandera Rd.
Leon Valley, Texas 78238

Living Off Campus

For off campus housing options, the resources below will assist with finding the right off campus option for you.

  • Move For Free

Factors to consider when choosing to live off campus:

  • Cost
  • Security deposit
  • Cleaning fees
  • Insurance
  • Parking
  • Lease term
  • Utility costs
  • Safe neighborhoods
  • Furnished/unfurnished options
  • Laundry services
  • Roommates

Packing List

  • Medical and Immunization Records: Bring a list of medications you are taking and/or carrying with you, translated to English. Certain medications, including vitamins, may be confiscated if you do not have proper documentation.
  • Money: During the first couple of weeks, you will have many expenses, especially if you will be living off campus. We recommend you bring a debit or credit card that can be used in the U.S. If you are bringing cash, we recommend you bring it in small bills (no more than $400 in $20, $10 and $5 bills.) Traveler’s checks in U.S. dollars are also recommended in case of an emergency. Additionally, make sure you have money set aside to pay for tuition on time. St. Mary’s accepts credit cards for tuition payment through Gateway.
  • Clothing: Temperatures in San Antonio can get into the high 90s in the summer and low 40s in the winter. Plan accordingly when packing clothing.
  • Linens, bedding and room furnishings: Students are responsible for bringing their own pillows, blankets, towels and room furnishings for on- or off-campus housing. For bedding, we recommend you wait until your arrival to purchase since bed sizes vary.
  • S. Residential Address (Permanent or Temporary)
  • Personal Items: Students can bring photos, books, musical instruments, traditional clothing, etc. should there be sufficient room in luggage. The International Student and Scholar Services Office, along with other departments, arrange special events that highlight rich cultural diversity at St. Mary’s.
  • Electrical Adapters: Most electrical outlets in the U.S. give 110-volt AC current at a frequency of 60 cycles. Appliances brought from some countries may not work on this current. They may work with a special electrical outlet adapter that has blade-like (not rounded) prongs.

Financial Matters


Do not bring more than $400 in cash with you. Use traveler’s checks for larger amounts. You can pay tuition and fees by credit card via Gateway. You are also encouraged to open a banking account. See below for banking options in San Antonio:

  • Bank of America
    901 Bandera Rd.
    San Antonio, Texas 78228
  • BBVA Compass Bank
    1038 Culebra Rd.
    San Antonio, Texas 78201
  • Broadway Bank
    4347 W Commerce St .
    San Antonio, Texas 78237
  • Chase Bank
    707 Bandera Rd.
    San Antonio, Texas 78228
  • Citibank
    803 Castroville Rd. Ste. 322
    San Antonio, Texas 78229
  • Frost Bank
    4715 Fredericksburg Rd.
    San Antonio, Texas 78229
  • Wells Fargo
    10 St. Cloud
    San Antonio, Texas 78228

Paying your St. Mary’s University bill

Once a student has registered for courses, students will be able to access their account details through Gateway, the University’s online portal. Keep in mind: tuition, academic fees and housing rates are subject to change. For updates on tuition and fees, visit

Payments can be made online through Gateway. Check and credit card payments are accepted. Payments can also be made in person. Do not mail a cash payment.

Note: Students with an outstanding balance will result in a hold on the account, preventing registration for future semesters and may result in termination of I-20/DS-2019.

For more information or to set up a payment installation plan, contact the Business Office at or 210-436-3731.

Health Insurance and Immunization Information

Student Health Insurance Coverage

In the U.S., every person is responsible for paying his or her health care. A visit to the doctor can cost approximately $160 to $250. Medication will be out-of-pocket unless you have health insurance to help cover it. Health insurance companies normally pay a portion or all of medical expenses.

All international students holding an F-1 or J-1 Visa are required to have health insurance. Students will be automatically billed for health insurance unless a waiver has been submitted and approved.

For more information about health insurance requirements, contact the Student Health Center at 210-436-3506 or, or visit For a list of health insurance costs, visit

Health Insurance for Dependents

Medical insurance coverage is mandatory for accompanying spouse and children of J-1 Visa holders, under regulations of the Department of State. If you hold a J-1 Visa, you must maintain health insurance with the required minimum coverage for all accompanying or subsequently arriving dependents. Failure to do so will result in termination of your program.

Immunization Requirements

All new students of St. Mary’s University who are under the age of 22 must submit the Meningitis Vaccine Requirement Form prior to registering for classes.

All international students must complete the Tuberculosis Screening Requirement.

For more information about immunization requirements, contact the Student Health Center at 210-436-3506 or, or visit

City of San Antonio/Living in the U.S.

Visiting San Antonio

San Antonio ranks seventh amongst the largest cities in the U.S., however, its friendly people makes the city feel much smaller. For information about the city, visit:


San Antonio has more than 300 days of sunshine a year with August being the warmest month of the year (average daytime temperature is 94.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and January being the coldest month (average overnight temperature is 38.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Public Transformation

VIA Metropolitan Transit

St. Mary’s University is served by the city bus service, VIA Metropolitan Transit. For information on bus fares, passes and schedule, visit the VIA Metropolitan Transit website at Note: Students are eligible for a discounted bus pass.

Cell Phones

Students can choose from a variety of cell phone service providers, some which offer two-year service contracts or pay-as-you-go service. Cell phone service providers include:

  • AT&T
  • T-Mobile
  • Verizon Wireless
  • Sprint Mobile
  • Boost Mobile

SIM Card: St. Mary’s offers SIM cards as an alternative to cell phone contract fees. There is a monthly service charge to use SIM cards. Student may select from three different monthly plans.

For more information, contact International Student and Scholar Services at +1 210-431-2096 or SIM cards will be available at the Mandatory International Check-in.

American Customs

While many customs are the same around the world, there are some observations made about American culture and attitudes by newcomers to the United States:

Social Situations

  • Americans expect a “hello” upon arrival and a “goodbye” when departing.
  • Americans prefer to be called before you visit them.
  • Unescorted dating is accepted.
  • It is acceptable for a woman to ask a man out on a date.
  • It is considered impolite to point at a person.
  • Interrupting someone who is speaking is considered rude.
  • American women seldom like to reveal their age or weight. Do not ask them.
  • Questions that refer to money, such as salary, make Americans uncomfortable.
  • Punctuality is important. Do not arrive late.
  • Americans do not consider these questions offensive: What is your job? How many children do you have? What church do you attend?


  • Most retail stores are open seven days a week, with shorter hours on Sundays.
  • It is OK to return merchandise you are not happy with, simply bring your receipt.
  • Sales taxes in Texas is presently 8.25 percent of your purchase. All purchases will include sales taxes added to your final purchase.

Most Common Laws

  • Drive on the right-hand side of the road.
  • The legal drinking age is 21 years old.
  • All vehicle drivers and passengers are required to wear a seat belt.
  • No phone usage while driving (including texting). You may, however, use a hands-free device to talk (i.e. Bluetooth).
  • Traffic violations result in expensive fines, loss of driver’s license and possible jail time, depending on the infraction.


  • When eating at a restaurant, you may need to make a reservation ahead of time.
  • It is customary to tip. Leave the waiter/waitress 10-20 percent of the total bill in cash on the table or added to your credit card bill.


  • Americans are very conscious of hygiene. Bathing daily and daily use of deodorant is highly encouraged.
  • Dress is generally casual.
  • Americans are free to worship any religion.
  • Americans are free to express opinions.
  • Americans make eye contact.
  • Americans volunteer without pay.
  • Men help with housework.
  • If you are having difficulty understanding something, ask for help.
  • In the U.S., people are independent and are expected to take care of themselves.
  • Initiative, action and ambition are respected traits.

Overcoming Culture Shock

When studying abroad, you will experience new cultures, people, food, music and languages. All of the new experiences may cause anxiety called culture shock. It is expected to experience some level of culture shock. Here are some helpful tips to overcome culture shock:

  • Do not stay alone. If you feel lonely, get involved in on-campus activities. Contact Student Life to get involved. Activities will help you meet people and learn more about the American culture. Do not be afraid to try new things.
  • Keep an open mind. Consider other ideas. You may be quick to judge the food, manners and communication style of the host culture, but try not to think of it as better or worse–just different.
  • Talk about it. Do not forget that there are organizations and individuals available on-campus to help you throughout this journey. If you are struggling, visit the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office located at St. Louis Hall, Room 105. Additionally, counseling services are available on-campus.
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