Dear International Student:
This web page provides relevant knowledge and links for you as an international student. This includes items such as immigration, visa, employment, communications, and travel. Please take time to familiarize yourself with all these resources. Do not hesitate to be in touch with me with any questions, concerns, or problems by emailing MWood@Bowdoin.edu or calling 207-798-4190. To schedule an appointment, please email Kathleen King who will schedule a meeting. I am happy to meet with students throughout the year (and summer!) to talk about your time at Bowdoin and beyond!
Assistant Dean of First-Year Students /Advisor to International Students
Office of the Dean of Student Affairs
The Center for Learning & Teaching (CLT) is a bastion of academic support and resources on Bowdoin’s campus. Open to all students throughout their entire undergraduate experience, the CLT is a collective of four programs:
- The Baldwin Program for Academic Development
- Quantitative Reasoning Program
- Writing Project
- English for Mult-Lingual Speakers (EMS)
Located in Kanbar Hall, each program in the CLT is directed by a professional staff member who works extensively with students and trains peer mentors, tutors, and assistants to create a strong network of student support.
Bowdoin’s Academic Honor Code is a guiding light on the values and principles of the College’s standards for academic excellence. Every student is expected to read, understand, and adhere to the terms of the Academic Honor Code.
The Bowdoin College International Club is a student-run organization that values inclusivity and cultural connectivity. The Club hosts many informal dinners throughout the year and makes a big splash with International Week every spring! Check out the International Week Talent Show from Spring 2014. To contact student leaders for I-Club please email I-Club Leaders Marco and Summer.
The Bowdoin College Host Family Program is one of the largest student groups on campus with over 260 students from across the country and globe participating as well as over 240 local families. The program is one of the strongest community partnerships between Bowdoin College and the greater Brunswick area. Students from Maine to Nepal enroll in the Host Family Program and develop relationships with local community members from anywhere between one year and a lifetime. The program began out of a desire to connect international students with local community members, since then the program has grown to include many U.S. citizens as well.
Bowdoin Health Services are located on the third floor of the Buck Center while Counseling Services are located at 32 College Street. An array of services for the health and wellness of all Bowdoin students are offered. The College encourages students to take advantage of these resources during their time at Bowdoin. Appointments are best if made in advance, however, walk-in hours are available.
Bowdoin is lucky to have an abundance of incredibly helpful campus resources. Below is a listing of only a few the many people who can help throughout your time at Bowdoin.
How I Can Help …
Associate Dean of Multicultural Student Programs
Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, Moulton Union and 30 College Street
I create campus programs to benefit minority students and personally advise students and their families.
English for Multilingual Students Advisor
Center for Learning and Teaching, Kanbar Hall
I provide one-on-one tutoring for students for whom English is not a native language.
Student Health Insurance Coordinator
Health Services, Buck Center
I can help you navigate use of your school medical insurance plan, including sports insurance. Contact me with medical claims issues.
Assistant Director of Financial Aid and Student Employment
I’m happy to help you to navigate the process of how to find and land on-campus employment.
Controller’s Office, Brunswick Station
Once you get your social security card, contact me to schedule a time to complete your employment paperwork. After we meet you can officially start working.
Assistant Dean of First Year Students and Advisor to International Students
Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, Moulton Union
Come to me for help with any question or concern! I help with OPT applications; social security number applications; campus & cultural adjustment; connecting to other resources; & Host Family concerns, among other items.
Students must have specific, government approval to work off campus. Many international students find wonderful off-campus employment opportunities, however, it requires greater planning than on-campus work.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is the most common category of off-campus employment for Bowdoin international students. OPT is available only to F-1 visa holders. In a nutshell, OPT is twelve months of time the U.S. government grants to F-1 visa holders to work full-time, without having to maintain a full course load. Students must apply well in advance in order to receive permission for OPT and their intended employment must relate to students’ major field of study.
Students may take advantage of OPT during summer and winter breaks throughout their undergraduate years, however, most students choose to save their twelve months of OPT for post-graduation. Either option is permissible, but students should consult with resources in making this decision such as Dean Wood, Career Planning, upperclass students, alumni, and potential employers. For guidance and FAQ on OPT from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement check out http://www.ice.gov/sevis/practical-training/ . For guidance on OPT from Bowdoin Career Planning, please review the International Students Work Authorization Guide.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is not offered to Bowdoin students. Bowdoin’s academic structure does not meet the U.S. government’s qualifications for CPT eligibility. Student requests for CPT to the Advisor to International Students will be denied.
All F-1 students are eligible to work on campus for no more than 20 hours per week when classes are in session and 40 hours per week during academic breaks. Working on campus is the easiest way for students to find employment while in the United States. Many international students seek out on-campus employment both during the year and summers as a result.
Bowdoin Student Employment is the key resource for finding work on campus during the academic year and school breaks. Check their website often to see available positions.
The Career Planning Center (CPC) can help you navigate through any searches for jobs, internships, and career opportunities, on and off campus. For specific guidance for international students, check out the International Students Work Authorization Guide. This details important information about off-campus employment and visa regulations, including Optional Practical Training (OPT). Please note that Bowdoin students are not eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
Anyone working, on or off campus, must have a Social Security number. Below are steps for obtaining your Social Security number for on-campus work. You will need:
- An offer of employment from your campus job
- Three letters that Dean Wood will provide you from your job supervisor, the Student Employment Office, and the Dean’s Office
- A complete application for a Social Security number
- Your I-94 document, which must be accessed and printed from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
- Updated I-20 and accompanying I-901 receipt form (F-1 Students only; students with other visa statuses will need to locate their official immigration documentation certifying their current visa status)
- Once you have collected these items, you will need to go to the Social Security office in Portland, Maine to apply, in person, for your Social Security number. Please see office contact information below.
If you need help with transportation to Portland, contact Dean Wood, Advisor to International Students. You cannot make an appointment ahead of time for your application appointment. The wait for your Social Security application interview can take two to three hours, and the Social Security office keeps irregular hours, so please check the link above before making plans to go. All F-1 visa holders are eligible for work in the U.S. If you are non-U.S. citizen and do not have an F-1 visa, you will need to check with USCIS to see if you are eligible to work in the U.S.
Important information for the Portland, Maine Social Security Office is as follows:
- Location: Suite 150, 550 Forest Avenue, Portland, ME 04103
- Telephone: 1-877-319-3076 (TTY: 1-207-773-3981)
- Mondays: 9am - 3pm
- Tuesdays: 9am - 3pm
- Wednesdays: 9am - 12pm
- Thursdays: 9am - 3pm
- Fridays: 9am - 3pm
- Saturdays: Closed
- Sundays: Close
If you need help with transportation to Portland, contact Dean Wood, Advisor to International Students. You cannot make an appointment ahead of time for your application appointment. The wait for your Social Security application interview can take two to three hours, and the Social Security office keeps irregular hours, so please check the link above before making plans to go. All F-1 visa holders are eligible for work in the U.S. If you are a non-U.S. citizen and do not have an F-1 visa, you will need to check with USCIS to see if you are eligible to work in the U.S.
Students taking a full course load at Bowdoin are eligible to apply for F-1 visa status. Many international students attend Bowdoin while on an F-1 visa, however, it is not required. Some students may use J-1, H-4, and L-2 visas, among others. The F-1 visa is the most common among Bowdoin students.
Each F-1 student will receive an I-20 form from Dean Wood, Advisor to International Students, which must be updated on a yearly basis. If the dean’s signature on your I-20 form is more than a year old, the I-20 is not valid for travel out of the country. Contact Dean Wood to get an updated signature. An updated signature is only required if students’ travel plans involve departing and returning to the United States (including visits to Canada). I-20 forms are not required for travel within the United States.
Brunswick is home to a number of banks, both locally and nationally affiliated. On campus there are two ATMs, one for Bank of America and one for Midcoast Federal Credit Union. Representatives from both are available on arrival day for the first-year class. You may need proof of your U.S. (campus) address, official letter of admission from Bowdoin, and personal identification among other documents in order to setup a savings or checking account. Contact your bank of interest directly to find out what exactly is required to open a bank account. Please note, a social security number is not a requirement to open a bank account in Brunswick.
Nearly all students at Bowdoin rely on cell phones as their primary means of communication; however, residence hall telephones are also available for students for long-distance accounts. Some international students bring cell phones from home and use international calling plans, while others purchase U.S. cell phones and plans after arriving to campus. Verizon and AT&T are among the two most common cell phone carriers on campus and have stores within a short driving distance from Bowdoin’s campus.
Depending on whether you desire a pay-as-you-go plan or a contracted plan, you may want to contact upperclass international students for advice. Please contact Dean Wood directly and he can help you connect to older students who are often the best resource for deciding on which cell phone plan is best for your needs.
It’s very important to pack enough warm clothes as the weather can get very cold during Maine winters. Essential items for every Bowdoin student in the winter include:
- Thick, knit hat that covers your ears
- Mittens or gloves, preferably those that are resistant to wetness
- Thick, knit scarf
- Warm, insulated winter jacket that will last you all four years and that is resistant to wetness
- Snow boots or galoshes, with insulation and water resistant; preferably boots that go above the ankle
- Several pairs of warm wool socks for especially wet and cold days
If you arrived unprepared for cold weather, the L.L. Bean Outlet store is a ten minute drive from campus, in Freeport. Please contact Dean Wood for financial need concerns in making winter clothing purchases
When packing to come to campus remember: less is better! Many supplies such as toiletries, bed sheets, clothes hangers, laundry detergent, laundry bags, school supplies, etc. can be purchased fairly easily upon arrival and many students find it easier to find these items in Maine than carry them while traveling. Within a five minute drive you can access a Target and Walmart, among other stores, which have many items you may need. For additional tips on how to pack and what not to pack, head to the Orientation FAQ site.
In order to obtain a Maine Driver’s License check to see that you are eligible with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Note that all Bowdoin students qualify as Maine residents. The closest DMV office is in Topsham, Maine, just across the river from Brunswick. The office is reachable at 725-6520 or 725-1244. You will need your Bowdoin student I.D., passport and visa. F-1 students should also bring the following documents: I-94, I-20, I-901.
There are various means of transportation to campus and in and around the Brunswick area.
- The Portland International Jetport is the closest commercial airport to campus at just about 35 minutes from Brunswick.
- Concord Coach Lines is a bus company that runs direct from Logan airport in Boston to the Brunswick Station at the edge of Bowdoin’s campus. The bus also stops in Portland, Maine on the way up to Brunswick.
- The Amtrak Downeaster train also goes from Boston to Brunswick, departing from North Station in Boston. The train also stops in Portland and Freeport (among other places) and is used by students as a means for weekend travel during the school year.
- Brunswick Taxi (207-729-3688) is a reliable taxi service in the Brunswick area and can be used for getting to nearby Freeport, Bath, and even Portland. To reduce the cost of taxi service, it’s a good idea to split the ride with friends.
- Zipcar is a car-sharing service with several vehicles available for rent on Bowdoin’s campus.
- The Brunswick Explorer is public transportation in Brunswick, with $2.00 fare getting you an all day pass!
- The Bowdoin Shuttle (207-725-3337) is run by Bowdoin College’s Campus Safety and Security. It is available to all students travel to anywhere within a one mile radius of campus at no additional charge. Check out more information online for specific hours of operation.
- Yellow Bike Club provides year-round bicycle access to students for a low, annual fee. The bikes ‘sell out’ fast every year and are a popular means of transportation for students!
- Mermaid Transportation can be helpful in getting to-and-from the Portland airport.
This fund was established to assist international students, who receive financial aid from Bowdoin College, in financing flight costs to their home country while they are studying here at the College. Only international students receiving aid are eligible for this award and they may use the award only once during their enrollment at Bowdoin. Canadian students are ineligible. The award may be used at any time during the course of the school year but the student must confirm that she/he will be returning to campus after the break to continue their studies at the College.
To apply for the International Student Travel Award, please request the form from Dean Wood, Advisor to International Students.
When traveling to Canada please remember that you are traveling outside of the United States, so make sure that such travel is permissible under your current visa status. Travel in and out of the United States and Canada requires travelers (including U.S. and Canadian citizens) to carry their passports or passport cards. For F-1 students, you will want to make sure you also carry your visa, updated I-20 form, and I-901 form. Make sure your I-20 has been signed recently by Dean Wood.