|Information for: Visitors | Applicants | Current Students | Teachers | Alumni|
If you applied to the English Language Institute (ELI) as a non-immigrant student, you must hold an F-1 visa. The ELI will issue you immigration documents upon acceptance of your application. Bring your immigration documents and passport to your local consulate to obtain an F-1 visa.
Gainesville has no direct international flights, so you will need to book a flight into a nearby city and take a short flight into Gainesville. Most flights to Gainesville are routed through Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, Charlotte, or Atlanta. Shuttle service is available from some major airports to Gainesville via RedCoach (877-733-0724), Checker Cab (904/345-3333), or Bestway Cab (352/367-8222). The UF International Center also lists a local company, US Ready, Inc., as a resource for airport transportation. US Ready is able to pick students up in Gainesville, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Tampa, and also provides other arrival services.
Try to make your travel arrangements as soon as you receive your immigration documents. The ELI office is open during the week and is closed on Saturday and Sunday. Please remember this when making your travel arrangements.
Be sure to bring enough money for your first few days in Gainesville until you can open a bank account. Carry a little of your money in cash to pay for transportation, phone calls, tips, etc., but keep most of your cash in a safer form, like traveler's checks. See the finances section below for information about banking while you're in Gainesville.
What to Expect
Some Helpful Internet Sites
While the ELI does not have personalized airport pickup, there are several hotels in the area that have free airport pick-up. The list below shows hotels that may offer airport pick-up. If you make reservations at any of these hotels, be sure to ask for the University of Florida rates. A bus is available from the Gainesville airport to UF campus (McCarty Hall) via downtown Gainesville on Monday through Friday from 7:45 am to 6:35 pm, and costs $1.50 USD to ride. (Bus #25, http://www.go-rts.com/). Google "Taxis Gainesville FL" to get a list of available companies.
The date on your immigration document or letter of acceptance is the day you must check in at the ELI. You should arrive at the ELI main office at one of the times given in your acceptance letter. Be sure to check in on time, since you will receive valuable information from our friendly office staff on that day. This is also the day for registration and placement tests. For immigration purposes, it is important that you contact the ELI if you are not able to arrive at the ELI on this day. If you are entering the U.S. on an F visa, you can arrive up to thirty days before the program start date listed in part five of your I-20. However, the ELI will not be able to provide housing assistance until the date on your acceptance letter.
Gainesville is full of student-centered apartment complexes and we are sure you will find somewhere comfortable to live. However, the apartment rental process in the US may be very different from the rental process in your country. To help you with find a comfortable apartment, the ELI emails you information before you arrive, we have a webpage with detailed information, and we also provide information during Orientation Week. For information on housing options in Gainesville, click here.
Most students spend between $200-$400 per month on food. The ELI Student Life office organizes a shopping trip at during Orientation Week to help you find what you need in the grocery stores. The ELI strongly recommends bringing a lunch, snacks, and water to school to help you concentrate during the day. Preparing meals at home and bringing a lunch can help lower food costs.
Since cash is not accepted for housing, tuition, and some other expenses, you'll want to open a bank account once you arrive in Gainesville. We recommend Campus USA, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, all of which have branches on or near UF campus. At the bank, you will be able to open a checking account, get an ATM card, and purchase money orders and cashier's checks for $5 to $10, as well as keep your money safe.
During the Orientation Week, you will check in and you will also take the CELT placement test. The results of this test will be used to place you in classes with other students who are at the same level as you. Levels are assigned for each skill, so you may have different levels in your grammar, listening/speaking, and reading/writing classes. During the first week of classes, your teachers will double-check to make sure you are in the appropriate level by giving diagnostic tests in class.
During Orientation Week, be sure to attend the ELI's Academic Orientation, Cultural Immersion Program Seminar, Student Life Seminar, and Medical Issues Seminars. You will learn important information about life in the US and how to make the most of your time at the ELI.
Students with F or J visas are required to show the ELI proof of health insurance coverage for illness or accidental injury. You will not be allowed to attend classes without it. You can either buy insurance in the US or buy it in your country.
We strongly recommend that you buy insurance when you arrive at the university. You can buy UnitedHealthcare plans for $156 per month, or you can look at other plans on the UF International Center website here (the cost of these plans varies depending on the student's age).
If you choose to buy an insurance plan in your country, it is a longer and more difficult process to use it here. In fact, it is likely that you will buy insurance in your country, complete the UF waiver form, and then learn from our Health Compliance Office that it is not acceptable. In that case, you must buy UF insurance anyway!
Again, we recommend that you wait to buy insurance until you arrive at the ELI. However, if you choose to buy insurance in your country, your insurance company must verify that your plan meets these requirements.
US immigration laws require visiting students to the United States to submit a record of their immunizations. To study with us, we also require immunizations records on this form only. Please see example forms here.
Tuition payment must be made by cashier's check, money order, or credit card. Traveler's checks can only be accepted if you have the exact amount needed, as the ELI office cannot make change. We cannot take personal checks or cash for tuition payment. If you pay by cashier's check, it should be made out to the University of Florida. Please make checks payable only for the amount of your ELI tuition. Housing and insurance must be paid using separate checks. Tuition payment is due 2 days after classes begin. There will be a late fee if tuition is paid after this date.