Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Where do I get a mail box?
A: Mail boxes are located outside of the mailroom (view the campus map). Visit the mail room and ask the people behind the desk for a mailbox. Be sure to tell them that you are an international student.
Q: What is my campus address?
A: If you live on campus your address is 101 Memorial Parkway, Mailbox ____, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360. Get your mailbox number from the mailroom and ask them to show you how to operate your mailbox.
Q: Can I change my meal plan?
A: If you wish to change your meal plan you must speak with Residence Life.
Q: How do I get a new room?
A: It is very difficult to change your hall or your room assignment, especially in the Fall semester. Visit first with your R.A. about the reason you might need a new room.
Q: Are there any clubs for international students?
A: As a CLU student, you are welcome to join any club on campus. United Students of the World is a club specifically for international students and students who are internationally-minded. Many of the CLU students who study abroad come back and want to continue learning about other cultures and join this group. Join this group to meet other students. We also have a Saudi Student Club, formed by students from Saudi Arabia but open to all students. If you are interested in forming a club for students of your culture please see one of us.
Q: Why does CLU insist on only using my CLU email address and not my personal email address?
A: There are a couple of reasons. One is that the email account that we use has a pretty selective spam filter and if you use your personal email account, chances are we won't get it for a long, long time. Another reason is that CLU requires that we only write to students using their CLU email addresses. So please, please, please write to us using your CLU email address! And always read emails from us.
Q: Why can't I use my American name in emails to Linda or Juanita?
A: Linda prefers getting emails with passport names because that is how she keeps track of students. She doesn't know who Sally or Jasmine is, but she will be able to know who someone is if they put their Chinese/Taiwanese or other international name. Many students like the same name, too, and that creates a lot of confusion for the office. So please put your 'real' name in your email to us.
Q: How can I get to LA/San Diego/San Francisco?
A: You should have received a print out about how to get around the Thousand Oaks area in your orientation/seminar folder. There are taxis and buses for use around Thousand Oaks; be sure to ask for a quote before you get into the taxi. Because of the economy, prices have changed significantly. Trains are available to take you into LA or San Diego.
Q: I need a ride to the airport. How do I get one?
A: We suggest that you call Roadrunner Shuttle at 1-800-247-7919 or Super Shuttle at 1-800-BLUEVAN. You can also use their wesbites: super shuttle is http://www.supershuttle.com/ and roadrunner is http://www.rrshuttle.com/index.html. Be sure to order a shuttle well in advance of when you are flying and also to tell them that you are a CLU student.
Q: I want to go do something somewhere off campus. How do I do this?
A: Although public transportation is limited in Thousand Oaks, there are ways to get into LA or San Francisco or San Diego. There is a bus that goes around Thousand Oaks. The train which leaves from Moorpark or Simi Valley will take you directly to LA; another train will take you further on into San Diego. Flights to either San Francisco or San Diego are occasionally available for very low prices. Also, you could rent a car relatively inexpensively and drive to places nearby. Try to get to know students with cars who might help you with this.
Q: I don't have a car. How can I get around Thousand Oaks?
A: There are taxis and buses that can get you anywhere around Thousand Oaks. The bus stop is located at either end of campus on Olsen Road. It takes about 25 minutes to get to the Thousand Oaks Mall; from the Mall you can transfer to buses that will take you to the neighboring cities of Newbury Park and Simi Valley. A taxi can also take you anywhere, but will cost more money. And of course it's always helpful to make friends with someone on campus who has a car! Information on how to get around was provided to you in your orientation folder and is available in our office.
Q: Do I need to get my I-20 signed for New York? Or Hawaii? What about Mexico and Canada?
A: You do not need to get your I-20 signed for travel inside the United States, including Hawaii and New York. However, Mexico and Canada are not part of the U.S. and you must get your I-20 signed to visit those countries. Even U.S. students must have a passport for these countries.
Q: Why do you need to sign my I-20 every time I travel? It says on the form that one time a year is plenty.
A: We have found that it is a good practice to have students get their I-20s signed every time they leave our country. Border guards are looking at timely material when students present a recently signed I-20.
Q: Why do you issue travel warnings? I'm an adult!
A: We issue travel warnings to our own children! The world is a complicated place and we need to keep informed about areas that might be having difficulties. We issue warnings after we read the State Department Warnings about travel. Yes, you are an adult and you can go to any place you want, but we need to make sure that you realize the risks that are involved in traveling to some countries.
Q: I forgot to bring my I-20 home over break and now I need to come back to the US. What can I do?
A: You have several options. You can try to come back to the U.S. without your I-20 and could perhaps spend time in secondary interrogation and then have to fill out paperwork and send the paperwork and money to USCIS. Or you can let us know by email or a phone call and we can mail you a new I-20. You will have to reimburse us for the cost of mailing your I-20.
Travel Document Information
Q: Are my papers all legal?
A: Your Visa, Passport, I-20, and I-94 card are all legal as long as you maintain your status with us. Sometimes you might deal with people who are not really aware of what paperwork is legal or not legal. Don't worry! We look all your documents over when you first come into the country and we ask you to provide us so with photocopies of anything that has been updated. Try to keep aware of when your Visa and Passport need to be renewed (it's best to renew your passport before it is within 6 months of expiring). You do NOT have to travel home to renew your Visa just because it has expired, but if you do go home and it has expired then you must renew it to get back into the U.S.
Q: My Visa is expired. Do I need to leave the country immediately?
A: You do NOT have to travel home to renew your Visa just because it has expired, but if you do go home and it has expired then you must renew it to get back into the U.S.
Q: My passport is close to being expired, but I can't get home til break. What can I do?
A: We suggest that you visit your consulate here in the U.S. to get a new passport as soon as possible. You must always have at least 6 months on your passport before expiration.
Q: The U.S. Consulate in my country is very strict about Visa renewals. What can I do?
A: We are happy to write letters of support for Visa renewals for our students. We also suggest that students get a copy of their transcripts as well as a copy of what they plan to take for the next semester to show that they are serious students.
Q: Why do you take my picture at orientation?
A: We keep a file on each student which contains copies of their travel documents, a record of any thing we have done for the student through Homeland Security, and a picture. Sometimes we need to remember who a student is (we can't remember everyone!) and the picture is always helpful.
American Immigration Information
Q: I need to get a Social Security number, right?
A: No. You are not eligible for a Social Security number unless you get a job and international students can only work on campus without special permission. If you get one of the few on campus jobs or you are authorized for off campus employment, we will help you get a number.
Q: Where do I go for a driver's license?
A: The DMV – Department of Motor Vehicles – issues driver's licenses and car registrations. You must read the online handbook before taking the driver's test. In order to get your driver's license you must get a certain score on your test. It is required that you bring all your travel documents with you to obtain a license and even then it is not a quick thing to obtain. Rules are changing, but as of this summer 2011, the DMV required copies of your Visa, Passport, I-94 and I-20 once you pass your exam. Then, it could take as long as 6 months to get your license.
Q: Can I do internships?
A: You may do internships IF your program allows them for academic credit. Before beginning any internship you must have official authorization. Your internship must match your major. This is called CPT – Curricular Practical Training. Please check with your program advisor before finding an internship. Once you have approval, follow the CPT procedures found on our website.
Q: I want to volunteer off campus. That's okay, right?
A: One-time volunteer opportunities are fine, but international students are not allowed to do more than that. Remember that if someone is usually paid to do this as a job, then it is considered employment.
Q: Can I work on campus?
A: You MAY work on campus. There are very few jobs for international students, but if you get an on campus job you will need to get a letter from your campus employer in order to get a Social Security Number. The information about what should be in the letter is located on our website. After you get this letter, come see us and we will give you a letter from our office as well as directions to the Social Security office. You will also need to take all your traveling documents with you to the appointment.
Q: Why can't I work off campus?
A: The American government is trying to protect its citizens by making sure that Americans get jobs first. Think about it: would you want an American to come to your country and take the jobs?
Q: Where can I find out about campus activities?
A: On the CLU website look for the Arts & Events Tab. You can check monthly, weekly, or daily activities on this website. Additionally, the Multicultural & International Student Services website has a calendar of events that is updated regularly to include all of its events. Lastly, if you have Facebook and list California Lutheran University as your network, you will receive notifications of all events that are posted on Facebook. There really is so much to do on campus that no one should ever be bored.
Q: When can I apply for OPT?
A: You can apply 90 days before your program ends or up to 60 days after it ends. We recommend coming in early! There is an OPT Orientation on our website that you must complete before asking for an OPT appointment. The online orientation will provide necessary information about OPT and will provide a list of required items for your meeting with Juanita Hall. There's a short quiz at the end and then a certificate to print out and give to Dr. Hall.
Q: How do I get additional time if I am a STEM major?
A: If you have a major that is included in the STEM (Science, technology, engineering, math, and computer science) group, you are eligible for an additional 17 months of OPT. Dr. Hall will review the application process with you when you meet to apply for your initial OPT.