Student Services International Student Services

From Australia to Tanzania and South Korea to Luxembourg, Westmont's unique community of international students is growing in number and diversity with students with varied international experiences representing 34 countries.

If you are an F1-Visa student or have spent a significant amount of your life living abroad, International Student Services is committed to supporting you while you are studying at Westmont. In cooperation with various departments on campus, we work to assist international students in their adjustment to American culture and campus life.

Prospective & Incoming Students

Westmont Admissions Information - This provides information of the requirements that need to accompany your application.

US Immigration Information Resource - This information is provided to you as a guide to help you navigate your planning for studying in the US.

Studying in the US - Please note that some information noted on this site may or may not be applicable to what is available at Westmont, but this information is generally helpful and informative.

Please contact Brenda Tirado, admissions counselor for international students, or Mike McKinniss, sr. director of admissions, with your questions regarding the application process and immigration requirements.

There are some very helpful book resources available to help students who are interested in studying in the United States. Below are just a few resources:

Quick, Tina L., Survive and Thrive: The International Student's Guide to Studying in the U.S. (2017) This book is written for international students (F-1, Third Culture (TCK) and Missionary/Pastor (MK/PK students).

Quick, Tina L., The Global Nomads Guide to University Transition. (2010) This book is written for third culture kids (TCK), missionary/pastor kids and global nomads.

Pollack, David C. and Ruth E. Van Reken, Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds. (2009).  This book is written for third culture kids (TCK), CCKs (cross-cultural kids), immigrants, international adoptees or children of biracial or bicultural parents.  This book helps to address "hidden diversity in our world and challenges our traditional notions of identity and 'home' - and shows us how the TCK experience is becoming increasingly common and valuable."


Students attending Westmont College with an F-1 student visa are required to maintain adequate health insurance coverage while studying in the USA. There are no insurance requirements set forth by the US Department of State, however Westmont College, like most colleges, requires you to purchase insurance for the full duration of your stay in the United States. While Westmont does provide basic health care to all students at its on-campus clinic, for broken bones, x-rays and major medical emergencies and visits to the dentist, you will be referred out to a local health care provider, where you would need to provide evidence of your own insurance. This is particularly important because parents are living out of the country, and it's especially critical if you are an athlete or have a heath condition requiring ongoing medical supervision.

Below are student health insurance programs that have been considered by families of international, TCK and MK students. Please note that Westmont College does not endorse any particular company and that this information is provided as a courtesy for international students needing to purchase insurance. 

Betins International Health and Travel Insurance

International Student Insurance

Academic Health Plans

Rust and Associates Premier International Health Insurance

Insurance for Students, Inc.

Geo Blue

HTH Travel Insurance

Bupa Global

Aetna International

iNext International Insurance

Once you have secured insurance, please email Sarah Sagredo, International Student Services Liaison, with a copy of your health insurance prior to your arrival on campus.

Fall Semester Orientation

All incoming international students are required to attend both orientations held before the start of the Fall Semester. We also encourage students with a US passport but who have an international address (TCK and MK students) to attend the International Student Orientation.

Please follow these links for information regarding International Student Orientation and All Incoming Student Orientation.

Life for International Students at Westmont

So it’s that time, and you’re off for the grand adventure of college. Before you arrive, we would like to suggest a few areas for you to think about and prepare for as you come.

Read, read and then read some more!

This is what you will spend a great deal of time doing in college. Most of you will come with a limited ability to sustain active reading for a long period of time. It takes practice and discipline.

You can ease into the transition by doing some reading over the summer. While it might not be the same type of reading as the academic material you will cover in college, it will get you practicing.

Also, you must be an active reader. Ask yourself questions about the material while you are reading. Take notes and highlight. Look over the whole chapter to get the main ideas before you read it for detail. These little things can make a big difference.

The "Free" Time Trap

“Free” time seems to be in abundance at college. Most of you will only be in class for about 10–12 hours per week. With few assignments between occasional tests and papers, it seems you have a lot of free time. But this is one of the biggest traps for college students.

Professors can expect that you will spend two hours outside of class doing homework for every hour spent in class. If you do the math, that means you should be spending between 20 and 24 hours each week studying. Most of that time is spent — you guessed it — reading!

So think of this as your job and set up a schedule. Use your time during the day and don’t expect to get all your studying done at night. It’s an adjustment, but you can do it!

Lifestyle Choices

These choices are numerous and all affect your success as a student. To drink or not to drink is one. While Westmont has established policies prohibiting the use of alcohol, the choice and the responsibility is yours. You have all seen television shows and movies that portray alcohol as part of college. It can seem you are missing out if partying is not part of your college experience. What the movies don’t show is the physical, mental, spiritual and academic toll drinking can take on a student. Most Westmont students choose to have a fun and fulfilling experience without alcohol.

This is just one of the many decisions you’ll face. How much sleep do you need to get up for your eight o’clock class? What kinds of things will you do to grow spiritually? It might help to think through these questions before you arrive so you’re ready to set the direction for some of the decisions you will face.

Who Me, Homesick? 

Many new students will miss home at some point in the first year . For some it will be missing your parents, for some missing your siblings (can you believe that actually might happen?!), and for others it might be missing friends or even pets. This is healthy, but hard. Schedule regular times to connect with family and friends from home through phone calls or video chats. And know that these feelings will ebb and flow throughout the year. 

"Old" vs. New Friends 

Making friends will be harder for some than for others. If you’re not as outgoing, making friends will be tiring and scary, but if you stretch yourself to meet people from the beginning, it will happen.

For others, it may be hard to let go of high school friends. It is important to remember that it probably took years for those friendships to develop, so your college friendships often won’t be like them for at least a year. It will be tempting to run to those close friendships from high school, but if you do, you won’t be allowing your new ones to grow. High school friendships will change, and some will fade away, but these are the seasons of friendship. If you’re prayerful, patient and flexible, new and lasting friendships can and will develop.

Who Am I? 

Going to college means starting over. Those of you who were good students in high school may get your first C on a test.

So who are you? Those of you who were well known and were involved in everything will face a situation where you are one of 350 new students — you have to start over. Those of you who were varsity basketball players may not make the team, and those of you who were honors students may get average grades at Westmont.

Be patient during this time of transition. God will be stretching your old definition of what it means to be you, and if you are open and flexible, you may be surprised and happy with the new you you see on graduation day.

Ok! You are now an official Westmont college student!

With you specifically in mind, we have created a list of resources at Westmont, as well as websites, that we hope you will find useful, practical, and helpful. Please click on the links below to explore them.

If you still have questions, don't be shy – ask! We would love to answer them – and also, get to know you!

Helpful Resources at Westmont

  1. Westmont's Programs & Resources
  2. Exploring Santa Barbara
  3. 101 Things to Do at Westmont Before You Graduate
  4. Did You Know...? | Westmont History
  5. Transportation
  6. GISA: Westmont's Global and International Student Association
  7. Summer storage
  8. What are other current students at Westmont doing?

Helpful Websites for International Students

  1. ISI (International Students Incorporated), a Christian outreach to international students. There is a great chapter in SB.
  2. Denizen: An online magazine whose mission is to support TCKs'. (GISA's former president, Andy Wood, particularly recommends Steph Yui's article, "A Third Culture's Guide to College.)

A Welcome from Rachel, GISA President

Hi! My name is Heesu, but many people around campus know me as Rachel! I was born in Korea with a Korean father and a Korean-American mother, giving me unique experiences from both American and Korean perspectives. College is a challenging and formative time for many people and I was no exception. Westmont had me face questions about my identity, faith, and beliefs. However, I'm so grateful that I did not have to face thesse challenges alone at Westmont. I am blessed to have met dedicated professors, devoted staff, and life-long friends to guide me through my personal journey. We would now like to extend a similar hand of guidance to you!

Rachel Chae

Attending Chapel

The college community gathers three times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) to worship and enjoy God. Chapel attendance is mandatory to maintain enrollment. However, students may miss up to (but not exceeding) 12 chapels per semester. Please note that the purpose of Chapel misses is for the occasional "as needed" basis and should be managed as a bank account to cover a student in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Follow this link for more information, or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office.

Counseling Services

Westmont provides on-site short term counseling for enrolled Westmont College students, Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and is located on the lower part of campus next to Armington Hall, in the same building as the Health Center.  

Getting a job on campus

There are certain immigration requirements for F-1 Visa students to fulfill before considering an on campus job. Please contact Sarah Sagredo (Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Student Life and International Student Services Liaison) at to learn about the requirements.

Once you have met with Sarah, you can begin to apply for jobs through Handshake. Be sure to read this helpful information before beginning your job search. For information on how to use Handshake, please visit the Career Development & Calling office, located in Kerr Student Center (above the Dining Commons) or call 805-565-6263 or 805-565-6031 or email

Health Insurance

Students attending Westmont College with an F-1 student visa are required to maintain adequate health insurance coverage while studying in the United States. There are no insurance requirements set forth by the US Department of State, however Westmont College, like most colleges, requires you to purchase insurance for the full duration of your stay in the United States. While Westmont does provide basic health care to all students at the Health Center, for broken bones, x-rays and major medical emergencies and visits to the dentist, you will be referred out to a local health care provider, where you would need to provide evidence of your own insurance. This is particularly important because parents are living out of the country, and it's especially critical if you are an athlete or have a heath condition requiring ongoing medical supervision.

What do I do if I get sick?

Emergency Help - If you experience a life-threatening illness, call 911. State the problem and your exact location when speaking to the 911 operator.

In the case of a medical problem that in not life-threatening, please contact one of the following in this order:

1) Health Center 805-565-6164; you can also visit the Health Center without an appointment during the following hours: MONDAY: 10am-12pm /1pm-4pm, TUESDAY- THURSDAY: 9am-5pm, and FRIDAY: 10am-12pm /1pm-4pm

2) Contact your Resident Assistant (RA) or Resident Director (RD). They have access to first aid and medical supplies. If it is determined you need urgent medical care, your RA and RD will be there to help you with these arrangements.

If you become ill or injured when the Health Center is closed, your RA or RD can give you first-aid supplies or help you get to a local health facility. The following facilities are available to you:

The Med Center - 2954 State Street, Phone: 805-682-7411

  • Hours: Monday - Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Open Sundays and holidays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • No appointment necessary.
  • Bring your Primary Insurance Card

Urgent Care Center - 51 Hitchcock Rd, Phone: 805-563-6110

  • Hours: Monday - Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Open Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Open Sundays: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • No appointment necessary
  • Closed most Holidays

 Cottage Hospital Emergency Room - Pueblo at Bath Street, Phone: 805-682-7111, ext. 2421

  • Hours: Sunday - Saturday, 24 hours a day.
  • No appointment necessary.
  • Bring your Primary Insurance Card (insurance from home)

Holidays and Housing During Campus Breaks, May Term and Summer

During the academic year, there are several holidays in which campus services are either limited or completely unavailable to you. Residence halls are open for most holidays but are closed for Christmas Break. Additionally, the Library is closed during all holidays including Thanksgiving Break, Christmas Break, Good Friday and Easter.

Holiday Dining Commons Hours: The Dining Commons closes or offers limited hours during specific holidays for example the Fall Holiday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, President's Holiday, Spring Recess/Easter Weekend. For exact hour details, please use the above link. If you are interested in having a Thanksgiving meal with a faculty or staff member, please contact Sarah at 805-565-6028.

Campus Shuttle and Dial-a-Ride: Shuttle service runs through the school year with breaks in service during holidays. The holidays when the shuttle is not available are: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break and Easter Sunday. For more information, please find it here. Dial-a-Ride is available to take students to various locations in the Santa Barbara area where the shuttle service does not go. Dial-a-Ride is available for rides to/from the Santa Barbara Airport, Amtrak, Greyhound and Santa Barbara Airbus locations during the school year and before and after holidays.

Housing Information: Housing during most holidays is available on campus, but certain restrictions apply. If you find that you are unable to go home for Christmas, please contact Sarah at 805-565-6028. The following housing opportunities during Spring Break, May Term, and during the summer months have restrictions that should be taken into consideration. Spring Break You must sign up to stay on campus during Spring Break. May Term Housing is only available if you take classes during May Term. Summer Housing is available only in Ocean View (off campus). Please note that there is no shuttle service or dial-a-ride available for this housing. If you have a job during the summer on campus will need to have your own transportation to get to campus in the summer months.


Having a mentor is a great way to connect with a faculty or staff member, talk about your experiences, talk through problems or struggles and help you with your transition of studying and life at Westmont. If you are interested in being connected with a mentor, please email Professor Amanda Sparkman at


If you earned an income from any source, even on campus, between January 1 and December 31 of any given year, you must file both Federal and State income tax returns. You will need the following forms:

  • Form 8843
  • Form 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR (See below for information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to see if you need to file.)

If you did not earn an income, you are still required to file

  • Form 8843. This form is not an income tax return but an informational statement required by the U.S. government. More information can be found on page 3-4 of the form.
  • Form 540 or 540A (California tax form- The State of California makes no distinction between resident and non-resident status for tax purposes. See below for information from the Franchise Tax Board to see if you need to file California state taxes.) 

The deadline for filing tax returns is always in April. So if you earned income in the U.S. in 2018 you must file tax returns by April 15, 2019 (or file a formal extension to file taxes later in the year).

Westmont staff is not able to assist with tax filing in any way. Students are fully responsible for filing their own taxes. We understand that it can seem confusing, so we have gathered a few resources below, to get you started.

Government Websites
Federal taxes are collected by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS website has a page specifically for international students and scholars here.This site is very comprehensive. Most people prepare their Federal Tax return first, since you will need information from you return to complete your State return.

The State of California Franchise Tax Board website has instructions and forms for filing State income tax returns.

Tax Preparation Software
-- Sprintax is a web-based tax tool (affiliated with TurboTax) tailored specifically for non-resident students, scholars, teachers, researchers, trainees and other international education visitors with visa types F, H, J, L, M, Q and green card immigration status.

Sprintax guides the user through each part of the tax return process and applies all relevant tax treaties and credits available to international students and scholars. You can create an account for free. There is a fee to file your taxes. More information can be found here.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I file my tax return? What forms should I have before filing?

The deadline for the IRS to receive your tax return is April 18, 2016. You should have the following forms and information available when preparing to file:

• Visa/Immigration Status information
• Passport
• Form DS-2019, if J status
• Form I-20, if F status
• Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), if you have been assigned one
• Address information (Current U.S. and Foreign Address)
• U.S. Entry and Exit Dates for the current and past visits to the U.S.
• Forms W-2, 1042-S**, and/or 1099, 1098-T, if you received any
• Scholarship/fellowship grant letter, if you received any
• Copy of your 2012 federal income tax return, if you filed a federal income tax return last year
• Bank account number and routing number, or check, for direct deposit

** If you are from a country with a tax treaty or received a scholarship, do not file until you receive your Form 1042-S, which will be available in early March. Please ask Candace in the Business Office if you should be receiving any form.

I did not earn any income last year. Am I still required to file taxes?

While you are not required to file taxes, you are still required to file a Form 8843. All nonresident aliens who are present in the U.S. under F, J, M, or Q I-94 statuses at any point in the tax year are required to file this form.Form 8843 is not an income tax return but an informational statement required by the U.S. government. More information can be found on page 3-4 of the form.

However, if you are a nonresident who has earned income, you will file the Form 8843 in addition to Form 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR.

How do I know if I am a resident or nonresident for tax purposes?

If you choose to use Sprintax, Step 1 of the online questionnaire will determine whether you are a resident or nonresident for tax purposes.

Global & International Student Association (GISA)

GISA is a student organization within the Intercultural Programs Office that exists to help build connections between international students on campus. 

Listed below are some resources and information that will be helpful to you. Please know that if you have any questions or need someone to talk to, please contact us.

International Student Handbook - This handbook has been written with F-1 Visa, MK, and TCK students in mind.

Westmont Student Handbook - This handbook is updated annually and at times during the year. It is the responsibility of all students to review and adhere to the published college policies.

Westmont's Current Student page - Everything you need to know about Student Life at Westmont from Student Life departments to student organizations to resources available to you can be found here.

Writer's Corner

Study skills helpful hints

Time Management helpful hints

Academic Advising

Disability Services

One thing that Santa Barbara is known for is its outstanding fresh fruits and vegetables. There are multiple Farmers Markets throughout week, where farmers from neighboring towns come to sell their fresh produce, flowers, nuts, dairy, and meat. For a schedule of weekly Market locations, please click here.

Additionally, there are multiple grocery stores in Santa Barbara.

Because you will most likely be taking advantage of the Westmont shuttle service (due to Santa Barbara County regulation on parking permit privileges on campus), let us categorize nearby grocery stores by shuttle stop location:

By Shuttle Stop #1 & #2: Vons

By Shuttle Stop #3: Tri-County Produce (Arguably the freshest and cheapest produce in town. A 20-25 minute walk from shuttle stop #3)

By Shuttle Stop #4 & #5: Ralph's and Rite Aid

For a link to the Shuttle route and schedule, please click here.

When you arrive, you will most likely want to find a bank! In the Santa Barbara area, the bank that is most "international-user friendly" (ie. has locations in other countries and offers all international banking services) is Bank of America.

Here are a few banking locations close to campus:

Bank of the West: 1036 State Street (805) 564-4466

Bank of America: 1096 Coast Village Rd. (805) 695-8835

Union Bank: 1106 Coast Village Rd. (805) 963-7511

Wells Fargo Bank: 1482 E. Valley Rd. (805) 969-3242

Many Westmont students bank at one of the above-mentioned institutions. Bank of America and Union Bank have locations that are conveniently located within walking distance of Shuttle stop #1. Bank of the Westmont has an ATM on campus in the upstairs Kerr Student Center and is a short walk from Shuttle stop #6 (The Westmont shuttle runs daily. For a complete Shuttle schedule, please click here.)

Note: While Wells Fargo does not have a branch within walking distance of a Shuttle stop location, Wells Fargo has an ATM machine just inside of Vons, off of Shuttle stop #1.

Sarah Gowing

Sarah graduated with an Economics/Business and Sociology double major. She is a Third Culture Kid (TCK), and has lived in France, Morocco, California, and Colorado. She hopes you have an excellent and transformational time at Westmont.

Tips and Tricks for the non-American living in America:

  1. Culture shock is a real thing. I still don't like eating cereal because the cereal aisles in American stores are too overwhelming and I can't decide.
  2. Skype/FaceTime is amazing!!
  3. You will feel misunderstood at one point or another (although probably at many points). This is normal and don't be afraid to ask questions.
  4. You may not be able to visit your family during breaks like everyone else, but that's why you create a new family at Westmont! (Ex: spend Thanksgiving with your roommate's family)
  5. Don't pretend to act American when you're not. Yes, it may seem nice to fit in for a while, but you're ignoring an important part of who you are.
  6. Visit your professors during their office hours; I know it's cliché, but they really do care. They'll be more understanding if you reach out for help.
  7. Get to know upperclassmen international/TCK/MK students. Mentoring can be really valuable.
  8. You will get ignorant questions. Know that people aren't trying to offend you. They may be genuinely interested in getting to know you and your culture.
  9. It's normal to take a while to get adjusted to American culture. If you don't have it all figured out within the first semester, don't stress.
  10. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! There are other students at Westmont who are having similar experiences.

Kailie Grinder

Kailie graduated with an Art major. She is a MK and spent the majority of her childhood living outside of Tokyo, Japan. The latter part of her high school years were spent in Hawaii. Because of her unusual background, she understands the challenges of thriving cross culturally and wants fellow international students to know that although those challenges never go away, you learn to utilize your different background and experiences to enrich the lives of others, as well as your own.

Being an international student at a school in the US such as Westmont really has changed the way I see myself in terms of my racial and cultural identities. I am a ¾ Japanese - ¼ European TCK (third cultural kid) who was born and raised in Japan until the age of sixteen, spent the three remaining years of high school in Hawai’i and eventually made my way here to Santa Barbara for college. Because of my unusual background, I often had people ask me questions such as “Where are you from?” “How can you speak English?” and in extreme cases, “What are you?” The fact of the matter is that for most of us international students, the answers to these questions are often really complicated and long. Especially during Orientation week and the beginnings of each semester, I remember being so exhausted from having to repeat my answers so many times. I wanted people to know where I was from, my ethnic background, as well as my cultural identity but I needed to find a better time to share my side of the story. A joke a close friend of mine (who also shares a similar background as me) and I have is that now whenever people at Westmont ask us where we are from, we give the name of the US state that we are affiliated with; in my case, I say Hawai’i. We do this to eliminate the long explanation we always have to give when we say we’re from another country. I’m not encouraging people to cut their life stories short or lock their identities into a small box, but I think it is important to save those conversations for the people who actually want to get to know you and nurture long-lasting relationships with you. When I discovered the people who possessed these qualities, I knew that I found not only a group of friends that I would keep in touch with long after college, but also people who would genuinely care for and accept my identity.

Here are a couple more tips that helped me with being an international student here at Westmont:

  • Homesickness is normal for any international student. In fact, I guarantee that there are plenty of national students your first year that are going through the same thing. Don’t be afraid of meeting new people and getting involved with extra-curricular activities. It’s a great way to keep busy and become more involved with your school. With the support system of people you’ll eventually encounter, you’ll be able to better handle homesickness.
  • As an international student, I personally dealt with cultural and language barriers. With English being my second language, of course I had some reservations about being able to keep up in class and succeeding academically. I would advise you to go in and talk to your professors during their office hours. Westmont really takes pride in hiring a world-class faculty that genuinely cares about students in and outside of the classroom. Get to know them and share your concerns. They will do everything they can to fairly accommodate you.
  • Lastly, don’t let living in the states change who you are; embrace your individual culture and heritage! Part of the reason why Westmont recruits international students is because it wants to spread a global awareness that goes beyond the boundaries of the US. Each and every one of you has a unique story and culture to share. I made the mistake of trying to fit into the American culture and ended up compromising values that I grew up learning in my Japanese culture. Since this revelation, I continue to live out my life in the multi-cultural manner that defines who I am! 

Andy Wood

Andy is a graduate of Westmont and an English major. He grew up in Ometepec, Mexico, as a missionary kid. He loved his childhood. While living in Santa Barbara has been very different than he was accustomed to, he has grown to appreciate and love the culture and place of Westmont. He’s so happy you’re here.

Things that could help you that helped me—

  • Be yourself! Don't be afraid to share stories about your life and your culture; most people love hearing about your experience.
  • Learn to love what you can do here. Sometimes it's easy to see all the things you miss about your home or your culture, and you forget about the amazing opportunities that are right in front of you.
  • Get involved. It's really easy to isolate yourself because you don't know what you really want to do, but if just get involved in something you can meet people that you normally wouldn't have and you won't have time to be homesick. If you don't like what you're involved in, you can quit.
  • Seize the moments when you feel at home. There will be moments with people when you talk about home or see something that reminds you of home. Share them with you friends; it will make you feel better.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. There are answers.
  • If you need it, get help! There are faculty, staff and students who care, but they can't care if they don't know. So tell them!

Vi Pham

Vi graduated with a Psychology major. She grew up in Vietnam and spent her high school years at Wheaton Academy in Illinois. Vi would love to meet more new international students on Westmont campus and have yummy food from all around the world with them.

One thing I wish I knew before coming here was how to prepare to deal with situations where I have to be very independent. I was aware of the fact that the US would be a different kind of environment, but I was not mentally prepared. As a result, I had a slightly big culture shock my first and second year being in America. With the help of those around me, though, I was able to cope and be more independent as I learned from my experiences.

Also, it was really helpful for me to have mentors who could help me when I'm homesick or when I need advice on something. Even now when I'm at Westmont, I have a mentor who is a professor on campus and I can talk to her about any thing!

One last thing to note is that I keep in touch with my family back home so that when I'm homesick, I call them and talk to them and it's really great to just be able to hear their voices. It's good to also know what's going on back home even when I'm not there.