Student Life at Columbia

I am sick and not sure how to utilize the American health care system. What do I do?

As a student, you have access to on-campus health care at Columbia Health Services. Columbia Health consists of three primary areas; Medical Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, and Disability Services. When you enroll, you are automatically assigned a Primary Care Provider (PCP). Your PCP is a physician or nurse with whom you schedule routine appointments (like an annual physical exam). It is important to get to know your PCP – s/he will be an important resource for you during your time at Columbia – even if you are not sick.

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Do I need health insurance?

Yes. Under New York State Law, all enrolled students are required to have health insurance. Columbia students are automatically enrolled in the basic student insurance plan administered by Aetna. If you already have private health insurance or are covered by a parent/guardian, you can request a waiver if the coverage meets or exceeds the New York State requirements. However, it is strongly recommended that all international students utilize the Columbia plan as if offers the best coverage and providers in the neighborhood.

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I need someone to talk to. What are my options?

Talking to someone is one great way to organize your thoughts. If talking is what you need, consider connecting with a roommate, a suitemate, or hallmate. There is a community of advisers at Columbia to speak with about any feelings, issues, or concerns that may arise at Columbia. During operating hours (typically 9:00am to 5:00pm), administrative offices are open for conversations with students regarding academics, student life, internships and careers, studying abroad, financial aid, health and well-being and many other topics.

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Dining services shut down during the holidays. Where should I eat?

It is true that Dining Services are closed during academic breaks. During break periods, students remaining on campus are still able to use their Flex Accounts to purchase food at off-campus vendors. You can add money to your Flex account through SSOL. First year students have the option of choosing a meal plan (Plan 3) that includes flex.

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Lots of students leave campus during the holidays. What are my options as an international student?

While many students choose to leave campus during academic breaks (U.S. Election Day, Thanksgiving, Winter Break and Spring Break), the residence halls remain open to their residents and you may stay on campus from move-in to the end of Spring semester. Although campus will generally be quieter during these times, administrative offices are open and operational and students (international and domestic) do stay on campus.

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What are the policies I have to follow in the residence halls?

Undergraduate students who live in the residence halls are subject to the policies outlined in the Guide to Living. These policies, which range from the Cable Television and Cooking policies to the Alcohol and Other Drug policy, are put in place to ensure a residential community that is engaging and safe for all its members

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Where can I get a letter confirming my address or student status?

Should you need to provide a letter confirming your address, you may contact the Hartley Hospitality Desk to request one. If you need to prove your student status at Columbia, you may request Academic Certification from the University Registrar.

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Can I open a bank account? What do I need to set up an account?

Yes, you can open a bank account and many students choose to do so to help manage money and pay for certain items. International students do not need a Social Security number or a letter from the ISSO or any other university office to open a bank account. You do need your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, and letter of admission to Columbia. Other items that could be helpful if you have them are your Columbia ID, a lease or housing contract with your name on it, and, if you have a bank account at home, a statement from your home country with your name and address printed on it.

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Are students invited to all alumni events?

This depends. Check the alumni events calendar for events and contact the event lead with any questions. Events in the U.S. may not be open to current students and will specify.

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I am interning abroad in XYZ city; are there events going on or any opportunities where I can meet other students and alumni?

To find events abroad, first check the alumni events calendar. Events listed with green stars are school based and may be restricted. Alternatively, you may send an email to the Office of Alumni and Development with the region and dates in question and someone will let you know.

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