Question: What do I need to do to apply?
Answer: We need:
1. A completed application form
2. An application fee of $50 U.S., payable by check, money order or credit card
3. An Affidavit of Financial Support from your sponsor
4. Documents of financial proof from the sponsor. This can be a bank letter or a letter from the sponsor’s employer indicating the annual salary.
Q: Can I be my own sponsor?
A: Yes, just write “Self” on the Affidavit of Financial Support where it says “Sponsor” and provide financial proof of your own resources.
Part-time and full-time students
Q: Can I be a part-time student or do I have to be full time?
A: All students on an F-1 student visa have to study full time. That means they have to take 20 hours of class per week. In the fall and spring that means five classes each term (each class meets 4 days a week). In the summer that means four classes (each class meets 5 days a week). You cannot take a reduced class load, for example, in order to study for the TOEFL test. You have to be a full-time student to be in status on your student visa.
But students on other types of visas can be part-time students. They can take one or more classes, as they wish.
Transfers from other U.S. Universities
Q: I’m studying in an intensive English program at another school in the U.S. How can I transfer to the University of South Alabama English Language Center?
A: Just send us your application; then download our Transfer eligibility form and give it to the director of your English program to complete and send back to us.
Q: Can you pick me up at the airport when I arrive?
A: Yes, just send us the date, time, airline and flight number and we’ll pick you up at the airport. It’s best to arrive Monday through Friday before 3:00 in the afternoon so that we can take you to get your room in the dormitory. The campus Housing Office closes every day at 5 o’clock. If you arrive in the evening or on Saturday or Sunday, you might need to spend the first night in a hotel at a cost of approximately $50.
Q: Is Mobile a good place to learn English?
A: Yes! Unlike big U.S. cities like Miami, Los Angeles or New York, there are no very large groups living here who speak foreign languages like Spanish, Korean or Chinese. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to speak English. In fact, we often have students who transfer here from New York or California because they want to live in an all-English environment. At the same time, most Americans in Mobile are very friendly. Many of our students quickly make American friends. About 10% of the students at the University of South Alabama are international students, so this is a very international campus.
Q: What’s the weather like in Mobile and what clothes should I bring?
A: Most of the year Mobile has a very moderate climate. Summers are quite hot, but all university classrooms and dormitories and virtually all buildings in the city are air-conditioned. Winters are very mild, and some days in the winter are quite warm, but there are also some cold days. You should definitely bring some sweaters and jackets or other warm clothing. However, heavy winter overcoats are not necessary. On quite a few winter days the temperature might be 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (5 to15 degrees centigrade). On a few days it dips to the 30s (0 to5 degrees C) or even 20s (-5 to 0 degrees C) . In the summer, the temperature is generally in the 80s and 90s (25 to 35 degrees C). Fall and spring are delightful times in Mobile. About once every four or five years, it snows a little in Mobile.
Q: Where are your students from?
A: About 12% of our students are from Korea, 12% from the Middle East, 10% from Japan, 15% from Latin America (Brazil or Spanish-speaking countries), 10% from South Asia, and the remaining students from many different countries, for example, Russia, Italy, China, Germany, India, Nepal, Burkina Faso, Ukraine, Mongolia, Canada (Quebec), etc.
Q: What about computer facilities in your program?
A: We have a brand new computer lab with 30 up-to-date computers for the use of our students. Sometimes classes are held in the computer lab, and students can also use instructional software for extra English study. The computer lab is also available for the private use of the students from 8:00 to 5:00 o’clock every day. There is no wireless reception in our building for wireless laptops, but the dormitories and many other university buildings have wireless connection.
Q: Do I need to reserve a room in a dormitory before I arrive in Mobile?
A: No, it’s fine to wait until you arrive here to get a room. Although it’s possible to pay a deposit and reserve a room, it is not necessary. After you reserve a room, you are obligated to live in campus housing for both the fall and spring semesters.
Q: What do I need for my dormitory room?
A: Some students choose to bring sheets, towels, pillow cases, and so forth from their own countries. However, after students arrive, we take them to a store to buy things for their room if they do not have other transportation.
Q: Can I live off campus or do I have to live in a dormitory?
A: It is OK to live off campus in a private apartment or with friends, but if you do, you need to have a car or live close to the university. Public transportation in Mobile is unfortunately not very good and you cannot depend on it to go to class. If transportation will be a problem, you should live in a dormitory on campus.
Q: Do you have a homestay program?
A: No, we do not have a homestay program, although in a few cases our students have lived with families in Mobile.
Q: Can I get a Social Security card after I arrive?
A: No, international students on an F-1 visa do not receive Social Security numbers unless they find a job on campus.
Q: Can I get a job while I’m a student in your program?
A:It is not possible for students on an F-1 student visa to work off campus. Off-campus employment will result in termination of a student’s I-20. It is also not permitted for ESL students to work on campus because they are not admitted to the University and are not enrolled as University of South Alabama students.
Q: Can I drive a car in the U.S.?
A: If you have an international driver’s license, you can drive a car in Alabama for 30 days. After that you will need to get an Alabama driver’s license. International students can get an Alabama driver’s license with no problem. They have to take a written test and a driving test.
Q: Do I have to purchase health insurance from the University of South Alabama or can I use insurance from my own country?
A: All students must buy University of South Alabama health insurance after they arrive here. The University does not accept any other health insurance. Students should not buy health insurance in their own countries before coming here.
Q: Do I need to get any injections or inoculations from a doctor?
A: After you arrive here, you will have to get a tuberculosis skin test and receive two injections for mumps, measles and rubella. If you have already had a TB skin test and the injections, you need to bring written proof from a doctor in your country stating the dates and number of times.
Q: After I start studying in your program, can I take a vacation, for example, to travel in the U.S.?
A: You can only take a vacation after you have completed four terms studying in our program (one academic year). After that you can take off one term (two months) and then return to study here. For instance, in you arrive in August for the Fall I term, you must go to school full time for Fall I, Fall II, Spring I and Spring II. Then you could take off the summer term.
Q: Can I take a reduced class load in order to study for the TOEFL?
A: No, you have to be a full-time student and take 20 hours of class per week during the first four terms you are here.
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