Residence Life and Housing

As a student at WU you can either live on or off-campus, though many exchange agreements make it necessary for the exchange students to live on campus. Contact the Office of International Education international student advising staff if you are not sure about your case.

Dormitory style living is very common on US college campuses. Generally speaking, students who live on campus will share their room with one other person and use shared bathrooms with people from other rooms on the same floor. Single rooms are available at extra cost, but their availability depends on the demand for on-campus housing.

For living on campus, the Housing office can assist you in finding the right accommodations. To get an overview of the offered housing possibilities and their respective prices, visit the Housing website.

Meal Plans

When living on campus you are required to also have a meal plan. Information on meal plans is also available here through the housing office. The meal plans allow you to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner at any of the dining halls on campus. Some exchange agreements stipulate a specific meal plan. If you are unsure which plan you are entitled to with your exchange, please contact us.

Here is what a student has to say about the meal plans:

"From personal experience I can recommend that you choose meal plan C or D if you prefer to have breakfast and lunch, because they are the meals that will cost you the most meal plan points. Dinner is considered an "All You Can Eat" (AYCE) meal and is the same set amount of points every evening. Also if you like to snack on cookies and have a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon, meal plans C and D will be the perfect choice for you. Personally, I found that the points were getting a little on the low side by the end of October. With close to two months to go, it is better to have too much than too little when it comes to meal plan points. You can also deposit money on your own to the card and buy food with that, but it is much nicer to not have to worry about something like that."

Here is what another student living in the University Apartments says:

That was a really tough decision for the first semester, but got easier in the second semester. For people who live in dorms on campus (without own kitchen) I would recommend to take meal plan C. After the first semester you can change it, if you notice that it doesn't fit your needs. I had meal plan C for the first semester, but reduced it to meal plan A in the second semester. It was important for me to have 7 AYCE options, that way I could eat dinner at Goudy with my friends every night.

Compass Card

As a student, you will receive a Compass Card (see the Practical Matters section of the handbook for more information) which enables you to pay for your meals with the points you purchase through your meal plan. You can also deposit cash onto your card and use it for laundry, snacks, soda, and tea/coffee and food at the Bistro or at the two convenience stores on campus.

Campus Hangouts

The Bistro, a cozy student-run cafe, is where you can hang out or study. In the evenings,  there is often entertainment scheduled at the Bistro. Other activities on campus are scheduled weekly by the Willamette Events Board and other university organizations. You’ll be notified of these events daily through the Today E-Newsletter which will come through your WU E-mail. The University Store is the place to go if you need any school-associated things, like pencils, paper, agendas or calendars, WU souvenirs or even cards and gifts. However, if you are looking to save money, offers many discounted options for books and supplies. Ask your fellow American students, peer advisors, or the OIE’s Global Ambassadors for help in finding the best option for you!

Here is what one student has to say about their favorite hangouts:

"Favorite place to do homework is definitely the library, near the windows. A good place to hang out on campus is the Bistro or near the Mill Stream on sunny days."

Another place you can go to study is the library study area - also called "the fishbowl" - which is open 24 hours a day. You can bring your laptop and hook it up, or you can use one of the computers at the Hatfield Library. At the library or at the Montag Center you can rent DVDs or videos if you would rather sit in your room or the TV lounge and watch movies with your friends. Willamette offers free printing for students, accessible through WUPrint with your WU login information. Send your document to any printer on campus!

On Campus Employment Opportunities

While at WU you may want to find some on campus employment to supplement your costs of living in the USA. A good place to start looking for campus employment opportunities at WU is Handshake! There are many organizations on campus that employ students including Bon Appetit, academic departments, and student activities. Departments look to fill positions early in the semester!

Here is what one student has to say about working with WEB:

"I applied to WEB (Willamette Events Board) during my first week on campus. It had been a great experience. I was a General Board member, which meant that I got to plan weekly events on campus. Through WEB I met a lot of new people and had a great way to connect to Willamette life outside of class."

Other Activities

There are many sports and recreation activities to participate in such as soccer, swimming, working out at Sparks Fitness Center, or a run around or outside campus. Your Compass Card is all you need for free access into the fitness center. Whatever you feel like doing, talk to either your fellow international students or some of your American friends and ask if they want to join you.

There are also many clubs and groups on campus to join for almost any activity that you are interested in pursuing. Take a look at the Student Engagement & Leadership website to learn about the different groups and activities throughout the year. Many are informal and require no previous experience to participate. There are also many opportunities to join in on organized day or weekend trips for different activities in Oregon. Keep a lookout for fun trips through the Outdoor Program!

Here is what one student has to say about a day trip she took:

"Last October, the Outdoor Program arranged a day trip to the Coast; it only cost $3 per person. We left at 9:30 a.m. and arrived at the beach about an hour later. After walking along the beach and taking an excellent group shot, we went to lunch at Mo's, which is said to have an excellent clam chowder. After lunch we drove to the outlet mall, and went shopping for a couple of hours. When we met up again by the vans we were all really exhausted and ready to go home with all of our newly acquired stuff. It was a wonderful trip, and I warmly recommend to future students to go along on these arranged trips if you get the chance. It is a great way to get to know new people and get closer to the students you already know!"


Willamette University

Office of International Education

Global Learning Center
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

Back to Top