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The following list provides information to help you get settled into the Madison area community.  

Madison welcomes thousands of international students each year through Madison College, Edgewood College, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  The following community organizations provide a variety of outreach and support to international students:
  • Madison International Partners (MIP) began in June 2008 as the International Outreach Ministry of Christ Presbyterian Church in Madison to extend welcome and hospitality services to internationals, and promote in-depth, cross-cultural exchanges between U.S. Americans and internationals in the Madison area. In September 2016, MIP became a separate non-profit organization. Madison International Partners offers a dozen programs and activities which serve about 2,500 international visitors, students, visiting scholars, and their spouses and children from the Madison area per year. MIP helps internationals in the Madison community develop a more personal, positive understanding of the U.S., while allowing U.S. Americans to develop a greater understanding of the world. Our programs and activities include:
    • Airport pick up
    • Temporary housing
    • Tour of Madison for new international students and their families
    • English Conversation Partners and English Conversation Time (every Friday from 6 to 8 pm)
    • Friendship Partners and Global Spouse Connection
    • International Cooking & Dinner events
    • Holiday celebrations: Halloween Party, Thanksgiving Hosting, Christmas Party
    • Picnics and Field Trips (apple picking, museums, ski trips, ice-skating, zoo, Olbrich Garden, farm tours, etc.,)
  • Madison Friends of International Students (MFIS) is a non-profit organization of volunteers from the Madison area who befriend and help international students and their families. Created in 1952 by the University League at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, MFIS has added many programs and services over the years to address the specific needs of international students and make their time in Madison more enjoyable.
    • MFIS Activities Include:
      • A Capitol Reception at the start of each spring semester
      • A Fall Picnic at the start of each fall semester 
      • Global Friends
      • Furniture for new student housing and temporary housing
    • MFIS offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for members of the community, including temporary hosting of students who have just arrived in the U.S. and Thanksgiving hospitality for international students, as well as assistance at the Madison MFIS office.
  • Madison has numerous amounts of things to see and do in its diverse community. For more information on upcoming events, programs, and activities, check out the following:
Although Madison is ranked among the best of U.S. cities to live in due to its safe and fun environment (, emergencies and accidents can happen, so we want you to be prepared with how to get help if needed.
  • Call 9-1-1 if you need an ambulance or for police, health, safety and/or fire emergencies 
    • Call City of Madison Non-emergency phone number (608) 255-2345 for situations such as:
      • Property Damage 
      • Break-in to a vehicle 
      • Theft to property 
      • Vandalism
      • Panhandlers
      • Intoxicated Person who is NOT disorderly
      • Dogs excessively barking or has escaped/on the loose
      • Wellness check on an individual
  • Severe Weather: Our local public service agencies are constantly monitoring for severe weather conditions. You may find information on severe weather conditions on weather apps, radio, weather channels on TV and online. The two most common weather notices are severe weather WATCH and severe weather WARNING. A severe weather WATCH means that there is a potential for a severe weather condition (i.e., tornado, thunderstorm). When a severe weather WARNING is issued, this indicates that weather condition is in your area or is already occurring with evidence. Some of the more common severe weather conditions include, but not limited to:
    • Tornadoes: Although uncommon, the City of Madison does have the climate for tornadoes to occur. Tornados typically include clouds, strong wind, rain, and hail.
      • What to do if a Tornado WARNING is issued:
        • Go to a safe shelter immediately, such as a basement, storm cellar or small interior room (i.e., bathroom, hallway, closet) on the lowest level of a sturdy building. Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls. Do not go under an overpass or bridge.
        • Monitor tornado warning on radio, TV, or online. Do not leave your safe shelter until warning has been dismissed.
  • Winter Severe Weather Conditions:
    • Wisconsin winters can have heavy snow, ice, and very cold temperatures. The following are different winter warnings that may occur:
      • Blizzards: Blizzard Warnings are issued when there is evidence of a heavy snowstorm, icy conditions, and/or extreme cold temperatures. Typically, there is blowing snow that lowers visibility to a ¼ mile or less, wind gusts hit 35 mpg or higher and the storm lasts for 3 hours or more making traveling extremely dangerous.
      • Freezing Rain: When rain freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines. 
      • Sleet:  This condition occurs when rain turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet can cause moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
      • Wind Chill: Wind chill is a measure of how cold people feel due to the combined effect of wind and cold temperatures. Under extreme wind chill conditions, the body temperature can fall and hypothermia can develop.
      • What to do if a WINTER WARNING is issued:
        • Stay indoors and dress warmly
        • Eat regularly and drink water
        • Keep dry
        • Keep your car gas tank full
        • Dress warmly, with several layers and cover all exposed skin as much as possible
        • Avoid over-exertion. The cold already puts a strain on the body and heart.
        • Watch for signs of hypothermia
        • Avoid traveling
  • How to Prepare for Wisconsin Winters?
    • Have extra flashlights and batteries available
    • Prepare emergency heating source (i.e., Space heaters)
      • If you use an emergency heating source, be alert for deadly carbon monoxide gases. Never place heating source near another object that may catch on fire. Keep space heaters at least 36 inches away from other objects and always turn it off when you leave the room.
    • Have extra water supply
    • Winterize your car (check battery, keep gas tank near full, and have a survival kit in the car that includes extra blankets, flashlight, first aid kit, a small shovel, extra gloves, hat and socks)
  • Flood
    • Madison is prone to floods especially during a heavy rainstorm and because of the many surrounding lakes in the area.
      • Flash Flood Warnings are issued for flooding usually occurring within 6 hours of heavy rain.
      • Flood Warnings are issued for flooding that occurs more gradually usually from a prolonged rainfall.
      • What to do if a Flood WARNING is issued:
        • Find a safe shelter right away
        • Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters
        • Staff off bridges over fast-moving water
        • Evacuate immediately if you live in a flood-prone area or an order is issued by your city
        • Bring outdoor possession indoors and secure them
        • Fill bathtubs, sinks, and/or plastic bottles with clean water
        • Turn off power
  • Lake and Beach Safety
    • Closings and Advisories: Warnings may be issued by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) if lakes and beaches become unsafe for people. These reasons may include chemical discharge or spill into the water, dangerous currents, elevated bacteria found in the water, rainfall, sewage discharge/spill and/or other unsafe conditions.
    • Keep in mind that water temperatures are different than air temperatures. Madison lakes typically remain cold despite the warm air temperatures in the Spring season. 
    • Additionally, Monitor safety warnings from DNR regarding walking on frozen water areas.
We recommend you open a bank account at a local bank shortly upon arrival. The UW Credit Union has a branch on the Madison College Truax campus, as well as many other locations in Madison and they are familiar with assisting international students who often do not have a U.S. Social Security Number. There are many other banking options as well, such as Associated Bank, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Old National Bank, and Chase Bank, among others. Typically, banks will issue a debit card which allows individuals to transfer money electronically when making a purchase (students without a SSN are likely able to obtain a debit card with their assigned bank). Debit cards are regularly used in the U.S. more often than carrying cash but that there are many ATMs around Madison and located on campus which cash can be drawn. Debit cards are different from credit cards. Debit cards allow you to spend money by drawing on funds you have deposited and available in your bank account. Credit cards allow you to borrow from the card issuer up to an approved limit.
  • If you need to exchange foreign currency for U.S. dollars, Western Union, Chase Bank, and Wal-Mart are some options that can assist.
  • Visit Madison College website for information on Tuition and Fees and payment options.
  • Budgeting and Financial Wellness – Wolfie’s Wallet
  • Madison College offers a free financial wellness program to all students. The program helps with money management, budgeting, student loans guidance and offers many workshops and online tools plus one-on-one appointments with a financial counselor is available. 
All Madison College International Students are required to enroll in a specific health insurance plan we have arranged with Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin (commonly called “GHC”). A waiver is possible in very limited cases when a student has access to comparable comprehensive U.S. insurance plan.

​For minor concerns or for a preventative check-up, plan to visit the GHC clinic conveniently located on our Madison College Truax Campus:
  • Group Health Cooperative Clinic (For primary care needs of majority health issues)
    • Madison College Community Clinic at Truax Campus
      Madison College Health Education Building, Room 151A
      (608) 441-3220
    • Group Health Cooperative NurseConnect (For Health Care Advice that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week)
      (608) 661-7350
    • Group Health Urgent Care (For Urgent, Non life-threatening health issues)
      Group Health Cooperative Capitol Clinic
      675 West Washington Avenue
      Madison, WI 
      (608) 442-8100
  • Local Hospitals (For Critical or Life-Threatening Health Emergencies ONLY)
    • UW Health at the American Center
      4602 Eastpark Blvd.
      Madison, WI
      (608) 440-6400
    • University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics
      600 Highland Avenue
      Madison, WI
      (608) 263-6400
    • UnityPoint Health – Meriter Hospital
      202 S. Park Street
      Madison, WI
      (608) 417-6206
  • ​​Academic or Personal Counseling Service and Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (Free services for all students)
    • Madison College Counseling Services
      (608) 246-6076 or (608) 246-6060 (for a quick mental health check-in)
  • ​​For After-hours mental health Assistance 
    • Journey Crisis Line (608) 280-2600
    • Suicide Prevention Crisis Lifeline
      • (800) 273-8255 or text the word “CONNECT” to 741741
      • Mental Health Counseling 24-hour Helpline
        (608) 280-2600
    • Domestic violence involves violent or aggressive behavior with the home you live in. If you need assistance with any domestic violence situation
      • Domestic Violence Intervention Services (DAIS)
        Helpline: (608) 251-4445
Madison College does not have on-campus housing, but the city is known as a “college town” with many student housing options available. We encourage students to use the Madison College’s partner Rent College Pads website as a starting point.
  • Tenant Resource Center 
    • Community resource for help in finding housing, rental rights, and various housing resources.
  • Madison International Partners (MIP) offers temporary housing for up to four nights upon arrival to Madison.
  • Madison Friends of International Students (MFIS) provides temporary housing for international students for a day or two upon arrival to Madison.
Madison shopping is magnificently diverse and unique. From the popular shops that line downtown and State Street to specialty stores including grocery stores featuring a wide variety of items from around the world and specific ethnic shops, students have multiple options to meet their needs.
  • Large Grocery Stores
    • Woodman’s 
      • Provides huge selections of grocery items, large liquor selection
      • Online shopping with pick-up and delivery services available
    • Pick N’ Save 
      • Large variety of grocery merchandise ranging from basic grocery staples to innovative fare such as organic items, natural foods, hot meals ready to eat, and ethnic food items. 
      • Online shopping with curbside pickup and delivery options available
    • Festival Foods 
      • Smaller grocery store with large variety of items including meat, seafood, deli, bakery, produce, natural and organic, and liquor.
      • Online shopping with curbside pickup
    • Hyvee 
      • A full-service grocery store that provides customers with information on diet, nutrition and wellness. Provides a large selection of natural and organic products and pre-prepared meals to go. 
      • Online shopping with curbside pickup and delivery options available
  • Ethnic Grocery Stores 
    • Halal Market – 745 S Gammon Rd, Madison (608) 277-1771
    • Korean Oriental Food Mart-1206 S Park St, Madison (608) 255-0326
    • A-Mart Asian Grocery – 680 S Whitney Way, Madison (608) 709-1329
    • Yue-Wah Oriental Foods – 2328 S Park St, Madison (608) 257-9338
    • Global Market and Food Hall – 2161 Zeier Rd, Madison (608) 286-1383
    • Namaste India Store-805 S Gammon Rd, Madison (608) 422-5263
    • Asian Midway Foods – 301 S Park St, Madison (608) 255-5864
    • International Market-4261 Lien Rd, Madison (608) 819-8333
    • La Hispana Grocery-4512 E Washington Ave, Madison (608) 249-5033
    • Viet Hoa Market – 4602 Monona Dr, Madison (608) 661-1300
    • Madison Oriental Market–1197 N Sherman Ave, Madison (608) 240-0846
    • Hmoob Legacy Market– 2119 Fish Hatchery Rd, Madison (608) 416-5400
    • Mercado Marimar-2102 S Park St, Madison (608) 260-8928
    • Inter Markey-5317 Old Middleton Rd, Madison (608) 231-2017
    • Om World Market-934 W Main St, Sun Prairie (608) 721-8020
    • African Store – 2750 E Johnson St, Madison (608) 241-278
  • Large Shopping Stores
    • Wal-mart  
      • Provides large selection of items including family apparel, automotive products, health and beauty, home furnishings, electronics, hardware, toys, sporting goods, lawn and garden, pet supplies, jewelry, and housewares.
    • Target 
      • Sells a wide variety of food and general merchandise including food and beverage, apparel and accessories, baby items, household essentials, home décor, furniture, patio and garden, kitchen and dining, toys, electronics, musical instruments, movies and CDs, sports and outdoors, beauty, personal care, pets, luggage, school and office supplies, and party supplies.
  • Specialty Stores
    • Whole Foods
      • A USDA Certified Organic grocer that sells products free from hydrogenated fats and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. 
    • Trader Joe’s 
      • A grocery store specializing in fresh and organic food and beverages, and unique food items. 
    • Costco  
      • Wholesale warehouse store that sells in bulk quantities of merchandise that are sold at discounted prices to club members.
      • Annual membership fee required
    • Willy Street Co-op 
      • A co-op is a company that is owned by customers who invest in the business. The Co-op sells fresh, LOCAL, organic and natural foods.
Madison is in the southcentral area of the State of Wisconsin. If you are planning your first arrival to Madison, there is an airport (MSN) in the city of Madison that connects to many international airports, the closest of which is in the Chicago area (ORD), which also connects to MKE in Milwaukee, a city about 1-hour drive from Madison.
  • Madison International Partners (MIP) offers airport pick-up from MSN upon arrival.
  • City to City Bus Systems
    • Madison to Chicago; Madison to Minneapolis, Madison to Milwaukee or Campus to Campus
      • Megabus
        • Offers trips between Madison, Chicago, and Minneapolis
      • BadgerBus
        • Offers trips to Milwaukee and Minneapolis and campus to campus routes
      • Greyhound
        • Multiple routes to Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, etc. 
      • Jefferson Lines
        • Daily service from Madison to Minneapolis
      • Lamers Bus lines
        • Madison to Milwaukee, Green Bay, Oshkosh, etc.
      • Van Galder Bus Company
        • Provides daily trips between Madison and Chicago O’Hare airport and downtown Chicago
  • ​​Local Transportation Options:​
    • Madison has multiple transportation options to get around the city.
      • Madison College Shuttles FREE shuttle services between all Madison College campuses
      • City of Madison Metro Bus System
        • Madison College students will receive bus passes for each academic semester they are enrolled in!
      • Bicycle
        • Where can I get a bicycle?
          • See Appendix 1 
          • Madison Metro Transits busses are equipped with bicycle racks to help make taking the bus and biking a convenient option.
        • BCycle
          • Rent a an electric-assisted bikes with optional pedal assist that amplifies your effort.There is a Madison BCycle Station on the Truax Campus located outside the Health Education Building. It connects you to 44 other stations throughout Madison. Ride for $5 for 30 minutes or enjoy unlimited 60 minute rides with an Annual Pass ($100 value) at the student/staff discounted price of $30.
        • Bike Buddies 
          • This is a free service available from Rideshare, etc. where you can be matched with another biker. 
        • Check out Madison College Bicycling site for more information and resources.
      • Cab
      • Uber/Lyft
      • Personal Cars
        • If you choose to own your own vehicle, all Wisconsin drivers are REQUIRED to have an automobile insurance policy.
      • Rental Cars
  • Obtaining Driver’s License and/or Government Issued State Identification Card
    • If you are an international student from one of certain eligible countries who has a valid driver’s license from your home country, you may be able to drive with your home country driver’s license for up to one year.
    • Minimum stay requirement to apply for a driver’s license:  You must have an I-20/DS-2019 that is valid for at least one year and has at least six (6) months’ time remaining to apply for a driver’s license.
    • DMV Locations and Contact
  • Winter Driving Safety Tips
    • First is worst. In the first storm of the season, most drivers have forgotten their safe winter driving skills. They’ll drive too fast and try to stop too quickly.  Go slowly. Increase following distances. Drive defensively. Relearn your skills.
    • Go slowly. Drive well below the posted speed limit. Posted limits are intended for summer months on dry pavement. Avoid sudden, sharp turns. Use light braking by gently pumping the brakes.
    • Plan ahead. Plan on trips taking extra time. Leave earlier. Consider an alternate route. STAY HOME if conditions are too bad.
    • Use your head, use your feet. Never use cruise control on slippery roads.
    • Lighten up. Turn on your headlights. To prevent glare, avoid using your high beams during a night storm.
    • Wear your seatbelts.Give snowplows room. Snowplows are wide. They often need to operate very close to the center line. Sometimes they throw up clouds of snow, which affects your vision. Slow down and give them as much room as possible. On roads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or more, the law requires drivers to stay at least 200 feet behind a snowplow when its red or amber lights are on.
  • Parking
    • Parking is provided at all campuses for students. Students must register their vehicle by completing the online registration form 
    • The City of Madison does hold street parking rules and regulations especially on trash pick-up days and during the winter season and practices the use of parking meters.
Some rental properties will require you set-up services under your name for each of the following utilities. Other properties may have included the cost of utilities in your monthly rent. To confirm which following companies provide services to your area and which utilities you are responsible for, ask your property management company and/or landlord. 
  • Telephone
    • Most internet providers listed above can also provide land telephone lines. Check with provider for telephone plans. 
    • Many cellular phone companies will require a SSN to sign up for a contract plan because they do a credit check before giving service. However, there are “pay-as-you-go” plans that are the most common cell phone option for international students. Pre-pay options generally include an individual phone number, limited text messaging and limited data plans. With contract plans, you usually get a financed phone that will cost you less than buying it out of contract with more options for free talk time, unlimited texting, and higher data limits for a monthly fee. Contracted plans can be cheaper than Pay-as-you-go plans. Cellular phone service options in Madison area:
      • AT&T 
      • Verizon Wireless 
      • T-Mobile 
        • Some T-Mobile locations offers No Credit Check accounts where you put down a deposit to open an account for a cell phone contracted line.
      • US Cellular 
      • Sprint
      • Google Fi – flexible data plan
      • Campus SIMS
        • CIE has partnered with Campus Sims to offer you a free SIM card to use with their phone plan. To use this plan, get your free SIM card here:
This list is not all inclusive; other resources may also be available.