Welcome Guide

WELCOME to Princeton University!

Message from our Director, Albert Rivera:

On behalf of the entire staff of the Davis International Center, I send my warm wishes and congratulations on your acceptance to Princeton University!

The Davis International Center (Davis IC) is committed to providing services and programs that support the development and welfare of international students and scholars on multiple levels -– immigration regulatory advising and processing, cultural adjustment, social enrichment, and assistance with practical matters related to living in the U.S.

The purpose of this guide is to provide you with helpful information as you prepare for your travels and begin your studies at Princeton. If you have any questions, please email the Davis IC at puvisa@princeton.edu. We encourage you to check our website throughout the summer for additional information and updated announcements: http://davisic.princeton.edu.

Once again, congratulations!   We are eager to meet you!

Arrival at U.S. Port of Entry

What to Pack

You should carefully plan what items to bring with you and what can wait to be purchased after you arrive in Princeton. Factors to take into consideration include: cost of shipping, additional baggage charges, immediate need, and purchasing cost differential. 

You should plan to have very warm clothing for the colder months (late October through April), including sweaters, sweatshirts, a heavy coat, hat, gloves, scarf and warm boots/shoes; a hooded raincoat is also recommended. For the warmer months (late April-September) you should plan for cooler clothing, including shorts, skirts, t-shirts, and tank tops. 

What to wear at Princeton: Clothing such as slacks, sweatshirts, sweaters, blouses, blue jeans, and t-shirts are acceptable for women as well as men. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended.  For special occasions and events, it is recommended that students have formal/semi-formal attire, which may include a suit, shirt and tie, formal dress, evening wear and also traditional clothing.

Documentation

Be prepared to present the following documentation at the U.S. Port of Entry:

  • Passport that is valid for at least 6 months in the future 
  • Form I-20 or DS-2019
  • SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt Notice
  • Documentation of Acceptance to Princeton University:
    • For undergraduate students, this is the Princeton University Admission Letter. 
    • For graduate students, this is the Princeton University Admission Reply.
  • Original (or notarized copies of original) Guarantee of Financial Support
  • If you will be receiving support from Princeton, you should have:
    • Undergraduate Students: Princeton University Financial Aid Award Letter. If you are fully funded by Princeton, and it is reflected as such in your Financial Aid Letter, then no other financial documentation is necessary.
    • Graduate Students: Princeton University Admission Reply. If you are fully funded by Princeton, and it is reflected as such on your Admission Reply, then no other financial documentation is necessary.  
  • Other Support: If you are not receiving support from Princeton, or need to supplement your support from Princeton, you will need to present additional documentation in the form of bank statements, letters of support from family, scholarship letters, etc.

 IMPORTANT: Carry these documents with you in your carry-on baggage. Do not put them in your checked baggage.

Incomplete Documentation

If you arrive at the U.S. port of entry without all of your required documents, the immigration officer may deny your entry into the U.S. As an alternative, the officer has discretion to issue you a Form I-515A, which would allow you temporary entry into the U.S. for up to 30 days. If you are issued a Form I-515A, you must report it to the Davis IC during regular business hours immediately upon arriving on campus.

PLEASE NOTE: The issuance of the Form I-515A is not guaranteed, so please make sure that you have complete documentation.

If you encounter any problems at port of entry, you can contact our office at (609) 258-5006. If there is an emergency and you need to contact us after regular business hours, please call Princeton Public Safety at (609) 258-1000.

Location & Travel

Location

Princeton University is located in Princeton Borough, Mercer County, New Jersey, approximately 50 miles southwest of New York City; 35 miles southwest of Newark, New Jersey; and 45 miles northeast of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

For the latest travel directions to campus, please consult the Princeton University Travel webpage: www.princeton.edu/main/visiting/travel/.

Airport Arrival Information

Although it is possible to reach Princeton from all of the nearby airports (JFK, LaGuardia, Newark Liberty, and Philadelphia), we recommend that you arrange arrival at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) if possible. Newark Liberty Airport (EWR) is the closest airport to campus and has the easiest local access to Princeton.

Train Transportation from Newark Liberty International Airport

Passengers arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) can take the AirTrain directly from the arrivals terminal to the Rail Link station to catch a New Jersey Transit Train to Princeton. Ticket vending machines for New Jersey Transit are available at stations located in the airport passenger terminals. The trip is about 5 to 15 minutes from the airport terminal to the Rail Link Station.

At the Rail Link Station, you will board a Trenton-bound train and ride it for about 45 minutes to the Princeton Junction stop. To get to Princeton University from Princeton Junction, you will take a small commuter train referred to as the “Dinky” (also a NJ Transit train), which connects Princeton Junction to campus (Princeton Station).

You should purchase a ticket through to Princeton Station (the train station on campus) which will cost about $22. PLEASE NOTE: It is best to purchase tickets at vending machines prior to boarding the train. If you purchase a ticket on board, you will be assessed an additional $5 surcharge. Also, conductors on board the train will not accept bills over $20.

PLEASE NOTE: “Dinky” train service is limited on weekends and late at night. The last “Dinky” departs Princeton Junction train station around 1:35 a.m. and New Jersey Transit usually coordinates train arrival times with Dinky departures. Other than the Dinky, there is no public transportation between the Princeton Junction train station and downtown Princeton after this time, so you may choose to take a taxi from Princeton Junction to the campus if you prefer.

Ground Transportation from Newark Liberty, JFK, LaGuardia or Philadelphia Airports

Airport Shuttle Van Service: The State Shuttle provides rides to and from the airports in the New York City area and Philadelphia. For more information, visit https://stateshuttle.com or call the number 973-347-3144.

  • State Shuttle picks up and drops off at various locations in Princeton including nearby hotels and on the Princeton University campus.
  • A ride can be reserved either online directly with the State Shuttle or by calling their phone number.
  • You should receive a reservation confirmation before your trip and an invoice with final charges by email.
  • Costs will vary from each airport. The university has a negotiated rate for a shuttle from Newark airport.
Princeton Taxis

Travelers who miss the 12:37 a.m. “Dinky” train from Princeton Junction to Princeton Station or who have a lot of luggage may take a taxi from Princeton Junction to Princeton. Taxis are usually waiting at the Princeton Junction station, but if necessary, you could call:

  • Joe’s Princeton Taxi: (609) 851-3263 (need half an hour notice)
  • A & B Taxi and Limo Services: (609) 356-3231
  • Associated Taxi Stand (609) 924-1222 
  • B-1 Taxi & Limo Service (609) 921-2667
  • Princeton Discount Taxi Service (609) 924-6645
  • Princeton Economy Taxi & Limo Service (609) 799-9180 or (866) 931-8294
  • R&J Princeton Taxi 609.510.5602

Taxi fare from Princeton Junction to Princeton Borough is approximately $25 plus a 15% driver’s tip. Verify the fare and pickup locations with the taxi dispatcher when you call, as there are two sides to the train tracks (northbound and southbound), each with separate taxi pick-up locations. 

Many students on campus utilize Uber and Lyft apps on their smart phones to travel around the surrounding area. Private drivers can be hired using these apps to pick you up and take you to your destination.

Traveling Safe

While traveling, you should keep money, passports, travel and visa documents, jewelry, and other valuables on you at all times. You are advised not to leave luggage unattended.  We recommend that you do not leave items of value and importance in your luggage, locked automobiles, or airport or train station storage lockers. Do not check valuables such as laptop computers in your luggage but rather keep them with you on board the airplane. Be sure to monitor your belongings!

If you have an emergency, you should seek airport security or the nearest Travelers Aid Society representative during business hours. The Travelers Aid Society telephone numbers are:

  • Newark Airport: (973) 623-5052
  • JFK Airport: (718) 656-4870

After Arrival in Princeton

Address Reporting Requirements

Residential U.S. Address: All F-1 and J-1 students living off-campus are required to report their U.S. residential address within 10 days of moving into that residence. Students must update their address in the online TigerHub system. For students living on-campus, the addresses are automatically updated by housing offices. 

PLEASE NOTE: This must be the address where you live, not your departmental or Frist mailbox address. You are also required to report any future change of residential address within 10 days of the change in the TigerHub system. The Davis IC will receive automatic notice of your new address and will then report the change to SEVIS on your behalf. 

Permanent Home Country Address: All F-1 and J-1 students are also required to report any change of their permanent address in their home country in the online Princeton TigerHub system.

PLEASE NOTE: This must be a residential address in your country of citizenship or country of permanent residence, not a P.O. Box or school address.

Undergraduate Housing Assignment

If you are an incoming member of the Class of 2025, you will live in one of the six Residential Colleges during your freshman year. Students receive their Residential College and roommate assignment in mid-July. Information is sent to students' Princeton email addresses. If you have any concerns or questions regarding your room assignment please contact the Housing Office at askhousing@princeton.edu

Undergraduate Student Check-in and Room Key Pick Up

If you will be arriving to Princeton on Wednesday, August 18th for Undergraduate International Orientation (IO), you will pick up your key during International Orientation Check-In. IO check-in will begin at 9am and will remain open till 7pm. 

Unvaccinated students arriving on August 5th to start their quarantine will go to the A-level in New South Building to the Service Point to pick up their Prox (ID) cards (which also serve as room keys).

If flight or other circumstances delay your arrival on campus to August 19th or later, keys can be picked up at the Housing Office during business hours (9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.), located in the New South Building. After business hours, you can contact Princeton Public Safety located at 200 Elm Drive. A Princeton Public Safety Officer will give you access to your dormitory room. On the following business day, you should visit the Housing Office to pick up your key and sign in.  

All students are required to report to the testing site to be tested for COVID-19. If you are arriving after the Testing Clinic is closed, you will need to go as soon as the clinic opens the next day. 

Graduate Student Housing

The Graduate Housing Office sends the contract for an apartment or a dormitory with arrival instructions to all graduate students who have made prior arrangements for on-campus housing. Please consult these instructions for specific arrival information.  

For more information please visit the Graduate Student Housing website: http://hres.princeton.edu/graduates/move-in.  

Local Hotel Information

If you do not have confirmed housing arrangements on campus before arrival or if there will be a delay moving into your housing, you may need to stay in a local hotel until your housing move-in date. If so, you should make reservations in advance. If you mention that you are a Princeton student, some hotel establishments may offer you discounted rates.

Also, several hotels offer additional services, such as shuttles to town and free breakfasts. Inquire about amenities when making reservations. 

Hotels listed below have a restaurant on the premises, or within easy walking distance.

Located In Princeton:

  • Nassau Inn Palmer Square (walking distance to campus): (609) 921-7500

Located on Route 1 North of Princeton:

  • Courtyard by Marriott (1 mile): (609) 716-9100
  • Hampton Inn (3 miles): (609) 951-0066
  • Days Inn Monmouth Junction (7 miles): (732) 798-3120
  • Princeton Marriott at Forrestal (5 miles): (609) 452-7800
  • Holiday Inn (6 miles): (609) 520-1200
  • Westin Princeton at Forrestal (5 miles): (609) 452-7900

Located on Route 1 South of Princeton:

  • Hyatt Place (3 miles): (609) 720-0200
  • Clarion Hotel Palmer Inn (3 miles): (609) 651-8380
  • Hyatt Regency (1.5 miles): (609) 987-1234

Practical Matters

Climate in New Jersey

New Jersey is a mid-Atlantic state, so you should come prepared for variable weather: very cold winters, hot summers, and pleasant days in between (fall and spring). The temperature may frequently drop to between 5 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 to -15 degrees Celsius) in the winter, with high temperatures 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (32 to 35 degrees Celsius) and high humidity in the summer.

Where to Shop

In the town of Princeton, there are several places to shop for clothing and other supplies, but it can be expensive at stores such as Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, and Urban Outfitters. You can also take a local bus or taxi to the Quaker Bridge Mall that has many department and specialty stores. Students may also choose to order items online and have it delivered to their Frist Campus Mail box. 

Baggage and Mail

We regret that the Davis IC cannot accept or store baggage for students. Therefore, please do not send any items to our office. When mailing clothes and other items to campus, mark the package(s) “used personal effects as this will facilitate customs clearance. Any items that must be shipped should be timed for delivery after you have arrived in Princeton. Please contact a U.S. Consulate or Embassy for customs regulations and restrictions on property brought to the U.S. You may also consult the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website: https://www.cbp.gov/travel

Please visit the Princeton Print and Mail Services website for information regarding your on campus mailing address and package pick up.  

Cell Phone Service

While some students may come to the U.S. with a cell phone from their home country, many students elect to switch to a U.S. mobile carrier since it will be more affordable and convenient. There are a number of providers in the area (Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint) that provide cellular phone service. It can be challenging to decide which company to choose, as well as which cell phone plan is best. In some cases, students may be able to purchase a U.S. cell phone online, from their home country, prior to coming to the U.S.

We hope to have cell phone providers at the undergraduate and graduate International Orientations during the Vendor Fairs.

Banking

For safety and convenience, it is advised that you keep your money in a local bank while studying at Princeton. Many banks will provide special services or accounts for students. There are several banks within walking distance of the University where you can open a Checking or a Savings account during regular banking hours.

There is a distinction between Checking and Savings accounts:

  • Checking accounts can be used for transactions including making payments by writing a check and using a debit card.
  • Savings accounts may have a limit to the transactions allowed but will accrue a percentage of interest. 

The differences between various banks are minor, but their services and policies change from time to time.

For more information about banking, refer to the Living in Princeton Guide on the Davis IC website.We hope to have representatives from various local banks at the undergraduate and graduate International Orientations during the Vendor Fairs.

New Jersey Driver's License

If you will be an F-1 or J-1 student for more than a year, and you wish to drive in the U.S., New Jersey requires that you obtain a New Jersey driver’s license. 

More information is available in the Living in Princeton Guide on the Davis IC website. For further details about the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) rules and procedures, please consult the MVC website: https://www.state.nj.us/mvc/index.html

Adjustment to U.S. Culture

Coming to the U.S. to live and study can be an exciting and challenging experience. Learning to function in a new culture is not easy, and it is natural to feel anxious and frustrated at times.

Those feelings are a normal part of the experience. However, the more effort you invest into the experience, the more you’ll learn from it. If you make an effort to meet new people, form friendships, and get involved, your adjustment will be easier.

You should read the Living in Princeton Guide on the Davis IC website for more information about U.S. cultural: http://davisic.princeton.edu/livinginprinceton