Student Life

This is your time

…to meet new people, see new places, try new foods, and enjoy local customs. Be open to new possibilities! Learn from your adventures. Participate in student activities and connect with your classmates – this is the best way to improve your English skills.


International students who choose to drive must know and follow all driving laws and regulations, have a valid license and car insurance, and drive responsibly. Always take driving seriously! “Nobody told me!” is NEVER an excuse. All passengers MUST wear a seatbelt!

Obtaining a Minnesota Driver’s License

The state of Minnesota requires every person to have a license (or a learner’s permit) in order to operate a motor vehicle (automobile) on public streets and roadways. To obtain a Minnesota driver’s license, you must pass a written (knowledge) test, a vision (eye) test, and a driving (skills) test.

STEP 1 – PREPARE: Prepare for the written test by studying the Minnesota Driver’s Manual.


Winona DMV Exam Station
157 West 3rd Street
Winona, MN 55987
(507) 453-2935

Walk in Hours:
Monday           8:00 – 11:00 am & 12:30 – 3:30 pm
Tuesday           8:00 – 11:00 am & 12:30 – 3:30 pm
Wednesday     8:00 – 11:00 am & 12:30 – 3:30 pm
Hours & availability may change. Please call before visiting.

Bring two forms of Identification to the Winona DMV Exam Station:

Identification 1 (Includes all of the following)

Identification 2 (bring one)

  • Social Security Card (if available)
  • Certified post-secondary transcript which includes full legal name and date of birth

Cost: $15.50 for driver permit. Permit is valid for two years.

Student with no home country license:

  • Take the written test
  • After passing you must wait 3 months before taking driving test
    (time for practicing behind the wheel with a licensed passenger)
  • After 3 months schedule appointment to take driving test

Student with home country license:

  • Take the written test
  • Once you pass you may take driving test, schedule an appointment

Driving in Minnesota:

You can use your home country’s driving permit for one year after arrival, then you will need to obtain a MN driver’s license.

Note: If the driving permit is not legible in English the DMV Exam Station may refer you to Project Fine in Winona which can provide certification, or you may use the attached documents to provide a certificate of translation.

STEP 3 – PASS: Once you pass the driving test apply for MN driver’s license at:

Winona DMV Office
1213 Gilmore Ave
Winona, MN 55987
(507) 457-6325
Walk in appointments only

Monday           7:30am – 4:30pm
Tuesday           7:30am – 4:30pm
Wednesday     7:30am – 4:30pm
Thursday         7:30am – 4:30pm
Friday              7:30am – 4:30pm

Cost: $32.00


All drivers MUST buy car insurance. You can search for car insurance companies on the internet; popular companies include All State, Farmers Progressive, and State Farm.


To park your car at Saint Mary’s Winona campus, you must have a parking permit. Register your vehicle online with Campus Safety. You will need to enter your residence hall, make of the car, license plate number, and license plate state. The fee ($60 per year if you live on campus) will be added to your tuition bill. In your campus mailbox you will receive a sticker that indicates your assigned parking lot. This sticker must be placed on your car’s rear windshield. Please contact Campus Safety with questions.  Students with cars must also understand and follow the Parking Policy.


Know the law!

  • Seatbelts must be worn by the driver and all passengers at all times.
  • It is illegal to drink alcohol and text message while driving.
  • Drivers must always carry proof of car insurance, identification, and driver’s license.
  • Follow posted speed limits at all times.
  • Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

Watch the weather

  • Keep an ice scraper and emergency kit in your car including jumper cables, water, food, blanket, and flashlight.
  • Watch for black ice and hazardous conditions, especially in winter

I got a ticket – what should I do?

On Campus: You must pay at the Cardinal Central within 10 days of your parking ticket.

Off Campus: See your ticket for how to pay. You may be able to pay online or in person. Your ticket might also require a court appearance. One or multiple tickets may result in suspension of license and increased car insurance rates.

Food Service

Most students who pay for room and board will have a meal plan that allows for 19 meals per week at the Toner Dining Hall. This includes 3 meals/day Monday-Friday and 2 meals/day Saturday and Sunday. Learn more about dining options and hours (below):

Toner Cafe (Cafeteria)

Toner Student Center, Upstairs
– Use Student ID card to pay for meal
– Buffet-style – eat as much as you want

Monday – Friday
Breakfast 7:00am-10:00am
Lunch 11:30am-1:30pm
Dinner 5:00pm-7:30pm

Saturday – Sunday
Brunch 11:00am-1:00pm
Dinner 5:00pm-7:00pm

Website for Food Services

Cardinal Club

Toner Student Center, 1st Floor
Pay for a meal with cash or credit card

Monday-Friday 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Saturday-Sunday 3:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Cardinal Coffee

Toner Student Center, 1st Floor
Pay for coffee or treats with cash or credit card

Monday-Friday 7:30 am – 7:00 pm
Saturday-Sunday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm


All international students are required to have health insurance.

Insurance Information

All international students need health insurance.

Why? Health care in the United States is EXTREMELY expensive. For example, one ambulance trip can cost you $1000. You are responsible for all medical costs incurred.

I already have insurance from my home country. You need health insurance that will cover you for care in the USA. If you are not sure, check your policy.

What is the cost? Remember, the more you pay generally means better coverage. The lowest level of coverage can cost as little as $35 USD per month. We recommend purchasing 12 months of coverage at a time.

Buy Insurance

Where can I buy health insurance?

You can search online. Here are some options:

  1. ISO
  2. Geo Blue
  3. International Student Insurance
  4. Compass


  1. Start and end dates of your health insurance coverage.
  2. The categories of coverage (catastrophic, emergency, repatriation, etc.)
  3. The maximum $ amounts of coverage.

I bought health insurance, now what?

  1. Submit a copy of proof of health insurance (receipt or insurance card) to International Center and Wellness Center.
  2. Carry your insurance card with you.
  3. Before you go to a hospital or clinic, call your insurance provider to see that the doctor is in your insurance’s “network.”

Learn More: Watch the video below to learn more about health insurance in the USA. Click CC to see subtitles in your language.


You are required by the University and the State of Minnesota to show proof that you have had certain immunizations including measles (rubella), mumps, German measles (rubella), and Diphtheria-tetanus (DT). Tuberculosis (TB) is a painless screening also required for all international students coming from endemic areas established by the US Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. You will be notified by a nurse to make an appointment for a TB test.

Mental Health

Watch this video to learn more about mental health awareness for international students.


To speak to a counselor about your mental health, make an appointment at the Saint Mary’s Wellness Center or call 507-457-1773.
At Saint Mary's

Who can I see at Saint Mary’s about medical or personal problems?

Contact Health Services to make an appointment with our physician assistant or nurse, call 507-457-1492 or email

In Winona

I need to see a doctor in Winona. Where is the clinic?

You can make an appointment at the Winona clinic for any condition that is not urgent. You do not need to see the Saint Mary’s nurse first. Check with your health insurance provider to see if they cover this clinic (if not, you may need to go to another city). Remember to bring your passport and health insurance card to the appointment. Bring a friend if you need a translator. The clinic is located off campus at the hospital. Take the Winona bus, taxi, or ask a friend to drive you.


I have an emergency, should I go to Urgent Care or Emergency Room?

These are for serious problems only!


Go to Urgent Care if you have:
– Broken bones (unless broken through skin or causes loss of consciousness)
– Sinus infections
– Strep throat
– Deep cuts
– Allergic reactions
– Abdominal or back pain
– Migraines

Urgent Care is off-campus. Take the Winona Bus or ask a friend to drive you.
Address: 855 Mankato Ave, Winona, MN 55987
Telephone: 507-474-7830


ER visits are extremely expensive ($500+).
Go to the ER if you have:
– Seizures
– Chest pain
– Uncontrolled bleeding
– Head injury
– Loss of consciousness

The Emergency Room is off-campus at the hospital. Take the Winona Bus, ask a friend to drive you, or call 911 for an ambulance (only if you cannot move!).
Winona Health Address: 855 Mankato Avenue, Winona, MN 55987

When should I call 911?

You should only call 911 for true emergencies (not headaches!). An ambulance can cost you $1000+!



To receive mail, have your mail addressed to:

Your Name
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
700 Terrace Heights # (Your mail box number)
Winona, MN 55987

*Your assigned campus mailbox will stay the same each year (it will not change).


You can buy a book of stamps at Cardinal Central or buy stamps from USPS online. You can also pay to send a letter/package at the mailroom, basement of the Toner Center.


Receive a package: An email will be sent to you from the mail room supervisor letting you know a package has arrived for you.

Send a package: At Saint Mary’s, you can pay to send a package via USPS (US. Postal Service) at the mailroom, basement of the Toner Center.

Post Office

Winona does have a Post Office off campus.
67 W 5th St.
Winona, MN 55987

You can buy mailing supplies or ship via FedEx at Pac’n’Mail Express, 278 Mankato Ave, Winona.




How can I pay my Saint Mary’s tuition?

You will receive a statement of your account via email from Cardinal Central. You can also view your student account on your student portal. Tuition must be paid in full by the beginning of the semester. Please contact Cardinal Central with questions.

How much do I need to pay?

Please contact the Business Office for a student account statement. Once you are registered for classes, your student account will be available online: Webtools > List Student (Tuition) Account > Submit.


Banks offer many services, including checking and savings accounts. It is advisable to open an account at a commercial bank. This will give you access to your money easily and safely for paying any bills by check. Also, all banks can accept wire transfers from your family overseas and automatically post the money to your account. There is usually a charge for this service. You can withdraw money from your account by using an ATM; Saint Mary’s has an ATM located on campus.

Wells Fargo (Goodview Branch) is a popular bank that is close to Saint Mary’s.

To open a bank account, you will need to show at least two forms of identification with your photograph. You should take your passport and I-94 with you to open your account.

To get cash, you can go to the bank or to an ATM machine. Saint Mary’s has an ATM in Toner Center by Campus Safety. Kwik Trip gas station near Saint Mary’s also has an ATM.


Do not give important information (credit card, bank, passport, social security number) to anyone over the phone, even if they say it is an emergency or that you must do it. If a receive a call from the “US government” or “Immigration” hang up the phone immediately. If they need to contact you, they will come in person. The US government, FBI, IRS will never call you to ask for money.



Check your Saint Mary’s email (gmail) account each day for announcements, activities, and important information from the International Center and the University.


Watch out for scams!

  1. If you are unsure if it is a scam or spam, ask someone! For example, if you get a suspicious email or link from a friend, ask your friend before opening it.
  2. Do not give important information (credit card, bank, passport, social security number) to anyone over email, even if they say it is an emergency or that you must do it.
  3. If a receive an email from the “US government” or “Immigration” do not open the email. If they need to contact you, they will come in person. The US government, FBI, and IRS will never email you to ask for money.
  4. If you receive spam email, report it as spam.

Wireless internet (WiFi) is available in residence halls, classrooms, and most other buildings on campus. You will need to enter your Saint Mary’s username and password. If you need help connecting to a network, please contact the HelpDesk, located in the basement of Saint Mary’s Hall.


Desktop computers are available to use in residence halls, the library, and in the basement of Saint Mary’s Hall (known as Hendrickson Computer Labs). The International Center also has a computer lab that is available when classes are not in session.

Cell Phones

Please research cell phones before coming to the U.S. Options include:

  • Buying a pay-as-you-go phone or use calling cards (purchase at stores and gas stations)
  • Bringing a phone from your country and buying a U.S. SIM cards + phone plan.
  • Popular phone companies in the U.S. are Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T.


Airplane/Shuttle Service

La Crosse Regional Airport (LSE)
2850 Airport Drive, La Crosse, WI 54603

Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
4300 Glumack Drive, Saint Paul, MN 55111

Rochester International Airport (RST)
7600 Helgerson Drive Southwest, Rochester, MN 55902

Airport Shuttle

Groome Transportation
Shuttle runs between La Crosse airport, Winona (picks up at Saint Mary’s), Rochester airport, and MSP airport. $62 one way Winona to MSP airport. See website for additional rates and schedule. Reserve in advance online or by phone.


Winona Transit Services
Winona’s city bus running Monday – Saturday. See website for schedule, map, and rates. Stops at Saint Mary’s University in front of the Admission Office. Bus tokens (10 tokens for $8) can be purchased at the Business Office in the basement of St. Mary’s Hall. If you prefer to pay on the bus, you will pay $1 (cash only) per ride (direct transfers are free).

Safe Ride
Free after-hours bus runs 7 pm – 1:30 am when Winona universities are in session. Runs to downtown Winona and Winona State. Stops at Saint Mary’s University in front of the Admission Office.

Jefferson Lines
Scheduled bus routes in 13 states.
Winona State Pickup: Huff Street at Transit Stop
For tickets and info: Severson Oil, 952 Mankato Avenue, Winona, MN 55987, 507-454-7490
Book online:



Yellow Cab of Winona: 507-452-3331
Economy Cab: 507-454-7433


Amtrak (Empire Builder route) stops in Winona and connects to Minneapolis and Chicago. Due to heavy railway traffic, trains may be delayed 4-6 hours. Winona station has enclosed waiting room; open 8:45 – 11:45 am and 5:45-8:45 pm.
65 East Mark Street, Winona, MN 55987


During school breaks, there are no classes. You are on vacation!

Christmas Break is the longest school break. It begins after the fall semester final exams are finished in mid-December. Classes will restart in the middle of January. During the break, International students go back to their home country, travel, or stay on campus. The other breaks are shorter. These include the fall break, Thanksgiving break, spring break, and Easter break.

Stay at Saint Mary's

Students CAN stay on campus during the breaks. If they stay for ANY day during the break, they must switch their room keys at the Residence Life Office. An email will be sent to all students when it is time to get a new key. There will be another email announcement when the keys are to be returned. The cafeteria will NOT be open during breaks. Students who stay will need to buy food and cook in the dorm kitchens, go out, or order in.

The International Center does provide some activities and field trips during school breaks. Email announcements will be sent out ahead of time.


After the completion of spring semester final exams in May, Saint Mary’s residence halls close for the summer months (May-August). Your room will need to be cleaned and emptied, and you will give your keys back to the Residence Life Office. You will choose a new room for your second year. There are no summer classes, so international students must either go home or travel during this time. You will NOT be allowed to stay in your room. As for your things, there may be some inexpensive storage options available to you for the summer vacation.

Important Information

Social Security Card Application Process

Step One

Your prospective employer is required to provide you an offer/hiring letter.  Prior to beginning work, bring that letter (or email in an attachment to [insert email address]) to the International Center to begin the process.  The staff of the International Center will review the letter to make sure the required information is included, and then will provide you with an authorization letter, required because of your F-1 visa status.  Staff will explain the next steps of the process to you, answer your questions, and will review your application materials, if you’d like.

Step Two – Applying for a Social Security Card

You will need to bring the following documents with you to the Social Security Office in Winona.

  1. Most recent I-20
  2. 1-94 – To retrieve your I-94 online, please use the following link:
  3. Passport
  4. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota student ID card
  5. The offer/hiring letter from your prospective employer (on letterhead if possible) send to 
  6. Authorization Letter from the International Center Designated School Official (DSO)
  7. Completed application – or a paper copy is available in the International Center.
    Download SSC application

Winona Social Security Office


Choate Building

53 E. Third Street, Suite 307
Winona, MN 55987

This is located on the T Bus line in downtown Winona

Office Hours:

Monday: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Tuesday: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Wednesday: 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Thursday: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Friday: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday: Closed

Activities and Clubs

The International Center hosts many activities for international students, both on and off campus. Activities include game nights, dinners, sports, and visiting sites and events around Winona. Students are notified of activities via email. Students are also highly encouraged to take advantage of the many student activities offered by Saint Mary’s through the office of R.I.S.E. Please contact the International Center if you have ideas for international student activities.

Another great way to get involved is by joining one of Saint Mary’s many clubs or sports teams or by volunteering. The International Students Club aims to promote better involvement of international students in Saint Mary’s student community and the local cultural life.


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their educational records. Click to learn more. To change your FERPA information:

  1. Log into your student portal
  2. Click Change Personal Information
  3. Click Change FERPA (Privacy) Information and add billing party email address

International Center staff does not control anything to do with housing (dorms, roommates, etc). For assistance, you must contact the Office of Residence Life at You can also visit their office in Vlazny, room #105.

Most students live on the Winona campus in residence halls (dorms). International Students who have been awarded the International Student Cultural Diversity Scholarship are required to live on campus.

All residence halls feature a lounge with television and desktop computer, kitchen, and laundry room that are available for student use. Residence halls also have Wi-Fi (wireless) internet. Bathrooms are either private, semi-private, or single-sex community depending on the residence hall. Do not worry about bringing furniture – all dorm rooms have a bed and mattress, wardrobe, desk and chair. However, you may want to bring a desk lamp and clothes hangers.

There are a variety of housing options on the Winona Campus, including single rooms, shared rooms, and apartments. If you are a new student, the Office of Residence will assign housing and roommates based on the housing preferences you submitted when you confirmed as a student.

For questions about housing, please contact the Office of Residence Life.


It is the responsibility of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota students to be aware of all university policies that may affect their status or progress as students. Please review the Student Handbook.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota adheres to the principle that all persons have equal opportunity and access to admissions, employment, facilities, and all programs and activities of the University regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, or status with regard to public assistance.

Online Student Handbook

Marijuana Policy

In the U.S., there is a difference between state law (Minnesota) and federal law (U.S. national level). While the state of Minnesota has legalized recreational marijuana, the federal government has NOT (use and possession is illegal under federal law). Because you are visa holders, visas regulated by the federal government, federal drug and criminal law will supersede Minnesota (state) law for international students. In other words, non-U.S. citizens should NOT use or possess marijuana; along with other potential repercussions, you would be putting your stay in the U.S. in jeopardy. Yes, you can be deported or barred from entry into the U.S. for evidence of marijuana use or planned marijuana use. Please use caution: When you enter the U.S. at an airport or border, your social media accounts, texts, and email are all potentially subject to search. Evidence of marijuana use such as photos, texts etc. can be reason enough for agents to refuse entry.

Additionally, please remember that SMU is subject to federal laws; university policies prohibit the possession, use, or distribution of cannabis on university-owned property or as part of any university sponsored event or activity. A detailed announcement of this SMU policy was printed in the August 31 edition of Saint Mary’s Today and these policies can also be found in the Student Handbook.


Visit the Office of Campus Safety to learn more about parking, campus security, and emergency information. Please read the Emergency Response Plan.

Campus Resources

Cardinal Central

Where? Saint Mary’s Hall Basement

  • Pay your bills
  • Cash checks up to $100
  • Buy bus tokens
  • Bring your student ID

Hours: Monday – Friday from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm

Cardinal Central website

Saint Mary's Bookstore

Where? Toner Center Basement

  • Buy (new and used) or rent textbooks for classes
  • Buy Saint Mary’s clothing, snacks, and more

Hours: Monday – Friday from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Winona Saint Mary’s Barnes & Noble College website.


Campus Ministry

Where? Saint Mary’s Hall, 100

  • Sign up for volunteer opportunities
  • Ask about faith and worship

Hours: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm

Campus Ministry website

Campus Safety

Where? Toner Center, 1st Floor

  • Will help you get into your room if you lock yourself out
  • Can accompany you if you don’t want to walk across campus by yourself at night
  • Issues parking permits if you have a car on campus

Hours: Always open

Campus Safety website

Fitzgerald Library

Where? Near the plaza

  • Check out materials with your Student ID
  • Study by yourself or with a group
  • Use the computer lab to do homework and print paper

Monday – Thursday 7:30 am – midnight
Friday 7:30 am – 4:30 pm
Saturday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sunday 12:00 pm – midnight

Fitzgerald Library website

Help Desk

Where? Hendrickson Basement

  • Provides computer assistance
  • Can print color copies for your school projects

Monday – Thursday 7:15 am – 11:00 pm
Friday 7:15 am – 8:00 pm
Saturday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday 2:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Recreation and Athletic Center (RAC)

Where? The RAC is connected to the Toner Student Center

  • Bring your student ID
  • Free use of the cardio machines, weight room, aerobics room, track, courts, etc.

Monday –Thursday 6:00 am – midnight
Friday 6:00 am – 11:00 pm
Saturday 8:00 am – 11:00 pm
Sunday 8:00 – midnight

Resident Assistants (RAs)

Do you know your RA? You can talk to your RA about any problem

  • Your RA will plan fun activities for your hall to do together throughout the school year
  • Your RA can help you get into your room if your lock yourself out; there is a fee

Contact the Office of Residence Life with questions.

Student Success Center

Where? Griffin Hall, Basement of Mary’s

  • Meet with an academic advisor to discuss your classes
  • Get help on written papers for class assignments
  • Meet a free tutor for help on homework and studying for tests
  • Learn more about internships, grad schools, and jobs

Student Success Center website

Wellness Center

Where? Basement Heffron Hall

  • Make an appointment to see a nurse if you are sick
  • Make an appointment to speak with a counselor

Hours: Monday – Friday from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm

Wellness Center website

Writing Center

Here to Help!

The Saint Mary’s Writing Centers offer students writing assistance associated with classroom assignments and career preparation.

Writing Center website

Winona Campus

Saint Mary’s Hall, 103
700 Terrace Heights, #1427
Winona, MN 55987-1339