Tips from BU International Students

Here, we have collected thoughts and ideas that were shared by our previous international students…things that they wish someone had told them, fortunate surprises, and other miscellaneous thoughts they had…ones that you may find valuable.

Campus Map

This view gives you an idea of the campus. The residence halls sit on a separate hill from the classrooms and provide a sense of community for all the Bellarmine students living there. Prior to your arrival, you will be requested to provide a preference of the residence hall in which you wish to live. The videos found on this page and shot by students, and these pictures will help you make that decision.

Peer Mentors

One of the issues that many of our international students find extremely helpful is our Peer Mentor Program. When you arrive on campus, you will undoubtedly have many questions that you did not think about and could use some help in finding your way in this new environment. At Bellarmine, an American student is paired with you and helps to ease the way in the early days of your term. They can help you with setting up your bank account, deciding on phone service (or even if you need it), and even let you know what apps work best in the U.S. We have found that many of these relationships formed in the Peer Mentor Program result in lasting friendships across cultures and the years.

Planning Ahead: Banking

Prior to your departure from your home, many have found it beneficial to authorize someone in their family to act for them with the bank (if you have your own account). This will aid you if anything happens with your account back home while you are in the United States.

Also, make sure you speak with your bank and determine where your bank/credit card will work. Ensure that you let the bank know you will be at Bellarmine and the duration of that time, so they will know and anticipate your charges from the United States. Lastly, if you are going to open a bank account in the United States (and you can), additional fees may occur if you use one bank’s credit/debit card in another bank’s ATM machine. Keep that in mind when you choose your bank relationship. Bellarmine has 3 ATMs on campus:

  • Centro, Horrigan Hall: 5/3rd Bank
  • George G. Brown Center, University Dining Hall: 5/3rd Bank
  • Siena Terzo Residence Hall: Republic Bank

Course Schedules

It is difficult to find information on what classes to take when you are sitting in another country. You may be tempted to go to the Course Catalog under the Academics bar on the Bellarmine home page. You may find it easier to stop at the Schedule of Courses. This link will give you a complete list of the courses offered for a particular semester. Once you refine your search and click on “Search” a list of courses will appear. If you click on the course number, a description of the course will be given.

In the U.S. there is also the idea of lower level and upper level courses. Lower level (100 and 200 levels) courses provide a foundation for taking the upper level (300-400 levels) courses. Make sure you check out the prerequisites (list of courses you must take before you can take the course you are interested in). You can do this by looking below the course description (by clicking on the course number described in the paragraph above). Waivers for this requirement can be made if you have evidence of the prerequisite course from your home institution (if transferring or visiting under a J-1 visa).


Some may find the U.S. grading system to be difficult to understand. Most of the schools and departments within Bellarmine University work on a 0-100 scale, with 100 being a perfect score. For undergraduate final course grades, these numbers are then converted to letter grades of F, D-, D, D+, C-, C, C+, B-, B, B+, A-, A, and A+. The GPA (Grade Point Average) is then determined by assigning a 0-4 number to the letter (e.g. 4 = A+). The best way to determine how your course grade will be computed is to review the instructor’s syllabus (required for all courses) for each course at the beginning of the semester. This will tell you how your course letter grade will be determined for that particular course. For more details on the GPA, see the Grading System in the Bellarmine Course Catalog.

At Bellarmine, you will find many courses where the final grade is calculated through a combination of exams, quizzes, homework, projects, or papers (or a section of these options). This approach gives the student a better idea of how they are doing in the course as it progresses through the semester. Again, familiarize yourself with the expectations of the professor by reviewing the course syllabus at the first opportunity. If you still have questions, every professor at Bellarmine will be happy to help.

Meal Plans

Bellarmine University has four options for you on your meal plan. Presently, the cost per semester can be allocated as:

  • Option 1: 16 meals per week plus $270 Flex Dollars
  • Option 2: 12 meals per week plus $325 Flex Dollars
  • Option 3: 10 meals per week plus $375 Flex Dollars 
  • Option 4: 7 meals per week plus $440 Flex Dollars
  • Commuter Option: 30 meals per semester plus $50 Flex Dollars 

As you notice, there are two parts to your campus meal plan: weekly meals and Flex Dollars. The weekly meal allowance is a set number of meals per week. You may use your meals in our University Dining Hall, which is “all you can eat,” or during breakfast hours at the Palio, near the residence halls. The Flex Dollars are included in all dining meal plans and supplement your weekly meal allowance. These are dollar for dollar funds that can be used at any Bellarmine dining location on campus. More information can be found here.