to-do-listWith just a week left in the semester, it may feel like there are a million things to do before you finish up finals week and embark on your winter break plans. When you have so much to think about, it’s easy to forget about what needs to be done to prepare for your month long departure. To take some of the pressure off, we’ve compiled a list of a few important things you should remember to do before you leave this winter.

Plan to get your travel signatures in advance

In order to obtain a travel signature, OISS requests that you drop your I-20 or DS-2019 at the front-desk and pick it up the following day after 3 PM. Documents dropped on a Friday will be available for pick-up on the following Monday after 3 PM.

If you exit the United States over winter break, there is a list of things that you will need in order to re-enter:

  • Valid I-20 or DS-2019 recently endorsed with signature from OISS.
  • Valid visa stamp in passport. Check the expiration date. If expired, you must renew at  a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. (Please note, if you have been outside of the United States for 5 months or longer and your F-1 or J-1 visa is still valid ie. unexpired, you may need a NEW visa according to a recent State Department rule. Please check with the nearest US consulate to determine if your visa is still valid for entry to the US.)
  • Valid Passport
  • Remember to turn in your I-94 card as you depart the U.S.

More info on what you’ll need to re-enter

Have copies of important documents on hand

It’s a good idea to carry a scanned copy of your visa, passport, I-94, and I-20 with you so that you don’t run into any complications in case you lose or forget one of them. Missing any one of these important documents could result in denial of re-entry into the United States. You may also want to keep copies with a trusted friend here in East Lansing.

The residence halls will close for winter break 

You must be out of the dorms by 8 p.m. on Friday, December 14, 2012, unless you have been permitted otherwise. The dorms will reopen at 8 a.m. on Sunday, January 6, 2013. All residents (except those living in Owen, Van Hoosen, and University Village) are required to leave the halls during this time period or, if applicable, sign up for a Between Semester Housing plan.

There will be housing available to residents in McDonel, Hubbard, Rather and Butterfield.

More info on housing over break

Spring semester begins Monday January 7, 2013. Make sure you are signed up for all of your classes by then.

It is important that you have your classes signed up for and that you are taking a full time load, meaning at least 12 credits. If you’re planning on enrolling in less than 12 credits, please fill out a Reduced Course Load form.

More info on maintaining your status

Pay your bills

It’s important that you have your rent, credit card bills, utilities bills, phone bills, and any other expenses that may be billed to you over winter break paid in advance. Overlooking these things now could create inconveniences when you return.

Enjoying East Lansing over break

If you’re planning on staying here over winter break, there are a number of fun options for you to entertain yourself with. Check out the MSU Calendar of Events for things happening on campus. Also, take a look at things to do and places to go in Lansing.

Dena Elian is an International Relations Senior at MSU’s James Madison College. Currently, she is the Experiential Learning Intern at OISS. Her campus activities include involvement with organizations that promote Middle Eastern politics and Arab Culture.