International Student FAQs

There's a lot to think about when you're leaving home for college in another country. Here's a list of questions we often hear from our international students. And answers, of course!


What is Centenary's academic year calendar?

Centenary has a unique academic calendar that includes traditional fall and spring semesters and two shorter immersive terms, one in August and one in May. The fall semester begins in late August and ends in December, while the spring semester begins in January and ends in early May. Final exams in mid-December mark the end of the fall semester, and the College takes a three to four week break until January when the spring semester begins. The end of the spring semester in May marks the end of the academic year, although many students choose to take courses during the May or August immersive terms or over the summer. These courses are shorter and more intensive than regular semester courses.

The academic calendar incorporates several short and long breaks throughout the year, including Thanksgiving in the fall and Mardi Gras break in the spring. There are also a few single day holidays throughout the year, such as Labor Day in September. You can see the full schedule of holidays on the current Academic Calendar.

American students usually choose to go home or travel during longer breaks, and many international students travel with their new friends or visit them at their homes. Mardi Gras break is an especially good time to travel to other parts of Louisiana or the United States - it is a Louisiana tradition and most other schools in the country are still in session at this time. Good deals are often available on plane tickets and hotels.

View the current academic calendar here

What documentation do I need to attend college in the United States?

Passport: Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your anticipated return home. If not, you should renew it before you leave.

SEVIS: After receiving the Form I-20, you must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee at

Visa: Schedule your F-1 visa interview at the appropriate US consulate or embassy as soon as you have received your acceptance letter and I-20.

I-94: Be sure to bring your SEVIS fee payment receipt along with your passport and visa. If a Customs and Border Patrol officer does not give you an I-94 on the day of your arrival, ask for it.

Other documents and essentials: Be sure that you have all of your IDs (passport, driver's license, visa), money, Centenary documents (acceptance letter, etc.), and any medications you are taking.

What should I pack?

Whether you arrive in August or in January, you should bring both light clothes and warmer items. Summer (May-September) in Shreveport can be very hot and humid and winter (November-February) can be rather chilly, especially at night.

The coldest month is January with an average night temperature of 36.5F (2.5C) and the warmest month is August with an average daytime temperature of 93.4F (34.1C). It rarely snows in Shreveport in the winter, but the roads may get icy and there are frequent hail storms and strong wind The driest month, August, has an average of 2.71 inches (6.88 centimeters) of precipitation, and the wettest month, May, has 5.25 inches (13.33 centimeters).

The dress code at Centenary is very casual, and students usually wear jeans and t-shirts in class. It is good to have at least one or two sets of nicer clothes to wear when you and your friends go out. Rain boots and an umbrella are highly recommended, since you will be walking to class and other activities on campus.

Keep in mind that clothes and shoes can be very affordable in the United States, and you will likely want to take some new items home with you. Try to pack lightly, but efficiently, so you will have room in your suitcase for any new clothes, gifts, and souvenirs.



What happens when I arrive in Shreveport?

When you arrive in Shreveport, a Centenary employee or volunteer will pick you up from the airport and bring you to campus. We will show you your room, help you move in, and take you on a brief tour to help you get acquainted with the campus.

If you need groceries or other essentials when you arrive, there are several stores and restaurants within walking distance. An employee or volunteer can also give you a ride to a bigger department store or anywhere else you need to go - just ask!

During your first days at Centenary, you will attend International Student Orientation and learn about academics, safety, and student life. You will also register for your courses, receive a mail box number, learn how to use your Centenary email account, and get to know other students.

What immigration issues should I be aware of?

As an international student with an F-1 visa, you should be aware that:

- You must always be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours each semester to remain in lawful permanent status. If you feel you need to drop a course, please speak with your professor AND the Global Engagement staff before doing so. Dropping below 12 hours will jeopardize your legal status.

- You are ineligible to complete an internship unless you have been in lawful status for at least one academic year.

- You should contact the Global Engagement staff within ten days if you:

1. Change your major or minor

2. Move to a new address

3. Decide to extend your program of study beyond the official date listed on your I-20

4. Have a substantial change in financial circumstance

5. Decide to withdraw and/or transfer to another institution


What are the US time zones?

The mainland United States includes four times zones. Louisiana is in the Central Time Zone, which is six hours behind Greenwich Meantime (GMT). For part of the year, Louisiana, along with most of the United States, observes Daylight Saving Time, where clocks are moved one-hour forward (to five hours behind GMT).

Can I work or complete an internship?

Students who have an F-1 visa can work up to 20 hours per week on campus during academic periods and over 20 hours per week during academic breaks. Off-campus employment is only permitted once the student has applied for and been granted severe economic necessity status or will intern with an international organization. Students may not apply for this status during their first full year of study.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an employment opportunity for international students with an F-1 visa enrolled in a program for at least one year in lawful status. This part-time or full-time employment may be an internship, cooperative education job or any other work experience that is either required for the chosen degree and/or for which academic credit is awarded. The number of times a student can complete CPT is unlimited. However, completing 12 months of full time (more than 20 hours per week) of CPT while enrolled makes the student ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) following program completion.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment opportunity available to international students with an F-1 visa who have been pursuing their degrees for at least one academic year in lawful status. OPT permits students to work in their field of study in the United States for up to one year without having to switch to a work visa. It may be completed during or after the program of studies. Most students pursue this option after program completion.

Where can I buy or borrow textbooks?

At Centenary, your professor will hand out a syllabus on the first day of the semester that outlines the assignments for the entire semester as well as the books you will need. Textbooks in the United States can be quite expensive and you will most likely need several reading sources for each of your classes. Students can purchase most, if not all, of the required materials at the Centenary Bookstore. You can also choose to buy books at another store or online.

The Magale Library at Centenary has an extensive collection of texts and other resources that will be helpful in your studies. With more than 200,000 catalogued volumes, subscriptions to over 46,000 periodicals, 241 databases, and 400 print journals - as well as a large collection of CD-ROMs, VHS video tapes, DVD feature films and documentaries - the library is an excellent resource center that is free to all Centenary students. Equipped with 130 computers for student use, high-speed wireless internet access, study rooms, and a multimedia production center, the library employs expert and experienced public access staff. The Interlibrary Loan Program ensures the receipt of most books and articles in a timely manner.

How will I send and receive mail?

Centenary has an on-campus post office open Monday through Friday, with mail delivered twice a day. Box numbers and combinations are issued to all full-time undergraduates, including international students. Each student keeps the same mailbox during his or her years at Centenary.

Although the mail boxes themselves are small, the post office has a large storage room that holds bigger parcels until they are picked up by students. When you receive a large item, you will find a colored slip of paper in your mailbox that you will need to present at the main post office window in order to pick up your package.

Who do I contact if I have health or safety concerns?

Health and Counseling Services:

The Health Services Office provides students with over-the-counter medications (available without a prescription) and first aid, assists with medical and dental referrals, and answers insurance questions.

The Counseling Services Office provides short-term, confidential counseling to students enrolled at Centenary who may be having trouble with stress management, suffering from depression or loneliness, or seeking help with other issues. In addition, Counseling Services offers group counseling, alcohol and drug abuse assistance, and assists students with disabilities.

All exchange and degree-seeking students are required to purchase Centenary's student health insurance plan. This policy provides benefits for doctor visits and emergency services which can be very expensive in the United States. You may have coverage under a policy from your home country, but the US health care provider will normally not recognize it. Therefore, you will have to apply for reimbursement unless you have US health insurance.

Campus Safety:

Campus safety is maintained by the Centenary College Department of Public Safety (DPS), which employs state certified police officers. DPS has officers on duty 24 hours a day every day of the year, and its officer patrol all areas of campus, including residence halls, Greek Houses, parking lots, and contiguous streets. A DPS officer can be reached at all times by dialing the extension 5000 from any campus phone, or 318-869-5000 from a non-campus phone. An officer can also be contacted by pressing the red button on any of the emergency call boxes located throughout campus.


Contact Info

Office of Global Engagement

2911 Centenary Boulevard, Shreveport, LA 71104

Notice of Nondiscriminatory Policy The institution does not discriminate in its educational and employment policies against any person on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, or on any other basis proscribed by federal, state, or local law.