Getting Started at Penn

Housing, healthcare and food are just a few of the things you will need to take care of as you settle into life here at Penn. 

Two things to take care of first are getting your PennCard and setting up your university email.

Penn Identification Card

All students and scholars must have a University identification card, called a PennCard, which permits access to Penn buildings and allows you to use other Penn services, such as the Shuttle Escort. You should carry your PennCard with you at all times.

Some students may arrange for their PennCard before arrival through Campus Express. Students and scholars can also obtain their PennCard upon arrival on campus at the PennCard Center.


Most Penn students, faculty, and staff have electronic mail (email) access. Email is the most commonly used communication system on campus. For this reason, it is very important for you to have an email account and check it regularly. Email accounts are arranged by the individual schools. To set up your account, please consult with your academic department or visit the Penn Computing web site.

ISSS uses both email and this site to inform you about various programs, immigration updates, and other timely information. Please read our email messages carefully and check the ISSS homepage at least once a month.

Getting Started at Penn
Healthcare & Medical Insurance

Healthcare and health insurance are important aspects of your life here and require careful thought and planning.

Financial Matters

Learn more about money and finances during your Penn experience. There's a lot to consider - from taxes, to money transfers, to credit/debit cards.

Cell Phones

Every cell phone carrier has different plans in terms of how many call minutes you can use each month, how much data you have available, and how many text messages you can send. Choosing the right plan can be difficult, but it's important to choose wisely so you don't end up paying too much money and that you are aware of any fees.


Find out where you can buy groceries, necessities for your dorm room or apartment, clothes, and other goods. There are stores near campus and across Philadelphia where you can find what you need.

Food & Dining

Discover local restaurants, on-campus dining, food trucks and more!


Penn Transit offers afternoon transportation services to the Penn community. SEPTA is Philadelphia's main transit authority, offering bus, trolley, subway train, and regional train services.

Exploring Philadelphia

Get to know your new city! Here are some basics about Philadelphia, known as the City of Brotherly Love

Resources for Families

There are many things to consider when bringing your family. Here are some helpful resources to assist you in this process. 

Cultural Adjustments

It is a challenging, stimulating, and sometimes difficult process to leave home and live in a different country and culture. Every culture has different rules about appropriate behavior, social norms, and expectations. It is easy to feel overwhelmed. Let ISSS help you through this process. 

Staying Safe

Being aware of and taking appropriate safety precautions can help you avoid problems.

Academics at Penn

Penn may have a different educational system and classroom culture than you are accustomed to. Learn about the different campus resources available, university policies and procedures, and different characteristics of U.S. higher education.