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Living in the United States

Living in Columbia

Columbia, Missouri offers small-city charm in a culturally diverse community. With a population of 120,000, including over 30,000 college students at three separate institutions, Columbia has earned the nickname "Collegetown, USA". This atmosphere of culture and higher education creates a stimulating environment for all students.

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Academic life

At Columbia College, your professors are happy to meet with you to get to know you better and help you with any questions you may have. Classroom experiences can vary widely, with some courses taking a more discussion-based approach, while others are more traditional lecture courses. The informal classroom environment does not diminish the high academic expectations of the faculty. Creativity, individualism and open mindedness are encouraged.


Most meals are based around meat such as beef or chicken, with seafood being a fairly rare commodity. Grain based foods are also quite common, as are dairy foods, along with a variety of fruits and vegetables. With this in mind, it is easy to maintain a vegetarian, vegan, or otherwise specialized diet while studying at Columbia College.

Aside from the meals offered in Dulany Dining Hall on campus, Columbia offers a wide variety of restaurants, including Indian, Chinese, Italian, Thai, Korean, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean as well as traditional American fare. Multiple downtown ethnic markets are within walking distance from Columbia College, and various grocery chains are a short drive, bike ride, or bus ride away.


To ensure a safe and secure environment, Columbia College provides security services through the Campus Safety office. Campus safety assists with: after-dark escorts, parking and traffic control, opening and securing buildings and rooms, and safety inspections. Students in need of assistant may contact a Campus Safety Officer at 573-875-7315.
In the case of an emergency, contact emergency services by dialing 911 from any telephone. This number will connect you to the fire department, police department or an ambulance.


Many international students will utilize on campus employment to gain professional experience while attending college. Once you are settled on campus and comfortable with your studies, having a job may be a good idea. You can earn extra money, meet new people and make new friends, improve your communication skills and learn how to manage your time more effectively. Campus jobs look good on a resume, too, and may provide strong references for future employment or graduate school.

Get involved

Good friends help make Columbia College more than just a school and create a wonderful place to experience American life. As in other cultures, it takes time to form close relationships in the United States.

In order to form lasting friendships with your fellow Cougars, you are encouraged to meet people through classes, campus activities, and the residence halls. Columbia College recommends that you participate in residential life, various campus organizations and the Conversation Partner Program. Finally, find a student or tutor who can help you with homework or studying. Each of these activities will help you meet new people and form lasting friendships.

Health and wellness

All Columbia College international students are required to participate in the mandatory health insurance program. Students will be responsible for the cost of this service.
Healthcare in the United States can be very expensive. To help protect your financial interests and safety, CC requires that all international student purchase mandatory health insurance. In addition to insurance, Columbia College offers Health Services on campus. Health Services is available at no charge to you and can be utilized to obtain general health services, obtain prescriptions, or receive referrals for more serious issues.

Coming to college can be stressful. Doing so in another country can be even harder. Columbia College recognizes the unique struggles students face, and provide you with an outlet to receive one-on-one attention you may need to transition to college life in the United States. Counseling Services provides short-term services to help you with struggles you may face while a student at Columbia College. Your success is our goal, and being healthy is an important factor to your overall success.

Money and banking

Most banks in Columbia offer the opportunity for students to open a bank account. To open a bank account, you will need your passport, your Columbia College identification card, as well as a cash deposit. In the event you do not yet have your Columbia College ID, some banks require a second piece of photo identification. In some cases, your bank may require that you keep a minimum amount of money in your account to avoid services charges.

Checking and savings are the most common types of accounts for students. A checking account allows you to deposit money into the account and then use debit cards or write checks to make purchases. This allows you to make purchases without carrying large amounts of cash. Savings accounts allow deposits to accumulate interest, but you may not be able to use a debit card or write checks in order to make purchases.

During International Student Orientation, students will have an opportunity to visit a bank and open an account.

Weather and climate

Being in the middle of the United States, students attending Columbia College will have the opportunity to experience all four seasons each year. Our annual temperature averages include very warm, humid summers, 31-32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit); and cold winters, 0-2 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit).


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