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Spring 2020: Resources for international students returning home

After President Cauce announced that all spring quarter instruction is going to be conducted remotely, CIRCLE has received an increased number of questions from international students. If you are considering returning to your home country for spring quarter 2020, below is some important information to help you transition smoothly. To streamline this process, we pulled some questions from already existing resources. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the existing resource linked at the bottom of each section.

On-campus Housing

If you live on campus and you wish to remain in your room through the end of your agreement period:

If you live on campus and you need to terminate your housing contract:

  • Go to MyHFS homepage, and submit the form titled “Confirm your spring quarter housing plans by March 25
  • No need to schedule a vacate inspection
  • Update your local address at MyUW and discontinue subscription deliveries
  • Sign up for direct deposit if you expect a refund from HFS
    • If you do not have direct deposit information on file and do not have a US address, your refund will be issued to the last credit or debit card used to pay your housing account
  • Return your keys to the designated key drop box by April 8, 2020 at 5 p.m.
  • If you have an unique situation, always email
  • If you live on campus and you have already left the country:
    • Contact Dorm Room Movers if you need assistance packing, moving or storing your personal stuff
  • You will not be charged for termination, late termination, or future housing or dining charges after winter quarter
  • For more information regarding on campus housing, visit Housing & Food Services’ Coronavirus FAQ for Residents.

Student Visa

For comprehensive information regarding student visas, please visit the ISS website.

Travel Restrictions

If you went home to your home country but hope to return to the US during spring quarter:

  • Before you make any travel decisions, please check Travel Restrictions for Students Outside of US, and pay special attention to the 14-day quarantine rule. Generally, we would not recommend traveling during spring break for your own safety.

For more information regarding travel restrictions, please visit the ISS website.


If you are planning to take online courses from your home country, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • First day of instruction for spring quarter is on March 30 , with remote instruction that will continue through the end of the quarter.
  • Each instructor may approach remote instruction differently so make sure to clearly understand course expectations. Make sure you let the instructors know if you have unique circumstances, e.g. time differences, limited access to relevant websites.
  • Instructors will use the first week of the quarter to work with students to establish norms for remote instruction and to connect students with resources to support this transition, including online advising. There will be a grace period with no written assignments due in the first week.
  • The University recognizes the nature of some courses precludes their being offered online due to the experiential nature of the content, or lack of access to required materials. The university will be flexible with shifts in course schedules and expect to increase course offerings over the summer and fall to ensure students have access to classes required to meet major requirements.

To learn more about the move to remote learning for spring quarter, visit the Provost’s facts and information regarding spring quarter 2020.


For regularly-updated information on the novel coronavirus and the University’s response, please visit

UW’s new “portal to the world”: CIRCLE has launched

Students holding hands in a circle in a field near the woods at a Unite UW retreat
International and domestic students participating in a retreat facilitated by Unite UW, one of the programs now housed with CIRCLE.

JUST IN TIME for November 2019, UW’s first-ever Global Month, the Division of Student Life has launched CIRCLE, the Center for International Relations and Cultural Leadership Exchange. CIRCLE helps to streamline UW’s mosaic of international student support services and amplify cross-cultural programming for domestic and international student engagement, to provide a unified “front door” for the global Husky Experience.

“UW has historically maintained a decentralized structure when it comes to international student services,” said UW Vice President for Student Life Denzil Suite. “CIRCLE is a strategic reimagining of this landscape to leverage existing resources in a more student-centered way.”

CIRCLE and Student Life leadership Felipe Martinez, Denzil Suite, and Dan Zhu smiling for the camera
From left to right: CIRCLE Executive Director Felipe Martinez, UW Vice President for Student Life Denzil Suite, and CIRCLE Assistant Director Dan Zhu.

CIRCLE will improve international student access to support, including better connecting them with services to help navigate the complex and evolving higher education ecosystem. CIRCLE will also place emphasis on wellness programs and mental health resources. International students are a particularly high-risk population for mental health concerns associated with isolation, culture shock and lack of support systems.

The overarching mission of CIRCLE, however, extends well beyond international student support. CIRCLE aims to holistically expand horizons and opportunities for domestic students as well as international students.

“Whether a student is from Seattle, Seoul, Yakima or Guatemala, they all see the importance of establishing global competencies and connections for their personal growth and their professional trajectory,” said CIRCLE Executive Director Felipe Martinez.

Photo of people walking around inside the CIRCLE office
CIRCLE, along with Unite UW and FIUTS, is located at Schmitz Hall 250 in a newly-renovated space.

“Programming provided by CIRCLE, as well as our partners Unite UW and FIUTS, helps students expand their sense of belonging to encompass a global community. This has clear and lasting benefits to their academic success, well-being and overall Husky Experience,” Martinez said, referencing two cross-cultural engagement organizations at UW that CIRCLE now houses together.

Finding community on a large campus can be a challenge for many students. Hannah Doyle, a student from West Richland, Washington, said, “Unite UW truly made UW feel like a smaller community for me. Now, I always see friendly faces as I walk between classes, and I always have people to study and grab food with.”

Hannah Doyle, a Unite UW participant, smiling while walking in the woods in a UW sweatshirt
Hannah Doyle, a domestic student from West Richland, Washington, has been an active participant in UW’s international/domestic student engagement programs like Unite UW.

For international students, the challenge of finding friends and building community is even more complex, and is often compounded by the struggles and stressors that come with being far away from family, friends and familiar networks of support.

“I perceived the academic competition to be my biggest challenge before coming to college, but actually for me it was finding a community within our massive campus that became a focal point of all my issues,” said Baljaa Tovuudorj, a UW student from Mongolia. “All college students leave a part of themselves behind, whether it be their home, friends, pets or family, and for international students, all of the above. Not having a support system really hindered my ability to excel.”

Tovuudorj advocates for the importance of establishing CIRCLE to coordinate and amplify cross-cultural engagement at UW. He said everything changed for him when he decided to take a risk and get involved in these university programs.

Baljaa speaking at a podium to a crowd of UW employees
Baljaa Tovuudorj, a UW student from Mongolia, shares with UW staff how his participation in UW’s international/domestic student engagement programming has transformed his Husky Experience.

“It’s important to meaningfully engage with people who are different from you because it is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your own culture,” he said. “It is a sort of metacognitive experience of self-discovery and improvement. Also, it is just a more fun way to look at life in general, the feeling of being able to connect with a stranger from a place you can’t even pronounce is very liberating.”

In addition to bolstering the collaboration and impact of existing programs, CIRCLE serves to provide students with a “global living room” – a physical space in Schmitz Hall 250 that supports internationally-minded student organizations, facilitates guest lectures and extra-curricular educational opportunities, and provides a home base for a new international/domestic student ambassador program.

“By centering student needs that we’ve heard loud and clear for years, we have really established something extraordinary here,” Martinez said. “In the words of one of our students, ‘It’s a home away from home, a portal to the world.’”