Student Orientation

As you prepare to travel to the United States, you naturally have questions about what arrangements you should make for your arrival in Lexington. Here you can find important information to help you plan your trip.

The Mission of VMI
"Virginia Military Institute, founded in 1839, and now in its 170th year, has remained true to its mission to produce educated and honorable men and women by preparing them with an education for the future.  VMI combines the studies of a full college curriculum within a framework of military discipline with emphasis placed on the qualities of honor, integrity, and responsibility."  from the New Cadet Handbook, 2009

Arrival in the U.S.
VMI will send you an I-20 or DS-2019 which you will use to obtain a student visa. Be sure to keep your I-20 or DS-2019 with your passport at all times. When you arrive at a port of entry in the United States, you will be required to present your passport (with visa inside) and your I-20 or DS-2019 to the Immigration Officer. They will stamp you passport and I-20 or DS-2019 as well as the form I-94 . The I-94 is also an extremely important document which indicates the date when your permission to remain in the U.S. expires. Beginning in May 2013, the I-94 will be an electronic document.  For important information on the new I-94, click here.  For an I-94 fact sheet, click here.   Again, your passport (with visa inside), I-20 or DS-2019 and I-94 are important immigration documents which should all be kept together and in a safe place.

Nearest Airport
Lexington is approximately 45 miles Northeast of Roanoke. There are several daily flights into the Roanoke, Virginia airport from international airports in New York City, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Chicago. Domestic flights from other major U.S. cities are also available. Airlines servicing the Roanoke airport are U.S. Airways, United, Northwest Airlink, ASA, Delta and Comair.

Emergency Related to Arrival
In case of an emergency related to your arrival, please call the Office of International Program (540)464-7350(540)464-7350 during office hours 8am-4:30pm Monday-Friday or after hours contact the Officer in Charge (540)464-7293(540)464-7293

Health Insurance
You MUST have a health and accident policy providing you with protection in the event of major illness or injury.  Medical care in the US is more expensive than in any other country in the world.  The US government does not pay any part of the medical expenses for international students.  VMI has an infirmary for minor illnesses which may be used free of charge.

All things that relate to dining at VMI can be found at the following website  Menus, hours of operation, nutrition information, and much more are available here.  There are also several local restaurants within walking distance of post.  For more information on local dining and other local points of interest, go to

Computing Support
Cadet computing support is a service provided by the VMI IT Department.  IT offers system and software recommendations, instructional documents, technical repairs and troubleshooting.  More information can be found at Most academic buildings have wireless access.  There are network printers available in the library.

Weather and Clothing
Lexington's summers are warm with temperatures averaging in the 80's (30C) and winters are cold with lows averaging in the 20's (-5C).  J-1 exchange cadets should plan to bring uniforms with them to accommodate the different weather conditions.  Cadets wear a class uniform on a daily basis, consisting of slacks and a collared shirt.  For military labs, they often wear the Army ACU.  There are also formal occasions when you may want to wear your dress uniform.  You should bring clothing for physical training as well.  Civilian clothes are not worn in barracks.

Do not worry about bringing military gear with you, but do bring warm clothing to wear during the field training exercises.  The ROTC department will issue any equipment you may need for military training and exercises. 

You must bring your own linens, towel, and pillow.  If you would like to order these items, please let us know at least one month before you arrive and OIP will let you know the current cost to pre-order these items.

Because WiFi is readily available across much of post, communicating with friends and family at home is easiest through email or Skype.  There is a computer in the OIP for cadet use which has a webcam and microphone for using Skype.  "Pay as you go" cell phones are also inexpensive and can be purchased after you arrive.

Academics in the US can be very different from what you're used to.  Click here for helpful information compiled by Auburn University.

Clubs and Sports
We encourage you to participate in VMI clubs, including club sports.  If you participate in club sports, it is particularly important for you to communicate with your home country authorities regarding paying for emergency medical services.  For more information on VMI clubs, visit VMI Club Sports or VMI Clubs and Organizations.

Cultural Activities
OIP organizes at least one cultural activity per semester.  These are generally day trips to local cultural and historical sites.  If you have a particular interest, please let us know.  Additionally, there are many opportunities for cultural activities at VMIW&L and in Lexington.  These activities change frequently, so stay in touch with OIP for information.

Public transportation is not available in Lexington so students often must rely on other students with vehicles for transportation.  If you are at least 21, have an international driver's license and credit card, you may rent a car from Enterprise Car Rental.  They will bring the car to you at VMI.

Other useful transportation sites:

      Amtrak train service

      Greyhound bus service

     "Nanceportation" - Locally owned transport service

      Lexington Limousine Service - Locally owned transport service

      Roanoke Airport Transportation Service - Shuttle service based at Roanoke airport