I wrote this guide initially when I was at Stanford, but the site subseqently got down so we put it up here!.


Tips and tricks about living on campus: Keys, Bare Essentials, Visa basics, Books and Laptops, Gyms and Sports, Phones and TV

Stanford Information and event details

Other Resources

Useful Information for International Students including maintaining Visa status


Tips and tricks about living on campus

So by the very nature of the LLM programs, you probably have been working and had your own place and living in student accommodation, even if you're in super luxurious Munger, is probably going to come as a bit of a shock. There are a few daft things that it is probably worth knowing about in advance:


Yes, I know, not the first thing that comes to mind - but it can get expensive due to lock out fees and rekeying. So remember, because you'll be busy when you pick up your keys, but you get two keys. First key goes on your key ring of course. Take the second key and preferably give it to a friend or put it somewhere safe you will remember.

  1. Getting locked out. Spectacularly easy to do, especially if you're in a hurry as if the door is latched to lock, once you've slammed the door you're stuck unless you're on the ground floor and feel like prizing the screen off your window. If you get locked out 9-5 Mon-Fri, you can get a spare from front desk, after 5pm you have to pay a $100 lock out fee.
  2. Rekeying. You get a $250 rekeying fee if you don't return both keys at the end of your lease.

Bare essentials

  • Most of the accommodation has nothing bar furniture. ie It doesn't have nearly enough lighting, no bins, only just about enough storage, not even basic crockery, no bed linen and there's no communal cleaning/domestic equipment and the cleaners only do the communal areas.
  • You may find Stanford Classifieds helpful. Certainly previous years have managed to sell a lot on Stanford Classifieds. Unfortunately we haven't come up with a cunning way to bridge the gap between people leaving and people incoming to enable for some intelligent recycling.
  • There is a communal hoover at front desk. However, what it might be worth doing is clubbing together with people who you share a building/block with for a hoover, ironing board and iron.
  • Failing that Ikea/Target/Walmart for most things, Crate & Barrel and Ikea are good for extra boxes/baskets for storage (see Stores), and if you want slightly more upmarket soft furnishings then Stanford Shopping Center. You can also get quite a lot cheaply from Amazon or Overstock.
  • It does get really cold here at night, so you're probably going to want a decent duvet/comforter, and the plastic mattress coverings are revolting so either one super topper or two cheap ones. Allegedly the Munger beds are full extra long, but full (European double) seems to fit just fine.

Visa basics

  • The Bechtel International Center has a helpful checklist of visa status related items for you to make sure you have completed, as well as links to other information. You should try to get to these items as soon as possible.
  • Many international students will have an enrollment hold on their student account in Axess, until they arrive on campus.  Law students will have a special session at the Bechtel Center on "Maintaining Your Visa Status" on Wednesday, Aug. 25 at 2:30 pm, which is one of the steps you will need to take to have the enrollment hold lifted.  Please have the documents with you that Bechtel requires, and update your address in Axess so that your address is current. 
  • More details on visa status and the Bechtel International Center may be found below.

Books, laptops and software


  • The SLS textbook list is emailed round prior to each quarter but is also always available here.
  • We all love the Bookstore, the staff are lovely and it's great to have somewhere that you can get everything from fiction, to Stanford t-shirts to stationery (sub-basement) to your text books (basement).
  • BUT the Bookstore's prices for text books are with tax and often substantially above what you can find on Amazon. Check out the Stores page section on Amazon for a couple of useful tips.
  • The Asian Pacific Islander Law Students Association (APILSA) operates a small used bookstore out of the basement of the Law School. The store, known as APILSA Book Closet, has used textbooks, outlines, casebooks, flashcards and other study materials.

General information on laptops and software

Gyms and Sports

  • Gym wise I think the consensus has been that the graduate gym at the Arrillaga Center for Sports & Recreation (map) is the best (open Monday - Friday 6:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m., Sat-Sun 10:00 am to 8:00 pm).  There are also wonderful swimming pools opposite it (including an outdoor pool) and a nice running track and great tennis (see court bookings) and volleyball courts. There's also a climbing wall and don't forget the Stanford Golf Course.
  • If you're not a gym fan there are lots of other great options. Just cycling or running around campus drive or hiking the Dish are really great ways to exercise on campus. This is a nice selection of cycling routes up into the foothills. Tip though, use Junipero Serra Blvd/ Page Mill Road, or Sand Hill Road to get up into the foothills, if you use Alpine Road try to get off the road and use the cycle path alongside, the camber and road quality are really dodgy.
  • Bear in mind that a lot of sports classes can be added for free or very little cost through Axess. Favorites of previous years have been Golf Lessons and Tennis Lessons, but these do fill up very quickly so add to Axess as early as you can.

Phones and TV

  • So the good news is that most of the utilities are included in your accommodation bill.
  • Phone calls from your land line to the Local Area is included in the bill and US long distance calls seem reasonable.
  • For overseas calls you'll need a Personal Billing Number (PBN). You sign up for PBN service at the My IT Services web site in Axess. Click on the "Student Center" tab. Look under "Other Links" for the My IT Services link. However, most people tend to rely on Skype.
  • Getting a cell phone contract requiring a credit check without a social security number is almost impossible. You may find that you will be able to get a contract without a credit check by providing a deposit of around $500, but recent experiences have been a flat refusal. So you'll need to buy a phone using a prepaid deal, or have an unlocked GSM phone with you and get a SIM only deal. Cell phone provider options if you're looking for SIM only are:
    • T-mobile - working out at 10 cents a minute if you load up $100 at a time. About $60 a month to support a smart phone. Nearest store: 165 University Ave PALO ALTO CA 94301 (map) 650-838-9636.
    • A&T - One odd plan where you pay a $3.00 fee to call out and then calls are free, the other is a pay as you go, details here. Essentially it looks like you either pay $60 a month for unlimited calls or 25 cents a minute. Nearest store: 2825 EL CAMINO REAL PALO ALTO, CA 94306 Phone: (650) 617-8931 Fax: (650) 325-3288 Hours: MON-FRI 9:00-9:00, SAT 9:00-7:00, SUN 11:00-6:00.
  • For TV and films most people use their computers and rely on Hulu and Netflicks, both of which stream quite happily over Stanford's broadband.

Stanford information and event details

Calendars and events

  • The Stanford Law School calendar is here.
  • The Stanford University event calendar is here.
  • The Stanford Graduate Student Counsel (GSC) event calendar is here.
  • Stanford Lively Arts covers all of the performances held on campus, including music, dance and theatre, and has an online booking system accessible until a few days before the performance, whereupon tickets must be purchased at the box office. Most performances are $10.00 a ticket for Stanford students, usually representing a substantial discount on the face value of the ticket.

Stanford contact information

  • SLS facebook is usually online here along with a bunch of other SLS directory information.
  • The Stanford public directory is otherwise the fastest way to find people.

Stanford Guides

Just in case you thought this was the only guide out there, there are several more, but a bit more detail heavy or not as LLM orientated as this one is aims to be.

  • The SLS website has a guide to living on campus/in Palo Alto.
  • The New Student Orientation Guide has a tremendous amount of information and links for students and families, including billing, obtaining a Social Security number, and services for families.
  • Stanford also has a Guide for New Graduate Students which has links to important information on campus.


Other Resources

Hume Writing Center


The Hume Writing Center offers individual meetings with trained writing consultants; workshops on a variety of important topics related to writing; Writers' Nights featuring students, staff, and faculty reading and performing their work; the How I Write interview series; and many other special writing events. The Center sponsors the work of many student writing groups, including the Stanford Spoken Word Collective, and participates in outreach to public schools in our area.

Oral Communication Program


The Oral Communication Program offers free individual and group appointments to both graduate and undergraduate students. All Stanford students can schedule appointments with us to receive feedback and advice on all aspects of oral communication.

Vice Provost for Graduate Education


The Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education (VPGE) works across all seven schools at Stanford University to enhance the quality of graduate education. Among others, VPGE administers university-wide graduate fellowship programs; advance graduate student diversity; foster cross-school learning opportunities in interdisciplinary learning, leadership and professional development; and coordinates and guides university-wide graduate policy.

Useful Information for International Students

The Bechtel International Center  (or I-Center) welcomes all international students at Stanford, their spouses and families to participate in their activities.  Bechtel also is the office which processes your visa, and can answer your questions about your particular visa situation. 

Bechtel has a useful overview of the two types of student visas at Stanford, forms to apply for visas, and information about transferring your visa to Stanford from another institution.

Bechtel's Welcome letter will let you know what to do when you arrive on campus.

The Bechtel New Student's Orientation Guide has many good links and tips for international students.

For spouses, partners and families, there are many opportunities for activities and outings.

The Community Committee for International Students (CCIS) is an organization of local volunteers who provide a variety of services to international students. CCIS is over 50 years old and is housed in the I-Center. 

Our international students drive over 650 student groups and organizations on campus.

Bechtel also has information about post-graduation visa information and Optional Practical Training.  Law students will apply for this in the spring.

For the requirements to maintain legal visa status for F-1 and J-1 visit :



  • Bechtel (map) is the main point for visa advice at Stanford, and is also arranges activities for international students and their families.
  • If you have any doubts about whether you can do something, ie travel, take a job, make a change to your visa status, ask Bechtel first - see the contacts page.
  • Do make extra sure you get your I-20 signed at Bechtel before you leave the US and take it with you when you do. Very very easy to miss on an emergency trip back home, and you most likely will have endless trouble getting back into the country without it. They're really good about this, especially if it's near the end of term, you should be in and out of there in 5 minutes if you're in a rush.
OPT visa information (work permit following graduation): here and e-filing here.
OPT Cap Gap Extension (OPT extension to start of H-1B): here.
H-1B information: here.
General Information – Bechtel International Center: http://icenter.stanford.edu/