Living in SouthWest Florida
About 20 minutes away from the beach and minutes away from plazas and malls, FGCU has an extremely privileged location. Learn all about leaving at FGCU and in SWFL.
Any non-resident (such as J-1 Exchange Visitors and F-1 Students) attending college in Florida who has a valid driver license from another state or country may drive in Florida without having a Florida driver license. However, if you decide to purchase a vehicle, you must obtain automobile insurance first. Insurance companies often REQUIRE you to obtain a Florida Driver's license prior to obtaining insurance. So, if you decide to purchase a vehicle you will probably need to obtain a Florida driver license and then automobile insurance for the specific vehicle you wish to purchase prior to purchasing the vehicle. If you decide to obtain a Florida driver’s license, state law requires that you present certain identification and documents such as your DS-2019 and I-94 card, and a driver license from another state in United States if you already have one.
For first-time issuance of a State of Florida driver's license or identification card, Florida law requires the following items from students in F-1 or J-1 status:
- Passport; and
- Proof of non-immigrant classification provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Form I-94); and
- F-1 or J-1 status documentation (Form I-20 or DS-2019); and
- Two original proofs of residence (cell phone bills, utility bills, official, original transcripts, apartment lease). Students who live on campus will need to obtain proof of residence from Campus Services. Also, any official letter, for example a bank letter or letter from Florida FGCU sent to your on-campus address will suffice as proof of residence, and
- SSN cards if one has been issued.
It is recommended that you take your foreign driver's license, if one has been issued. You may be exempt from the otherwise mandatory drug and alcohol traffic education course, the driving test, or parts of it. Complete information on the required tests and a link to the driver's manual can be found online.
If you need further information please contact the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles at 1-850-617-2000 or Lee County Driver License Offices.
Open a Bank Account:
The information that banks need to open an account varies, but in general, you’ll be asked for two forms of identification (typically a passport and a secondary document such as a driver’s license, birth certificate or student identification), government forms related to your domestic studies and a letter proving you are enrolled in university. Be sure to find out what your bank specifically requires.
Banks nearby FGCU:
Bank of America (ATM on campus)
Wells Fargo (ATM on campus)
Suncoast Credit Union
have ATMs on FGCU's main campus. Before opening an account, make sure you to learn about and compare monthly, ATM, transfer and other types of fees.
How to open a bank account:
You may open a bank account through some of the following steps:
- Choose a bank: You may want to consider the features, benefits, perks, ATM locations, and types of accounts offered by your choice of bank as well as any applicable monthly service fees and other fees that may apply before opening your bank account.
- Confirm eligibility requirements: Confirm the bank or credit union’s eligibility and age requirements for opening a
savings or checking account.
For example, you usually need to be at least 18 years old to open a checking account and some banks may require a parent or guardian to be part of the process of opening a student checking account. If you are applying for a child’s first savings account or student checking account some banks require both people to be present with their necessary documents.
- Choose the right accounts for you: Before the application process, you can usually specify what types of products you’d like, such as a checking account, savings account, or both. Read over the account materials and be sure to familiarize yourself with the account features.
- Start the application at your bank: Once you have chosen a bank or credit union, and the type of account, visit their local branch or online site to learn more about their application process and to access their application.
Here’s a list of what you’ll need to open your new bank account:
- A valid, government-issued photo ID
- An initial deposit is required by some banks
- Proof of Address
Proof of Residence can be obtained through firstname.lastname@example.org
Send them an email stating:Hello, I am need of a letter showing proof of my residency to open a bank account. Please let me know if you need further information from me. Name: Provide them with your Student Name UIN#: Provide them with your FGCU UIN# (Student I.D#) Thank you for your help Sincerely, Your Name
From The Airport:
The Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) is the closest airport to FGCU and is located 6 miles from the FGCU main campus. Students can utilize Uber or other taxi services upon arrival at the airport.
Other arrival airports to consider are Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Miami (MIA) or Tampa (TPA), all of which are under 3 hours by car. Red Coach Bus Services has routes to and from FGCU to most major airports in Florida.
Many of the surrounding hotels not only offer special rates for FGCU students and their family members but also provide shuttle services to and from the RSW airport.
The best way to get around the FGCU Campus is to take the FGCU Campus Shuttle that goes from the dorms to main campus. There are four different shuttle routes a student can take, some of shuttle stops include Palmetto Hall at South Village that is within walking distance to the FGCU University Recreation & Wellness Center.
Check the campus shuttle website for more information on the shuttle routes. Some other ways to get around FGCU is by walking, biking or skating as you get to see and experience the beautiful nature on Campus.
Note: Students that live at FGCU, and own a vehicle, cannot park on main campus from 7am to 5pm.
FGCU is located about 2 miles from Gulf Coast Town Center, a plaza with many shopping and dining options. The FGCU campus Shuttle has a route that takes students to West Lake Village which is within walking distance from this mall. Another way to get around is by bike or car, some students may also try carpooling.
Weather & Dress
There’s a broad spectrum of weather that comes and goes in Florida. It’s important to always consider the unpredictable nature of Florida’s weather. The Gulf Coast is known for its tropical humid weather from Summer to early Fall with high humidity, temperatures above 90°F (32°C) and afternoon showers. Comfortable shoes and an umbrella are highly recommended. Winters are usually mild with temperatures averaging between 65-70°F (18-21°C) and warm afternoons so it's advisable to dress in layers that can be added or removed. During January and February we could have a few days with temperatures that have a low of 40°F (4°C).
South Florida is no stranger to hurricanes, on average a major hurricane makes landfall in Florida every 4 years. Hurricane season begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th. Students should have a plan in place on how to communicate with family and faculty, supplies needed, how to protect valuables and immigration documents, what mode of transportation they will use, and where to shelter if unable to evacuate. FGCU's Emergency Management will alert faculty, staff, and students of critical information through text messages, email, social media and other platforms. For more information on hurricane preparedness go to the Hurricane preparedness website.
The FGCU Campus is located close to many malls and restaurants, which allow students to have many options of where to shop or go out with friends:
Options within 10 miles from the FGCU Campus
- University Village Shops– Located within walking distance from South Village dorms and about a mile from Main Campus, this Plaza includes various dining options.
- Miromar Outlets – Located about two miles from the FGCU Campus, this Outlet includes many well known brands and restaurants.
- Publix – This grocery store is located 2 miles from FGCU, next to the store there are also some dining options.
- Gulf Coast Town Center – Located less than 3 miles from the FGCU Campus, this outdoor mall has a variety of stores and restaurants, including Target, so students can go grocery shopping.
- Walmart – Located 6 miles from campus.
- Coconut Point Mall - Located about 8 miles from campus, this mall includes many clothing stores, a book store, Target, and restaurants.