See also our FAQs on academic questions.
Our program is usually assigned to Smith Hall near the center of campus. Most students, faculty, staff and their families choose to live there, and the program’s admin and academic staff offices are in the same building. It’s an intense but very satisfying community.
It’s not required that you live in this residence hall, though. A few people do choose to live off campus each summer.
Each room is a double with two sets of furniture. Each set includes a single bed (slightly longer than twin size), a closet, a dresser, and a desk and chair. The bedrooms are not air-conditioned and occasionally can get pretty warm, especially in July, so bring a fan or two.
See our pages on costs.
To keep costs low, each adult and teen living in the residence hall is expected to contribute an hour a day to keep the residence hall clean or help with other aspects of the program
Bedrooms are not air conditioned, but for most of the summer, you don’t need it. Fans work well most of the time, and the few hot days are a learning opportunity for what it’s like when we work in other countries. Window air-conditioners are not allowed (wiring isn’t adequate to support the power load).
If you have a medical condition that requires air conditioning, we can help make arrangements for a room in a separate residence hall (it will cost more) or you can make your own arrangements for housing in town.
If you’re single (or coming without your spouse), most students and a few staff members will have roommates. Almost all rooms are doubles. You can request not to have a roommate, but we can’t promise availability, and there may be a housing surcharge (see our costs page) if you occupy a double room alone solely for your own convenience.
Married students, of course, are housed together. (Don’t laugh; at least one of us was unsure about that the first time they arrived.)
Yes. Both people involved need to write to us separately and request the other as a roommate. You can do that when you fill in your Step 3 “pre-arrival” form, or contact us separately.
We can almost always honor those requests. One exception: we won’t let a teacher room with one of their students. Exception to exception: unless they are married to each other.
See our page on what to bring.
Inside the residence hall:
- bathrooms: depending on the building we’re in, either common bathrooms shared by the whole floor (separate ones for men and women), lockable individual rooms with toilet and shower used by either men or women, or private bathrooms in suites with 2-3 bedrooms
- laundry room (with washers, dryers and an iron)
- study areas
- computer lab
- small kitchenette for preparing snacks (not full meals)
- lounges with televisions.
- offices for all of the program staff, including teaching staff (you can go to office hours without leaving the building!)
Outside: An enclosed courtyard with a sand volleyball court.
Nearby: soccer, ultimate frisbee, tennis, racquetball, basketball, plus a wellness center for an extra fee
Yes, but costs for these people are significantly higher than for students, and they need special permission from our director. In some cases, they may be able serve on staff for a significant cost saving.
We have a limited number of guest rooms for short stays. Costs are modest (much less than a motel). Please do not plan on inviting guests to spend nights with you in your room without paying. For all guests, make arrangements ahead of time with our receptionist. Do it early; space is limited. Guest space is not available during the first week or the last week of the summer; if someone is going to drop you off at the beginning of the summer or pick you up at the end, they’ll need to stay in a motel–many choices available. Personal guests will need to make arrangements for their own meals. They may eat in the dining hall with staff and students by paying for each meal individually (about $6-$13 per meal). There are also many restaurants within a few miles of campus.
All students who live in the residence hall are expected to do a “work assignment”, a task that benefits the program and takes about 5-7 hours a week. This is one of the ways that we keep costs low.
We have a set of community expectations that everyone is expected to follow. We observe some quiet hours and ask residents to keep noise levels low generally. There are restrictions on what can be watched on televisions in public areas. Alcohol, tobacco products, pets, and weapons are not allowed by UND policy.
Because of children living in the residence hall, everyone is expected to attend a one-hour training session that focuses on child safety and responsible behavior toward children.
Sure, that’s fine if you want, but keep in mind that you’ll also miss out on convenient access to SIL teachers, staff, friends and facilities in the residence halls and the strong sense of community that develops there. That’s one of the most important parts of the SIL-UND experience for many people. Make your own choice, but we want you to do it with your eyes open.
So, go ahead and make other housing arrangements with UND or in the community. We are sorry that we cannot help you find such housing, but can suggest that you check the following sources:
- Postings by UND students on the UNDerground
- Craigslist and similar websites
- Classified ads in the Grand Forks Herald (the local newspaper)
- UND campus apartments (sometimes available to SIL summer-only students)
Even if you live off-campus, you’re welcome to our offices and other public areas; we’ll issue you an outside-door key as long as you’re willing to observe our child safety policies.
Meals are served in the Wilkerson Commons, an air-conditioned cafeteria located about a block away. If you will be living in outside housing, you may use our dining plan. Limited dining plans (e.g. lunch only) are not available to SIL. The cafeteria does have a pay-at-the-door option, but at a significantly higher price.
Our dining plan covers all meals available there (three a day on weekdays and two on weekends and holidays). There’s a two hour window for every meal. There are several options available at every meal, such as “Home Cooking”, Asian stir-fry, specialty salads, grilled meats and fish, and pizza. Have a special diet? They can probably meet your needs.
See our pages on costs.
There are vending machines in the residence hall, a convenience store (with Starbucks) in Wilkerson Commons (where we eat meals), fast food at the Memorial Union, and nearby grocery stores and restaurants. You can rent a refrigerator for your room from UND to keep cold stuff close by.
Yes, our meal plan is open to anyone with SIL-UND! Just indicate that when you fill in your Step 3 application. For costs, see our detailed costs page. Or, if you just want to eat with us occasionally, you can pay at the door for an individual meal.
Yes, UND Dining Services does make accommodations for some special diets. See their web pages for details, and if you have further questions you can contact them to ask about your specific needs.
Unfortunately, no. The kitchenette is not adequate for cooking full meals. We tried allowing people to do that a couple years, and it was a mess.
Come the weekend before classes start (see our dates page). Reception is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on that Saturday and Sunday. All students (even those in outside housing) need to check in with SIL in the residence hall to receive important instructions prior to registration on Monday morning.
Usually, no. However, we always need a few people to arrive early and help with set-up (some as early as the Thursday 12 days before classes start). Please email our administrator if you are interested in helping–we can probably use you. Otherwise, if you arrive in Grand Forks early, you will need to make your own housing arrangements until the residence hall opens.
If you haven’t already done so, please send your travel information to our receptionist. For a nominal fee (much less than the cost of a local taxi), we will make arrangements to have someone meet you and bring you to campus. Look for someone holding an SIL sign when you arrive. Some flights and all trains arrive either late at night or very early in the morning when reception is closed. Whoever meets you will have your keys and can help you get settled until the next time reception opens and you can check in.
Please see the driving directions page. GPS or other services like Google maps can usually get you close, but our usual meeting point can be difficult to find.
Unfortunately, we do not have the staff to keep reception open 24/7 on arrival weekend. Please make every effort to arrive during normal reception hours (9:00am to 9:00pm). If you cannot avoid arriving until after reception closes and you know someone who has already arrived, you could ask them to wait up to meet you. Otherwise, please make your own housing arrangements elsewhere.
- parties and skit nights: several weekends every summer
- sports: volleyball, soccer, ultimate frisbee, basketball, swimming, tennis, raquetball, etc.
- UND’s wellness center (for a fee)
- walking and biking trails
- parks and playgrounds
- concerts and plays
- malls, movie theaters, restaurants, museums, public library
- churches (many different types), a small synagogue, Islamic center
- optional chapel service in the dorm on weekdays, with special focus on those interested in working with minority language groups in other countries
- fishing and camping as close as one hour
- visit Winnipeg or Lake Itasca on a long weekend
- some people even visit Mount Rushmore, but it’s a looooong drive
See the Grand Forks city website for more information about what’s available around town.
Plus, some of us just like to sit around talking about linguistics.
If you’re studying full-time with us (6-10 credits), we strongly discourage trying to do anything else (job, other courses or major responsibilities). Students who do not give their full attention to their SIL studies almost always end up with lower grades.
Leaving for a weekend—no problem. Missing a day or two? We can usually work it out, but talk to our director about it ahead of time. Missing a whole week? You’d better plan on taking classes some other summer. It’s especially important for you to be there for the first and last week. (Missed classes may result in grade penalties.)
See our costs page.
SIL is a non-profit organization and most of our staff are volunteers who are only reimbursed for travel, housing and meals. To keep other costs as low as possible, SIL housing is run as a cooperative: resident students, teens, and other adults who are not on staff contribute an hour of work per day to keep the residence hall clean or help with other aspects of the program.
We ask most students to mail tuition and housing deposits ahead of time (refundable before May 1). We’ll send you instructions about how to pay them after you submit the Step 3 pre-arrival form.
We’ll give you a full invoice of charges (payable in full upon receipt) after the first week of classes is over. Please plan to pay that week.
Pay SIL directly for most things, not UND. You can pay in our finance office in the dorm. Most people pay by US dollar check (bring more than one), money order, or cash. If someone else is going to pay for you, we can send them an invoice.
In order to keep our costs as low as possible, we are unable to accept credit cards, PayPal, or foreign currency.
Members of organizations having a financial affiliation with SIL may be able to have their invoice charged to their organizational account.
If you won’t be able to pay your invoice in full upon receipt, you should discuss the matter with our director; ideally before completing your application but definitely before traveling to Grand Forks. In some cases, a payment plan can be accepted.
We’ll have textbooks available for sale on registration day. We normally only sell new copies, but we can usually get them at better prices than you can. If you want used copies, e-books, or you just want to buy things ahead of time, see our textbook list (which will be posted by May 1).
Grand Forks has an excellent health care system. Health care for students, staff, and their families is readily available, either through the University student health service or outside providers. Some immunizations may be available through the Grand Forks public health service.
For U.S. and Canadian students, it’s optional. For international students, it’s required for anyone with a student (F-1) visa, and it must meet strict requirements. Foreign insurance companies are not valid for international students, sorry! UND provides a policy that international students are automatically billed for.
We’ll do our best to accommodate people with special health needs or recognized disabilities, both for academic work and living arrangements. Please contact us as soon as possible so that reasonable arrangements can be made. We want to work with you so that your summer can be as enjoyable and beneficial to you as possible.
children and families
Most student and staff families live in the residence hall, which creates an overall family-like atmosphere for the whole program. Children have their rooms next to or across the hall from their parents. Young siblings room together; older siblings of different sexes are assigned separate rooms.
Some families each year find housing off-campus.
We provide a childcare program for children through age 13 during normal classroom hours (8-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m.). When there are academic activities outside of childcare hours, parents are encouraged to work out private arrangements with each other or with resident teens. Children under the age of 14 living in the residence hall must be enrolled in the childcare program except by special permission from the director.
The childcare facilities are in the same residence hall where we live. Children are divided into groups by age. Typically, there are separate groups for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and both younger and older elementary-age children. Exact groupings are determined once we know who all is coming; groups are sometimes adjusted during the summer to better fit the needs of the children. For preschoolers and younger children, our program resembles a typical day care, with age-appropriate activities to help children learn and grow. For school-age children, our program resembles a summer camp more than a day care program or regular school. Typical activities include arts and crafts, singing, indoor and outdoor games, learning about other countries and cultures, field trips, visits to the local library and swimming.
The safety of children is extremely important to us. Take a look at our child protection policy. For example:
- Anyone who will have long-term, unrestricted access to the residence hall is required to attend a 1‑hour training session at the beginning of the summer, which focuses on proactive guidelines for interacting with children that all participants are expected to follow, and to sign an agreement to abide by our code of conduct.
- All childcare classes are staffed by workers who have had thorough background checks and who take additional training in child safety.
Please bring the following items for your children:
- Immunization records
- Passport or official copy of birth certificate for each child
- Any special sleeping equipment (cribs are not provided except in the nursery during childcare hours)
- Swim suit for swimming, and play clothes for painting, arts and crafts, playing in the sand (in the volleyball court—a HUGE sandbox!), outdoor sports, playing in the gym, camping, etc.
- If you have camping gear (sleeping bags, tent) and have room to bring it, please do. The older childcare groups sometimes camp out overnight and will appreciate a sleeping bag and tent. Some gear may be rented from the student union.
- Many children bring bikes, trikes, etc. to ride in the courtyard of the dormitory (which is well away from traffic). Some parents allow their older children to ride bikes around campus.
- Occasionally, childcare groups will be able to view videos. If you have appropriate children’s videos that you would like to bring to share, please do.
See also our FAQs on academic questions.
Still have questions? Get in touch!