Mar 01, 2024  
International Student Handbook 
International Student Handbook

Life at Florida Poly



 Florida Poly Phoenix

A phoenix adapts to change, and at Florida Poly, collaboration is key to getting the most out of your college career. You are at Florida Poly because you have the smarts and creativity to make a significant impact, and here you will grow as a leader.

With a student-centered campus environment, Florida Poly is committed to student growth, development, and achievement from day one. You will meet other students like you who want to make an impact and are excited to follow their passions. 

From the moment you arrive on campus, you will become a proud member of the future of the STEM nation and the Florida Poly mosaic, celebrating reinventing traditions with each new class that will shape your future for years to come.

 Get Involved on Campus

Students come to Florida Poly with a passion for STEM, but their interests vary. The Student Government Association (SGA) and the Office of Student Development support all clubs and organizations.

Visit Clubs & Organizations and Student Government websites to see how you can get involved on campus!

Food and Cooking

One adjustment that almost all students must make concerns the differences in food preferences. For American students, the adjustment involves getting used to “institutional food” instead of the “home cooking” they are accustomed to. For international students, this adjustment may include this aspect and getting used to the new types of food prepared in unfamiliar ways and seasoned with unfamiliar spices. 

We have composed the following list of restaurants within the Lakeland, Florida vicinity that may offer a few dishes that feel a little like home for some of our students. Remember, this is not an exhaustive list of all the restaurants in our surrounding areas; they are just a few that have been suggested.

Please let us know if you have additional recommendations!
Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant

Pho Tan: Vietnamese Cuisine

Arabella’s Ristorante Sabu Ramen Japanese Eatery

Athenian Restaurant

Saigon Bistro
Azteca D’Oro Lakeland Scarpa’s Italian Restaurant

B.D.’s Mongolian Grill

Spice & Chai Sushi

Cafe Roti

Tapatio’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine

Il Forno Italian Restaurant

Thai Haven

International Cafe Uruguayan Cuisine

The Market At Cafe Zuppina


West Caribbean Cuban Restaurant

Nineteen61 Zarza Latin Food & Grill

 Student Living & Dining

Please visit the Student Dining and Student Living websites to learn more about on-campus food, dining services, housing, and residential life. 
New students are strongly recommended to reside on campus for at least their first year of study. Living on-campus allows students access to the resources they need to be successful and limits the additional living expenses students would incur while living off-campus.
Additional costs include transportation, purchasing food and the required utensils and potware to prepare it, furnishing the apartment, and buying linens and other items. Students would need to secure a housing lease before their arrival, have transportation arrangements to get to campus and ensure they are settled in before the start of classes.
Student housing includes furniture, utilities (water and electricity costs), security (university police and secure dormitory access), a required meal plan, and the ability for new students to acclimate themselves to the university and the student community.

 Off-Campus Housing

The university currently does not offer off-campus housing or have an affiliation with apartment communities located within Lakeland and its surrounding areas.
We understand that some of our students have families or prefer to reside off campus for personal reasons; if students consider this, we recommend considering the estimated costs and the distance of the residential community to campus. 
Residing off-campus will include the cost of transportation to get to the campus and class, shopping and food preparation, laundry facilities, payment of utilities, furnishing the apartment, and other responsibilities typically handled when a student resides on campus.

There is also the matter of signing a lease; most leases are at least 12 months, and some communities may offer short-term leases, but this usually comes at additional costs. Students that may wish to return home for the summer or change their minds about residing off-campus will still be responsible for making payments by the lease they signed. Some communities will charge a nominal fee for breaking the lease, resulting in additional costs to the student.

A few, but not all, nearby off-campus residential communities (between 15 to 30 minutes from campus) include Arbor Glen, Audubon OaksPreserve by Lakeland Hills, Reserve at Lakeland, Watermarc Apartments, and The Landings at Long Lake.
Important: Florida Poly has not partnered with nor endorsed these housing communities over others. These are presented as a resource of possible options for students seeking to reside off-campus. It is recommended that students research to inquire about special offers for Florida Poly students because some apartment communities offer different discounts (some do not).

 Mail & Packages

The Mail Center is responsible for collecting and distributing the letters and packages that must reach university departments and residential students each year.

  • Please visit the Residential Life Handbook for more information regarding campus mail and packages and additional resources. 

 Florida Poly Transportation

The Office of Parking and Transportation is responsible for various programs and services that allow students, employees, and visitors to get around the university’s Lakeland campus efficiently.
Please visit the link to their website to obtain more information about Parking Permits, the Phoenix Shuttle, Florida Poly RideShare, the interactive and printable Campus Map, and how to pay campus Citations.
Please visit the following links to find out more about the different transportation in the Central Florida area:

 Student Activities

Campus Recreation, activities, and athletics are essential parts of the community experience at Florida Poly. The campus athletics programs and facilities have reopened following the American College Health Association (ACHA) guidance.

Please visit the following websites to learn more about the different activities you can participate in and reach out to Student Development for additional inquiries or suggestions:

 Living in Lakeland, Florida

About Lakeland History and Culture

Florida Poly is located in the city of Lakeland, located in Central Florida, halfway between Orlando and Tampa Bay. Lakeland is known for its more than 38 beautiful lakes and is a city rich with history, natural beauty, and entertainment for all ages.

Lakeland’s cultural side encompasses many bodies of water, outdoor attractions, theme parks, a walkable downtown, unique dining experiences, sports, and events. From large Lake Parker to City Hall’s Lake Mirror Park, this town is surrounded by beauty with a surprisingly rich history.

Visit the vibrant Hollis Garden, a breathtaking neoclassical garden with more than 10,000 flowers, indigenous plants, and a Grand Staircase for you to explore at no charge. Hollis Garden also features a family park with kid-friendly play areas and a picnic pavilion. 

A perfect example of Lakeland’s surprising history includes its stunning swans, one of the most visible features on the lakes. Their appearance dates back to the 1920s, but by 1954, the swans had disappeared due to larger predators. 

Things to Do

When you decide to make Florida Poly your next home, immerse yourself in a Central Florida region known for its abundant wildlife and beautiful scenery; with 554 freshwater lakes occupying more than 135 square miles, Central Florida is a prime location for fishing, boating, and watersports such as wakeboarding and water skiing. Additionally, over 120 scenic trails wind through state parks and offer spectacular views of Florida’s native wildlife and unique terrain.

You do not need to wander too far from Florida Poly’s campus to gain a history lesson, explore art or enjoy a fun day.

Lakeland locals often visit attractions such as the LEGOLAND Florida Resort, the vibrant Bok Tower Gardens, and the exotic Safari Wilderness Park for a quick and exciting local trip.

The Polk Museum of Art, the Ramon Theater, and the Lake Wales Arts Center are nearby to offer visitors a taste of Central Florida’s lively culture, fine arts, and history.

With Florida Poly’s prime location in Lakeland, all of Florida’s top destinations are just a short drive away.

Quick day trips to Florida’s Gulf Coast are perfect for enjoying sunny beaches, attending major sporting events, and exploring the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg.

In neighboring Orlando, premier theme parksshopping outlets, a bustling city, and easy access to Orlando International Airport and Tampa International Airport are all nearby.

A quick drive east of Orlando brings you to Florida’s Space Coast, home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

With easy access to the best shopping malls, theme parks, international airports, cruise ports, historical sites, and natural parks Florida offers on either coast, Lakeland is an ideal location for the college. What’s even better? With Florida’s warm, sunny weather, you can explore these opportunities and enjoy the outdoors year-round.

About the Weather 

Lakeland is a vibrant town on any given day, with average temperatures between 82° and a low of 64°. People are out and about walking alongside the lakefronts, fishing, boating, shopping, and socializing downtown, enjoying the city’s many unique characteristics.

Top Reasons Lakeland is a Great Place to Attend School 
  1. You’ll live where other students take their spring break vacation. The beautiful sunsets and picturesque scenery you see on postcards can be found in your backyard. Florida Poly’s location between the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf Coast gives you plenty of opportunities to discover your favorite beach and soak up the Florida sunshine.
  2. You’ll be centrally located. Florida Poly sits right between the metropolitan areas of Tampa and Orlando and is just a short driving distance from either city.
  3. You’ll be located along Florida’s High-Tech Corridor. Central Florida is a region often referred to as Florida’s technology hub, meaning that internship opportunities are plentiful for Florida Poly students.
  4. You’ll never have a dull moment. Hot air balloon rides, skydiving, sporting events, airboat tours, hiking, shopping, and relaxation- no matter your hobby, you can find it in Lakeland and the surrounding Central Florida area.
  5. World-famous destinations surround you, from St. Augustine-the nation’s oldest permanently occupied European settlement-to Miami; you’ll be within a short distance to some of the most popular tourist destinations in Florida.
  6. You’ll never run out of theme parks to visit. People travel around the world to visit Central Florida’s many theme parks, including Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios, Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios, and Tampa’s Busch Gardens.
  7. Central Florida is home to several professional sports teams, including the increasingly popular Orlando City and Pride soccer teams. You can also take a trip down the road to Tampa, where you can attend one of the many professional hockey, football, baseball, or soccer events held throughout the year.
  8. An international getaway is just down the road. Your tropical vacation awaits. Cruises leave from ports in Tampa, Cape Canaveral, and Miami year-round for destinations in the Caribbean, Central America, and more. Ferries leaving from Miami also offer day trips to the Bahamas for short but sweet vacations.
Additional Resources to Learn More About Lakeland and Central Florida
  • A go-to resource, kept up to date by residents, for things to do around Lakeland, from art and concerts to food and shopping. YLakeland is focused on helping connect students and young professionals with the community and assets that Lakeland offers.
  • Discover all Central Florida’s Polk County has to offer, including family-friendly attractions, wildlife, nightlife, museums, and more.