Coming to USA - Before Departure

After you have been admitted to a US College / University, you might wonder, what should I do next? What should I prepare before coming to the US? In this section, we try to help you by providing a check list of what you should do and prepare before coming to the US.

What are the immigration related issues that I should do / prepare?

  • Make sure that your college / university has sent your I-20 and Letter of Admission Offer along with your admission package. You will need your I-20 to apply for a student visa. If your I-20 is not included in your admission package, contact the international student office of your university.
  • Make a passport or check the expiration date on your passport if you already have one. If the expiration date is within one year, we suggest that you renew your passport, so you don’t have to worry about extending your passport in the US.
  • Take an appointment with the US embassy / consulate in your country for your visa interview. Please check out more information about this in our 'Applying for US Visa' section.
  • Appear for visa interview to get your student visa. Make sure that you bring all required documents for the visa interview. Please check out more information about this in our 'Applying for US Visa' section.
  • Make several copies of your immigration documents and put them separately from the original. Keep one set at home, just in case.
What are the health related issues that I should do / prepare?
  • Before you come to the US, some US colleges / universities may require you to take immunizations, such as measles / rubella or health tests, such as TB test. You may do the immunization or health test before coming to the US or within a certain period of time after you arrive in the US. If you plan to do so before coming to the US, make sure you bring the proof (certificate, letter from the doctor / hospital) of immunization or health test with you.
  • You might want to do a general check up for yourself, including vision and dental check up. It is not required, but we recommend it because the health cost in the US is very high, and usually student health insurance plans do not cover dental and vision, unless you purchase separate insurance for these.
  • If you wear glasses, get a few extra pairs of glasses. If you wear disposable contact lenses get some extra pairs of lenses as well. Again it is not necessary, but recommended. Ofcourse, you can buy glasses or lenses in the US. But, the cost will probably be high compared to their cost in your home country.
  • Do some research about student health insurance in the US. Compare the plan with the one required or recommended by your university. For more information about the health insurance in the US, please visit our 'Health Insurance' section.
What are college / university related issues that I should do / prepare?
  • Browse through your college / university 's website to find detailed information about the program you plan to attend. Get some idea of how many credits / courses you need to take in the first semster. Of course you can always wait until you see your academic advisor before you register for classes, but it does not hurt to have some idea of what you will do in your first semester.

Tips: Do not over load yourself in your first semester as you need to get used to your new life in the US.

  • Make certified copies of your recommendation letters, transcripts, certificate of graduation after they are being translated into English (if the original language is not English). That way you will be ready in case you want to transfer to another university, or apply for a scholarship after you are in the US.
  • Some US colleges / universities might admit your application and allow you to enroll in the program but require you to improve your admission exam score (i.e., GMAT or GRE) if your score is below the college / university’s standard. Be prepared to re-take the exam(s) if you are told to do so.
What are travel related issues that I need to do / prepare?
  • Ticket to the US, obviously! You can buy a one-way ticket or two-way ticket depending on your need. For more information on this topic, please visit our 'Airlines' section.

Tips: Be sure to come to the US before the school orientation date. You will learn a lot in school orientation, especially if you are not familiar with the US life or if you don’t have a family / friend here in the US to explain it to you.

  • If possible, find somebody to pick you up from the airport, especially if you are not familiar with the area. If you have family, friends, or scholarship provider that can pick you up, that’s great. If not, try to contact your international student office and see if they can arrange somebody to pick you up. If your international student office does not provide such service, try to contact your country’s student organization in the university or any other social organization in the area. If you still can’t find anybody to pick you up, do not panic. You can always find airport taxi ready for you.

What are the other important things should I do before my departure?

  • If you are thinking of driving or buying a car in the US, you are entitled to drive either with International driver license (IDP - International Driving Permit) or US driver license. If you choose an international driver license, you should have it ready before you come to the US. We suggest that you learn driving a vehicle in your home country. This way, in the US, you don't have to bother your friends or hire professionals to teach you driving.

For more information on transportation within the US, visit our 'Cars' section.

  • Learn cooking. In the US, eating food outside can prove costly. So, it is advisable to learn cooking at least some basic dishes. You don't have to bring ingredients with you as you can get most of them in the US in stores such as Asian market, European market, etc.

What are accommodation related issues that I need to do / prepare?

  • For more information, please check out our 'Housing' section.
What are finance related issue that I need to do / prepare?
  • Do some research on how to transfer money to the US. Visit our 'Transfer Money to US' section.
  • If you get a scholarship, find out how your scholarship provider is going to transfer the money to your account
  • Check out our 'Personal Finance' section.
  • Prepare some USD cash or traveler’s check to cover your immediate expenses in the US

What are things that I need to bring to the US?

This varies depending on your personal interest. However, below are among the most Important thing that you should not forget:

  • Passport
  • Air Ticket
  • Immigration documents
  • Documents such as I-20, Letter of Offer, Transcripts, Recommendation Letters, etc.
  • Admission package and official (or certified copy of) transcript / certificate of graduation
  • Proof of immunization / other health test (if necessary)
  • Contact Information in the US and in your home country
  • Money, in the form of traveler’s check or cash. More on this visit xxxxxx
  • Clothing. Prepare a proper cloth for the weather in your area, but keep in mind that you can buy it here too.
  • Dictionary and necessary books or journal that is relevant with your field of studies.
  • Personal items, such as pictures of your family and loved ones, your favorite CD/VCD/DVD, musical instruments, etc.
  • Do not bring items that you can easily find/buy in the US, i.e., general school supplies or cookware and spices. It is all right to bring a special cookware or spices, however, you should remember that the US is a very diverse country, you can almost always find your basic food items from your country here in the US.
  • Remember that your baggage allowance is limited. The limit varies depending on the airlines. However, normally you are allowed to bring two check-in baggage 70 pounds each and one or two carry out items X pound each.
What are other information that I need to know before I come to the US?
  • Familiarize yourself with the area where you will spend your life in the US.
  • Find out what is the weather like (, and be prepared for it
  • If you are a religious person, find out the nearest Church / Temple / Mosque (,,, etc)
  • Find out point of interest in your area
  • Do some research about your affiliate organizations, such as your country’s student organization, religious organizations, or other social organizations in the area. If possible, contact them, since you might need their help after you arrive in the US.

Should I buy and bring text books from my home country?

Yes, you can buy and bring text books from your home country. The main benefit is that it will be much cheaper. But, please note that even in the US you can buy text books at a cheap price. Most students in the US buy used text books from eBay or Amazon and even borrow books from libraries. In the US, every University has its own library and the libraries are well equipped with books. The libraries will lend you books anywhere from one month to six months.



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