Things to do before Coming to USA



Once you get a student Visa, you should now prepare for your trip to the US. You need to take care of various issues such as booking a ticket, immunizations, transferring money to USA, arranging for accommodation in the US, etc.

In this section, we address various issues that will guide you on what you should do and prepare before coming to the US.

College / University related issues

Health related issues

Finance related issues

Things to Learn

Flying to USA

Arrange for your pick up from the Airport and Accommodation

Related Links
  Things to Do
  Things to Bring   
  Things to Know
  Traveling to USA
  Arriving in USA




College / University related issues
  • Go on your college / university's web site and browse through information about the program that you plan to attend. Get some sense of how many credits you need to take to complete your program, and how long you will have to stay in the college / university. Get some idea of what classes are you going to take or will have to take in the first semester. Of course you can always wait until you see your academic advisor, but it does not hurt to have some idea of what you will do in your first semester.

  • Make at least 5 -6 certified copies of your transcripts, certificates and recommendation letters. 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.

  • If your GRE / GMAT / SAT scores are low as compared to your college / university's average score, you may be asked to rewrite the exam to better the score. Be prepare to re-take the exam if you are told to do so. You can also take your GRE / GMAT / SAT books and cds along with you to the US.

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Health related issues

  • As an international student in the US you need to have a student health insurance plan. Please check out our health insurance section for more information. Also check out additional topics such as travel insurance and family insurance.

  • Some US colleges / universities require you to take immunizations (such as measles / rubella, etc.) and / or health tests (such as TB test). You may do the immunizations or health tests 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 of immunization or health test with you. You can bring a certificate from the doctor or the hospital as a proof of immunization and health tests.

  • You might want to do 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 plan does not cover dental and vision, unless you purchase a separate insurance plan for that.

  • If you wear glasses, get at least 2 extra pairs, just in case. If you wear disposable contact lenses, get a couple of extra pairs and eye drops. Again it is not necessary, but recommended as these things are costly in the US.

  • Bring along with you medicines for general health issues such as head aches, body aches, cold, fever, water proof band aids, etc. If you suffer from some kind of ailment, please bring along related medicines and certificates of medical history from your doctor. Please note that if you are bringing any medicine from your home country, you need to bring a certificate from a doctor or the hospital explaining the purpose of these medicines. Otherwise, they might be confiscated by the customs officers at the airport .

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Finance related issues

  • You will need to bring money from your home country to the US. You can do so by converting the money to US dollars and then get the US dollars converted to Traveler’s Checks. Once you arrive in the US, you will have to open a bank account and deposit the Traveler’s Checks in your account. You should also keep some money in plain US dollars because you will need them during your travel to the US as well as to use before you open a bank account.

  • If you are going to get a scholarship from your home country, find out how your scholarship provider is going to transfer the money to the US.

  • Check out our Banking section on how to open a bank account in the US

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Things to Learn

Based on our experience, below are two important things that that you should learn before coming to the US:

Cooking

In order to survive in the US, you should learn how to cook the dishes you eat in your home country. In the US, grocery stores will carry most of the different ingredients found throughout the world. Even you will find specialty stores such as the Indian spice stores, chinese markets, south American shops, European market, etc., where can buy all the ingredients you need to prepare your dish. In the US you will find all kinds of restaurants and fast food places. However, as an international student, most likeky you won't be able to afford eating outside everyday. Therefore, it will be better if you learn to cook some of your country's typical dishes. We suggest that you also bring cooking books or recipes along with you.

Driving

Before coming to the US, if you like you can learn how to drive and get a driver license from your home country. At some point of time during your life in the US, you will most likely buy a car. If you don't know driving at all, then it will be tough for you to get a driving permit in the US. In the US, the driving schools are very costly. Otherwise, you will have to request one of your friends to teach you driving. In order to avoid all this trouble, it is better of if you learn how to drive in your home country itself. Please note that in the US, cars have a left wheel drive and vehicles travel on the right side of the road. However, it should not be a big problem if you have learnt driving a right wheel drive vehicles that run on the left side of the road (mostly former British colonies) as it is relatively easy to adapt.

Once you get a driving license in your home country, you should also get an International Driving Permit (IDP). An International Driving Permit (IDP) allows an individual to drive their private motor vehicle in another nation only when the individual also has a valid driver license from their country. For more details, please check the IDP section in the 'Getting a Driving License' section.

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Flying to USA

Please check out the 'Traveling to USA' section for details on topics such as booking a ticket, airport codes, luggage limits, documents to bring, air port pick up, etc.

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Arrange for your pick up from the Airport and Accommodation

Airport pick up means that someone will come to the airport to pick you and drop off at the college / university or to your temporary accommodation location.

When you are coming to the US for the first time, and if you don't know anyone, contact your International Students Office (ISO) of your university a few weeks in advance and ask them if they can arrange your airport pick up and provide a temporary accommodation for you. If so, you need to provide them your arrival details such as date, time, schedule, number and other details of your flight.

Sometimes the ISO will provide you a list of on-campus student associations (such as Indian Students Association, Chinese Students Association, Hispanic Students Association, European Students Association, etc). You will have to contact the officers of these associations and they will make some arrangements for you (a student will come to pick you at the airport and you will probably be provided accommodation at some senior students' houses). Sometimes, some American families may also provide you temporary accommodation.

Free temporary accommodation can be anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks. The hosts will provide you a bed to sleep and also provide you food. You should use this time to complete college formalities and find an apartment / roommates for yourself. We strongly advice you against taking undue advantage of the generosity of your hosts.

In case, no one is available to pick you up from the airport, you will have to take a bus or a taxi to your University or temporary housing. Check out in advance how much it costs or whether there are any buses from the airport. In case no one is able to arrange temporary accommodation for you, we suggest that you book a hotel near your University. You can find more information about hotels in the US, in the 'Book a Hotel' section.

Please check out our 'Finding Apartments' section for detailed information on arranging for temporary as well as permanent accommodation in the US.

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