EducationUSA advising centers are available to assist you throughout the US college & university admissions process These centers are supported by the US Department of State. Provide int’l students with information on the full range of academic opportunities in the US. Information they provide is accurate, comprehensive, impartial, and timely. This is a worldwide operation with over 400 EducationUSA advising centers in 170 countries. For more information and to locate an advising center near you, please visit our website at www.educationusa.state.gov
EducationUSA would first like to congratulate you as you prepare for departure to study in the United States! With all the changes you are about to experience, this is probably both an exciting and an uncertain time for you.
Collecting the documents you need to carry with you to the US is one of the most important aspects to your predeparture planning.These includes your Passport which should be valid for at least six months beyond your entry date to the US and has a nonimmigrant visa issued by a US embassy or consulate.You will also need your Certificate of Eligibility whichis an I-20 for F & M visas or a DS-2019 for J visas. This was the SEVIS document issued to you by your school or program.
Be sure to hand carry your passport and certificate of eligibility – do not pack it in your check in luggage. US Customs & Border Patrol Officials will need to see these documents when you land in the United States. You will also need these documents to complete the I-94 Arrival & Departure Card during your flight to the US. Before you enter the United States, your biometric fingerprints and photograph will also be taken by the border patrol agent.
Other important documents you may need to bring include:Medical documents, remember to bring:Any certificates of immunization & vaccination– check with the international student adviser on campus to see what may be required. If you have any prescriptions, such as medication or eyeglasses, you will need to bring them as well. If possible, bring your complete medical and dental records which may help US doctors better understand your medical needs.Your Academic Records are also very important documents. These includeOfficial transcripts from secondary schools, colleges, or universitiesYou may also need to bring any outlines or descriptions of courses for previous classes taken for academic credit. These can often help admissions officers determine your placement in certain courses.The contact information of an adviser at your campus will also be important in case your trip gets delayed or you need assistance during travel
When figuring out how much money you will need to finance your stay, look at the cost estimates that appear on the I-20 or DS-2019 form that accompanies your letter of admission. These costs will include expenses such as: Tuition & Fees: will cover the basic costs of instruction including required labs, facilities, and equipment.Room and Board: includes your housing and meals. It varies across the United States and largely depends on the location, college, and whether or not you will live and eat on or off campus. Books & Supplies: This cost includes your course materials and should be published by the college in advance..Personal Expenses: really depends on you and your lifestyle. This can include laundry, cell phones, entertainment, and so on. You should keep careful track of these as they can quickly add up. Transportation: cost depends on many factors – whether you are commuting to the campus and returning back home to visit each year. Also, don’t forget any money you may need to get from the airport to your campus.Health Insurance: colleges and universities require that all of their students to have health insurance.
You will also need to finalize your housing arrangements and consider whether you will live on or off campus.On-campus housing includes options such as:Residence Halls and Dormitories: which will be fully furnished with the basic living and study needs. They are also usually shared with other students and can be a great place to meet new friends quickly. Dormitories may be located off campus as well. Some dormitories may be for men only or women only, and some may allow both men and women in the same dormitory. Male fraternities and female sororities may be another option. These are national organizations of small groups, or chapters, on campuses throughout the United States. They are well known for organized social events and providing community service.The campus may also have a building which can house married students. Demand for these is usually high, so you should inquire about this as early as possible.Finally, on-campus meal plans may also be of interest to you. Although most housing will be equipped with cooking facilities, you may prefer to eat in a cafeteria.Off-campus options include:Apartments where the student typically pays a deposit, monthly rent, and utility fees. When looking for an apartment, be sure to consider its distance from the campus and what the total monthly costs will be. Apartments may be owned and operated on campus by the college or university.A ‘co-op’ is another option. These are usually a large house where a group of students live together, sharing the costs and taking turns to do the cooking and cleaning. Living with an American host family can be a warm enriching experience, and they can be for free or reduced rent. Check with your international adviser on campus for listings, and be sure you consider the family, living arrangements, and expectations before you decide.Finally, there are several temporary options to explore – from a low cost motel, hostel, international student house, and so on. You may need to consider temporary housing until you find something longer term.
Also, be prepared to experience some culture shock while you adjust to your new life in the US – both in and outside of the classroom.Remember that culture is much like an iceberg where behavioris the part that shows on top of the water. This is the smallest part, or only “the tip of the iceberg”, and it includeslanguage, food, music, clothing, art, and so on. These are things that make a culture interesting and are not usually offensive. Beneath the water level, however, resides the largest part of culture – the belief systems based on values and thought patterns that are inside of us and shaped throughout our lives. Our values, notions of time, how the individual fits in society, beliefs about human nature, rules about relationships, communication styles, need for personal space, motivations, values, and so much more stem from deep below the surface. The challenge of adapting to a new culture comes from what liesbelow the surface, and overcoming this challenge is an important part of your learning and development .
As time passes you will come to better understand the culture and customs of your campus and come to feel comfortable in your new home.Some cultural aspects of social life in the US that you may want to be prepared for before departure include:Greetings: Upon meeting each other for the first time, most Americans shake hands firmly.Use of Names: First names are more readily used in the United States than in other countries. It is almost always acceptable to use the first name of someone of around the same age or younger as soon as you meet. Use “Mr.” (for men) or “Ms.” (for women) when talking to people in positions of authority, such as your professors, or your elders, unless they ask you to call them by their first name.Social Invitations: Americans tend to be quite punctual. If you have accepted an invitation or agreed to a meeting, try not to be late.Friendliness: Americans’ friendships are often more casual than friendships among people from some other cultures. Americans might refer to people as “friends,” even though they may not be very close. It is common for men and women often have long-term platonic friendships, which can surprise some foreign visitors.Personal Hygiene: Most Americans shower or bathe at least once a day and use deodorant to control perspiration odors. Americans usually wash clothing they have worn before wearing it again.
Another cultural challenge you may need to be prepared for will take place in the American classroom. Professors at US colleges and universities generally expect all students to:Participate in discussions Voice their opinionsand Ask questionsClass participation may even be counted towards your overall grade
Virtually every college and university in the United States offers orientation programs for new students, so be sure that you plan your travel in time to arrive for this. The campus orientation is your chance to:Meet other studentsGet to know your new school and communityMove into your residenceAnd work with your advisers and professors on course placement, selection, and registration Make sure to stay in touch with your international student office on campus for help with any issues you may have.
In addition, check with your local EducationUSA advising center for a schedule of predeparture orientations. They are typically held in the spring and fall, and can asisst you withPredeparture planningTraveling to and arriving in the USAdjusting to US culture And provide other helpful resources you may need
Under the students section of our website, you can also find additional information on preparing for departure to the United States. You can also search for an advising center near you to speak with a qualified adviser and receive further assistance.
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