10 Things You Need To Do Right After Arriving in America
Are you a new international student? If you just arrived and
don't know where to start, learn from the experts - other international students.
We interviewed several international
students who arrived in this country over the past few years.
Their responses varied, depending on personality, schools they attended, and
local regulations. However, most students
agreed that the following are the most important things for you
to do within a few days of arriving.
- "Hi, mom. I'm here!"
Immediately after landing, find a telephone and tell your
family back home that you have arrived safely. They are
worried about you! You probably don't have your own telephone yet.
Instead of using cash or making a collect call, your best bet is to buy a
phone card at the airport, or a nearby "7-Eleven" (convenience store) or gas station. It will save you money. Once you settle in, you learn more options to make cheaper international calls.
- "Give them the money."
At this point, you either have a lot of cash or a lot of traveler's checks with you.
It is not wise to carry them with you for long, especially when you are in
a new and unfamiliar environment. As soon as possible, you should
open an account at a nearby bank.
- Be safe! Keep only a small amount of cash with you, and deposit the rest,
especially large-denomination bills.
- Exchange all your freely convertible currency to U.S. Dollars,
since American banks generally only accept deposits in U.S. Dollars.
- Request a checkbook and consider
applying for your first credit card.
Establishing your credit record is very important in America.
- If you want to earn more interest with your cash, try
money in online banks. Generally, their money market
accounts offer interest
rates 1-2% higher than traditional banks. You can also
do things like make online payments and account transfers on the web.
If you want to learn more about online banking,
- "Meet your advisor."
Meet your international student advisor and program director as soon
as possible, reporting your arrival and making sure that everything is okay.
They will probably inform you about the orientation, the registration schedule,
the beginning of classes, etc. If you haven't found a place to stay, you can
also ask them about how to find
housing information (e.g.,
apartments, dormitories, and
- "Learn from the veterans."
While you are on campus to meet with your advisor,
try to find students from your home country, and ask them for advice.
Making friends with them at this point is the key to settling down!
They have gone through the same process
that you are about to begin. Make sure that you ask them the following questions:
- Where are the closest (reasonably priced) grocery stores?
- Where can I buy food and other products from my home country?
- Where is the nearest post office?
- How do I access the Internet and e-mail?
- Are there any areas around campus that are not safe?
- Is there anything else that I should know about or worry about?
- "Get connected!"
The last thing to do before you leave campus (for now) is to get connected to
the Internet. Open an email account at your school, so you can communicate with your
friends and family, access information from your school, and enjoy the
full privileges of being an
iStudentCitizen. Normally, you can subscribe to certain mailing lists,
(e.g., all students, international students, MBA students), which other students
will use to announce their garage sales, moving sales, etc. Used furniture,
textbooks, and cars are attractive deals for new arrivals, and they can be found on
these mailing lists.
- "Where do I live?"
Since you can't sleep in the library every night, you will need
housing. Visit our Housing
Center. We provide apartment hunting tips,
apartment search engines, information about
renting furniture and
dormitory information. After you find your housing, you need to call nearby
utility companies and
activate your telephone,
and cable TV.
- "Get that darn number."
Here in the States, a Social
Security Number (SSN) is an important form of identification, used in
getting work authorization (for both
off-campus and on-campus jobs),
applying for an ID card or driver's license,
applying for credit cards,
getting student loans, etc.
Some international students have reported difficulties in obtaining the number
government has stricter regulations about issuing them to non-U.S. citizens.
Since you need this
number for so many things, you should try hard to get one as soon as possible.
One way would be to tell the officer
that you are getting an on-campus job and the university requires you to have
a Social Security Number. Check out our
Social Security Number section for more info and tips. Click here for
of the Social Security Office closest to you.
- "Play it safe. Get insured."
Depending on where you are from, you may never have been required
to purchase health insurance before. In the U.S., international students
to get health insurance. It is also a good idea, since medical
care in the U.S. is surprisingly expensive.
You will find information about how
health insurance works in the U.S., and learn about
things to watch out for
when you get sick in America in
our Insurance Center.
- "Don't get left out."
Register for classes as early as you can, so that you have a higher
probability of getting the courses you want. The number of students in
many classes will be limited.
- "Become an iStudentCitizen."
Sign up to be an iStudentCitizen
and benefit from hot featured products designed for you, updated
immigration information, job opportunities, and travel recommendations.
Get connected with the rest of the world's citizens!