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Pack Your Things

Some people say that packing is what reminds them that they are really moving. Take a few special items from home, and even when you are in America, it will feel more like you home.

12: Visa | 13: Medical Exam | 14: License | 15: Ticket | 16: Housing & Pick Up | 17: Pack
Having completed Step 16, all of your arrangements should be ready. You now need to decide what to bring with you to school. Start with what you need, then see if there is room for things you want. You will enjoy your time in America if you bring a few things that remind you of home. If you’re not certain that you can bring something with you, go to Step 18 to find out.

When should I take this step?
Two (2) weeks before school starts. You don't need to pack all of your clothes this early, but you should start to buy items that you will bring such as souvenirs, books, software, etc. You can use our checklist to get an idea what you will need to pack.

What should I bring to America?
Apart from the usual stuff like clothes, you should consider items on this list of useful items:

  • Phone numbers: Write down all of the phone numbers you will need when you arrive and keep them with you. You will need your home phone number, including your country code; the number for the international student advisor at your school; the number for the closest embassy to your point of entry into the U.S.; the number for anyone who will be picking you up at the airport; and the number for where you will be staying when you first arrive.
  • U.S. quarters or phone cards: Many students arrive at the airport with a lot of one hundred dollar bills in their wallet, then they realize that they need to make a phone call. It's very difficult to break one-hundred-dollar bill.
  • Electronic dictionary: If you can afford to buy an electronic dictionary in your own language, it's a great idea to have one. Depending on your understanding of English vocabulary, you may spend close to 25% of your study time looking up vocabulary from a dictionary. An electronic dictionary can significantly reduce that time.
  • Software: If you can't live without computers, consider buying any key software you think you might need. You can pretty much find typical software in the school's computer lab. However, if you insist on using programs written for your native language, the best bet is to bring it from home.
  • Clothes: Apart from clothes for normal occasions, you probably need some formal clothing (suit or business dress) for class presentations or job interviews. In America, some students dress up in suits and ties when they make presentations. If you are coming from Asia it may be difficult to find formal clothes in your size in American stores. So, be sure to bring enough clothing, and be sure that you have a variety of styles for different situations.
  • Protection: Some students in America carry a whistle on their key chain. When there is a problem, they can blow the whistle to attract attention from other people.
  • Textbooks: Some students may know in advance which textbooks they will be using at school. Compared to many countries, textbooks can be very expensive here. Also, foreign students may not be comfortable with English in the first semester. You can purchase textbooks in your native language to help you understand the subjects more easily.
  • Medicine: First, medication is expensive in the U.S. Second, many type of medicines, such as antibiotics, cannot be purchased without a prescription. If you plan to bring any medication with you, be sure that you bring any documentation too. If you can find it in English that will help if Customs officials or doctors need to know more about them.
  • Credit card: It will take time before you can get your first credit card in America. Bring along your credit card, so that you will not have to purchase everything with cash.
  • Alarm clock: During the first few days after your arrival, you may have to attend many events like orientation and an English placement test. An alarm clock can help you fight jet lag and wake up on time.
How much stuff should I bring with me?
Most airlines have very strict limits on how much you can bring with you on a flight without paying additional fees. As a general guideline, you should plan on having one small carry-on bag and two pieces of "checked" baggage (suitcases, computer boxes, etc.). Check with your airline to see what their limits are, and if you are planning on bringing more than they allow for free, ask how much each additional item will cost.

If you still have more items than you can easily get onto your flight with you, try one of these shipping companies:
- Airborne Express
- Federal Express

What more do I need to do before I leave?
Make a last check through your things to make sure that you have packed everything you need to bring. If you forget your alarm clock, you will have a difficult time getting up for important events (orientation, registration, morning classes, etc.) unless you buy one in America. Even forgetting a small item can make it more difficult to settle in to your new life as an international student in America.

Convert enough money to U.S. dollars so that you can be carrying a few hundred dollars in cash, including some small denominations such as 1-, 5-, 10-, and 20-dollar bills. There are many situations in which you will need cash when you first arrive. For your own security, carry you cash in two or three different places, and avoid carrying any cash in your back pockets or anywhere it could fall out easily.

16: Housing & Pick Up | | 18: Customs

Important US Official Links:
1) SEVIS is a government, computerized system that maintains and manages data about foreign students and exchange visitors during their stay in the United States. More info >>
2) U.S. Customs - Department of State

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