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Moving to the US as an International Student

Announcement! As of August 1, 2019, the TOEFL Reading, Listening and Speaking sections will be shortened. The TOEFL will also make changes to its prep materials and scoring system. Because of this, some of the info in our blog posts may not yet reflect the new exam format. We cover all the changes here.

Hi Clemmonsdogparkers! I’m back after a little break that I had to take because I just moved to the US. So with settling down and setting up my place, I couldn’t find enough time to write. It’s been a crazy week and a half here! And all the more because I had to do everything by myself, which many of us leaving home for the first time aren’t quite used to. In this post I will speak of a few things that you have to keep in mind once you have accepted the offer from a university and have decided to relocate.

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Photo by Hoshie

1. Apartment Hunting

This is the biggest concern of them all. Of course, you could opt for the university housing but a lot of people live off-campus too. For an international student, thousands of miles away apartment hunting in an unknown place can be confusing. The internet has websites where people put up listings and ads, but be sure to check the authenticity of those as many of them can be misleading. Usually there are housing groups on social media (like Facebook) where incoming or present students/residents put up ads.

What I did in this regard was email a senior graduate student from my department to ask about areas around the campus where students live. Luckily she had a room opening up in her apartment and suggested I move in. I confirmed to move in only AFTER I skyped with her and checked out the place. I know a lot of people would prefer choosing apartments after arriving in the US. Till you find that perfect place, you can live temporarily with someone you know, at a hotel or at short-stay apartments.

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2. Baggage Allowance On Your Tickets

Remember to check the baggage allowance against your ticket issued by the airline. The standard is 2 bags of 23 kilograms /50 pounds. However there are many airlines which offer an extra baggage (free of cost) against your student visa. I know many airlines flying out of the Middle East and South Asia have this kind of offer. If you’re carrying a lot of stuff it would be a good option to get yourself a ticket one one of these airlines. However, if you are taking a domestic American airlines flight from your port of entry in America to your final destination, it’s best to check their policy before taking 3 bags.


3. Travel Plans

The second most important thing to keep in mind would be to make plans where you reach your destination at a convenient time. If you are traveling alone and are new to the place, I suggest arriving during the daytime when there are enough people around to help you. If no one is picking you up, keep a map of your destination (and the address with nearby landmarks). You can give it to the cab driver who’ll drop you off!


4. Documents to Carry

Before you leave check and double check that you have the following documents with you:

  • Valid passport with your US Visa
  • I-20 issued by the university
  • SEVIS Fee receipt
  • Letter of acceptance
  • Your certificates, previous degrees, score cards and transcripts
  • One or two sets of photocopies of all of the above

In a subsequent post I will talk about how to get over homesickness, making new friends and building a social life in the USA. Till then, keep reading! 😀

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