A Complete Guide For Students Moving To The United States Of America

A Complete Guide For Students Moving To The United States Of America

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Living in The United States is a cakewalk if you follow the rules of the country and your University. We are sure that students who keep the above tips in mind will make the most their experience in the United States – both academically and socially. Here’s wishing you all the best for your new journey as a student in the U.S!

Yogender Panchal
Updated on:  11 Sep 2023  | Reviewed By: 
| 8.6K | 8  min read

Relocating from one place to another is always a cumbersome task for all of us. When it comes to moving to a new country, then it’s altogether a different ball game. Moving to a new country for higher education opens a new avenue to learn new things academically and a new way to see life. Students witness a culture shock when they first move to the US, and it’s pretty apparent to feel different after going to a new country. Not only the nationality but also the type of people, their culture, their etiquettes, their dressing, their food everything changes in a matter of a few hours of flight. So, it’s better to know a couple of things beforehand to minimize the extent of cultural shock.

  1. list items Make a Budget and Stick to it
  2. list items Choose an Affordable Place of Residence
  3. list items Completely Understand the Traffic Rules
  4. list items Always Avoid Getting into a Conflict with Locals
  5. list items Get Well Versed with the US Metric System
  6. list items Open a Bank Account in the US
  7. list items Get the Health Insurance with Broadest Coverage
  8. list items Choosing the Best Mobile Phone Plans
  9. list items Keep All the Documents Handy

 The US is one such country where Indians, in particular, don’t have much to worry about as there is a very influential and vibrant Indian-American community. However, certain things must be known beforehand so that the students going to the US can quickly adapt and start focussing on the intended purpose of their visit, i.e. studying, and securing a job. Now we will get into the details about the things to do before moving to the US.

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Make a Budget and Stick to it

One of the most crucial challenges that a student faces after moving to the US is managing their finances. Expense management can bring a substantial change in the way an individual lives. Since living expenses are also covered under the loan students have limited or no option to expand their finances. In the initial days, no one gets a part-time job, so taking control of the finances becomes very important. The act of managing the living expenses starts with knowing the monthly living expense allotment under the loan and then juxtaposing it with an average cost of living expenses. One can search the cost of living of a particular city wherein they have chosen to study, which helps students in making a better plan for expense management. 

In the initial days or say the first month at least, one should avoid extravagant expenses on going out, exploring new places outside the city, doing shopping, etc. Another thing that students usually do is underestimate their expenses. They go into unrealistic thinking that they can cut on all the expenses and become a money-saving ninja once they land in the US. A new country brings newer expenses that can only be understood by living there, so one shouldn’t think of unnecessarily cutting expenses that are poised to be a part of the monthly budget. 


Choose an Affordable Place of Residence  

Residence in the US can be a lot more pricey than in India. Choosing a place of residence that is not too far from the university campus but also taking care of the rent is a tough nut to crack. Finding affordable housing in American cities is difficult, so one must do all the research beforehand to ascertain the location where they wish to reside. One should always avoid the extremities while choosing the place of residence. Many a time, students select a property for rent that is affordable but so far from the university campus that it becomes untenable to commute. On the other hand, some choose a way too expensive property for rent that is near to the campus but costs them a fortune in rent. So, striking a balance is very important for students while choosing their place of residence in the US. In fact, the cost of accommodation should always be considered as a factor while choosing the university if a student is facing financial constraints. 

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Completely Understand the Traffic Rules

In most universities, traffic rules are usually explained to new students, but it’s always better to know every bit of detail beforehand. In India, the traffic rules aren’t as strict when compared to the US. In fact, breaking traffic rules can land students in big problems. So, students are advised to know the details about traffic management before moving to the US to avoid any problem while crossing the road or understanding a signal. The laws in the US are pretty strict, and if there is a sign of “No Crossing”, the authorities literally mean it and crossing it will cost a lot. So, students who are already limited in their expenses should take care of it as this will affect their future too if they are held up for breaking traffic rules. The driving direction is also different from India, as we are habitual driving on the left side while the US laws have right-side driving. 


Always Avoid Getting into a Conflict with Locals 

There is a reason why the Indian diaspora has made a name for itself wherever it is, and it is the humility we Indians bring with us. A student going from India or, for that matter, any other country of the world is an ambassador of its culture, ethos, and values. Getting into a conflict reflects very poorly on the part of an immigrant who went for studies. It’s not important who is at fault; rather, not getting into a conflict is. One should avoid any untoward situation at all costs, as this might affect the student’s studies or even their stay in the US. Getting charged with even a slight crime severely affects the chances of getting a green card or job in the US. A man with a criminal record is never welcomed in any country, so it becomes important for students to get accustomed to their local culture and people. 


Get Well Versed with the US Metric System 

It is very important to understand the US metric system as it is different from the one used in India. Students in India use kilometres, kilos, and degrees Celsius, but when they move to the US, they struggle a lot. Students need to understand all this, as in the US, the student will have to buy a pound of cheese, walk a quarter-mile to the nearest book centre, and adjust the thermostat to Fahrenheit. In the initial days, students struggle a lot with the new metrics, so it’s important for them to practice with the American metrics systems for at least one month before moving to the US. For the initial days, students usually rely on the conversion apps that are already there on their mobile phones. 

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Open a Bank Account in the US 

Using an Indian debit or credit card in the US can be way more costly than using a local bank’s card. Even if the student’s bank has an account that has branches in the US, it’s advised to get a local debit or credit card. While choosing the bank account, one must check a couple of things like the minimum balance requirement, little or no monthly service costs, charge post free transactions. Indian students moving to the US usually don’t have any vehicles and rely mostly on cash. So, it’s important to have a bank account that is opened in the US. It also helps students in getting things on EMI, and the conditions are much more flexible than the Indian accounts. 


Get the Health Insurance with Broadest Coverage 

Nobody knows what might happen to them at any point in time. The cost of healthcare and hospitalisation is very costly. It can literally cost a fortune when seen from an Indian middle-class family. So, it becomes very important to choose the best possible insurance coverage. An international student has to take health insurance compulsorily. It helps the students in those times when they don’t have access to their families. So, it becomes important to have a health coverage plan that gives maximum coverage to students. Health insurance is also included in many loan plans, but students have to ask for it explicitly. If a loan plan doesn’t mention the insurance coverage, then the borrower should either ask for it or switch to a loan that offers it. Students can also take help from the international student office and ask for assistance in taking the best insurance plan. The universities’ officials help students take an insurance plan that gives them maximum coverage at minimal costs. 

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Choosing the Best Mobile Phone Plans

Unlike India, mobile phone plans are pretty expensive. It is important for the students to search for the best smartphone plan to help them cater to their needs. Most international students choose those plans which offer more data. Local calling in the US is limited, and most calls are international. Thanks to WhatsApp, now with data, it is much more convenient to talk with mobile data than international calling packs. But again this varies from one student to another. One should check all the mobile plans and see which operator and which plan gives the best option. International students usually go for prepaid plans wherein they have to make the payment before each month. It is the best option as it doesn’t require an international student to give the social security number. 


Keep All the Documents Handy 

Once a student moves to the US, they must have all the important documents with them. One should start keeping all the important documents in a separate folder at least a month before departing to the US. Since sending documents from India will take around a week’s time, it is advised to take all the documents with themselves at the time of leaving India. In the initial days, one might have the use of important documents. This is not an exhaustive list of documents. The list of documents might change depending on the university where the student is planning to study and also on the city where they will be living.

Important documents that a student must carry:

  • list items The photocopy of a student visa, at least two copies. 
  • list items Along with the passport, at least five copies of it. 
  • list items Original degree certificate, and at least five copies of it. 
  • list items Original transcript, and at least five copies of it. 
  • list items Attested copies of the documents mentioned above. 
  • list items Immunisation form. 
  • list items SEVIS fee receipt (at least two copies)
  • list items English Proficiency Test Report, at least two photocopies. 
  • list items Recommendation letter. 
  • list items At least two photocopies of air tickets. 

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These are some tips and points that a student must keep in mind before sitting on the flight to the US. One must keep in mind that their ultimate goal is to study and build a future for themselves, and sticking to that goal is the best thing that a student can do in the US. 

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