Skip to main content

Flying to the USA? Follow these tips!

The United States of America has thousands of accredited colleges and universities renowned for quality, numerous programs of study, and flexibility to change fields of study and schools. The wide range of tuition and living costs makes the United States affordable for thousands of international students each year. It is a wonderful place for Indian students too.

My passport is stamped with F1 visa, what should I do now? What groundwork should I do? How should I prepare before flying to USA? What should I do after landing in USA...? Such questions flash on your mind. Do not falter, each US University has an international student services office with trained counselors available to answer your questions and guide you through the process of adaption to US university life. The international student services office also organizes a variety of regularly schedule events for international students. Many US campuses also have Indian student associations, which also organize events on a regular basis.

Here are some tips that Indian students have to follow before leaving for USA:

Always carry photo identification with you. Take 3-4 copies of your passport with you and give a copy to your parents or guardians in India. This would help you to display the proof if you loose passport.

After landing in USA, always protect your personal information, including social security numbers and credit card numbers. Be aware of scams that are often communicated via email, in which you may be asked for personal details, such as your social security number or credit card details. At the same time, do not ask for personal information of Americans.

Be well aware of your surroundings at all times, and avoid flaunting either your religion or your wealth. Learn to blend in and make the effort to mingle with the locals. This will ensure you stay safe and make good friends.

Make sure you have all and proper documents well in advance. You will be turned away (or sent home) if you don't have all the necessary documents. Admission letter from your university, i.e. your I-20 form, contact details of your foreign student officer (email, cell numbers), contact details of friends/ relatives, if any, living in the US, for when you land at a US airport and contact details of your family/ friends in India for reference purposes are very important that must not be missed.

Save dollars through search:
Save money when you go to USA as every penny counts while you are in a developed country. So, it’s always imperative to do extensive internet search on every topic so that you can get specific tips that would save your dollars. For example, most of the Indians, without prior knowledge buy a lot of stuff like load of clothes, spices, stationary etc. and ship them to USA. It is not advisable to buy everything in India. USA climatic conditions vary from place to place. Browse internet find the climatic conditions of the place you are supposed to go and buy clothes suitable to that climate. Search and interact with as many people as possible who are staying in USA, research about the living conditions, food, travel facilities, accommodation etc. Current students from your University and Alumni members can be a good source for you to explore the conditions and save dollars accordingly. Also, find various types of funds, scholarships, loans, stipend options, part-time jobs by browsing thoroughly. Smart online research always saves your dollars.

It is not advisable to carry a large amount with you. The fee amount can be transferred through wire transfer, as you only need to pay tuitions per semester, or twice a year. It is recommended to take $200-$300 in cash for personal use, making sure to get bills in multiple denominations. Insist on a few one-dollar bills, as you'll need them when landing in the United States for tipping and luggage carts.

Also, carry $1,000 to $3,000 in travellers’ cheques. Keep at least three copies of the numbers of these cheques and place of issue, separately in your pocket, handbag and luggage. This way, in case of loss, you will have at least one copy of the required information for the bank upon arrival.

Medical insurance:
As we in India are not used to medical insurance, this is the most important aspect where care has to be taken. Without medical insurance, it is almost impossible to get treated by a doctor in the US. International students are required to have medical insurance and many universities offer their own medical insurance services. Consult your university’s international student services office to research your options. It is advisable to perform all medical check-ups like dental/ optical, immunization tests etc. and get prescription and medicines for all common ailments.

Learn basic cooking:
Cooking for yourself will save you money. Indian food is expensive in the US! It will also satisfy your urge to eat ‘home food’ during moments of cultural shock. Before you travel to the US, learn how to make basic Indian foods, such as rice, daal and gravy. Indian spices are not commonly available in smaller cities, but there are often shops on campus where you can get ingredients used in most Indian food.

After landing in US, the first and foremost thing is to inform the university officials that you have reached. Attend the international student orientation, and feel free to ask your questions, as they are more than willing to help you. You need to get a Social Security Number. Apply for one soon after arriving in the States.

Be cautious at the airport:
Fill up customs declaration form and arrival departure record given by flight attendants well in advance and submit them after landing in USA at the airport. Do not stumble at port of entry and fluently explain about your purpose of visit, course and university details, destination and any other details if so asked by the authorities. After customs verification, you will be issued I-94 that has a declaration and status (D/S) stamp on SEVIS form. Take care not to loose it at any cost, as this is mandatory identification in USA for any student. You have to report and register at the University within 30 days from the date of issue of the D/S stamp, or else, the consequences would be very serious.

When you reach your destination, report at the college and go to international center. They will provide you with maps and instructions about banking, transportation, health insurance, and other things that need to be completed. Then, apply for your Social Security Number. Once your permanent accommodation is decided, you will have to get a telephone connection and change electricity to your name. Once you are settled, register for classes.

Live as a composed foreigner:
As you will be living in the US as a foreigner in a new culture, make efforts yourself to bridge the cultural gap between you and other students to avoid cultural misunderstandings. Always stay calm and unruffled and be willing to listen to others. Try learning their culture and living conditions at the university. Interact with the university alumni and current Indian students and learn about the living conditions and ways to approach staff and fellow students.

Remember that Indians are not the only foreigners but there are many other people from different countries. Discover different cultures and ethnicities that you have to interact through your university website. Though you have the option to live in a closed community of Indian, interaction with other students can make you gain knowledge and excel in career.

Comfortable accommodation while studying:
Regarding accommodation, you can gain knowledge about facilities through current Indian students. Generally, Indian students have the option of staying in dormitories (similar to a hostel system in India) or in private accommodations. Take care that the place you live is close to your university or near a university shuttle bus or metro station. Dormitories are advantageous because rooms will be maintained by the owner and utility bills for gas, water, and electricity too will be included in your rent and need not pay again. Also, take care that your residing place is nearer to local banks, worship centers, restaurants and libraries.

Learning about American accent:
As you are aware that American accent is different from that of Indians, you might feel difficulty while communicating with Americans. You must have taken TOEFL and you are already aware of their accent. Improvise your accent by talking to American students and professors regularly. In future, you will have to attend events, interact with many people in USA and so, improving American accent plays a very important role for public interaction.

Finally, don’t forget to put your best efforts to fare well in your studies!
Published date : 31 Jul 2013 04:56PM

Photo Stories