American university life

Once you have secured your place at a U.S. college, it is time to begin making plans for your new life as an international student in the United States. Although there are a few things you cannot do until you have obtained your visa, much planning can be done ahead of time to make the move to the United States run more smoothly.

Arrival in the United States

Once you have been admitted to a university, have notified them of your acceptance, and paid any tuition deposit required, you should receive further information about your new school and procedures for your arrival on campus. These should include details of the best way to reach the campus.


U.S. universities hold arrival orientations for new international students to familiarize them with the campus and its facilities and to help with adjustment to life in the United States.

International Student Adviser (ISA)

U.S. universities that regularly admit international students have special staff assigned and trained to work with them. They are usually called international student advisers (ISAs) or foreign student advisers (FSAs).

Academic Adviser (AA)

In addition to your ISA, you will be assigned an academic adviser (AA) who is usually a faculty member in your major field (if you have specified one). You usually meet with your AA before registering for classes to be advised on what classes to take to fulfill graduation and specialization requirements.

University Housing

Most U.S. universities expect freshmen to live on campus. This means you will almost certainly be sharing a room in a university dormitory or apartment with at least one other student. One advantage of this is that if your roommate is American, he or she might take you home at holidays and introduce you to American culture.

Money and Banking

The United States has very few national banks, and most operate on a regional, state, or city basis. Some universities have their own credit unions or other banking services. Before opening an account find out which banks are near to where you will be living and studying.

Health Insurance

As an international student you must have health insurance coverage while in the United States. It is compulsory to take out health insurance at most U.S. universities, either through the university’s policy or by purchasing your own policy that meets the university’s requirements. Health insurance policies vary and your international student adviser can explain them to you and help you decide on the best policy for you. Don’t forget to make sure you are insured for the journey from your home country to your campus in the United States.

Social Life

A variety of organizations and activities await you on most campuses, and getting involved is a great way to meet new friends, including Americans. You may find student-run radio and TV stations, newspapers, sports teams, and social clubs that are looking for new members. U.S. universities usually have an international society too. Most campuses have a Student Activities Office that can tell you what is happening on campus.

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