International Student Guide to Housing and Accommodation

A blog by saurabh

Things to do after reaching the destination: for international students

by saurabh
on January 10, 2018
At your university:
The first thing to do is to inform your university about your arrival. Report to the international student office of your university/international student adviser given on your I-20 along with your passport and I-20, I-94, admission letter etc.
Attend the International student Orientation Program of your university. This is very important to know well and thorough regarding your curriculum and other official procedures. You will be given an introduction regarding the various amenities and facilities you are provided with, whom to consult in case of emergency etc.
Visit the seniors in your department. Know well about your department as where the classes are held, labs if present etc. This will help you reach your first class on time. You can get any other doubts clarified too.
Knowing a few seniors is very helpful. They have some prior experience of living there. So they can show you around and help you regarding how to handle things, where to buy, what to buy, how to spend etc.
Get your university e-mail activated. Talk to your seniors regarding which professors to consult. Know your courses well and register carefully. Get your student ID.
Make sure that the tuition fees is paid before the due date. You don’t any trouble too soon.
Visit the campus medical centre and provide the details and certificates regarding the vaccinations. This is compulsory process in some universities. They may also guide you in taking up a sustainable health care plan.
Getting a part time job:
Try getting an on-campus job. These are jobs that tend to support the university operations. For some of these jobs, you may get a tuition waiver too. This is the best and easiest way. Be ready with a stellar Resume. Consult your seniors. They may help you in getting some good jobs. Most of the jobs are passed on like that only.
A more official way is to go the career development centre and apply for open jobs and vacancies.There will always be some information regarding this in your campus website.
Join some student organisations you find interesting. This way you will get to know more people and network a lot. This is the smart way to get a job.
Keep volunteering for any positions. This helps you in knowing the secretaries and chiefs of many centres and networking with other people. If they see you more often, they tend to develop a good impression on you and resulting to place you in a good job.
A good on-campus job pays you enough. A typical on-campus job has a pay of $7-$12 per hour. Hence an average of about $600 per month is a good amount too.
Off-campus Job: Anything that is not affiliated with the university is considered as an off-campus job. This kind of a job is ILLEGAL for an F1 visa immigrant unless your university grants permission under severe economic hardship grounds. This is risky and not recommended unless you are in serious need of money.
We do not recommend this kind of jobs. But just in case you are in a extreme need, you can work off-campus in gas stations as cashiers, malls and desi stores, hotels as a receptionist, Mc Donald’s, Subway etc. You can expect a nice and decent pay of $5-$10 per hour at off-campus jobs.
Starting your life as a citizen:
Once you got a on-campus job, you can successfully start applying for a Social Security Number (SSN). If you are a F1 visa immigrant and haven’t yet landed yourself a job, you are not eligible to apply for a SSN. Without getting an SSN, you cannot apply for credit cards/bank loans. Some Internet service providers too won’t give you an internet connection at your home without SSN. However, you can apply for a health insurance and driver’s license without SSN on F1 visa.
Now, in order to apply for the SSN, you will need your work-authorised immigration status(visa stamp on your passport), Age proof(passport), identity(passport/I-94), I-20 and job offer letter. Take all these documents to the nearest social security office in your city. For more details visit the link https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10181.pdf
Now that you got your SSN, you can move ahead to apply for your first credit card. Though you have a SSN, credit card companies will not issue you a credit-card without a good credit score. Credit Score is a rating given based upon how well you have paid your bills timely before, how much debt you have on your previous cards. So, first you have to build your credit score.
Paying rent, electricity and phone bills on time will not help much to improve your credit score. But not doing so, is going to affect your credit history. So start building your credit score by applying for a secure credit card which is similar to a debit card. You get a credit card based on your own money with a deposit of $500 into your account and your limit is the same amount. You will have to keep paying monthly just like a regular credit card.
A SSN is required to buy a cell phone in the US. If you already have a phone with you, which you brought from home and are confident that it would work there too, then it is well and good. You can buy a calling plan just for yourself or a family plan for 2–3 members to share among your roommates. Make sure you won’t exceed the calling plan minutes. If you will be calling back India using your mobile, you have to be more careful. A simple mistake may lead to a huge bill. Try internet calling. It is the best and cheap option.
Applying for a health insurance is the most important step. You cannot afford individual hospital bills. Everyone in the US will have a health insurance. As a student you pay $600–1000 per semester as health insurance to the university. Health insurance premiums are cheap for students at universities. If you have an on-campus job as a TA/RA, then the university will take care of your health insurance as you are considered as a university employee.

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26-Jan-18, 10:42
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