The first week in the United States as an International student can be a bit challenging. Settling in a new country comes with its share of challenges as it is your first time in a new place.
For international students, the first seven days prior to your orientation in the United States are very crucial as you have to make some important decisions that will impact your overall stay. Having placed thousands of students in the United States for their further study, we know their first-hand experience, early misfortunes, “wish-I-knew” and hindsight. And we continue to wonder why this information isn’t more widely available. Your first 168 hours is basically about getting your basic tools and services right so that you can hit the ground running just before your academic year starts.
Here in this blog, we give you a sneak peek into your first week in the United States and what you can accomplish as an international student.
1. Choose a US-based cell phone plan
Your home country network just won’t work in the United States. As soon as you step off the plane, you would start seeing ‘no service’ signals on your phone. Yes this can be unsettling but do not panic. We would advise you to go to a cell phone store as soon as possible after you land.
Here are three choices you have when it comes to cell phone plans:
1) Use an unlocked cell phone from home and get a new SIM card in the US
2) Buy a new phone and set up a pre-paid plan
3) Get a new cell phone and set up a contract plan.
2. Try not to sleep during daylight
Your schedule is most likely to go haywire in your first week in the United States. The time zone of your home country and US will have a lot of differences which means it will take some time for you to adjust to the new schedule. Yes, you would want to sleep as soon as you get off your plan. But try to resist yourself and fight the desire to sleep unless it is impossible for you to stay awake. It can be a task to keep your eyes open because of the jetlag. If you sleep off your first week in US, then you are likely to miss out on a lot as most of the places and shops are not open outside the hours of 8 am to 6pm. So daytime sleeping can give you trouble in the long run.
It would be great if you try to set an eight-hour schedule in the first week itself. This will also be beneficial for your health when the classes and assignments start pouring in. Even research shows that on average, a person takes 1 week to 10 days to get into a consistent schedule and for their sleep cycle to adjust.
Even after your classes begin, make sure you follow your schedule as much as you can. All nighters and daytime sleeping is manageable when done once in a while but it is surely not the best way to boost your productivity.
3. Open a new US bank account
Getting your own US bank account will make your life and finances easier to handle. Otherwise, you might end up paying high transaction fees which will only add to your limited budget.
Mostly International students don’t have their own cars and are not likely to take an Uber every time they need cash. So the best option is to open accounts with those banks who have ATMs on their University campus or banks which have branches within close proximity.
Also, you have to see what type of bank accounts they offer and which one will be the best based on your requirements. Most of the students are looking to set up a bank account which will incur low or no monthly service charges, no need for minimum balance and has a modest translation limit in case your debit or ATM card gets stolen/misplaced.
Though credit cards are not a necessity but there are various benefits of having one as an International student in the US. Yes, we understand that in the first week you will have to take care of a lot of urgent tasks that setting up a credit card will seem unnecessary. Most of the International students in the US are set up as an authorised user on their parents’ debit or credit card which will route back to the international bank account you have just set up. A disadvantage of this setup is that every purchase or transaction done by you will be visible to your parents in their bank statement. Since most of the students are looking for privacy and independence, they do set up a bank account and a debit card, but stop themselves from getting a credit card.
4. Review your health insurance options
Every student needs to have health insurance. But it becomes more important when you are an International student in the US. For US citizens. It’s different because they will anyway get one by the government. But here you have to “choose” to have health insurance in your name.
In the United States, there are various options for health insurance. It would be difficult for you to understand the US healthcare system in your first week itself since it’s a new place for you. We advise you to go to your international student office who will assist you in making a better choice of health insurance. They will also guide you on the various options available, the cost, and what all it will consist of in terms of care. Most of your medical needs can be taken care of by the campus health center but in case you need a medical specialist then you should know where all you can go near your campus and whether your insurance will cover them or not.
Education in the United States requires a lot of investment and expenses. Hence, medical costs will be the last thing you would want to spend more and more money in case of an emergency. That’s why, check your insurance options within the first week in the United States. Also, make sure that you sign up as soon as possible so that you have nothing to worry about during your stay in the United States.
Got any other tips for First Week In the United States as an International student? Let us know in the comments below!