Once you have your visa approved there are a few more things that you need to get done. We promise they are a lot more fun that the visa application process. Before we proceed we want to take the opportunity to wish you CONGRATULATIONS!
Post Visa Approval
Getting immunization shots is not exactly our idea of fun but something you need to take care of. (We’ll get to the fun part in a just a bit). Every school has their set list of immunizations that need to be either taken care of either before arrival or in some cases upon arrival. For specific checklists check your school’s website. Every school will have a Health Department that can be contacted for further inquiries and with any questions you may have.
Once you have your student visa you should start planning your travel. One of the first thing that happens is orientation for international students and that is very important (is this very important or MANDATORY? to attend. At the very least we recommend arriving a day before that. You can technically enter the United States 30 days before the start date of your program as listed on your I-20 document. A lot of airlines will do student promotions so you should definitely look into that as part of your travel planning.
Traveling to a new country where you possibly have no ties can be a big deal. There are many ways that you can socialize with students who are already attending university. Some international offices have programs in place where ambassadors are assigned to help you through this process. If you’re going in for a Bachelor’s or equivalent program some universities will want you to live in college dorms and that is a great place to stay because getting to know new people becomes a lot easier. Look for university social media pages and reach out to people. You’ll be surprised how with the responses you get.
Now this is a big one so pay attention. Once you have been admitted into the college and even before you have your visa you can go ahead and register for courses. We highly recommend doing that because a lot of classes have a cap and they fill up pretty fast. You don’t want to be stuck with all the leftover courses to choose from and make your first semester a little less fun.
Some international students are used to a more structured course selection where all the courses are predetermined based on the major you choose. You’ll be surprised with the freedom you have with course selection in most universities in the United States. College in the United States is not just about getting your degree but it’s also a great experience. You meet so many different people and combine that with all the fun things happening at the university that combination is a different kind of learning, which is equally important.
This is also a big one because if you don’t make a timely decision you might not be left with too many options. For freshman/ 1st year students coming in for a Bachelor’s degree we definitely recommend living in the dormitories for your first year. This keeps you more connected to the university and you can stay more involved in all the fun and cool things happening.
A lot of freshman are not used to cooking their own food and staying on campus on a meal plan turns out to be a great deal. It’s not always the best food but not having to cook will save you a lot of time and energy which you can channel towards things you want to do. As international students you are probably used to different types of food and the cafeterias will always offer you a balanced diet, which can make a huge difference through with your acculturation process.