Life in the USA as an International Student

Samarpita Goswami
Updated on Sep 28, 2022 05:12 PM IST

Studying in the US can be a remarkable and overwhelming experience at the same time. In this article, let us explore what student life in the US looks like and what the American way of life actually is.

Life in the USA as an International Student
prodigy finance banner

The salad bowl country is an undeniable summon for an international student. The ride across the roads of the USA  brings exhilarating experiences for a student. While shifting to a foreign land, countless questions and doubts scuttle over the mind especially when it is the US, which is regarded as one of the top countries for study abroad. The anticipation of a divergent lifestyle in the US may both scare and excite international students at the same time.

The whole process of studying abroad needs to be meticulously planned and executed. For that, one must be aware of the prospects and challenges that the country has to offer. An explicit perception will help you sort out your life as an international student in the US.

In this article, we will answer your most common questions regarding international student life in the US, starting from how to get a US visa to the social life in the US.

Know the Country Before You Land

Getting acquainted with the country before you reach is crucial. Those of you who are movie junkies must have seen Hollywood movies and have got an idea of what life in America is like. But, you must remember that reality can be totally different from what you see in movies. Of course, life in the USA offers endless scopes and is a roller coaster to be in, but make sure you acquaint yourself with the lifestyle, the past and present, the culture, and the geography of the States before even arriving in the country.

The USA, being the third-largest country in the world, displays a plethora of landforms and climates, which makes it all the more interesting and suitable to each unique international student. 

After you are admitted to the US college or university of your choice, read about the geographical location of the area and the climate of the place. You can pre-plan your clothes and lifestyle accordingly.  

Which Student Visa Do You Need to Study in the US? How Do You Get It?

A student visa is mandatory to study in the USA. Without it, your eligibility to study in the universities in the country will stand null and void. Broadly, there are two categories of students visa, which are:

  • F1 visa - An F-1 visa is vital for those enrolling in a regular academic program in the US. Those who are about to study in high school, college, university, seminary, conservatory, or any academic institution including a program of language training are eligible for an F1 visa. 

  • M1 visa - The students who wish to enrol in vocational or any other recognised non-academic university in the US must apply for an M1 visa.

The process to apply and acquire a student visa in the US mandates the following few steps:

  • The form DS-160 has to be filled out online.

  • Upload your photo along with the form.

  • Appear for the visa interview at the US consulate or embassy.

  • Pay the issuance fee for a visa once it is approved. 

You can enter the country prior to 30 days of the start date of your course. 

Our Ivy League mentors are endowed with years of experience to get international students admitted to the top universities in the USA. 

Simplify Your Student Life in the US!

Battle with the Cultural Shock 

Disorientation or cultural shock is the first unwelcome feeling that you may encounter in your host country. It is important to first recognise and give a name to your feelings. You may feel lost, lonely, unwanted, isolated, or bewildered by the new regime of life but you must bravely fight the challenges that you face on your way. You will have to realise that it takes time to adjust your body and mental clock as your timezone shifts. Keep contacting your family members and friends at home, Try to find foods that you are habituated with it. Find your own tribe. You may try being friends with students from your home country or neighbouring countries to feel at home. Make friends with those who share your thoughts and your life will be a cakewalk after that. 

Immerse in the Mixed Bag Culture

The culture of your country may be distinct from that of the American Culture. Independence, equality, autonomy, directness, and informality are a few characteristics of your host country. You will have to immerse yourself in the culture of the land and accept their way of living. The country welcomes people from all parts of the world so there is a probability that you may find more non-Americans on your university campus. Stick to the people you feel comfortable with and who knows? They are most probably also dependent on you. You will never find a more heterogeneous space as America and the best way to adjust to it is to embrace and soak into what you are being offered. Participate in sports activities and cultural clubs and form new bonds on campus. These activities will help you to spend your me-time productively while exploring your surrounding with friends. 

International Student Accommodation in the US

A place to stay is as crucial as finding a place to study especially when studying abroad. Depending on your budget and expenses, you can plan your student accommodation in the US. Usually, the US offers two options for accommodation to international students.

  • On-Campus Dormitories - Several American universities offer facilities to international students to live on campus or near it. These US university dorms are designed to stay with other students in the same room, facilitated with large washroom facilities which are to be shared by all students living on campus. You can stay in dorms as it will be cost less and help you remain close to the campus. Moreover, you will not have to worry about your food and other safety needs.

  • Off-Campus Apartments - If your university in the US doesn't offer on-campus housing or you want to live off-campus, you can opt for apartments to live alone or share with others. There are real estate agents and offices all over the US to help you find a suitable apartment based on your budget.

USA Transportation for International Students

The USA is a vast country and transportation is a thing of considerable importance if you are living off-campus. It will not be a feasible option to rent or buy a car during your student life. Public transport systems are abundant in America and you can easily scuttle through the city. A bicycle is a relatively inexpensive source of transportation that allows you to move around independently. Buses, trains, and subways are the next alternatives to choose from. They are cost-effective modes to manoeuvre across the city and suburbs. Taxis can also be hired by students. They charge exorbitantly but can be availed on a sharing basis if you don't have a bicycle, bus, or train connectivity. 

Expenses in the USA for International Students

The USA is an expensive country to dwell in. If you are a spendthrift then your budget and expenses will skyrocket. You would, hence, have to learn to cut the coat according to the cloth if you want to study in the US. Additionally, planning your daily and monthly expenses and finding economical alternatives will help you to manage your expenses. A knowledge of cooking, laundering, and cleaning will further help you to save a lot of money while studying at a US university.

Here is a list of expenses that you will have to mandatorily incur while your stay in the USA apart from your tuition fees.  

  • Study materials, books, and stationery

  • Transport & Accommodation

  • Grocery & Clothes

  • Electricity

  • International calling cards & internet

  • Entertainment & social activities

  • Medicine & other variable expenses

Overall, you will have to dedicate a minimum of USD1,000 and USD1,200 a month. The cost also varies from state to state of the study destination. 

Scholarships and Financial Aids to Study in the USA

As discussed above, the US cost of education and living can be worth a king’s ransom. To finance education in the US, you will get US scholarships and aid that will highly reduce your expenses. The universities and colleges have their own scholarships to promote international students. Besides, the American government funds programs like Fullbright Foreign Students Program and Hubert Humprey Fellowship Program. There is also a policy called the “need-blind policy” where a student’s financial condition is not taken into account for providing admission.

You can avail of other scholarships from US universities and other private organisations. The list of some scholarships for overseas students in the US are 

  • #YouAreWelcomeHere Scholarship

  • Civil Society Leadership Awards

  • Preply Scholarship

  • Bat and Ball Game Women’s Sports Scholarship(for sports-related education)

  • Rotary Peace Fellowships                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Banking for International Students in US

When studying abroad, understanding the banking system of the country is crucial for the management of money. You will have to wisely plan your finances for sustenance. As you reach the USA, you will have to open a bank account near your university campus or residential facility. You also have to be definite to have sufficient funds in your account to pay your bills to avoid penalty fees.

To open a bank account in the US, you will need documents to support your application. These include passport, address proof, letter of enrolment, Social Security Number, international ID number and student ID number.

The fees which you may have to incur while running your US bank account are account fees, ATM fees, transfer fees, overdraft fees and lost card fees.

Access to Healthcare for International Students in the USA 

The USA does not provide socialised healthcare facilities. You should have an idea of the local healthcare facilities for better living. Though the health facilities are, by far, the best in America, they are expensive, to begin with. As an international student, you can access general medical care on your campus which would include first aid,  treatment of minor illnesses to diagnostic facilities. In addition, the cost of healthcare facilities on-campus may be lower than those off-campus.

During your first week in the US, it would be ideal to submit your health-related documents to the university’s health care centre. 

Also, private doctors are available on regular basis outside to treat you. In case of an emergency, you can go to the emergency section of your closest hospital. 

Many institutions provide health insurance to international students on different terms and conditions. Take the help of experts to know more about the premium and coverage of health insurance in the US.

Can You Work in the USA While Studying?

Yes, international students can work while studying in the US. Those on F1 visas should know in detail the terms and restrictions of working in the US, as mentioned below:

  • You can be employed on campus or work part-time in the US where you can work up to 20 hours a week when the school is open.

  • You can take up full-time employment during session breaks and holidays.

  • Your employment must not cause displacement to the job of a US citizen.

  • The optional practical training (OPT) status helps you to work off-campus under conditions that you have a valid F1 visa and employment should bear a relationship to the ” major” subject. 

  • The rule for off-campus employment is similar to on-campus employment.

If you want to know more about your stay and study in the USA, get practical knowledge from our experts who are experienced in providing assistance and guidance to the students.

Find Out More About Your Stay in the US! 

You can share this post!

prodigy finance banner

Related Articles

Nov 18, 2022 07:30 PM IST

Popular STEM Degree Courses in USA

Nov 09, 2022 01:37 PM IST

Highest Paying Jobs in the USA

Our Study Abroad Offerings

Related Articles

Related Institutes

Planning to study abroad?

Interested in Studying Overseas?

Connect with us and kickstart your learning journey for a rewarding experience!

  • +971

By proceeding ahead you expressly agree to the CollegeDekho Terms of Use & Privacy Policy.