Things you need to know before entering the U.S. part I

If you are applying for graduate school, you might start to receive an interview notice or admission letter. Or if you are graduating from the Ph.D. program and plan to do your post-doctoral training in the U.S., Here are things you need to know before you board the flight.

The first thing we need to do is find a place to live, either an apartment or a house to rent. Fortunately, after the COVID pandemic, many landlords or leasing offices provide a virtual tour for the house or apartment. Although the virtual tour would be good enough to check the overview of the house, I would recommend having some local people check the place for you. It might be worth hiring a local student and asking the student to do a video chat while he/she is on tour. Some people would think this is a waste of money if there is a virtual tour service, but minor things might be easily neglected in the virtual tour. Or I would suggest that you stay at a hotel for 1-2 weeks before you have a tour and sign the contract. Do NOT pay any deposit without any house tour because it might be a fraud.

Second, everyone has a smartphone that requires wireless service. However, with smartphone technology, the only problem is that you do not have any wireless service, and you cannot do anything, go anywhere because modern people cannot live without a smartphone. There are three major wireless service companies in the U.S., T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. I believe you could find the stores of these wireless service companies when you arrive at the international airport and get a prepaid sim card for your smartphone. Then you could still be a “smart” person to solve any problem with your phone.

Third, a driver’s license and a vehicle would be essential tools if you plan to live in the country because the bus schedule might not be as frequent as in the city. In the U.S., each state has its own motor vehicle laws and safe driving practices, for example, in New York State, when a school bus stops on street to load or discharge passengers, all the vehicles should stop for the school bus even you are on the opposite side of a divided highway. However, in New Jersey, if there is a divided highway and the vehicle is on the opposite side of the bus, the car does not need to stop but should drive less than 10 mph. So it is better for you to learn the local traffic law while you are new to the state. Additionally, the steps to get a driver’s license are to pass the written test for your Class D learner’s permit before you schedule the road test. About buying a car, I will prepare another blog to share my experience buying a car in the U.S. and share some tips to get a lower price.

In sum, I only listed the three most important things to those who are fresh off the boat. There are several minor things I could not discuss here due to the length of the blog, but feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions. Last, I would like to welcome you to the states and enjoy your lives here.

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Jason(Yen-Chun) Lu, All right reserved.

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