study in the states

International students face a special challenge as they pack their bags to study in the states: How do you move your life across the globe without racking up exorbitant airline fees or shipping costs? There will be some hard decisions about what to leave and what to take, but here’s some advice to get you started.

  • Buy the big stuff in the US. Lighten your load by purchasing room decor, linens, and other domestic odds and ends necessitated by dorm life (think shower caddies and mini-microwaves) in American stores.
  • Take advantage of discounts. Most university bookstores offer students special low prices on technology like laptops, phones, and tablets, so consider holding off on those high-ticket items until you’ve arrived on campus.
  • Consider climate. When packing your clothes, check the average temperature for your new home. Relocating from a chilly climate to sunny southern California? Ditch the heavy coat (and stock up on sandals when you arrive!). Moving to a location with four seasons? If you’re flying home for winter break, consider waiting until then to pack up your warmest clothes for the trip back to the US.
  • Be prepared for bureaucracy. Don’t forget your documents! Passport, visa, immigration forms, employment authorization—being an international student entails a lot of paperwork. Protect the originals, make copies (both on paper and electronically), and keep everything securely stored.
  • Be sentimental. You’re embarking on a huge life change! Don’t be ashamed if you feel homesick from time to time. Taking along photos and mementos from home will bring you comfort and provide a cheap and personalized way to decorate your dorm.

Best of luck on your move! Don’t forget to seek out orientation programs and connect with the office of international students at your college. There is a support system in place on every campus to help ensure you have an easy transition to this new chapter of your life—take advantage of it!


Written by Emily Toffelmire
Emily Toffelmire is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts. Prior to joining College Coach, Emily worked as an admissions officer at University of Southern California as well as a college counselor at high schools in the US and Thailand.