The USA has a unique and vibrant culture and has influenced all four corners of the globe, but there may still be some aspects of American student life that you aren’t familiar with. IEC Abroad provides support to all our international students and helps them make the transition as smooth as possible. Here are some of the most important things we feel you need to know about living and studying in the USA.
American culture is broad and diverse, taking in influences from around the world due to its large migrant population. Many universities in the USA have their own on-site sports teams, concert venues, and activities which will help immerse yourself in your new life better than any guide book.
As the USA covers such a large amount of territory the manners, customs and values of each individual state can vary wildly. Some areas may be liberal and creative, whereas others more conservative and practical. Americans generally respect different cultures, and will often use slang or humour to communicate feelings.
American cuisine is as diverse as its population, and international students can usually find produce from a range of nations in most major cities and towns. Most states have plenty of restaurants serving their signature dish, whether it’s a Chicago style pizza or a Texan barbecue taco. Traditionally, American food has a reputation for being fatty and unhealthy; however there is an increasing amount of vegetarian, vegan, and fat-free alternatives available.
The majority of first-year students at American universities live in student housing located on campus. These rooms are often basic, may contain shared kitchens or bathrooms, and might be of a mixed sex nature. The cost of student accommodation in the USA varies greatly from state to state, and there may be cheaper alternatives available within the private rental market.
The average cost of living in the USA is around $1000-$1500 per month depending on which state you study in. Grocery costs range between $20-$40 for a week, and utility bills $50-$100 per month. A meal at an averagely priced restaurant will cost $12, a domestic beer $4, and a cinema ticket $11.
To work and study in the USA you must ensure your international student visa allows this. F1 visa holders cannot work off-campus at any time during the first year, and in the second year you must apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration before working.
On-campus work, where a student works for a firm contracted to the university, must not last more than 20 hours per week. M1 or J1 students may not accept any form of employment during their time in the USA, other than for practical training or as an essential part of their studies.
If you would like more specific details on what living in the USA is like for an international student, contact IEC Abroad today for expert, tailored advice.