On Campus Accommodation USA
Finding a place to live will be one of the first important tasks you’ll face in the States. You can research a number of options before you arrive via e-mail communication with the International Student Office, or by browsing the Internet for local on-line newspapers in the region of the school you choose.
You may get a “flavour” of the community by reading the local news, and you may even be able to search the classified advertising section for accommodations options.
Most students, however, prefer to see the particular style of living quarters in person, especially if it is off-campus, before they commit to a rental agreement with a monetary deposit.
Once you are enrolled in a U.S. school, their Admissions Department or International Student Office will most likely send you “pre-departure orientation” packet. Options for where to live are generally included in the information.
Some schools in the States offer accommodation for international students on-campus, or near schools classrooms, libraries and other facilities.
“Dormitories” are buildings with many rooms for sleeping and living, often with two or three people (of the same gender) per room. Dormitory residents typically share large bathrooms, which include showers and toilets.
Many first-year students prefer to live in on-campus dormitories because they are convenient for both academic and social activities. Another advantage is that you will not need a car to commute to campus, in most instances.
On-campus accommodation also offers close proximity to the cafeteria and other eating establishments. U.S. colleges and universities offer very flexible meal-plan programs, where you can choose to pay in advance for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
On most campuses, you may also deposit a certain amount of money at the beginning of the semester for food that you may buy from designated places; each item’s cost is deducted from the balance in your account throughout the semester. Again, your pre-departure orientation packet will probably detail your eating options.
Some U.S. schools do not provide on-campus accommodation for international students. However, an off-campus housing office will assist you in finding an appropriate place to live.
Often, the office co-ordinates activities to help students find a compatible roommate to share expenses; they also provide information about the local neighbourhoods , including popular restaurants, shopping areas, parks and recreation, and public transportation.
Ask new friends and other students if they have any suggestions for a good apartment. Check classified advertisements in the local newspaper (Sundays usually have more apartment listings than other days of the week). If all else fails, contact a real estate agent for assistance – though be aware of unspecified fees for the service.
Before committing to a lease, or an agreement to rent an apartment, spend some time in the area to decide if it feels safe and convenient to places like grocery stores. Read the lease carefully before signing.
You will learn, for example, that the landlord is not responsible for your possessions if they are stolen or destroyed, so you may consider purchasing “renter’s insurance.” If you do not understand any part of the lease agreement, ask the landlord or a friend to explain it to you.
Moving into a dormitory setting is relatively simple: utilities such as electricity and telephone connections will most likely be ready to use.
Each U.S. college or university has its individual policy on paying for long-distance telephone charges learn those policies soon after you arrive on campus.
Arranging the details of off-campus accommodation is a bit more complicated. If your rent does not include utilities, you will need to request that the companies turn on the electricity and telephone service when you arrive. The landlord can provide you with the appropriate contact information.
You have a choice of long-distance carriers for your telephone service. Be sure to ask the customer service representative about special discount calling plans, particularly for international connections.
The representative is usually eager to offer you a variety of extra services, most of which are not necessary. Soon after you register for telephone service, you should receive a free telephone directory.
Within the directory, you will find the white pages (listing of local residents alphabetically by name), the blue pages (government listings), and the yellow pages (business, listings and advertisements).
Many U.S. households have telephone answering machines, which record messages from callers when no one answers the phone. You may purchase an answering machine for about $25.
Another option is to request that the telephone company provide an electronic answering service, for which they charge a small monthly fee.
In most cases, the least expensive way to keep in touch with far away friends and family is via e-mail. Again, each U.S. school has it’s own policies and procedures for accessing the Internet.
If you choose to access your own e-mail off-campus, you can expect to pay about $20 per month to an Internet Service Provider.