What to pack for university study in the USA

Packing can be exciting, but also a little stressful when you’re going away to study abroad.

  • What to pack for university?
  • Will I need to carry books?
  • Will they have my favorite shampoo in that country?
  • Is one jacket enough, or should I carry two?

These are some common (and expected) concerns that occupy the minds of international students leaving home for the first time. Worry not, we have compiled a list of what to pack (and not to pack), along with useful tips, to help you pack wisely as you embark on your adventure of being a University student.

Travelling within the USA

If you have a connecting flight from your country to your final US destination, remember it’s good to keep your baggage light and compact! Before you pack, keep in mind:

  • US carriers allow one bag weighing up to 50 pounds (23 kg) to be checked, and one carry-on (there are rarely weight restrictions, but it has to be able to fit in the overhead compartment) and one personal item (purse, laptop, etc.) to be brought onto the airplane.
  • Only 3 fluid ounces (90 mL) of liquid items are allowed onto the airplane, and these should be packed separately in clear plastic bags.
  • US carriers might also charge fees for checked baggage.

Refer to this website for information pertaining to carry-on baggage allowance.

Make a packing list of everything you think you will need, and then cross off things you know you can buy in the US. Below is a list to get you started.

Wardrobe basics:

  • Underwear and socks (good to have two weeks’ worth in case you don’t do your laundry each week!)
  • Sneakers
  • Dress shoes, sandles etc.
  • Tank tops, undershirts
  • Short and long-sleeve shirts
  • Sweaters (for mild spring and fall weather)
  • Sweatshirts or hoodies (2-3)
  • Coat/jacket (two is a good number; try to bring one that is water resistant)
  • A formal outfit for special events or interviews
  • Work out clothing (to go the gym!)
  • Your favorite shirt or piece of clothing
  • Jeans, shorts, or other types of pants (2-3 pairs)
  • Swimsuit
  • Belts and accessories
  • Scarf, mittens, gloves, ear-muffs etc. for winter weather
  • Pajamas
  • Flip flops (bring 2 pairs, one for the showers, and one for walking around)

Toiletries and personal hygiene products:

  • Shampoo, soap, face wash
  • Lotion/cream
  • Medicated ointments/ skin creams used on a regular basis
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Shaving cream and razor
  • Deodorant and/or perfume
  • Contact lens solution

Quick tip: Pack in small quantities or travel size for immediate use only. You can always buy additional toiletries in the US when you need more.

Bed linens and towels:

  • Buy bed linens in the US since you don’t know the exact size or type of bed that it needs to fit.
  • Pack one towel for showering upon arrival; buy additional towels when you’re settled in.

Electronic appliances:

  • Everyday electrical appliances such as desk lamps and hair dryers can be purchased cheaply in the USA.

Quick tip: Keep in mind that plug points and voltage may vary from what is used in your country, so assess your needs and purchase accordingly when in your residence.

Food and books:

  • Bring your favorite non-perishable foods or snacks that will not be available or hard to find in the USA. This is often what international students crave most in the first few months of being away from home.
  • Only bring books that you know cannot be found in the US or be ordered online. Books can weigh a lot even if they are compact.


  • Bring sufficient prescription medicine if you take it on a regular basis.
  • Over the counter medications such as aspirin, can be bought in the US to save space, but it is okay to bring a small amount in case you need it for immediate use.
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses if you wear them.

Quick tip: Have a list of all your medications signed by a doctor to show legitimacy. Also, make sure what you’re bringing in the US is considered legal in the USA. If you’re unsure, ask your doctor or check the Transportation Security Administration website.

Important documents to bring (originals or copies, as applicable):

  • Detailed and up-to-date medical and dental records, if possible. Make sure your records reflect recent visits to your local health care professionals for general examinations, blood tests, dental and eye check-ups, x-rays, etc. These will help US doctors get a better idea of past diagnoses and accordingly offer treatments.
  • Immunization record, even if it was already turned in to your University, it is good to have a spare copy!
  • Official transcripts from secondary schools, colleges or universities.

Other essentials:

  • Air ticket and passport
  • Wallet with US currency or traveler’s checks
  • Your mobile phone
  • Laptop or tablet
  • Chargers and 110 volt adaptors for North American plugs
  • Bilingual dictionary or electronic translators (if you use one)
  • Photos of family and friends to tide you through when you are feeling homesick.
  • A favorite item, such as a stuffed toy, pillow or diary to make you feel more at home!

Quick tips:

  1. Campus wear in the US is casual (eg T-shirt and jeans)
  2. Folding and then rolling clothes is a good space-saving technique, but the weight will stay the same, so don’t over-stuff your bags!
  3. Distribute the weight by packing bulkier items like shoes in your hand luggage.
  4. You may even decide to wear your heavier clothes such as a winter coat in-flight!
  5. Do not pack clothing that you will be able to buy in the US at a cheaper cost. Consider buying items that you may need or want, but do not already own, upon arrival (heavy winter coat, summer clothes, etc.).

Finally, if you can’t fit items into your luggage, you can always just ship it to your US residence.

Welcome to America!

Want to know what to expect at university in the USA? Find out about Life at University.

James Madison University – The Ultimate American Undergraduate Experience


The Quad - James Madison University in the USA

The Quad - James Madison University

When asked about how she chose James Madison University in America, international student Marina Mezzetti from Brazil said she saw the pictures of campus and the quad blanketed with students socializing and studying and she knew she wanted to come to JMU. “The academics here are awesome. The professors are always trying to help you be your best and do your best,” said Mezzetti. “The university has so many opportunities for you to get involved and meet new people. “ Mezzetti originally had plans to transfer to California, but once she stepped foot onto JMU’s campus in Harrisonburg, Virginia she knew she was a Duke for life.

At JMU everyone “bleeds purple” – a loyalty that is a testament to the campus spirit and welcoming environment. As a mid-sized university on 2.8km2 of land with approximately 19,700 students, JMU offers big-school opportunities with a small-school feel. Having one of the highest retention rates in its category at 91%, it is clear that students are extremely satisfied with their Madison experience.

This experience has been part of the JMU tradition for more than a century. Originally founded in 1908 as a State Normal and Industrial School for Women, JMU has grown to offer more than 100 degree programs to men and women on the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. With its primary focus on the undergraduate experience, JMU offers abundant hands-on and real world opportunities to complement classroom instruction across all disciplines.  As a Phi Beta Kappa Chapter member, an honor that only 10 percent of the country’s colleges and universities can claim, JMU is committed to the liberal arts and sciences and is consistently recognized for academic achievement. These recognitions have not gone unnoticed. More than 250 companies visit JMU each year to recruit students for jobs and internships.

Commons Market at James Madison University in the USAStudents find balance outside of their challenging coursework by choosing from more than 300 clubs and student organizations, Division I athletics and numerous community and cultural events year round.

More than 400 international students from 99 countries attend JMU and enjoy the services and hands on support provided for the international student community. Yana Tyan from Kazakhstan says, “I’m really happy at JMU. It is a wonderful environment with great people and academics. My favorite place is the quad – studying, walking, playing, reading, etc. I also love visiting Washington D.C.” In the coming weeks the international student community will participate in a true American tradition – attending a Washington Nationals baseball game.

Only 2 hours from Washington D.C., Harrisonburg, Virginia is nestled in the heart of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains and offers a variety of outdoor recreation and state of the art campus facilities for living and learning. Students are particularly impressed with off-campus accommodations that offer swimming pools, game rooms, fitness centers, clubhouses and free transportation to and from campus for all student complexes. Downtown Harrisonburg offers the quintessential college-town vibe with a variety of shops, restaurants and performance venues to choose from.

As an alumnus I can say with conviction that JMU is the ultimate university experience. Many schools may say it, but JMU owns it – there truly is something for everyone.

Learn more about James Madison University in the USA.

Tips for getting a student visa for USA and Canada

International students: North America wants you!

USA has always been an attractive destination and land of opportunities for young and ambitious individuals. According to the annual report Open Doors 2011, the number of foreign students in U.S. colleges and universities increased by 4.7% in the 2010-2011 academic year, exceeding 723,000 people. Based on the latest news US President Barack Obama plans to make a number of changes to open many opportunities for international students, even granting them citizenship. He proposed an immigration reform, creating favorable conditions for foreign graduates of American universities to obtain citizenship and  work experience in the country. So, there’s never been a better time to consider USA for long term higher education plans.

Visa – what to start with?

You can only apply for a visa once you have been accepted by a university that is SEVP (The Student and Exchange Visitor Program) certified. When you get this exciting news applying for a student visa will be one of the key steps in pathway to an overseas education. F-1 is the most common visa for academic students taking an education course.

What papers do you need to apply?

You should apply for your visa as soon as you’re prepared but very important and advisable to do it well in advance. F-1 applicants would need the following documents:

  • SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System document) – Form I-20;
  • Your printed barcode page from your online DS-160 application form;
  • A passport valid for travel to the USA and with a validity date of at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States;
  • One photograph;
  • Fee receipt to show payment of the visa application fee

Also you should be prepared to provide:

  • Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions;
  • Scores from tests required by your chosen institution such as the TOEFL;
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your studies;
  • You should demonstrate the consular your intention to leave the USA after you finish studying

Study to live in Canada

Each year more than 150,000 students from around the world come to study and live in Canada. Canada is a charming country with many picturesque places that provide affordable option to get a quality education and a fantastic quality of life. It is very flexible to foreign students who bring new skills and knowledge and enrich its culture.

How to apply?

If you want to study in Canada for more than 6 months you need to apply for a study permit (that is a student visa). As usual before applying you need to be accepted by a recognized university or college and have ‘Proof of Student Status’ letter. In addition to your acceptance letter you would need financial statements from the bank to cover tuition fees and living expenses and also a valid passport and 2 photos, application form with 2 appendixes and application fee.

What is also important to know is that each province and territory in Canada decides the age when a person is considered to be an adult. This is known as the age of majority and a “minor child” (a person under the age of majority) must be cared for by a custodian (who is a responsible adult in Canada).  Two notarized documents (one signed by the parents and the second one – in Canada) are needed to be prepared and required to give the custodian permission to act as a parent in Canada.

Pay attention that getting visa to Canada may take up to 3 months in high season so it is extremely important to gather the documents as soon as possible and well in advance. In some cases medical examination taken in the certified Medical Centres will be also required.

Usually Canadian embassy does not require original documents and interview.

Good luck and remember that nothing is impossible!

LIU Post: Location, Location, Location

In America, there’s a phrase to describe the key consideration of business or home: “Location, location, location.” With LIU Post, it’s the best of both worlds: quiet, garden-like campus but just outside the New York City’s metropolis.

Long Island University in the USALocated only 50 minutes from Manhattan, LIU Post, rated as one of the safest college campuses in the USA, is situated on a scenic, 1.25 km² (307 acres) of land on Long Island in the historic Village of Brookville, NY. The campus is a woodland arboretum – a place where you can walk and study among 4,000 trees and beautiful flowers. It is the perfect place to relax with friends, sit and read a book, or prepare for exams, while still having access to the pulse of vibrant New York City.

LIU Post is one of the largest private universities in the United States, with more than 4,600 undergraduate students and 3,300 graduate students from 40 countries. You will have many opportunities to make friends from your own country and interact with American and international students.

LIU Post offers more than 85 bachelor’s degree programs, 72 master’s degree programs, and three doctoral degrees, as well as 62 “accelerated and dual degrees” that combine a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Furthermore, the curriculum fosters an individualized approach to help students achieve their goals. The campus is a friendly and welcoming environment where professors will know you by name and assist you with your studies.

LIU Post is accredited by the Commission of Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. In addition, all of the academic programs are accredited by the most prestigious organizations in their fields, including AACSB International accreditation for the business program. Only five percent of the world’s business schools earn this accreditation. The Princeton Review ranks LIU Post in its “Top 300” business schools and graduates of the Palmer School of Library and Information Science earn the top salaries in the United States, according to Library Journal.

LIU Post is home to Tilles Center for the Performing Arts—a world-famous concert hall where many internationally renowned musicians perform. Because of its close proximity to Manhattan, many world class performers include the Tilles Center on their tours, including the upcoming show with actor and musician Steve Martin. The campus also features a museum, three art galleries, a student theater, and a movie theater.

Ashish Agarwal, a 2012 Long Island University dentistry graduate from India, speaks highly of his time at LIU Post through Study Group. He explained the complexities of acclimating to American life and the inherent difficulties international students face. Ashish affirmed that “There is no one like Study Group. While separated from my friends, family, and home, it has been Study Group that has most helped me realize my goals and future.”

Whether it’s studying from a wide array of fields, relaxing on the scenic campus, or heading into Manhattan to enjoy the city life, there is something for everyone at LIU Post.

For more information, please visit our website.

Visiting Campus from Abroad

Navigating the University Search Process

I can still remember the moment I stepped foot onto James Madison University’s campus – happy students socializing and studying in picturesque settings, the bluestone buildings along the quad, the sun shining against the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. I knew in that moment that James Madison University was where I wanted to spend the next four years. That was more than ten years ago, and I still can’t get enough of the Blue Ridge skyline.

While the campus visit is a vital part of the university search process, many students today, particularly international students, are not able to simply hop in the car for a weekend visit. With strong academic programs across the globe the campus visit has shifted from campus to our computer. Online search engines and guidebooks are bursting with information, but oftentimes these outlets can be overwhelming. University rankings are exciting, but do not always share the full story of everything a school has to offer. If you are suffering from cyberspace overload here are some tips to avoid crashing.

Beyond the Basics:

Kick off your search with standard sites like the university homepage that links to information for prospective students and admissions requirements. These are central starting points that often include quick facts, online tours and links to academic programs. But don’t stop there. Consider a few outlets beyond these basics to get an insider’s guide on what to expect on campus. Browsing the digital copy of a student newspaper, clicking through the calendar of events, and navigating to an area visitor’s guide website will paint a better picture of life on and off campus. Use the search box typically found at the top of each homepage as a helpful tool for finding specific information.

Save Your Search:

There is so much information available it is easy to get lost clicking away from one link to the next. You may find yourself questioning where you found a virtual tour, a layout of a residence hall, the university that had the exact academic program you had been seeking, etc. Keep these links as you find them in one easy to access document with a short description of each link and the name of the university so that you can refer to it later. Social bookmarking websites like www.diigo.com and www.delicious.com are helpful resources for saving your searches. You’ll save your time and your sanity from re-searching for this information.

Virtual Visuals:

Pictures, videos, and virtual tours are essential to helping you get a better feel for campus. In addition to popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, here are a few other websites to keep on your radar.

· www.flickr.com

· www.youtube.com or www.vimeo.com

· www.universitiesintheusa.com

· www.campustours.com

If access to these or similar sites is limited in your country use the information request form or e-mail address provided by the university to request printed materials. Some universities may be able to connect you with a student or professor in your academic area of interest to share their perspective.

Follow Up:

Universities abroad are eager and excited to recruit international students. They want to hear from you and share information about the university. As you find universities that interest you fill out their online information request form. Set up a separate e-mail account to use for university communication so that you know you will receive this information in one spot and will not be overloading your personal e-mail account. A separate account is a great way to share this information with your parents or guardians so that they can access important university updates sent via e-mail.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when starting your online search. Start early, take your time, and enjoy the process. The more effort you put into making an informed decision, the more likely you will be academically and personally successful in your new environment.

Organizing transcripts and evaluations/translations of transcripts

For many students new to university life and life in the United States, navigating the many regulations, timelines, rules, and guidelines can appear a bit daunting. Clear communication, defined goals, good organizational skills, previous research, and a professional support network of academic advisors, teachers and administrators can help students tremendously during this exciting transitional phase of life.

Effective January 1, 2012, James Madison University Undergraduate Admissions now requires all undergraduate students to provide a HARD COPY attested/certified high school transcripts with their complete application package. In addition, all transcripts, as well as a copy of the graduation diploma/certificate, need to be translated into English. The minimum GPA required for undergraduate admissions purposes to JMU-ISC is a 3.0 (U.S. equivalent).

Students also need to provide a copy of their passport, visa if applicable, student letter/letter of intent, a professional letter of recommendation, an official TOEFL/IELTS or Study Group English test score, and a bank statement or financial guarantee (if on scholarship) indicating minimum funds of US $34,000.

Accuracy and completion when filling out the application and required health forms are also very important. Not only does this improve the likelihood of acceptance to JMU, but there is also vital information which potentially impacts the student’s safety and well-being. Organizing immunizations records and other required documents while in one’s home country will not only save time and money, but will lessen the stress factor a student may feel upon arrival in the U.S.

The JMU Graduate Admissions Office has a different set of admissions requirements for graduate students. Different graduate programs have different admission deadlines and starting dates, so it is very important to educate oneself on the specific program requirements for the degree one is seeking.

The application process for international students, residing outside of the United States, typically takes between 6 months to one year. Students need to have a formal credential evaluation of undergraduate course work submitted directly to the JMU Graduate Admissions Office, as well as complete a financial declaration. This is in addition to all other required documents such as a student letter, letters of recommendation, passport, copy of undergraduate diploma, completed health form, and International Student Advisor’s Report (if applicable). One of the unique benefits of the James Madison University Pre-Master’s Program is that graduate students have until the end of their first semester in our program to complete the GRE or GMAT exam as required by the specific graduate program.

In conclusion, doing research ahead of time, and providing up to date, accurate, and complete documents in English will help facilitate a positive, timely and favorable admission process when applying to the James Madison University International Study Center.

Students can then focus on building positive new experiences and academic success. We look forward to continuing to welcome new international students to JMU-ISC, and helping them achieve their academic and future career goals.

American medical coverage a pain in the rib: an overview of student healthcare and insurance in the United States

When I moved to Costa Rica, I was surprised that I could simply walk into a pharmacy and buy almost any medication without a prescription. (I say “almost” because I needed a prescription for a pain medication when I fractured my ribs—but I digress.) Coming from the United States, this was a strange concept.

For most people, when we travel and live in a foreign country, we don’t think that anything out of the ordinary will happen to us. The stark reality though, is that unexpected things do happen (like my ribs smashing against the fishing boat in the Gulf of Guanacaste). In the United States, health care and medication is largely a privatized system, which translates to the fact that it can be very expensive.

Just for background, health insurance, most simply put, is any form of insurance that provides protection against the high cost of medical services. Here in the United States, it is both a public and private system. While the majority of citizens have private insurance plans, the government subsidizes the majority of medical costs for seniors and low-income children and families. The two government-run programs, Medicare and Medicaid, draw considerable attention from politicians, press, and public voices in the United States.

Nearly 70% of Americans opt for private healthcare coverage. Out of the United States’ entire population, over 60% buy into plans offered through their employers, while just 9% purchase insurance directly. While healthcare plans are managed by a consortium of private companies, the content of said plans are regulated by both state and federal precedents.

Most schools in the United States require students to either enroll in school-sponsored insurance plans, or provide confirmation of a comparable coverage source. Study Group’s Study Care is one such program.

Study Group’s Study Care is, effectively, a form of private health insurance offered specifically to Study Group students. The insurance, which covers everything from doctor visits to surgery, becomes effective immediately after admitted students leave their home country’s airspace (aka, when you touch off the tarmac for the United States). While a small fee of $50 is charged directly to the student following medical consultations, this fee is only a deductible, or partial payment, of whatever expense was incurred by the visit. So, basically, if a doctor visit cost $250, an insured student will only be expected to pay $50 out-of-pocket.

Some specialty services, such as psychiatric therapy, dental care, or addiction rehabilitation, incur greater direct costs, however, for the sake of time, I’ll defer to the Study Care pamphlet which discusses these details in full. Once a student departs the United States, Study Care coverage becomes null and void. Upon re-entry, however, students’ insurance may be renewed if applicable.

For more information please refer to the following links:
Usa.gov | Health Insurance
Review health insurance options, retrieve information, and learn more about this vital industry.

Study Group | Study Care
Comprehensive insurance plan developed specifically for international students studying via Study Group.

US University Ranking System: Clear as Mud

If you think the US university ranking system is as difficult to understand as a foreign language, then you’re not alone. American and international students alike talk about great schools. Marketers use rank as a way to promote a school to prospective students. But what does this all mean?

The US News and World Report is by far the most established ranking system of American universities, with Princeton Review and Newsweek following as seconds, among others. These institutions examine and analyze every imaginable trait of the university—from the number of books in the library to the student satisfaction of the faculty.

Sometimes it feels like the myriad characteristics and qualifications of a school are put together like a magic potion and—“Poof!”—the rank comes out. Believe it or not, there is a method to all these numbers.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education divides colleges into a number of geographic categories that are determined using campus size, academic offerings, location, and student population dynamics. The Foundation breaks down the universities into the following four categories: national universities, national liberal arts colleges, regional universities, and regional colleges.

The US News and World Report then evaluates 16 “indicators of excellence”, which fall into the following categories:

  • Undergraduate academic reputation
  • Student selectivity for the last entering class
  • Faculty resources for the last academic year
  • Graduation and retention rates
  • Financial resources
  • Alumni giving
  • Graduation rate performance

This system has, since 1983, been the cornerstone of the Best Colleges sorting system in the United States.

Does rank really matter? As an Ivy League graduate, my answer to you: “It depends.” The reputation of a school, for example, plays a part in its rank, but doesn’t necessarily guarantee top faculty or resources. Often, schools that have a narrow focus (e.g. music, film and design schools) often get lost in the crowd. Furthermore, each student has different priorities, so rankings may or may not apply. The unique benefit of school ranking, however, is the third party nature of the evaluation.

Use college and university rank as a spring board for your search. Knowing the school’s rank is a great place to start. Consider what you’re looking for in your university experience and evaluate all of the components.

If you’d like to talk with a representative at Study Group about how our partner universities rank and what that means for you, please contact us.

US University grading scale explained

When studying in the USA, acronyms become a very important part of your life. An acronym is a word typically formed from the first letters in a set phrase or group of words. For example, OPEC is an acronym for Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries; it is much easier to say (and spell) “OPEC” than what the o, p, e, and c represent. Many of the acronyms you will hear or read will be specific to your university (like COB for College of Business), but one acronym is understood wherever you study: GPA.

GPA is an acronym for Grade Point Average. This is a number calculated from the grades you earn when studying at a US university. When you study at a US university, GPA is on a scale from 0.0 to 4.0, with 4.0 being the highest your GPA can be. GPA is very important in US universities. Students must keep a certain level of GPA to continue studying in the university; some scholarships require a certain level of GPA to be maintained; and some majors require a minimum GPA before a student continues studying in that program.

This chart shows you how much each letter grade is worth in number of points to GPA:

A = 90-100%


B = 80-89%


C = 70-79%


D = 60-69%


F = < 60%


To calculate a GPA, let’s say that a student is enrolled in five classes during one semester. Four of those classes are 3-hour classes and one class is a 4-hour class. (The term hour is sometimes used for credit; the number of hours or credits determines how much a class is worth.) This means the student is taking 16 hours for the semester (four 3-hr classes + one 4-hr class). At the end of the semester, this imaginary student earns the following grades:

Class 1: 3 hrs


Class 2: 3 hrs


Class 3: 3 hrs


Class 4: 3 hrs


Class 5: 4 hrs


In order to determine the student’s GPA, the number of hours/credits each class counts for (3 hrs or 4 hrs), in this case are multiplied by the points earned from the class (A=4, etc.).

Class 1: 3 hrs

A (4)


Class 2: 3 hrs

B (3)


Class 3: 3 hrs

B (3)


Class 4: 3 hrs

C (2)


Class 5: 4 hrs

B (3)


Once the number of points per class is calculated (3×4, etc.), they are added together. The student earned a total of 48 points (12+9+9+6+12) for the semester. Remember, the student took 16 hours, so this results in the student’s GPA being 3.0 for the semester (48/16=3.0).

 Apply now for your US University degree!

Living in Student Accommodation: 5 things you need to know

Getting a place at a university in North America is an important step in life. 

Where you live during your studies can make quite a difference to how you settle in when you first arrive.  If you’ve applied for a place in a student residence you’ll be living on or close to campus.  How you choose to engage with university living can affect your studies.  Try and make the most of the opportunities afforded to you by being in university residence and living close to or on campus.

Here are some things to be aware of when living in student accommodation:

  1. Resident Advisor or Resident Assistant (RA) – many college or universities operate an RA program in their halls of residence.   RA’s are peer leaders, trained in many aspects of living in a college residence.  These areas often include safety training and counseling and can offer support, help and guidance with institutional and academic questions.
  2. Rules and regulations – it’s important to read and understand your residence contract and be aware of any residence rules and notice periods as well as accommodation options for future terms and their associated application deadlines.  Most institutions have a Student Handbook or Residence Guide.  Be sure to read through it and ask questions if there’s anything you’re not sure about.  Breaking the rules often has consequences so be sure you know what the rules are and how they apply to you.
  3.  Meal plans – most colleges and universities have food outlets, restaurants and snack bars on campus and meal plans are often available.  These are often a very good way to make savings on food purchased on campus and can be an economical way to eat across the semester.  There are usually various options available including healthy choices and options that cater for specific dietary needs. 
  4. People and culture – be respectful of other people, cultures and ways of living.  Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.  Be mindful of noise, cleanliness and always endeavor to display appropriate behavior.  You’re there to study as well as to have fun so getting the balance right, for your and for others, is important when living in a shared space.
  5.  Clubs and societies – try to find out from campus representatives what clubs, societies and associations are available to join, both at the college itself and locally too.  Choose from sporting options, debating societies, hobbies, culture and environmentally aware groups. Participate in existing campus activities or suggest new ones. Check notice boards and websites for details.

Being able to live on campus gives you a unique opportunity and a great base from which to build your student life and college experience.  Try and make the most of this time to make friendships and familiarize yourself with campus facilities and get to know what’s available to you.