Guide for a successful start to life in the US – Part 2

Once you have settled in, there is more important business waiting for you. The goal of this blog post is to give you an idea of what is coming so that you can prepare appropriately.

 

General phone information

Obviously, you want to contact people while you are in the US, whether it is friends and teammates, coaches, or your family and friends back home. First of all, you should find out which provider is used by your teammates. There are providers that offer free communication contracts but there are also pre-paid ones. It is common in the US, that calling takes away minutes or balance. Quick note: the word “Handy” is not used or known in the US. They call it “cell” or “mobile phone”. And they do not reply with their name when taking a phone call, usually, it is just “Hello”.

The international area code is +1 (001). For a call from the US to Germany, you select +1149 (01149).

Driving

The European ID card is the equivalent to a driver’s license in the US. If you get the license, you do not need to carry your passport everywhere. To apply for the American driver’s license, you need to go to www.dmvusa.com or you go to a local DMV close to your university. There, you need to pass a theory test and sometimes even a driving test. It could happen, that you have to trade in your German driver’s license for the American one. However, an international license is legal, but only in combination with an international license that you need to apply for at the registration office.

But what about driving rules? Depending on the state, you have a speed limit of 55 to 80 mph (89 and 129 km/h) on Interstate Highways. You can overtake other cars on the left and right, however, the right lane is mostly used for slow cars. On normal highways, you have a speed limit of 55mph (89 km/h), sometimes 65mph (105 km/h).

More important rules: you will find many stop signs in the cities themselves. There is no right over left rules, it is first come first serve. You have to stop at the stop signs, even if you don’t see anybody else. Also, traffic lights jump from red straight to green. There is no yellow or any other color in between.

Working and Payment

Going from rags to riches certainly is a lifestyle you think of when talking about the US. That is, however, not a possibility for you in your first year. With your student visa, you are not allowed to work outside of your university’s ground, solely “on-campus” and just 20 hours a week at max.

Mail

If you, at any time during your stay, plan to send stuff via mail, you can find all the costs here:  http://ircalc.usps.gov/. Important note: fill out the green customs form and send it via airmail.

Party

We at uniexperts know, that partying in the US is common practice for most international students. And as many of us studied in the US ourselves, we know how good it can actually be. But we also know, that with the current situation, partying is limited. Still, we would at least like to give you an overview of what to be careful about and what could lead to difficulties.

As most of you know, buying and consuming alcohol is prohibited for people below 21 years of age. If you are older than 21, remember to not drink in public or as a co-driver, since the police are strict when it comes to the punishment, reaching from fines to jail. Public places include streets, parks, public buildings, sports events, and public transportation. In some places, even parking lots, camping sites, and motels are seen as public.

You might have noticed, that in a lot of American movies, they carry liquor in brown bags. That is not because of hiding certain brands, but because it is prohibited by law to carry alcohol in public and showing it. It is also commonly prohibited to have alcohol laying in your car visible for others.

Buying alcohol is only possible in certain stores, called “liquor stores”. These tend to not look too inviting. In some places, you can however find alcohol in supermarkets.

Behave yourself in public! If you act weirdly and conspicuous under the influence of alcohol, you might be punished. Nearly every state has a legal alcohol limit.

Last but not least, be careful with showing off you drinking alcohol on social media. It might not be a big deal for you, but some colleges do not like “senseless” drinking and promoting it.

Other than that, have fun experiencing partying in the US, where possible of course!

Hopefully, Part 1 and 2 of this blog post were able to provide good information for you to start off well and prepared. Feel free to contact us for further questions regarding your start to the US adventure!