Living In USA

United States Currency

Bills are issued in denominations of $100, $50, $20, $10, $5 and $1. Coins are issued in denominations of 25¢, 10¢, 5¢ and 1¢ cent(s).

  • Penny = $ .01 dime = $ .10
  • Nickel = $ .05 quarter = $ .25

Tip : Some small stores will not accept $100 bills. It is common to carry small bills or pay with a credit or debit card (ATM bank card) for large purchases. Be aware that there may be service charges for using your debit card.

Bank Account

Most international students open a bank account when they arrive in the U.S. Bank of America has ATMs (automated teller machines) on-campus but students may choose another bank. During orientation, Bank of America will speak to you about opening a bank account.


This is the most common type of account for everyday needs. When you open a checking account, the bank will issue you a debit card that can be used to pay for purchases in most stores and to make cash withdrawals at ATMs. A charge made to your debit card is deducted from your account immediately.

The bank will typically issue you a few free temporary checks, but you will have to pay to order more. Checks are often used to pay rent and bills. Many people prefer to bank and pay their bills online or over the telephone. Ask about these options, too.

Social Life

Your interaction with other people—your social life—is an integral part of your stay in the United States. To make the most of it, get ready to introduce yourself in a positive way to fellow students, professors, and other people both on- and off-campus.

Safety Issues

Like most issues, safety in the United States is difficult to define because the United States covers such a large territory. While the U.S. is generally a very safe place to live, it is still a good idea to educate yourself and take steps to reduce the potential for problems. By doing so, you will also feel more confident and comfortable.


There are a number of options when it comes to deciding where you will live when you are living and studying in the United States.

On-campus Dormitories

Once you are enrolled in a U.S. school, the Admissions Department or International Student Office will most likely send you a "pre-departure orientation" packet. Options for where to live are generally included in this information.

Some American schools offer accommodations for international students on-campus, or near the school's 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 to both academic and social activities. Another advantage is that it is not likely that you will not need a car to commute to campus.

On-campus accommodations also offer 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.

Off-campus Options

Some U.S. schools do not provide on-campus accommodations for international students. However, an off-campus housing office will assist you in finding an appropriate place to live. Often, the office coordinates activities to help students find a compatible roommate to share expenses; they also provide information about the local neighborhoods, including popular restaurants, shopping areas, parks and recreation, and public transportation.

Leasing an Apartment

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 beware of unspecified fees for the service.


Once you do find off-campus housing, be aware that your rent may well 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 representatives 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 local residents alphabetically by name), the blue pages (government listings), and the yellow pages (business listings and advertisements).

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