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Travelling to the USA for the first time? Things you need to know

Nervous about your first visit to the USA? No worries, read this and get prepared for a fascinating experience.

Kavitha Vijeyavelan

If you can get your hands on a Foreign Travel Card, that would be most convenient for your expenses during your stay there. SBI has this feature; it is basically a card that is prepaid in USD.

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Nervous about your first trip to the USA? There’s really no reason for you to be apprehensive; here are a few tips to get you started with what you really need and what you don’t! 

At POE! 

The visa alone won’t guarantee your entry into the country, the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officer at the port of entry (POE) holds the key to your admission into the country. It’s advisable that you have all the document copies you had with you at your visa interview throughout your trip.

If you happen to be on a visit to the USA on a B1/2 visa, you must show that you have a return flight ticket. Besides the return ticket, they will enquire for your reasons for travel for which you may have to show an acceptance letter, if you are a student visiting for academic purposes. 

You will also be requested details of your accommodation, so ensure that you have all the contact details with you at all times. You must also have appropriate proof of your finances for your stay in the USA. Be prepared to produce all bank copies and documents you had shown during your visa interview. 

Packing advice

Here’s a list of how much you can pack in! If you are a student going on a trip that’s to last a few months, you might want to make the best use of the allowed baggage limit. 

  • A carry-on cabin bag that weighs no more than eight kilograms 
  • Two suitcases about 23 kilograms each
  • One item (personal) such as a handbag or a purse

In a few airlines, students with I-20 are even allowed a total number of three suitcases, with a small increase in the flight fee, for their check-in, each being up to 23 kilograms. 

Swipe It!

If you can get your hands on a Foreign Travel Card, that would be most convenient for your expenses during your stay there. State Bank of India has this feature; it is basically a card that is prepaid in USD. Unlike back home where cash transactions are more preferred, in the USA, transaction done with cash in some places have an extra charge and the usage of cards is more welcome! When your funds are running low, folks back home can cash it up for your use. You might want to head to your nearest SBI branch for more details. 

When Unsure, Google! 

Have a look at the place you are heading to (if you’re feeling lost) in Google maps and check out the availability of metro and bus services there. 

Keep the Doctor Away!

Carry a set of antibiotics with you for a few common ailments, as in the USA they cost quite a lot and will not be available as over the counter drugs. For the medicines you carry, get a doctor to state the drug names for you, to avoid any questioning over this.  

Did You Know? 

The USA is split into six time zones, starting from its west to east. They are: 

  • Pacific Standard Time 
  • Mountain Standard Time 
  • Central Standard Time
  • Eastern Standard Time  
  • Hawaiian Time Zone
  • Alaskan Time Zone  

Every year, DST or Day Saving Time takes place, where time is officially changed one hour forward and backward for two days, also known as spring forward or a fall backward.  

Freedom of Choice!  

In many countries, it is required that as a student, you mention your main field of study or your major prior to joining the University. The US, on the contrary, gives you the option to let you settle on your field of interest after a year into your undergraduate program. In case you have already decided a major and want to change, all you are required to do is inform your academic advisor and switch subjects! Students have full freedom to pursue their area of interest.  

That’s America for you in short! It truly is the land where various cultures thrive; you are bound to see a few familiar Indian faces wherever you go, so make yourself at home!  

You can also check out our Travel to Singapore article if you are interested.  

Image source: www.vacation-rentals.com

Are you anxious about living in a new city?

Priyanka G Priyanka G,
Study abroad expert.
We offer pre-departure counselling to help you prepare for your life abroad. Request a call back or call us now on 1800 103 2581 / 1800 103 9634 (toll-free) for guidance.