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THE USA: Essentials - Must read

Essentials: 5 Things you MUST do in America

What do you have to do in America while you're studying there? Read our list of 5 things you must find time for including taking a great American road-trip and seeing a baseball game...

things to do in america

There’s no shortage of things to do while studying in a country as large as America. If you plan carefully, you can make it across the country for a good price and see as much as possible while studying there.

Each state has their own sense of identity with various cultural activities, things to do and attractions to see. For example:

  • New York - Statue of Liberty, Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building, Ground Zero and various film locations.
  • California – The Hollywood Sign, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Kodak Theatre, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz
  • Texas – The Alamo, South By Southwest Festival, Cowboys Stadium


If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see a few different cities or states while studying in the States so you get to see as much of America as possible. However we understand that this isn’t always possible due to finances and time. So instead, here are five things you can do which don’t necessarily mean leaving your state:


Take a “Great American” road trip

Take a “Great American” road trip across America in the same vein as Thelma & Louise or Easy Rider. Jump in a car with friends for some bonding time on the open road. America is so large that you can travel for miles on the highways between main cities and towns without seeing another soul. As well as the gorgeous scenery and peace, a road trip across the States is an opportunity to see the “real America”, away from the touristy side of America. You can even stop off at a classic American diner for a plate of pancakes, just like in the movies.


See a live “ball game”

Baseball is known as the “great American past-time”. Alongside Football and Basketball, it’s one of the most popular sports in the country, attracting thousands to live games and millions of television throughout the season. Some of the biggest teams in the country include the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles, which as you can tell are tied to specific cities, each with their respective passionate followings. See a live game in person, get involved with the various chants, enjoy a hot dog from a vendor and try to catch the ball if it’s hit in your direction.

Alternatively, read about why football is integral to college life.


A candy-filled Halloween

While Halloween is celebrated around the world, Americans really go all out with imaginative costumes, pranks and parties. While kids and families will go out trick-or-treating, eating sweets (or “candy” as it’s known in the States) or telling scary stories, students are more likely to throw Halloween parties and watch scary films. Plus because it’s at the end of October, it’s a great time to let your hair down after your first few weeks of term studying hard. And if you do go to a party, you’ll get a chance to drink from a plastic “red cup” just like in American teen films. Costumes don’t always have to be scary either but put some effort in – Halloween only happens once a year!

Don’t know what to wear for a Halloween costume? Read our guide to easy costume ideas which anyone can make.

Find out how Halloween is celebrated around the world or read one international student’s experience of Halloween in America.


Spring Break, wahoo!

This is the break between Spring and Summer terms in America just before exams begin and assessment deadlines come round. It’s an opportunity for students to enjoy themselves one more time before they have to settle down to study. Many head to beach resorts with friends for the week. While it’s an American tradition for teenagers, spring break has a reputation for being rather rowdy with lots of drinking and partying involved; but it doesn’t have to be that way. This might be the opportunity for you to take that American road trip we mentioned above or see an area of America which you’ve been meaning to. Plus the weather will be getting better around this time following winter, so get outside while you can – you’ll probably be in the library a lot in the weeks that follow.


Join a fraternity or sorority

You may have heard of these from films like American Pie or The House Bunny. American campuses have fraternities for boys and sororities for girls. These are “houses” which students belong to and within which they’ll socialise, run events (including charity work) and even live together in large communal houses together, on or off-campus. Students in their first year must pledge themselves to a fraternity or sorority, participating in initiations in order to gain membership. Older students will oversee these and the running of the houses. Many houses have far-reaching histories as well as close affiliations with certain demographics, interests or followings (one example would be those historically African American societies who were extremely proactive in equality movements in the 1970s). There’s usually a healthy competition or rivalry between different houses, though nothing too serious. Joining a fraternity or sorority is a brilliant way to make new friends, get involved in activities on campus and really feel like you belong somewhere.


Want to do all of these American-as-apple-pie activities? Start planning your studies in America today!



Read more:

‘The US higher education system... simplified’

‘Tuition fees in the USA’

‘Applying to study in the US’

‘Applying for a US student visa’

‘Student accommodation in the USA’


Main image courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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About Author

things to do in america

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.


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