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International students moving to the US- tips?


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Does anyone have any tips in general? I'm trying to figure out everything I need to do/buy/pack before I make the move (barring the visa process).

 

Specific answers w.r.t. moving from hotter climates to colder cities appreciated.

Edited by epinephrine
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I assumed that you are moving from somewhere outside of the U.S. into the U.S. in that case, pack enough clothes that allow you to wear for a week, for example. you can always get more clothing after you arrive the city (order online / go shopping). maybe a pair of long pants/jeans, a sweater/jacket, a long sleeve shirt -- just in case it gets cold as soon as you arrive?

 

most students don't bring a lot of things to move if it involves intercontinental flight(s).

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I think there are two effective ways for international students to move: Most follow aberrant's advice and go very minimal--just get the basics and plan to buy everything in the United States. Especially if there is a climate change, the clothes you buy at home might not work well at your new city. Also, as aberrant points out, if you are flying long distances, bringing a lot of things is just a big hassle. With limited space, I would say that it's better to just buy all the necessities in the US (clothes, toiletries etc.) and save your luggage space for things that you can't get in the United States. Bring sentimental items that make you feel good / remind you of home, etc.

 

The other effective way is to go to the other extreme. When we moved from Canada to the US, we moved almost all of our furniture and everything else we owned. It's a lot easier to do this when we're on the same continent, though it was still several thousand miles.

 

My opinion is that going somewhere in between these two extremes will cost you a lot more money in baggage fees, cost you a lot more time and hassle in managing all your bags, and is generally not as efficient as one of these two extremes. But that's just me!

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For moving from a warmer climate to a colder one, read this thread and the ones that are linked there: 

 

For moving in general, I don't think there is too much to say. You probably won't be bringing much or any furniture, I assume. (Well, except if you're moving from Canada, which is the only way it might make sense.) Pack as you would for a somewhat extended trip. Bring your good clothes (summer and winter, though your winter clothes might become "fall clothes") and shoes. Things like toiletries I wouldn't bother with and would buy there. I find it really helps to bring something small from home, to make me feel at home wherever I move. When I moved I knew my parents would come visit me a month after I arrived so I left behind some things I wanted to have but didn't need immediately (like warmer clothes, a winter blanket, towels). If that's not going to happen, then there are two options, one is to ship a box or two of non-essentials -- usually if you go via sea and not air it's not too expensive, but takes a long time, so get started as soon as you can and either use a local friend's address or your department's address as the destination; the other is to decide to buy new and cheap or used stuff (towels, dishes, sheets, etc.). A lot can be "inherited" from people who are leaving, if you do it right. It depends on what you already own, prices, etc. 

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If you can store stuff back home, I agree with the advice above. If not, this should be approached the same way as an immigration. Having talked to many immigrants the main piece of advice was to bring "invaluable" goods such as books with your notes in them, idea notepads, meaningful heirlooms and family photos and maybe your favorite spoon (smaller and lighter than a mug). If you have superexpensive or unique clothes you value - take those, plus fancy technology (but keep in mind the voltage). All the rest you can get here.

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^^Yes. For books, use the cheapest (and probably slowest) shipping option; you probably don't need them right away. Scan your notes, don't bring hard copies. It'll be a pain to lug around every time you move, even if you successfully bring them here. And family photos can be re-printed and framed at your destination, if you scan them. Bring the things you really can't (easily) replace or that it would cost more to buy at your destination than ship. Even if you have new fancy electronics, it may still cost more to ship them than buy new/used equipment here.

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I'm moving in less than a month so I'm also looking for some pointers. Unfortunately shipping almost anything from Australia to east coast USA will be slow and prohibitively expensive. So even with Qantas' surprisingly generous baggage allowance it's a bit of a squeeze - everything has to fit into two suitcases and as big a carry-on as I can get away with. It'll mostly be clothes, small toiletries and some crucial books. I'm also bringing a sleeping bag and very light roll-up sleeping pad to use until I can buy myself a bed.

 

Totally agree with scanning notes. Also, if like me you have a giant collection of hard-copy articles and chapters, set aside a few hours and scan those too. It's a huge weight saver. One tip to make this easier: triage first by checking your new library's catalogue. Generally if a longer article was easily available at my new school, I didn't bother scanning it, but just made sure it was properly recorded in Endnote. If I happen to need it again, I can just look up the details and get a new copy quickly. Shorter or more obscure items got scanned into PDF, saved in Dropbox and neatly linked to their Endnote records. [This has the added benefit of encouraging you to get your computer folders in order!]

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Note sure if it's the best approach, but what I am planning to do is take some clothes that are season-appropriate, documents, toothbrush-toothpaste-shampoo and my cat with me. And send books (a minimal amount, the rest I sold or gave to friends), winter clothes, other non-urgent things via sea. And that's basically it.... I am selling/giving all my other belongings and I plan to purchase things like - a computer, additional clothes, plates and cutlery etc. after arriving.

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