As you prepare for your trip to the United States, you will likely have feelings of excitement and anxiety along with many questions and concerns. We understand and are here to help answer your questions and to ensure you feel confident and well-equipped for your journey to the U.S.
You'll find a number of resources online with details about life in Lincoln and relocating, checklists for what to do when you arrive on campus, and what to plan for when starting graduate school in a country other than your own. The International Student and Scholar Office provides information about applying for a student visa and preparing for your travel to Lincoln, and welcome events and orientations scheduled the week before classes begin also aid in the transition to a new culture.
Transitioning to the United States
New students inevitably comment about the weather. As local climate data shows, summer temperatures in Lincoln can exceed 100 F (38 C) and winter weather can be bitterly cold with high winds and temperatures far below freezing. Powerful storms can occur anytime of the year, and tornadoes are common in this region of the U.S. Being aware of the current weather forecast and knowing what to do in case of severe weather will help you stay safe.
While Lincoln is a very safe community, no university or city is immune from crime. Following the University Police's personal safety tips and International Student and Scholar Office's recommendations for avoiding trouble and staying safe will keep you out of troublesome situations.
Many people who relocate to a new country experience culture shock. While this is considered a normal process of adjustment, you can minimize the effect by understanding what it is and learning about the differences you'll experience by relocating to a new country. Consider these questions:
- What is culture shock?
- How does the U.S. education system differ from the system you are accustomed to?
- What should I know about American academic traditions before I arrive?
- What social customs will I encounter?
- What organizations and services will be helpful during my transition?
- How can I become familiar with campus and Lincoln before arriving?
Not properly following tax regulations can cause problems with your visa status so it's important to understand what you need to do to follow U.S. Tax Law.
Transportation and Licensing
Students often use Lincoln's city bus system for their transportation needs. Many students also choose to walk, bike, or purchase an automobile.
To drive a car, you will need a valid driver's license. A Nebraska driver's license can be obtained through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Licensing fees can range from $4.75 to $23.75.
All cars also must be registered with the County Clerk's Office. When registering your car, bring your car's title, proof of auto insurance, and sales tax receipt. Learn more about securing auto insurance. If necessary, seek advice from Student Legal Services.
Many students find it helpful to arrange for short-term accommodations in Lincoln, giving them time to search for a more permanent home. You may stay at an area hotel or make arrangements to reserve a room on campus in Knoll Residential Center.
To apply for on-campus accommodations, fill out the Guest Housing Reservation Form for University Housing. Students can be accommodated from mid-May through early August and can also purchase a meal plan.
Refunds are not available if you check out early, but you may make multiple reservations for shorter blocks of time to allow for cancellation without penalty. For example, you could make three 1-week reservations and cancel the third week should you find permanent housing. The University accepts cash, check, and traveler's checks for payment. Contact Zach Mapes, Guest Housing Manager, at 402-472-1139 or firstname.lastname@example.org for current rates or other inquiries.
There are also a number of Lincoln hotels that offer short-term accommodations. Review this list of hotels that provide discounts for extended stays. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and the University does not endorse any specific hotel. This list was created for your convenience and we encourage you to follow up with the hotels to confirm their rates and proximity to public transportation.
Most international graduate students choose to live off-campus and often rent an apartment. If you decide living off-campus is the best option for you, be sure to understand rental agreements and their implications before making any major decisions.
If you have questions about your responsibilities as a tenant, consult the Nebraska Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
Renting a single-family apartment, duplex, condominium, town home, or house in Lincoln requires an application fee of $10-$30, a security deposit of no more than one month's rent, and the first month's rent in advance.
Browse our relocation resources for more information on finding a place to live, plus local utilities, banks, and more.
Furnishing your home
Once you have your housing, it's time to make it a home. There are many ways to go about furnishing your new living area.
- Try local stores in Lincoln. Negotiating prices for new merchandise in retail stores is not generally done, but furniture stores are an exception. Stores that sell fine furniture and high-end accessories expect to negotiate prices, while discount stores such as Wal-Mart and Target usually don't negotiate.
- Another economical option is garage sales. Negotiating prices is expected and acceptable at garage sales, as long as you keep the tone friendly and subdued. Sales are held on most weekends from April to September. Many are advertised in the classified section of the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper.
- Thrift shops, or second-hand stores, sell a variety of used merchandise. They can be excellent sources of low-priced home furnishings and are conveniently located all over the city.