Arriving in the United States

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.

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Transitioning to the United States


New students inevitably comment about the weather. In Lincoln's climate, summer temperatures 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. Reviewing the University Police's Campus Policies and Personal Safety and following the International Student and Scholar Office's recommendations will help you avoid troublesome situations.

Cultural Differences

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 $7.50 to $26.50.

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.

Campus in summer Campus in autumn Campus in winter Campus in spring

Short-Term Housing

When first arriving in the U.S., many students arrange for short-term accommodations in Lincoln while they search for a more permanent home.

On campus

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 a series of 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 if you find permanent housing. Contact the Guest Housing Manager at 402-472-1139 or for current rates or other inquiries.


For your convenience we've compiled a list of Lincoln hotels with discounts for extended stays. This is not an exhaustive list, and the University does not endorse any specific hotel. Rates and amenities are subject to change, so we encourage you to follow up with the hotels to confirm their rates and proximity to public transportation.

Long-Term Housing

Browse Relocating to Lincoln for information on finding an on-campus or off-campus place to live, plus local utilities, banks, and more.


Most graduate students live off-campus, and many rent apartments. If you decide to rent, be sure to understand rental agreements and your responsibilities as a tenant, which are described in 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.

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. Prices in retail stores are generally not negotiable, especially at places like Wal-Mart and Target, but high-end furniture stores can be an exception.
  • Another economical option is garage sales. Negotiating prices is common at garage sales, as long as you keep the tone friendly. Sales are often held on weekends from April to September, and 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 and can be excellent sources of low-priced home furnishings.