Pre-departure to First Few Days in America by Kadam Chudgar Edulix Member, (2001) Graduate student IIT Chicago USA
After getting your F-1 visa the first thing to do is book airline tickets. Try find a flight which arrives at your destination in U.S. between 8 am and 2 pm. That way you can reach the university before closing time at 5 pm.
Remember to travel light. Most airlines only accept 2 check-in bags and 1 carry-on bag.
On reaching U.S. and after negotiating U.S. customs and immigration, you can ask the information desk at the airport about the cheapest transport to the university. This way you can save money. This is not for students who have someone waiting at the airport to pick them up.
When I first reached U.S., I did what I generally do in India-check for cab fares. But I found it to be too expensive (about 50$). Instead I took a shuttle to my university from the airport that costs about 20$. I felt as if i had conquered the world as initially whether we admit it or not we convert everything in rupees. So i thought 30$ or 1500 rs was a good saving.
Getting back to serious stuff, initially just as you reach the university you should meet your advisor and also go to the international house in your university to remove that special hold on registration. After that you will be allowed to register for classes. Also do not forget to attend the orientation. You will learn a lot from it and make some friends there.
After you settle down in America the two things you should do is apply for a social security card and secondly open a bank account (checkings and savings) in a bank near your apartment. You will get a debit card from the bank as soon as you deposit some money in your account which you can use for your dealings.
Remember never carry large amounts of cash on the roads in the nights in U.S. All dealings here are generally done by plastic cards (debit and credit). You can also get a state ID for identification purposes and students who would like to drive here, should also get a driver's license. After that register for your classes and enjoy the classroom atmosphere.
One last thing to remember that it is mandatory in U.S. universities for all students to have insurance. And getting insurance there is pretty expensive. So better get international insurance from India before coming here.
I'll continue writing my path to the States in the following weeks...