| Home | What's New | Activities | Living OffCampus | Intrntl Students | Quotes & Candids | F.A.Q. |
| Campus Life | The Pit | Classes & Rotations | WHOI | Why MIT ? | Contact Info | Links | Galleries |

The transition to graduate school can be a bit frightening for anyone. Coming from another country even more so. Each year a handful of international students decide to join the department. There are also a fair number of postdocs who come from abroad. In general MIT is a pretty diverse place with lots of countries and cultures represented. Here we've collected some advice on all sorts of topics we thought international students in particular may be wondering about.

  • Visas

    Make sure you get the I20 as soon as you decide to come. You need to get a form from the department which you then send to the international students office and then you get the I20. This whole process takes a while so start early and don't be afraid to email or call a number of times if need be.

    Some international students manage to become permanent residents. How do you do that? Well, Frank, a first-year from Germany, married an American. This isn't the end of the story though. He then had to go to Frankfurt to a high-security American compound where he was grilled to make sure it wasn't a fictitious marriage. The only thing that saved him was that the person asking questions had a lunch break coming up. Otherwise he'd still be there today. Frank says that if you're a permanent resident you're supposed to have a chest x-ray on the top of your luggage which you can easily reach if they ask for it. They didn't ask him, but apparently that's the regulation.

  • Food

    American food is pretty different from food in other places. There is a lot more junk food here. Lots of sugar and fat. Still, most ethnic foods are available, as Boston is a pretty diverse place. Different neighbourhoods specialize in different cultures and then there are some places (like the delicatessen in Harvard Square) that just have all sorts of things.

    By coming here you also get to try all sorts of new foods. Dim Sum in China Town is a great experience and even hamburgers are fun sometimes. Aside from that, America has great fattening snacks.

  • Calling home

    Most of us use calling cards to call home. Some calling cards have a connection fee, which is a set fee you pay at the start of a phone call. All cards have rates that are specific to the country you're calling. Usually calling cards with a connection fee have lower rates, so they're cheaper if you know you're going to be talking for a long time.

    You can get cards worth different amounts. They're available in pharmacies, in the student center, and in all sorts of other random places. One of us users Connexus cards, a card without a connection fee, to call the Middle East. Another of us uses Boston Global Connect cards, with a connection fee, to call Argentina. These are just examples. Shop around and remember to check what the country specific rate is.

    If you live in the dormitories you can also get the AT&T calling plan but is much more expensive so we don't recommend it. There is a phone in the dorm which is already connected when you arrive. (The machine itself is there and the phone line.)

  • Travelling home

    A few of us went home during the winter break. That gives you about two and a half weeks. You can also go home at the beginning of summer. Some people are planning to do that. Spring break is only a week and there is a rotation during that time, so that's probably not as good a time. Student Travel in the student center is a travel agency with student rates.

  • Will there be more of us?

    Yes. There are lots of international students at MIT. The MIT European Club is very active. It also includes non-European members. There are also all sorts of more specific international clubs. Some are more active than other.

  • Taxes

    Taxes are due April 15. Different countries have different treaties with America regarding taxes. Germans for example, don't pay taxes here. Check to see what your country has.

  • Do I need to carry my passport around with me?

    No, but in America your drivers license serves as your identification. You need it, for example, to get into bars and to purchase alcohol. If you don't have a car, you can still get an ID (often called a 'liquor ID') at the registry of motor vehicles.

  • Housing

    Frank says that family graduate housing is great. The housing department doesn't officially say this, but international students do get priority in getting housing, regardless of your lottery number. However, it may take them a long while so don't hesitate to call them a bunch of times to ask when you can expect to get housing.

  • Moving

    We didn't ship anything, although it's not unheard of. Frank dragged his stereo here from Germany, via London, bought a transformer for it, and a week later it broke. Most of us just lugged a pair of suitcases here.

  • Football at MIT

    The department has an intramural team which did very well in the fall. The European club has a team which is more competitive. (It's in a different league.) Talk to Vladi or Frank for more details.

  • Electricity (Voltage)

    Don't forget that the voltage here may be different from at home. You can get a 1000W bidirectional transformer for $40 on the internet.

  • Banks and Money

    You can both open a bank account and get your first stipend check without a social security number, despite rumours to the contrary. Getting a social security number is easy.

    To open a bank account you need to forms of photo ID and some money for an initial deposit. Most banks give you a temporary ATM card on the spot as well as some checks. The real things are sent to you in the mail.

    Some banks have a debit card which works like a credit card but the money is drawn directly from your account. (So you don't have credit). Establishing a credit rating can be difficult. The COOP (which is the MIT/Harvard Bookstore) gives out credit cards at the beginning of the year in the student center. You do not need a credit rating for this card, so it is a good one to get started with. The card has an $800 credit limit. Also, international students who have an account at Cambridge Trust can get a credit card from them. Other banks may have this as well.

  • General Advice

    When in doubt ask. This is the most important thing. We have some people from different countries listed below who would be happy to answer any questions you may have. We can also get you in touch with other people in the department from other countries if you want to know something more specific about your country.
If you have additional questions, these students are more than welcome to correspond with you:

| Home | What's New | Activities | Living OffCampus | Intrntl Students | Quotes & Candids | F.A.Q. |
| Campus Life | The Pit | Classes & Rotations | WHOI | Why MIT ? | Contact Info | Links | Galleries |

Last Updated February, 2000. Bio99@MIT