Things to do during the first month of your graduate life

I’m an international student and Bloomington, Indiana was the first place I’ve lived in the US. Here are some tips for you (especially if you are also an international student and are new to America) to make the start of your graduate career easier:

  1. Open a checking/savings account at Indiana University Credit Union (IUCU). They have a location on campus right in the IU Memorial Union (IMU) – can’t be more convenient for me since my lab is located only 2 minutes walk away. There is no charge to open an account, no minimal balance requirements, and no hidden fees like that bank accounts may have.  You can set up direct deposit to have your stipend deposited regularly into your IUCU account. If you hold an AIship or RAship position, you will have to set up direct deposit for your income.
  2. Purchase a cell phone plan. I lived off-campus the first year I was here and found a cell phone very useful especially because I talk to my grandparents every weekend and they don’t have any modern technologies like computers. AT&T offers 12% off discount for employees and 8% off for students. I have stuck to AT&T although I admit it’s not the best cell phone service company. (I’ve had reception issues when my office in Simon Hall was far from the windows and I couldn’t get any text messages or phone calls during the day.)  At my apartment or anywhere outside of Simon Hall I get full signal so I’m happy.
  3. Figure out the public transportation system if you don’t have a car or want to go green; figure out the parking situation if you drive to school. I like the bus system here in Bloomington – I didn’t have a car for the first three years I was here and I got around just fine. Campus bus goes by all the dorms/campus apartments, IU buildings and even the grocery stores on weekend. Parking permits are only available to research assistants and associate instructors. Check with your department about your eligibility.

Now good luck!