Overview of United States
Renting an apartment in the U.S. can be troublesome for those who are going to live in big cities. Cheaper regions tend to be more dangerous or with less convenient transportation access, and more secure places to live are usually more expensive due to high demand. There are laws that regulate the maximum amount a landlord can charge for rent, based on the size of the property, but this doesn’t apply for furnished houses, which are more popular among foreigners who are not living in the US for long-term.
As a student you might want to avoid as much bureaucracy as you can, so there are other options you can rely on: sharing an apartment or temporary accommodation
Apartment share is basically renting a property with other people so to share the monthly rent. If you are the one renting, there’s the whole bureaucratic process, but you can try to find a share house that is looking for new members. Visit the place and get to know the members and rules before moving in, and be sure that you and the other members are in agreement.
Temporary accommodation is when a tenant is allowed to rent the housing to a third-party. In this case, you don’t have to deal with the landlord, which make things easier. The landlord will know you are there, but negotiation will be done with the tenant.
■ Transportation system
Major cities have good system of underground and railway transportation and using them is usually faster than going by car. When needed, consider getting a taxi. Buses aren’t so used. Suburban areas tend to have less public transportation offer, so students generally take busses to go downtown.
The U.S. is such a great destination for shopping they even created their own discount holiday: the Black Friday, when almost every store gives huge discounts. Forbes also created a top shopping destinations list in the U.S.
Food, clothing, electronics… Basically you can get anything for a good price. Outlet malls have a lot of discounted brand merchandise from last season and can be a good deal for students who are into fashion. The only demerit is that they are often too far from downtown. In case you need your amount of monthly fast-fashion, head to Forever 21 and H&M, for example. There are also minor stores and you can discover some gems around your own town. For electronics, Best Buy is a paradise of good prices and a true geekery supplies paradise. Last, but not least, Wal Mart is always next door to help you getting groceries and shopping for good prices.
American portions are so huge you might be able to share a lot of meals with your friends. At the fast-food paradise country, of all restaurant visits in the U.S., 78% are to a fast food restaurant. The country is home of about 313,000 fast food and fast casual restaurants. College students usually order food to be delivered, and now there are many websites that offer this service, so you don’t have to feel nervous to speak English over the phone – everything is done online.
Where to eat cheap
University’s cafeteria: Despite being cheap, American college cafeteria is getting healthier. There are some Colleges with very good cafeteria reputation, where you can get even lobster! Some of them are all-you-can-eat!
Sometimes the cafeteria fee is included in the University fee, which can make this your best daily option, especially if you live in rural areas, where there are fewer options.
Fast food: Endless options. Most famous are Subway, Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut, KFC, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Taco Bell, Burger King and Mc Donald’s. They basically serve sandwiches, but there are also options for beef and fried chicken. It’s also possible to find healthy fast food options.
While in the U.S., you will be in the center of the most consumed pop culture in the world. Hollywood, Broadway, music, sit-coms… Most of them come from this huge country. Try to think how many things you like are related to the U.S and you will see that being there is a very cool experience. Do take some time to enjoy American pop culture.
You will also be able to enjoy a great variety of cultures, since people from all over the world are based in the States. In November, you’ll be surrounded by people celebrating the very American Thanksgiving, and there’s also Halloween, but in major cities you can celebrate other nationalities’ holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day, Chinese New Year, Brazilian Day, and so on.
Americans are generally friendly and you will probably make a lot of friends. Just take care: since there is always someone from every part of the world, people tend to get around with people from their own country. If this happens, your chances to improve your English and to blend in their culture will decrease.
If you are in New York, don’t miss the museums!