For New Students

First of all, WELCOME

Welcome to the Southern town "beautiful place and smiling faces".
Hope you will make new friends and enjoy your sunny life here.

The best help is from older students in your department.

VISA Information

Some information that might be useful if you need to travel back home or somewhere else:

a)-If you have a J-1 visa, you may need to fill in Form I-156 to I-158. There are some codes (STC, Standard Telegraph Codes, I believe) that you need to write, to translate your Chinese name for the computer. There is a small office available, close to the US Embassy in Beijing, where, for 10 RMB, they can give those codes to you, but it is crowded and inconvenient. It may be better if you already know the codes for your name, and they can be found at

http://www.bioinfo.tsinghua.edu.cn/~zhengjsh/cgi-bin/getCode.cgi

(site recommended by the Embassy too).

b)-be careful when you book your air tickets from China to the US: there seems to be a recent regulation, as follows:
if you transit through a country, even if only staying in an airport, you need a transit visa for that country (if, normally, you would need a visa to enter that country).
The case we encountered: coming from China to the US, through Toronto, Canada. You need a Canadian visa, besides your regular US visa. Or, if you don't have it, you will not be allowed to board the plane from China.
Such transit visas are not available to obtain right there, at the airport, they have to go through the regular channels, application at a Canadian Consular office, waiting time, visa fee, sending your passport somewhere and getting it back some days later etc.
Personal advice - if you only have a US non-permanent visa, and you want to save yourself such trouble, then get a direct flight from China to somewhere in the US, not with a connection in a third country.

Flight pick up

Get help from older students in your department or contact FACSS as a backup.

There are other helping hands, somebody knows please fill up here.

Don't ask many people to pick you up at same time. Usually if somebody promise you, he/she will show up. Don't worry.

Note: Flight point. Go to your flight company like UA or NW and join their membership programs. Two international trips often can award your flight points enough for one free domestic flight. Do it soon after or before your travel. There could be a time limit.

Place to stay

Try to arrange your housing as soon as you decide to come to USC. In the U.S., you are on your own, don't expect the school do things for you.

For temporary place, ask old students or stay in hotels. You should able to find a place in a couple of days

You want to live close to campus since you won't have car for at least serval months. You can't even go class if you live far away. Nobody wants to give you a ride everyday.

please check or share your experience at "Housing" link on the left.

Bank account

Don't carry a lot cash around, it's not safe. Get a bank account as soon as possible and then you can get cash at ATM.
I suggest you open an account at Wachovia Bank or Bank of America. They are large banks and have many branches and ATMs around the U.S.. For Wachovia, there's a branch on Assembly street and one close to five points. Bank of America has a branch on Sumter street, just northwest to the State Capital House. Both banks have ATMs at Rusell House, close to the health center.
Just open a checking account with check book and debit card, saving account is useless. Bank of America regular checking may have a monthly fee if you have balance less than certain amount. So ask them for a student free checking account with no fees.
When you go to open the account, bring your passport with visa, and I-20 document. If you have a social security number (SSN), also bring it.

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