Congratulations on getting admit to the University of Rochester! Rejoice and spend a day having fun! You have earned it. Once the euphoria sets in, it is time to start preparing for your journey to USA. Your department administrator should send you details about visa application process. While you wait for your I20 to arrive you can look into your travel plans and explore housing/accommodation options in Rochester.
Most smartphones from India will work in the USA. You can use messaging services like Whatsapp and Facebook through a WiFi connection but you would need to get a new sim card to activate calling, texting and cellular data. You can use the guest WiFi for free at the Rochester airport. Most other airports will have at least 30 minutes of free WiFi.
Here is a pdf of suggested items to bring.
It is recommended not to bring heavy winter clothing (overcoat and snow shoes) from India, as there are baggage weight constraints for all airlines. Moreover, most regions of India do not experience the kind of winter that Rochester does and would not provide adequate protection against the severe weather. A good winter coat and shoes are a worthy investment, and can be found in any of the clothing stores, coat factories or premium outlets in and around Rochester. However, Fall season in Rochester can also be quite chilly at times, so it is advisable to bring at least a light jacket and/or sweater to withstand the chill. You should also carry a warm scarf, a pair of gloves and few pairs of woolen socks. Thermals can also be brought from India.
Yes! You will look lovely at the various festivals we celebrate at the university. Check out our photo album for the different events.
Facebook can serve as a great resource to contact incoming students, as there are specific groups such as MS in US groups for incoming students according to the year of admission. RIA has a Facebook group and a Facebook page for ASE and SMD graduate students. Simon students can find incoming students at the Simon school page. You can search for posts that mention University of Rochester there. Also, you can contact your program coordinator asking for information on other incoming students.
While international student health insurance plans (including, but not limited to ICICI Lombard, Reliance, ISO, PSI to name a few) are cheaper than Aetna (Student Health Insurance provided at the University), please check the reimbursement duration, network of participating hospitals and other details if you opt for a health insurance plan other than Aetna. Also, please consult the University Health Service regarding the health insurances that they can allow. Please check with your department if health insurance is covered under your program before paying for either Aetna or other international student health insurance plans.
If you have opted for on campus graduate housing, the rates for graduate housing are detailed here in the Graduate Housing Documents section. These rates are subject to change every year. University of Rochester also has an off campus housing database, which can give an estimate of off campus rents.
Rochester winters are known for their severity. There are multiple instances of heavy snowfall with significant overnight accumulations of snow. The main perks of living on campus in winter are snow removal at regular intervals from sidewalks and easier access to the University through University shuttles. This makes commuting in the severe winters easier and convenient. Apart from that, on campus housing provide assistance in terms of general maintenance of the apartment at the earliest. All these reasons make an on campus housing more preferable. The university website describes the detailed application procedure for the on campus graduate housing. If you opt for an off campus apartment, please read the off campus housing guide provided by the University.
Firstly, an unfurnished on campus apartment is cheaper than a furnished one. That being said, an unfurnished apartment has some facilities built in it. Every unfurnished apartment is equipped with a stove (induction or gas flame), oven, fridge and heating system spanning the entire house. Other furniture items like study tables, lamps, chairs can be obtained from a variety of sources - graduating students (keep checking the facebook pages RIA Members group, Rochester Free and For Sale for furniture sale posts, Craigslist (an American classified advertisement website), mailing lists of different student associations at the University.
Here are two closed Facebook Groups which might serve as a great resource to find potential roommates by posting on their forums: Simon School Housing forum and RIA members group. On the group's main page, please submit a request to be added on the group, and you will get added as soon as possible. Once you have been added, post a request on the page seeking a roommate (you may scroll down to posts by other members to see the kind of details people usually give in such a post). You might also find posts of other members who are currently looking for a roommate. We cannot guarantee that you will find a roommate this way but it has been helpful for many people to find their roommates.
You must have your passport, valid visa and I-20. You also need to provide an address in the USA where you will be staying on arrival. You should carry your department’s official offer letter and the SEVIS receipt. All other documents should be brought according to the University’s and department’s requirement.
Carry enough to pay the security deposit and first month’s rent. If you are concerned about safety issues, you can put the money on a travel or forex card. You can withdraw money from ATMs in USA for a nominal fee. ISO will provide you with information on how to set up a bank account. This is a very smooth process and can be done in the first few days of your arrival. The money on your forex card/travel card can be transferred to your bank account if you want to avoid paying fee on every transaction. You will get a temporary debit card as soon as you open a bank account.
You can find details regarding on this website.
If you do find good options that are direct connections to the USA, apart from the long flight time, this can be one of the best options since there is no uncertainty regarding the missing flights. However, as this may not be the case, it is good to have at least 2.5 hours’ layover time at any stop before entering USA. However, at your port of entry in the USA, it is recommended that you have a longer layover since you have go through immigration which could take a while. Nevertheless, there is always a possibility of missing your connections due to unforeseen circumstances but in such cases most airlines do rebook flights. Some airlines also provide you with an attendant to guide you through terminals to your next flight ONLY if you have to make a very close connection. However, this may not always be the case and it is advised that before travel you familiarize yourself with the route between terminals, which is available on airport website. It’s best that you rest in flights to be alert once on ground.
If you bring a smartphone with you, you can contact them using wifi (University of Rochester has a guest Wifi service) through whatsapp or any other medium of your choice.
You can take a taxi from the airport. A ride to any on-campus residence will cost you less than $20.
There are adequate dining services at the University, with options for dietary restrictions including, but not limited to, gluten free and vegan food. The major dining centres are the Pit at Wilson Commons, Danforth Dining Hall and Douglas Dining Centre in the River Campus and Cafe 601 and the Metro Deli in the Medical Center. Apart from the main dining centres, the University campus has cafes that have snacks as well. More information about their menus, pricing and nutritional information can be found here. There is also a wide variety of restaurants in the College Town area (http://www.collegetownrochester.com/directory/) that serve American, Mexican, Cambodian, Indian cuisines.
You can speak to your network provider in India and know about different roaming options that can be activated before leaving for USA. You can also opt to get one of the numerous international sim cards available (like Matrix Cellular).
The general method to obtain an internet connection is to register with a network provider for a new internet connection and set an appointment with the Internet provider to actually setup the connection or to order the necessary equipment from them and manually set up a connection yourself. If you register for a new connection immediately on arrival, you should be able to get internet service within 4-5 days of arrival.
University of Rochester has an extensive network of bus services connecting the campus with different parts (but not all) of the Rochester City. For people staying on campus, the Blue Line buses connects all on campus housing with the University at a frequency of 20 minutes during the semester (except on weekends, public holidays). However, if the semester hasn’t started, there is a Blue Line bus every one hour and twenty minutes. Popular off campus housing apartments are connected by Corporate Woods Shuttle, Gold Line, Orange Line buses. More information about their schedule and routes can be found here. If your off campus housing isn’t covered by any of the university buses, you can use the Rochester Regional Transit Service buses, a form of public transport provided by the City of Rochester.
University of Rochester hosts a number of orientation programs for incoming students which provide essential information about setting up bank accounts and obtaining social security number. For students who aren’t employed at the start, but get a job later in the semester, your department will help you obtain the social security number.
Most departments have a semi-monthly system of paychecks - students receive a paycheck on every 15th and 30-31st of the month. However, the start date of payment can vary among different departments, and can be addressed by your program coordinator.
The University provides bus service (called the Green Line - more information here to shopping centres on specific days of the week. Popular stores for buying generic food items are Walmart and Wegmans. There are other options, which you can explore after coming to Rochester! There are two major Indian stores in Rochester, Namaste and Spice Bazaar but they are not directly accessible by University shuttles.
If you are joining in the Fall semester (starting in August), it will be summer here and the average temperature would be between 25-30 °C. That being said, Rochester’s weather is extremely unpredictable and the temperatures can drop to as low as 10 °C even in August.
Most departments in the University have their own websites, with a list of students enrolled in the department, along with their email address. You can also message us on the RIA web page, and we will do our best to direct you to students of your department.
It depends heavily on your discipline, as well as the courses you will opt for once the semester starts. It is advisable to contact a current graduate student in your department to decide which books to bring. Furthermore, you need to keep in mind the weight restraints imposed by the airlines for your baggages.
That being said, the University of Rochester has several libraries which provide relevant materials for your courses, but their might be a time constraint on borrowing them. You can check websites like Amazon, Valore Books, Abe Books for second hand copies of your textbooks.