The United States of America, commonly referred to as the USA or the US, is a vast country consisting of 50 states and other territories. Places in the USA range from heavily populated dense cities and suburbs to vast largely uninhabited area. Its city life often attracts tourists, including the glamour of Hollywood and Los Angeles and the iconic skyline and landmarks of New York city. On the quieter side there are scenic places to visit such as the Rocky Mountains and Grand Canyon. Many people choose to migrate to USA to pursue the “American Dream”, as it is known as a land of opportunities. Many people value the American ideals of democracy and freedom, individual achievement and liberty.
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The United States, due to its huge size experiences a full range of climates and temperatures throughout the year. You can experience all four seasons in the US depending on your location. The southern states are warm and dry most of the year, where the northern states go through the full cycle of the seasons. Within the US you can find desert like terrain or cities teeming with plant life all throughout the year.
The culture in the USA has been called a “melting pot”, meaning all cultures and ways of life have blending together and adapted to a uniquely “American” heritage. America is one of the most affluent nations and its citizens are proud and welcoming people. America is very ethnically and racially diverse so new comers to the country are treated with the respect they deserve from their peers. In America, everyone expects and therefore is given room to grow to their full potential, all cultures, faiths, and ways of life are respected in the US.
America has a fully functioning, well developed public transportation system. Whether by train, bus, streetcar, subway, or taxi you can get pretty much wherever you need to go in a reasonable amount of time if you plan ahead. Depending on your city you should have access to several different options of transportation to suit your travel budget. The most popular choice for students is usually taking the bus. The price varies according to your city and state so be sure to check local fares upon your arrival.
Most educational institutes in America require their students to have medical health insurance while attending courses with them. It is the student’s responsibility to comply with University and Aetna regulations as they relate to health insurance. The policies will vary from school to school, but the general guidelines are as follows:
F-1 students are required to have medical health insurance and evacuation/repatriation coverage each semester they are registered. F-1 dependents are strongly encouraged to maintain insurance coverage at all times.
J-1 students and their dependents are required to have medical health insurance and evacuation/repatriation at all times.
All health insurance for international students must meet the following requirements:
• For each semester you are registered, you are required to have health insurance coverage through to graduation date
• Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness per policy year
• Repatriation of remains
• Medical evacuation to one’s home country
Recreation and Sports
Recreation in the States is as varied as the people who live there. Popular pastimes are camping, fishing, athletics, gaming, art and theatre. Culturally specific pastimes are also widely available depending on your city. Work and leisure are seen to be of equal importance in the US, and there is guaranteed to be something to suit your fancy.
Sports in the US is a hugely followed pastime. Organized sport is an integral part American culture and is experienced at many levels of spectatorship and athletic participation. The four most popular sports in the US are football, baseball, basketball and hockey. The National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), and The National Hockey League (NHL) experience widespread recognition and media coverage. Soccer is also played widely in the US although it is less popular as a spectator sport.
The US has integrated sports into its schooling system so many high schools and universities have intramural teams students can participate in their spare time. This allows students to lead healthy, active lifestyles and balance their academic workload with some athletic fun.
Part Time Work
Employment opportunities for international students are practical but in high demand. Students should not plan on earning substantial money from a part-time job to help pay for your studies. However, if you are looking for a supplement for your personal spending, this may be the best choice for you.
On campus: Though international students are allowed to work on campus, there is great interest from all students for these jobs. Due to the high demand for on campus employment, there is a lot of competition for these positions. Students with good academic standing have a better chance at acquiring these types of jobs. You will usually be paid the student minimum wage for this work which can range from cleaning to office work.
Off campus: It may be possible to for students to find off-campus employment; however, your hours of work and rate of pay are subject to strict regulatory guidelines. It requires approval from US Immigration & Naturalization Service. This approval can be difficult to get and depends on a special need shown by the applicant for supplementary funds.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 however, this number flexible from state to state, the majority of states pay higher than this but there are exceptions. Please be sure to check the minimum wage for your state and make sure to enquire with any potential jobs you are interviewing for.
From East Coast to West Coast, Midwest to South, there is no doubt that the US boasts some of the best and diverse nighttime entertainment in the world. From night clubs to jazz bars, there’s something for everyone’s taste. The US has a full complement of sleek clubs, laid back bars and trendy lounges that vary from city to city. Nightlife hot-spots are quite common all over America, ranging from grungy-type pubs to elegant and sophisticated night clubs. Live theatre and musical performances happen nightly, weekly, monthly, depending on what you are looking for. Dine on cuisine from around the world in restaurants of all shapes and sizes. The legal drinking age in the US is 21, so be very careful when you plan your nights out, most venues are quite strict about this age limit as they are subject to heavy fines or possible closure if they are caught serving alcohol to minors. Regardless of your age there is plenty to do once the sun goes down; movies, sports clubs, student unions, art galleries, museums etc. are all available for your enjoyment.