Pakistani Student Association
Michigan State University
Arriving at East Lansing, Michigan
There are three ways which are most commonly taken while coming to Lansing:
- Lansing International Airport (LANX): You can take a connecting flight from your first US airport and land at LANX. We can pick you up from LANX once you arrive here. Campus is like 20 mins away. You can also take a taxi to the campus for around $15.
- Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW): If you land at Detroit and don’t want to take another connecting flight, you can take Michigan Flyer bus. Bus ticket can be purchased online for around $30. Don’t panic if you miss the bus due to flight delays. You can wait till the next Michigan Flyer comes and tell the driver your story. He will let you sit. The bus will drop you off at Albert Ave in East Lansing. We can pick you up from Albert Ave.
- Try to book the bus which is 1.5 to 2 hours later than your expected arrival time at airport.
- Your terminal at DTW airport will be McNamara (for most of the cases). So make sure when you book the bus ticket you choose the right terminal.
- If you miss your bus and don’t want to wait for next bus, you can always take a taxi. This will cost you around $150.
- Chicago (ORD): Please consult PSA.
Documents To Bring With You
- Letter of admission and housing contract. These two items are essential as they prove you have been accepted into the University and that you have a place to stay. At immigration you may be asked to validate your admission to the University, and having these documents in possession will help.
- When bringing your passport, check that its expiration date is valid for a few months after your arrival into the United States. If this is not the case, make sure you notify the Embassy of Pakistan and have them issue you a new passport as soon as possible.
- Determine whether your visa is "multiple entry" or not. If your visa is not "multiple entry" understand that it will become invalid if you leave the United States.
- Make sure that you bring your I-20 or SEVIS form (issued by the University). Without this you will not be allowed to enter the United States.
- Keep your I-94 departure record safely inside your passport (you will receive your I-94 upon arriving in the United States). Do not lose your I-94 record as it can cause problem when you are ready to leave the United States.
- Bring documents proving that you have financial resources in the United States from which you will be able to support yourself during your stay. Have your latest bank statements along with a certified letter from your bank showing your amount of funds in US dollars with the latest exchange rate.
- Make sure to photocopy all of the above documents; being a new student, these are all the documents which can be used to identify you. Also, keep your photocopies in a different place in case of lost luggage.
Other Items To Bring
- It is recommended to apply for an international license in Pakistan because it will allow you to drive in the United States for a certain amount of time. Eventually, you will need to apply for a Michigan State operator license, and having an international license from Pakistan will allow you to take your road test immediately after passing the written test, instead of having to wait the usual 30 days. A provincial driver's license wil not suffice.
- Bring your A-level or International Baccalaureate (IB) transcripts. These will allow you to skip introductory courses for certain subjects and will give you credit hours. Usually the University will have already received your final grades from A-levels or IB and will have awarded you with advanced placement; however, in case of this not happening it will be helpful to have your transcripts. It is not necessary to bring your original copies, certified photocopies from your institution will also do.
- Bring your standardized test scores. Chances are that the University has received them during the application process, but in case you have not been given waivers for elementary courses it will be safer to bring copies.
- Having a credit card with you for the initial days at the University is a good idea, even better is to come with some cash. If you are coming directly to the University, bring around $250-300 cash (small bills are preferred). Since you will hopefully be opening a bank account upon reaching the University you can always deposit or wire money into your account without taking the risk of travelling with a lot of money (You need not worry about housing or food expenses if you would be living in the dorms, which is usually the case with first year undergraduate students. Graduate students prefer to live in Apartments like Chandler’s Crossing, Trappers Cove, 1855 place etc. etc. If you are under 18 years of age, opening a bank account may pose a problem. If this is the case, make sure you have an adult open the account for you.
- If you have gotten in touch with your roommate(s), make sure to ask him/her what they intend to bring to the dorm room, in order to avoid duplicate items. Dorms are small, so be sure not to bring too much with you.
- Make sure to bring pictures of your family and friends.
- Passport sized photos are also very handy to have.
- Purchase an international phone card or buy one at the airport (though more expensive). Normally there is free wifi at every airport that will work only for around half an hour once you are connected. If you don’t have phone card, you can use this wifi to contact whoever you want to. Make sure to keep important phone numbers with you on hand. Do not lose them in case you are in need of help and need to contact your relatives or friends.
How to Pack
- Please travel with only the most necessary items. Once you begin packing you will notice that your 'necessary items' are more than you expected. Items like towels, bed sheets and pillows are obviously available here, so please don't bother bringing them.
- Do bring your summer clothes; however, Winter in Michigan is fierce so bring a light jacket when you arrive in the Fall (as it may be a little chilly). If you are arriving during the Winter semester, make sure you have a heavy coat and warm clothing. Buying Winter clothing from Pakistan may be cheaper but it might be better for you to buy such things when in the United States as you could use the extra space in your luggage to fit other items. There are stores near campus, and the International Center will be chartering buses to these stores for you to buy things (you can use public buses later in the year too). It usually does not get cold in Michigan until around late September.
- If you wear prescription glasses, bring atleast two pairs with you with the latest prescription, if possible. Purchasing glasses in the United States can be very expensive.
Bring enough toiletries to last for a few days.
- Bring enough toiletries to last for a few days.
- If you are bringing any electronics from Pakistan, please remember that the voltage in the United States is different. The United States uses 110-120 volts @ 60 cycles, so bring an adapter if you have electronics which run at 220 volts.
What Not To Bring
- It is not important to bring any of your own textbooks since classes at the University follow their own required texts closely. Even if you feel your books may help you revise some topics, you can almost always find the same books at one of the libraries on campus.
- Don't bring any stationary. You can purchase these things on campus at moderate prices.
- Don't bring more than $10,000 cash as you will be required to declare it at immigration.
- If possible, get your medical and dental checkups done in Pakistan unless there is a certain reason not to.
Owning a Car in Michigan
- Used cars are very cheap in East Lansing. A reliable 7-10 year old Japanese/ Korean compact car (Toyota Corolla/ Tercel/Honda Civic/ Hyundai Accent) in clean, decent condition can cost you anything between $1500 (if you are patient and a little lucky) to $3000 (available any time). To get a feel for prices go to AllMSU and Lansing CraigList. Another good source are the on-campus notice boards. There are some additional costs for transferring the car's title (one-time only). Charges are around 6% of the sale price. There is an annual registration fee of about $35..
- You will have to pay for gas of course. If you keep the use of your car to necessary chores only you can easily do with two tanks of gas a month (approx $70/month).
- You will have to pay for insurance. The state minimum coverage for cars in the category mentioned above will cost you around $50-60 a month as long as you have less than 1 year driving experience in the US, $40-50/month for the 2nd year, and around $30-$35/month after that, always assuming of course that you keep a clean driving record. Slip-ups will cost you extra on your insurance.
- If you live on campus you will need to buy a parking permit. The prices for those vary depending on your status (student only/ student+RA/staff?) and where you are going to live on campus (village / Owen). For Spartan Village and Cherry Lane Village I beleive the cost for the entire academic year is around $70. You may want to confirm that from DPPS.
- The CATA bus service is great for moving around on campus. Though students find it inadequate for travelling far out of campus (such as groceries at Meijer ). A 15 minute drive by car can take up to 2 hours by bus. If you don't schedule your activities carefully you can find yourself wasting a lot of time waiting at the bus stop.