Section 2 – Now That You’re Here

Climate in Region

Weather in New Hampshire is variable, allowing visitors to enjoy the changes, and sometimes challenges, of four seasons: Summer (July-August), Fall (September – November), Winter (December – March), and Spring (April – June). Temperatures may range from 98° F (37° C) in mid-summer to -20° F (-29° C) in mid-winter. Most of the time the weather is temperate and enjoyable.To prepare yourself for New England weather, clothing choices are important. Cotton or cotton blends are best in warm weather, wool and insulated items will keep you warm in winter. Raingear is necessary. Winter is also a time when snow and ice storms frequently occur; if you don’t come from a similar climate, it is advisable to bring extra money and purchase appropriate winter clothing once you arrive.*Note: some winter apparel can be expensive, so plan accordingly. Campus staff and students would be glad to offer suggestions about what you need. Finally, student dress is casual, although at some events more formal wear may be appropriate.

Money and Banking

You will have some expenses in getting settled. Here are a few suggestions and pointers to help you:

  • Plan on carrying U.S. currency in traveler’s checks and/or cash.
  • The amount of $400 should be enough to cover early miscellaneous expenses, and another $400-$500 for text books and school supplies.
  • Try not to carry large amounts of cash since it may be a few days before you can open a bank account.
  • Traveler’s checks are easily cashed; ATM cards can be used, although there may be substantial fees associated with using them for withdrawals.
  • Bank checks drawn in American dollars from your home country may take several weeks to clear; bank checks drawn in a foreign currency are not recommended.
  • Visa, MasterCard and American Express from your home country can be used in the community.
  • You will probably want to open a bank account as soon as you arrive, as it is not advisable to carry large amounts of cash.
  • Not knowing basic banking terminology can cost you a lot of money. Familiarize yourself with these basic financial terms.

Local Banking Options

Paying Plymouth State University Bills

Upon admittance to PSU, you will have promptly remitted a deposit of $290. Undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board fees should also be paid before arrival. PSU is now partnered with peerTransfer, a global payment resource, to simplify the payment process and save you money on wire transfers and banking fees.  Please review all billing information at the Student Account Services. The office can also be reached by calling (603) 535- 2215; or toll free (in the U.S.) 1-877-846-5755.

Miscellaneous Money Matters
Tipping

This small fee is a means of showing gratitude and usually ranges from 10% to 20% of the bill. People you tip in the U.S. include: waiters/waitresses, taxi drivers, porters, hairdressers and barbers, and parking lot attendants. People you do NOT tip include: customs officials or other government employees such as policemen, firemen, mailmen, airline personnel, hotel desk clerks, bus drivers, store clerks, theater ushers and receptionists.

Housing and Dining

International Student Employment

If you are legally maintaining status as an F-1 student, you are eligible to work no more than 20 hours (on-campus) per week. You may be employed full time during holidays and vacation periods, including summer vacations, provided you are eligible and intend to register for the next school term.Working improperly or without authorization is a serious violation of your status. It is your responsibility to comply with all immigration and employment regulations which apply to F-1 students. Failure to comply with these regulations could result in the cancellation of your F-1 visa and/or being barred from re-entering the U.S. for period of up to 10 years. Additional information about International Employment can be found under International Student employment webpage or by contacting the Global Education Office (603.535.2336) or the Center for Global Engagement (603.535.3372).
Social Security Numbers/Cards

Social Security numbers are granted when a person becomes employed in the U.S.  To apply for a number you will need to complete an Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5).  Take the completed application to the local Social Security office in Concord, NH along with original documents to include: I-20, I- 94, passport, work eligibility, and a letter from the DSO. *Work eligibility means evidence of employment such as letter from employer which describes your job, your start date, number of hours working, supervisor’s name and phone.*

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) Employment

CPT and OPT gives F-1 students the opportunity to gain paid practical experience in their field of study. CPT is employment through an internship or practicum that is part of a student’s degree program.  It must be connected to a credit-bearing course, and must be approved by the academic department and international student advisor.  OPT is available to students for up to 12 months after each educational level (i.e. undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate). OPT is usually done after completion of a degree program. See the CPT and OPT webpage for more information.

Taxes

If you are allowed to work in the U.S. and get paid for your services, you are required to pay taxes in the U.S. regardless of the type of visa that you have. Taxes are withheld regularly from each paycheck. Visit the International Taxpayer section at the United State Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service site to find out the required information on filing taxes.

Living in the U.S.

The electrical system in the United States uses 110 volts, 60 hertz (cycles). If you are planning to bring small appliances (like a hair dryer) from home, you will probably need a transformer and plug adapter. We advise you to buy things like hair dryers, etc. when you get here; they are reasonably priced and more practical than using an adapter.Basic Weights and Measures in the U.S.

  • 1 inch = 2.5 centimeters
  • 12 inches = 1 foot
  • 1 foot = 30 centimeters
  • 3 feet = 1 yard
  • 1 yard = 0.9 meters
  • 1 mile = 1.6 kilometers
  • 1 ounce (oz) = 28 grams
  • 16 ounces = 1 pound
  • 1 pound = 0.45 kilograms
  • 1 pint = 0.47 liters
  • 2 pints = 1 quart
  • 4 quarts = 1 gallon (3.8 liters)
  • Gasoline is sold in gallons.
  • Most beverages are sold in 12 oz, 16 oz, ½ gallons, and 1 gallon increments.
  • Coins are in increments of 1 cent (penny), 5 cents (nickel), 10 cents (dime), 25 cents (quarter), and 50 cents (fifty-cent piece).

Mail

PSU has a Campus Mail Service, located in the HUB.  You will be assigned a mail box (“HUB suite”) and this is where you will receive your mail.  There is also a U.S. Post Office on Main Street in Plymouth.  They provide only mail-related services, no banking or telephone.  U.S. Post Office terms include “express” mail, “priority” mail, “certified or registered” mail, and “insured” mail. The post office staff can answer any questions you have about how best to mail a package or letter.

Telephone

The U.S. does not have a national telephone company. There are many telephone companies that provide services in the Plymouth area, and the level of cell phone service or coverage changes frequently. Therefore, please talk with your roommates, friends, and PSU staff about what service is currently providing the best coverage! International phone cards can be purchased at most local stores and gas stations.  U.S. telephone numbers are ten digits long (area code, then the number). To call internationally, dial 011-country code-telephone number.  Dialing 911 is for emergencies and can be dialed from anywhere in the U.S.  Only dial “911” in the event of a true emergency.

The American Version of English

Just like any language, American English is full of its own slangidioms, and phrases. A simple search on the internet can provide you with tips on English conversation, grammar, TOEFL vocabulary, slang, and more.

Commonly used college/university terms include:

  • MAJOR: primary field of study
  • MINOR: secondary field of study
  • BA: Bachelor of Arts degree
  • BS: Bachelor of Science degree
  • MS: Masters of Science degree (higher degree level than bachelor)
  • MBA: Masters of Business Administration
  • CAGS: Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study
  • DORM: on-campus residence hall
  • RD: Residence Hall Director
  • CA: Community Advisor
  • ADD/DROP: to add or withdraw from a c lass
  • CUT/SKIP: to be absent from class purposely
  • MID-TERM: exam in the middle of the semester/term
  • FINAL: last exam of semester/term
  • Academic Advisor: a faculty member assigned to each student to help and assist in forming the student’s academic plans.

Driving

An international student wishing to operate a motor vehicle requires a valid NH driver’s license. New Hampshire state regulations state that any driver living in NH for more than 6 months is required to have a NH state driver’s license.  If you drive without the proper license, you will be subject to serious fines and penalties, which may include arrest.Note: International Driver’s Licenses can only be used by individuals in visitor (i.e. tourist) visa status.If you are interested in obtaining a NH driver’s license please visit the NH Division of Motor Vehicles Web site for the most current information. You may also visit the NH DMV Office, located at 23 Hazen Drive, Concord, New Hampshire.

Directions to NH Division of Motor Vehicles in Concord

  • - I-93 South to Exit 15E (I-393)
  • - I-393 to Exit 2 (East Side Drive)
  • - Turn left at the end of the ramp
  • - Then onto the 1st right to Hazen Drive
  • - Follow the sign to Plate/License Office
  • - Go to Non-Citizens Desk

Health Services and Medical Insurance

PSU has a fully staffed health clinic to meet most health needs. The clinic is open during the school year, with the exception of the month of January. It is closed during the summer months. Speare Memorial Hospital, also in Plymouth, is also available for any emergency or greater medical needs.
Medical Insurance  We strongly recommend that all international students have health insurance coverage. There are several local insurance agents in the Plymouth area who can assist you with determining appropriate coverage. They include:

Be sure to read all documentation and limitations to ensure that you will have adequate coverage while in New Hampshire. Well-known companies include:

Culture Shock

Coming to Plymouth, NH, you will encounter new things. Everything seems different. At first, your English may not serve you as well as expected. You may not be able to convey your full personality in English, or you may find unfamiliar expressions or words. Will you ever “fit in”, ever make friends? Taking care of daily tasks will be tiring and stressful at first because there is so much to learn. Everyone reacts differently to culture shock, but almost all international students have to deal with it to some degree. Some suggestions include:

  • Maintain your perspective. You are not alone. PSU professors, staff members, and students can help you ‘network’.
  • Evaluate your expectations. Your reactions to the U.S. and to PSU are products of the way things are here and your own expectations. Some expectations may be based on impressions from American films, or information that is outdated or unreliable in other ways.
  • Keep an open mind. People here might do or say things that people at home would not do or say. They are acting according to their own set of values, based on a different culture different. Take advantage of opportunities to discuss, both with Americans and other int’l students, to help you learn more about U.S. communication styles.
  • Americans are eager to help people, and want to provide assistance in an equal and fair manner. When a group of people is waiting, they expect to be helped on a first-come, first-served basis, in the order they arrived. To ensure a chance to speak with a PSU faculty/staff, email or telephone to see if an appointment is required.
  • Learn from experience. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  • Participate in and attend PSU activities. Get out there and meet people!
  • Allow time for rest and relaxation. Being in a new place is tiring, so relax!

It takes time for friendships to develop. You will get to know students, faculty and staff who will share their own experiences with you. We hope that you will leave PSU with many, many lifelong friends.

PSU embraces tolerance, individualism and responsibility for self. It is your duty and privilege to choose your own courses, field of interest, to respect and abide by PSU’s policies and expectations. Though personal preferences are never questioned, we are always willing to give advice, to help or to support your ideas. Faculty and staff are appointed and trained to give you the information you need and to help you make a reasonable choice.

American Customs and Values

  • Individualism
    An important aspect to understand about Americans. Many have been trained since an early age to view themselves as separate human beings who have their own opinions. They do not necessarily view themselves as members of a close-knit, tightly interdependent family, or religious group. The free, self-reliant individual is viewed as the ideal. Privacy: Closely associated with individualism. Americans give the impression that they are ‘open’, yet in American minds, there are certain boundaries people aren’t supposed to cross. It is difficult to determine which boundaries exist and their parameters, but will be quite obvious if you have crossed them.
  • Equality
    The ideal is that “all men are created equal.” [The term “men” should not be taken literally.] International students tend to be used to more obvious displays of respect (bowing, averting eyes, using honorific titles). Americans are aware of status differences, and simply display this in a different manner. An underlying assumption to this ideal is that no matter what a person’s status is in life, anyone has the potential to achieve great success. Everyone deserves respectful treatment.
  • Informality
    Notions of equality lead Americans to be informal in their general behavior and their relationships with other people. For example, introductions may be made using first names in a casual, friendly manner. A typical greeting such as “Hi, how are you doing?” does not necessarily mean that a person wants to initiate a conversation.
  • Goodness of Humanity
    Americans generally feel that people are inherently good and can always better themselves.
  • Time
    Time is seen as a “resource”, like water or coal that can be used poorly or wisely. Americans admire a well-organized person. The ideal person is punctual and considerate of other people’s time.
As an international student, you are subject to U.S. laws as they relate to international visitors. You are also protected by U.S. laws. Should you come into conflict with the law, the first person to contact is your International Student Advisor. They will let you know whom to contact next – either a lawyer or another responsible adult.International students will not be deported for a single misdemeanor or a minor offense, e.g. petty theft, disturbing the peace, or drunkenness. But if an international student is convicted of a crime involving “moral turpitude” for which the student is sentenced to one year or more of confinement, deportation is a real possibility. Charges related to drug addiction, possession, and sale fall into this category. Students who violate immigration laws and work illegally in the U.S. may also be subject to deportation.

  • U.S. laws concerning the sale and consumption of alcohol may seem very liberal or very constraining to you. In the U.S., it is illegal to purchase, consume, carry or otherwise transport alcoholic drinks, until you are 21 years of age. PSU has policies that restrict the consumption of alcoholic beverages on campus.
  • The sale, distribution, use or possession of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD, ecstasy or any other drugs violates federal, state, local and university laws.
  • PSU has restricted use of tobacco products on campus.

If you violate the rules of Plymouth State University and are disciplined by suspension or dismissal from the university, you will not have maintained legal status under the immigration laws, and you can be required to leave for that reason. Finally, a student should consider the attitude of his/her home government towards actions here, for your home government is able to withdraw or cancel one’s passport.

We expect each student to fully acknowledge and understand the policies and rules of the University. Information regarding policies regarding alcohol and substance use is found in the PSU Student Handbook.