Your Guide to Nebraska
We're here to make sure you are prepared for your Nebraska experience.
International Orientation is a required event for all new undergraduate international students. Orientation for Fall 2020 is August 19 and 20 with optional sessions on August 21. The first two days are required.
The university is actively monitoring the situation with COVID-19 in consultation with governmental partners. We take the safety of our students and our campus community seriously. At this time, plans for the Fall semester are proceeding as normal. Any changes to Fall plans will be communicated directly to new students via email.
What you will do at International Orientation:
- Learn about the requirements for your college or program.
- Be introduced to campus resources.
- Get campus essentials (bank account, student ID card, phone, bus pass, etc.).
- Complete your immigration document check-in process.
- Learn about how to succeed at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
- Meet other students.
Getting to Campus
Students must arrive by Tuesday, August 18 at the latest. Late arrivals are not allowed. See the late-arrival policy.
We recommend that you fly into the Lincoln Municipal Airport (LNK) because it is closest to campus and most convenient. On August 16, 17, and 18, members of the International Welcome Team will be at the Lincoln airport to greet and assist students and provide a free shuttle to campus and to off-campus destinations within two miles of campus. We recommend that you arrive on one of those three days. Welcome Team members are current Nebraska students who speak many languages. Look for the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Welcome Desk at baggage claim. Selecting "UNL shuttle" when you submit your arrival information serves as your shuttle reservation. All new students must submit arrival information.
If you are not arriving to the Lincoln airport on August 16-18, please submit your arrival information and we will email you with information that is specific to your arrival circumstances.
We care about you and your safety. For safety and liability reasons, we strongly recommend that you only use airport transport that is approved by the university.
Arrival Date Requirements
To ensure a successful start at Nebraska, incoming students are expected to arrive in time to attend International Orientation and other welcome programs. These programs assist students as they transition to the university and help them build connections with peers and university staff members.
The arrival policy is as follows:
- Students must receive visa approval to study at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and arrive in Lincoln on or
before the arrival date printed on their I-20 or DS-2019.
- If a student is unable to secure visa approval and arrive before the printed arrival date, they will be advised to apply for the subsequent term.
- The arrival date printed on the I-20/DS-2019 is the latest date that students should enter the United States. To enter the United States after the date on the I-20/DS-2019, students must obtain permission from the Office of Admissions (firstname.lastname@example.org) and must be issued an official late-arrival letter. Students will not, under any circumstance, be allowed to arrive after the Friday of the first week of classes in the Spring or Fall terms. Students admitted for the Summer term must arrive by the printed arrival date, without exception.
- Permission/approval for late arrivals will only be granted in extreme circumstances. The student must provide proof of hardship. Late/delayed visa applications, differences in costs of flights or personal readiness will not be approved as qualifying circumstances for late arrival.
The Office of Admissions reserves the right to approve or reject late-arrival circumstances outside of those described above.
University-approved airport transport options:
- Official University shuttle (free; Lincoln airport only; operated by New Student Enrollment).
- OMALiNK (from Omaha airport only).
Non-approved airport transport options:
- Transport organized by student organizations/clubs.
- Students or individuals offering free or paid rides.
- Transport arranged through social media or through online matching systems.
Tell us when you will arrive
Please provide us with information about when and how you will arrive to the University. This will help us prepare for your arrival. All new international undergraduates must submit arrival information.
Use these links for more information about arriving at Nebraska.
What to do before you arrive
Check off items on your to-do list
1. Make a visa appointment.
You should make your appointment for your visa interview as soon as possible after receiving your Form I-20 or DS-2019 and paying the I-901 SEVIS fee. To obtain an I-20, you will need to submit the following to the Office of Admissions: 1) a copy of your passport identification page and 2) a bank statement, signed or stamped by a bank official, showing proof of sufficient funds to cover cost of attendance for one year. If the bank statement's original language is not English, you will also need to submit an official English translation that is signed or stamped by the translator.
2. Learn about course enrollment.
3. Set up your my.UNL username and password.
In applying and being admitted, you have likely set up your MyRED credentials, which consist of: your NU ID (8-digit number) and a password you set up. Before you arrive on campus, it is very important to activate your my.UNL username and password, which is different from your MyRED credentials.
You will need this username and password for:
- Connecting to the campus Wi-Fi.
- Requesting a Huskers email account (required for all students).
- Accessing the Canvas platform, which is the academic portal for students (see below).
- Logging in to campus computers.
Because this is a different system than MyRED, you will have a different login/password. To activate your my.UNL account, go to trueyou.nebraska.edu/SelfService and follow these instructions (PDF). If you get a message saying you have already claimed your account, check your email to see if you have been sent your password previously. The username will typically consist of the first letter of your first (given) name and your entire last name (family/surname), plus a number. For example, the username for "Herbie Husker" would be hhusker1.
4. Log in to Canvas using your my.UNL credentials.
Visit canvas.unl.edu and log in with your my.UNL username and password. This is the academic portal for students. Each professor will post their class syllabus (which includes all class information), grades, and required assignments in Canvas. You can also contact your professor through this platform.
Additionally, you will gain access to MyPLAN through this portal, which is how you will set up appointments with your academic advisor.
5. Activate your Huskers email account.
All students will use their Huskers email account for all university communications. You will need to activate your account before you arrive on campus, and you will need to check it every day. The email address will be your my.UNL username followed by @huskers.unl.edu. Follow this link for instructions on how to set up your account.
6. Prepare for your Health Requirement.
All international students at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln will need to complete the health requirement. The health requirement has two parts: 1) You must be tested for tuberculosis at the health center and 2) provide records in English that you have received two rubeola measles/MMR shots or that you are immune.
1) Tuberculosis Test
This requirement must be completed upon arrival at the University Health Center. Visit this page for more information and for the scheduled hours when you can complete it.
2) Immunization Records Requirement
If you do not have records of your shots (also called "vaccines" or "immunizations"), that's OK—you can complete the immunization requirement during your health center appointment. The tuberculosis test and immunization requirement can be completed at the health center for no additional cost because of your enrollment in the university's student insurance plan.
If you do have records of your immunizations in English, please upload a copy into MyRed by clicking on the "Admissions" tab, "Undergraduate" and then the "Health Requirement" link in the bottom right-hand corner. Or, you can bring the records with you to campus and provide them to the health center in person. For more information about the health requirement, visit this page.
7. Submit your NCard photo.
Submit a photo for your NCard (student identification card) online. This will make it much faster for you to pick up your NCard on campus.
8. After you have visa approval, look for a plane ticket.
9. Secure your housing.
Complete your University Housing contract in MyRED before arrival if you plan to live on campus. If you plan to live off campus, we recommend that you contact Student Legal Services before signing a lease. Student Legal Services is a university service that is free, and attorneys there can help you understand a lease and provide you with information about apartment complexes. See the on-campus and off-campus sections of the arrival guide for more information.
10. Submit your arrival information.
Fill out the NSE Arrival Form so that we know when you will arrive. Also, decide how you will be transported from the airport to campus or to your off-campus housing. For safety and legal reasons, we do not recommend that you travel with students or other individuals who offer transportation from the airport for a fee or for free, unless the driver is a legitimate friend.
What to pack
DO NOT put these in your checked luggage—these should stay with you at all times during your trip to the U.S.:
- Passport (valid for at least six months following the date of travel) with visa attached
- I-20 or DS-2019
- I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt
- Document with proof of funds to cover your education (e.g. bank statement in English and original language, if not English)
- Nebraska admissions letter (printed)
- Address of where you will stay in the U.S. (written in English)
- Flight itinerary
- A spare copy of all documents
- Immunization record that shows you have had two rubeola measles/MMR vaccinations OR a positive rubeola lab result. If you do not have access to your immunization records or have not had these vaccinations, you can get vaccinations on campus. If you have uploaded the records to MyRED, you do not need paper copies. Vaccinations are covered by your student insurance.
- Medication for personal use (bring a written doctor's prescription and carry the medicine in the original, properly labeled container).
- Religious devotion materials (optional)
- Cultural artifacts/souvenirs to share your culture and use as gifts (if you have traditional clothing from your home country, bring it!)
- Photos of friends, family or pets (optional)
- Cell phone (optional—if you plan to use this for your U.S. phone, ensure that it is “unlocked”)
- Laptop computer (you can buy or rent a laptop at Nebraska if you don't want to bring one) (optional)
- $200-$300 cash in USD for miscellaneous expenses (if you are living off-campus, you should bring enough money to cover your first month's rent and a security deposit, which is usually equal to one month's rent)
- Credit/debit card from your home country, if you have confirmed it will work in the U.S. (optional)
If you arrive for the Fall semester:
- Shorts (the beginning of the semester is very warm)
- T-shirts (long and short-sleeved)
- Light jacket
- Sandals (these are good at the beginning of the semester)
- Close-toed shoes (boots are good for late fall)
- Long pants
- Athletic gear if you plan to work out
- Formal/traditional clothing
If you arrive for the Spring semester (The Spring semester begins in winter, when temperatures can reach -18 (yes, negative!) degrees Celsius):
- Heavy coat
- Warm pants
- Hats and gloves
- Boots or other warm shoes
If you arrive for the Summer term (The summer in Nebraska is quite hot. It is normal for temperatures to range from 32-35 degrees Celsius):
- T-shirts or tank tops
Personal Care Items:
Only bring what you'll need for the first week or so at Nebraska. All of these products can be bought in Lincoln.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash
- Contact solution and lenses (glasses and lenses can be obtained at the University Health Center once you need replacements)
- Feminine care products
What not to bring
- 220-240 volt electric appliances (you'll need to buy a converter to use these if you plan to bring them because the U.S. voltage is 120 volts)
- Local foods and plants (these are prohibited by U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
Details about Nebraska's varied climate
Lincoln experiences four distinct seasons throughout the year. Nebraskans often joke that "if you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes" because the weather can change significantly in the same day.
The extreme climate (very hot in the summer, very cold in the winter) is typical of the Midwestern region of the United States. High temperatures of 85-95 degrees Fahrenheit (29-35 degrees Celsius) are normal in the warm summer months (June, July, August), and high temps of about 32 to 52 degrees Fahrenheit (0-11 degrees Celsius) are normal in the winter months (December, January, February, March). Low temps in winter are usually between 10 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 to -7 degrees Celsius), but can easily drop below that. It does snow in the winter. The fall and spring seasons are milder, with high temperatures ranging from 40 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (5 to 21 degrees Celsius).
If you arrive for the Fall semester (August), be prepared for very hot temperatures upon your arrival. If you arrive for the Spring semester (January), you will actually be arriving in winter, so be prepared for very cold temperatures. Please don't arrive in shorts and sandals for the winter! Please see the packing list for suggestions on what to bring with you to Nebraska.
University (On-campus) housing
Learn the basics of University Housing
Living on campus is the best choice for incoming international students. The residence halls provide a supportive environment to aid you in your transition to Nebraska. University Housing has a full-time professional staff member dedicated to supporting international students. Housing also has a staff of multilingual Intercultural Aides, who are current students who assist students upon arrival to the halls and plan events throughout the semester.
All incoming students under the age of 19 or students who have not completed or transferred 27 or more accepted semester hours of post-secondary education prior to the first day of fall semester classes are required to live in University-approved on-campus Housing.More Details about the Policy
Your housing contract must be completed before you arrive at Nebraska. You can access the contract through MyRED.
There are three types of university residence halls:
- Traditional (shared bedroom and community bathroom with private showers and toilets)
- Suite-style (four-person units with double- or single-occupancy bedrooms with an in-unit shower, toilet, living room and snack-prep area)
- Apartments (not available to traditional first-year students)
International students should select a "break hall" when completing their contract (spring admits will be automatically assigned to a break hall). Break halls are open during breaks like Thanksgiving and winter break, so students do not have to move out during that time. The names of the break halls on City Campus are Selleck Quadrangle, University Suites, Knoll Residential Center (designated for University Honors Program students), Schramm, Smith and East Side Suites. Massengale Residential Center is a break hall on East Campus.
Non-University (Off-campus) housing
Get tips and recommendations for living off campus
Before you begin securing off-campus housing, keep in mind the university's housing policy: All incoming students under the age of 19, or students who have not completed or transferred 27 or more accepted semester hours of post-secondary education prior to the first day of Fall semester classes, are required to live in university-approved, on-campus Housing.More Details about the Policy
What to Consider
Students are responsible for finding their own housing if they choose to live in non-university housing. Some students choose to live near campus and pay more for rent. Other students choose to live farther from campus to save money, but then must commute to campus by bus, bike, car or walking. Below are the steps you should take if you do not plan to live in University Housing.
- Choose the type of housing you wish to live in. Do you want to live in a house with roommates? Do you want to live in an apartment with roommates? Do you want to live alone? How far from campus are you willing to live? How much can you budget per month for rent?
- Talk to Student Legal Services at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln about what you should look for on a lease and how to read a lease. Student Legal Services is a free university service with professional attorneys who can help you with your lease, or provide information to you about problematic apartment complexes. We recommend that you contact Student Legal Services before you sign your lease to make sure you know what you are agreeing to by signing the contract.
- Contact the rental companies/apartment complexes that you are interested in and ask them any questions you might have about living there. Questions to keep in mind:
- Is there a way to see what the place looks like through a video call?
- Do they provide roommates or do residents need to find their own?
- Is the place furnished? (Most new students prefer to rent furnished units so that they do not need to purchase furniture.)
- Who is responsible for maintenance and household repairs?
- Where can you do laundry?
- How much is the rent and what does that all include? How much are bills and utilities (internet, cable, heating, cooling, electricity, garbage, water, etc.) each month?
- Is there public transportation to campus? Can I walk or bike to campus?
- Review the lease with Student Legal Services to make sure you understand everything you are agreeing to by signing the lease.
Tips for living in the U.S.:
- Talk with your roommate(s) about living arrangements. Some topics to discuss are:
- Sleeping schedule
- Cleaning of common rooms
- Be aware of alcohol laws
- It is illegal to drink alcohol under the age of 21 in the United States, even if you are in your own home.
- It is illegal to serve or provide alcohol to people under the age of 21, even if you are 21-years-old and in your home.
- It is prohibited to drink or possess alcohol on campus, regardless of your age.
- Be a good neighbor
- Keep the noise at a decent level, especially between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. during the week.
- If you live off campus, there are people who will live around you who are not students, so be respectful of their lifestyle.
- Be Mindful of Your Budget
- For most off-campus apartments and homes, you will pay your rent once a month. Additionally, you will pay utilities, which may include internet, water, garbage pick-up, electricity, etc. Students who live in university housing will pay for housing once per semester.
- You will need to buy your own groceries and household products. Off-campus students can purchase a university meal plan for use in the dining halls if they would prefer to eat meals on campus.
- Entering the United States
- What to do after you arrive
- Transportation in Lincoln
- Mobile phone
- Health requirements
Entering the United States
What you need to know about arriving in the U.S.
You cannot enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019. When you arrive in the United States, you will have to pass through passport control and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The security at the U.S. border might be stricter than what you're used to. It is normal for immigration officials to take your photo and fingerprints. When you reach the border checkpoint in the airport, you should have the following items in your hand:
- Passport (valid for at least six months following your date of travel) with visa attached
- I-20 or DS-2019
- I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt
- Document with proof of funds to cover your education
- Nebraska admissions letter (printed)
Be prepared to answer a few potential questions from the immigration officer about what you will be doing in the U.S., where you will be living, how long you plan to stay, what you plan to do upon return to your home country and more.
Border patrol agents may ask to search your phone or electronic devices; it is wise to ensure that your devices do not have any questionable or illegal content on them before you enter the U.S. If they ask you for your devices, it does not mean you are in trouble. Stay calm and follow the agent's instructions. Sometimes they request extra time to search the devices, and you could be taken to a separate room while they search your electronics or ask you additional questions. Again, in most cases, this does not mean you are in trouble. These types of searches happen to U.S. citizens and international visitors, so do your best to remain calm and answer the agent's questions!
If you are arriving with more than $10,000 USD in cash, traveler's checks or foreign currency, you must declare that on your U.S. customs declaration form, which you will receive either in the plane or in the airport after arriving (at some airports, the form can be submitted electronically at a kiosk). You will not have to pay import taxes or fees if you declare the money, but if you do not declare it and it is found upon inspection, U.S. Customs and Border Control can seize the money, so it is important to be honest when you declare your items.
What to do after you arrive
Check off items on your to-do list
Once you reach campus, you can start taking care of a variety of tasks to get started at Nebraska.
1. Tell your family that you have arrived safely.
They'll want to hear from you after your long trip. If you arrive during one of the three days of the New Student Enrollment airport welcome (usually the three days before International Orientation in the Spring and Fall semesters), the International Welcome Team will greet and assist you at the Lincoln airport.
2. Connect to campus Wi-Fi.
You will need your my.UNL username and password to connect your devices to the Wi-Fi network. Find instructions here. If you have not activated your my.UNL username and password, you will need to do that first (visit section 3 of the pre-arrival to-do list of this guide for instructions). If you experience any problems, you can find contact information and locations of the HuskerTech Help Centers here.
3. Update your contact information in MyRed.
Log in and click on the "Profile" tab, then update your current/local mailing address to the address of your residence hall or off-campus residence. If you have a U.S. phone number, also include that. Ensure that you have activated and accessed your @huskers.unl.edu email account (visit this link for instructions).
4. Purchase your textbooks.
To see a list of books for your courses, log in to MyRED and click on the "Enrollment" tab. Then click on the blue "Textbook Online Ordering" button. Clicking on the button WILL NOT automatically order your books. On the following page, select the correct academic term and click "Order Now." Again, clicking "Order Now" WILL NOT order your books. It will simply provide you with a list of all the books you need for your courses. You can rent or buy books directly through the University Bookstore or through online retailers.
5. Open a bank account.
You can open a free account by going to Union Bank & Trust in the Nebraska Union on campus before orientation, or you can open an account during the first day of orientation. If you do not want to use Union Bank, you are able to open an account at most off-campus banks in Lincoln, but they will not have the level of expertise in working with international students that the staff at Union Bank & Trust has. Other banks may require you to have a Social Security Card, which new students do not have unless they have previously been employed in the U.S.
6. Complete your health requirements.
You must complete your health requirement by visiting the University Health Center during scheduled walk-in hours, which can be found here. All international students MUST get a tuberculosis test at the health center and provide proof of two rubeola measles/MMR immunizations or a positive rubeola lab result. There are no exceptions. If you do not have your immunization record or have not received such immunizations, you can get immunizations at the health center.
7. Pick up your NCard.
Your NCard is your student identification card. The NCard office is located inside the Nebraska Union, 1400 R St. You can pick up your NCard before orientation or during the first day of orientation.
8. If you are an Intensive English Program (IEP) student, take the English Language Test.
If you are an Intensive English Program (IEP) student, you will take the English Language Test (ELT) on the afternoon of the first day of orientation (which is Friday, January 10 for Spring 2020). International Welcome Team members will guide you to the ELT at the designated time and location during orientation. The ELT is only for IEP students. If you are an IEP student and have not registered for the exam, register here.
9. Attend welcome events and International Orientation.
Orientation includes mandatory sessions on Friday, January 10 and Saturday, January 11 (for Spring 2020) for all new international undergraduates (full admit, Exchange, CEAP and IEP). The event occurs on the second floor of the Nebraska Union. Social events take place before and after orientation. Attending social events is not required, but you are encouraged to attend to meet new people and have fun. Find the welcome calendar here.
You are also encouraged to attend the “Big Red Welcome” events designated for the entire university student body. These include social events and informational sessions that occur during the first few days before classes begin, as well as the first six weeks of the school year. Find more information here.
Transportation in Lincoln
Learn how to get around Lincoln
Like most cities in the U.S., Lincoln is very spread out, and distances are usually covered in a car, bus or bike rather than by walking. Campus is located downtown, which has lots of restaurants and entertainment venues, but most students do most of their shopping outside of downtown. In Lincoln, you can get around using the public bus, bikes, private cars, Zipcars, taxis or Uber/Lyft.
Lincoln has a public bus system, called StarTran, which is free for Nebraska students. You will receive a free bus pass when you get your student ID card (NCard). You can also download the “Token Transit” app to your smartphone. Find instructions for downloading the app here. To ride the bus for free, you will need to show the driver your NCard and bus pass. Most buses run Monday through Saturday; each route has a different operating schedule. There is no bus service on Sundays. The StarTran website lists all routes with the route schedule and the bus stops on each route. Some of the most common routes used by international students are:
- #24/25—Intercampus routes: These routes run between City Campus and East Campus (Nebraska has three campuses in different parts of Lincoln). These routes also run along Vine Street, near where many international students live off campus, and along 27th street, where many international grocery stores are. These routes do not operate on the weekends nor during university holidays.
- #27—North 27th: This route goes to the North Wal-Mart, where many students buy personal items, housing items, groceries and more. This route has a Monday–Friday schedule and a separate Saturday schedule.
- #44—"O" Street: This route goes to Target (a large department store similar to Wal-Mart where many students buy personal items, housing items, groceries and more), Gateway Mall (a shopping mall good for clothes and shoes shopping) and Best Buy (a large electronics store). This route has a Monday–Friday schedule and a separate Saturday schedule.
- #53—SouthPointe: This route goes to SouthPointe Pavilions Mall, which is an outdoor mall with different stores than Gateway Mall. This route has a Monday–Friday schedule and a separate Saturday schedule.
Lincoln is well-known for having one of the best bike trail systems in the United States. Most of the bike trails run outside of downtown. In downtown Lincoln, it is illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk. It must be ridden on the road. However, on campus, many students ride their bikes on the sidewalks. Bike racks are located throughout campus and downtown, but you'll want to lock up your bike. Students can rent a one-speed bike for a semester from the Outdoor Adventures Center on campus. Lincoln also has a bike-renting system, called BikeLNK, that is suitable for short-term rentals. There are several rental kiosks on and near campus. Check out tips for biking around campus/downtown. Find more information about bike trails here and here.
To own a car, you need a valid U.S. driver's license, car registration and liability insurance. It's best to talk to the Department of Motor Vehicles or the University Police Department before driving in Lincoln to make sure you are complying with laws. It is illegal to drive a personal vehicle without a license, registration and insurance. You can drive a rental car with a foreign license.
During orientation, New Student Enrollment hosts an optional info session about driving in the U.S. You should check out the orientation schedule to find out where and when to attend this session if you are considering owning a car.
You will probably notice that there are not many taxis in Lincoln. This is typical of mid-sized American cities, where most people do not rely on taxis. Taxis are a somewhat expensive option for transportation within Lincoln, and they sometimes have long wait times. Generally, you cannot get a cab directly off the street; you usually need to call. zTrip is a large taxi company. Their phone number is 402-202-2222.
Uber or Lyft
These are "taxi" apps, but the drivers are not professional taxi drivers. This is generally cheaper than taxis unless it is a very busy time and the prices are surging. To use Uber or Lyft, you will need to download the app on your smartphone and register for an account. Both Uber and Lyft are increasingly popular transportation options for young people in Lincoln.
There are ZipCars, which are short-term rental cars, located at a few spots on campus. Students can rent by the hour or by the day. Gas and insurance are included in the cost. Find more info about pricing and procedures at the university's ZipCar website. Students with foreign driver's licenses can drive zip cars. Find steps for how to apply using a foreign driver's license here.
Get connected in Lincoln.
You have various options regarding mobile phones. You can:
- Bring a phone from your home country and activate it on a U.S. network using a SIM card.
- Purchase a new phone in the U.S. and get a 1-year or 2-year contract.
Most international students at Nebraska have phone coverage with one of two main phone carriers: AT&T or Verizon. You might hear about a couple of other carriers, mainly T-Mobile or Sprint. T-Mobile has recently updated their coverage in Lincoln and some students use T-mobile. A small number of students use Sprint, but it requires a 2-year contract.
1. Bring a phone from your home country and activate it on a U.S. network using a SIM card:
To do this, your phone must be "unlocked," meaning it can be used on a network that is different from the one you used in your home country. If you are unsure if your phone is unlocked, you should contact your phone carrier in your home country to verify. SIM cards can be used on the AT&T network but cannot be used with Verizon or Sprint.
For the 2019 school year, free SIM cards through Campus SIMs (using the T-Mobile network) will be provided to new international students. If you do NOT receive one upon arrival at the Lincoln airport, please visit the Office of New Student Enrollment (312 N. 14th St) if you would like to pick one up.
SIM cards are not as common or easy to obtain in the U.S. as they are in many parts of the world. Some cards are pay-as-you go, but many of them either come loaded with a certain amount of calling minutes/text messages/data, or you pay an established monthly price for a certain plan. Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Walgreens also sell SIM cards.
2. Purchase a new phone in the U.S. and get a 1-year or 2-year contract:
At the HuskerTech store in the Nebraska Union on campus, students can purchase phones and contracts for Verizon or Sprint service.
Verizon allows students to link with other students on discounted "family plans." Find more details about Sprint and Verizon phones and plans. Most foreign phones, even if they are unlocked, cannot be activated on the Verizon network, so you would most likely need to purchase a Verizon phone if you want Verizon service.
Learn how to safely access your money
One of your most essential needs while you're in Lincoln will be to access your money. You are not required to open a local bank account, but it is highly recommended. In the U.S., there are two main types of bank accounts: a checking account (a debit card or checks are associated with a checking account) or a savings account (where you can store money to save and gain a small amount of interest).
Union Bank & Trust is the exclusive bank of the university. Union Bank & Trust is conveniently located in the north entrance of the Nebraska Union on City Campus with 10 ATMs (cash machines) on City and East campuses. Union Bank staff are multilingual, and if they do not speak your language, they have a free translation service available in more than 200 languages.
You can open a checking account with Union Bank before International Orientation if you arrive to campus early, or you can open one during International Orientation.
What you should bring with you to open a checking account:
- Permanent address in your native country
- Current address in the United States
- University of Nebraska–Lincoln ID number (NUID)
- $50.00 opening deposit for a checking account and $25.00 opening deposit for a savings account
You can open an account with a different bank in Lincoln, as there are several different banks downtown. However, staff at other banks are unlikely to have the expertise of working with international students that the Union Bank staff has, and no other banks are officially connected to the university. Some other banks require individuals to have a Social Security Card to open an account.
Get the details for immunizations and tests.
All new international students have to comply with two health requirements:
- Take a tuberculosis test at the University Health Center.
- Provide proof of two rubeola measles/MMR immunizations or a positive rubeola lab result.
Find information here for where and when you can complete the health requirement before classes start.
You can upload your immunization records in MyRED by clicking on the "Health Requirement" link on the bottom right corner of the "Admissions" tab. You can also bring your records to the health center in person. If you do not have your immunization record or have not received the MMR vaccine, you can get immunizations at the health center.
Tuberculosis testing cannot be done before arrival; the test must be performed at the University Health Center.
International students on F-1 or J-1 visas are automatically enrolled in the university's student health insurance plan. The student insurance plan fully covers the cost of receiving the MMR vaccination and the tuberculosis test at the health center. For more information about student health insurance, visit this page.Find more information
All international undergraduates on F-1 or J-1 visas are automatically enrolled in the student health insurance plan through the university. Because the cost of health care in the United States is much higher than in most countries, it is essential (and required) for international students to have health insurance in order to have affordable access to routine and emergency care. Health insurance is a way for you to pre-pay in advance for your medical care, which results in the care being cheaper when you need it.
You can find details about the student health insurance coverage here. With the student health insurance, most medically necessary services, such as visits to the medical clinic and routine dental and vision exams, are provided at no cost to the student at the University Health Center. With the student insurance, there is no cost for completing the international student health requirement (tuberculosis test and MMR vaccinations/blood test) at the Health Center.
The student health insurance is charged automatically to the student bill once for the Fall semester and once for the Spring/Summer terms. The total cost for the full year is approximately $3,000, which is much cheaper than most insurance providers in the U.S.
All F-1 and J-1 international students must remain enrolled in the student insurance plan, unless they are enrolled in a U.S.-employer-based or government-sponsored plan. If you have questions about student insurance and whether or not you have an employer-based or government-sponsored plan, please call the Nebraska Medicine – University Health Center Insurance Office at +1 402-472-7435 or email Cindy Pickinpaugh at email@example.com.
It is recommended that incoming students attend New Student Enrollment's online info session that describes health insurance and health care in the U.S. Find a recording to our most recent health care info session here.
6100 O St, Lincoln, NE 68505
Gateway Mall is an indoor mall with lots of stores to shop for clothing, books, games and many other items. There are also a few restaurants.
How to get there on the bus: Take Route 44 and get off at the Gateway Mall stop.Learn More
2910 Pine Lake Rd, Lincoln, NE 68516
SouthPointe is an outdoor mall in south Lincoln. It also has stores to shop for clothing, books, sporting items, etc.
How to get there on the bus: Take the SouthPointe bus (#53) and get off at the mall stop.Learn More
Where to buy essentials
4700 N 27th St, Lincoln, NE 68521
Wal-Mart is a department store that carries anything you are looking for from groceries to personal care items to clothing and much more.
How to get there on the bus: Take the North 27th bus (#27) and get off in front of the store.Learn More
333 N 48th St, Lincoln, NE 68504
Target is a department store similar to Wal-Mart but carries slightly "nicer" items.
How to get there on the bus: Take the "O" Street bus (#44) and get off at the stop on the street in front of Target and a grocery store called Super Saver.Learn More
233 N 48th St, Lincoln, NE 68504
Super Saver is a large grocery store where you can buy quality food for a decent price.
How to get there on the bus: Take the O Street bus (#44) and get off at the stop on the street in front of Target and Super Saver.
612 N 27th St, Lincoln, NE 68503
Oriental Market is a comprehensive store with Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Lao, Vietnamese, Korean and other countries' products.
Viet Hao Asian Market
2416 O St, Lincoln, NE 68510
Little Saigon Oriental Market
940 N 26th St #207, Lincoln, NE
Suji's Indian Store
3140 O St, Lincoln, NE 68510
How to get there on the bus: Take the O Street bus (#44) and get off at the 32nd Street bus stop. The store is right across the street.
Lincoln Grocery Mart
2619 Holdrege St, Lincoln, NE 68503
Middle Eastern and African products
Kahramana Market & Bakery
850 N 27th St, Lincoln, NE 68503
Halal/Middle Eastern/European products.
Family Food Market
2350 O St #101, Lincoln, NE 68510
Halal/Middle Eastern products.
How to get there on the bus: Take the Holdrege bus (#25) and get off at the 23rd and P Street stop. The store is a 3-minute walk from the stop. Or, take the O Street (#44) bus and get off at the 23rd and O Street stop.
Lobo's City Mex Market Convenience Store
338 N 27th St, Lincoln, NE 68503
Latin American products.
This store is not easily accessible by bus, but you can take the #44 bus, get off at the 27th and O Street stop and walk three blocks to the north.
815 S 11th St., Lincoln, NE 68505
Latin American products.
How to get there on the bus: Take the #56 bus and get off on the 9th and G Street stop (heading south) or the 10th and G Street stop (heading north) and walk toward 11th and G streets.
The basics of transferring credit to Nebraska
Credits from partner institutions, where University of Nebraska–Lincoln has an agreement, are typically reviewed during the admissions process. If your school has a partnership agreement with Nebraska, check out the pre-determined course equivalencies.
If Nebraska does not have a partnership with your institution, transferring credits is done on a course-by-course basis. After you arrive to the university, you will need to meet with your academic advisor to start the credit transfer process. You can find your advisor's name and contact information in MyRED by clicking on the "Academics" tab. If you do not see your advisor's name, you can contact your college's advising center. Please bring as much documentation as possible that demonstrates the content of the course or courses you would like to transfer. A course syllabus, which is a detailed course outline that includes the course content, assignments and learning outcomes, is especially helpful if you have one.
It is recommended that incoming transfer students attend New Student Enrollment's online info session that describes the credit transfer process.
Finding a job
Find out how to work on campus
International undergraduates on F-1 visas are only allowed to work on campus for 20 hours a week. Off-campus jobs are only allowed in specific circumstances and must be approved by the International Student and Scholar Office. If you want to look for a job when you arrive, check out this updated listing of on-campus jobs. Keep in mind that many on-campus jobs might already be filled by older students when you arrive at the beginning of the semester. Some jobs are filled by word-of-mouth and are not posted on the on-campus jobs website. If you are interested in working for a specific department or office, you can contact that department or office directly to inquire about open positions.
Career Services is a department on campus that helps students prepare materials for the job search and prepare for interviews for free. You might want to visit Career Services, located in Room 225 on the second floor of the Nebraska Union, to have them help you develop or revise your résumé (also called a CV) and cover letter (a letter that you include with your application to highlight your interest and skills).
For reference: The minimum hourly wage in Nebraska is $9 per hour.
It is recommended that new students who are interested in working on campus attend the info session during orientation that describes how to get an on-campus job.
Paying your student bill
Find out how to view and pay your bill
You will pay your student bill after arriving at the university. Your bill cannot be paid before you arrive. During the semester, your student bill will be ready in MyRED by the 25th of each month (it often arrives earlier) and is due by the 12th of the following month. So, for example, your first bill at the beginning of the Fall semester would appear in MyRED by August 25th at the latest and would be due by September 12th. For the Spring semester, your first bill will appear in MyRED by January 25th at the latest and will be due by February 12th. You will receive an email each month telling you that your bill is ready to view in MyRED. You will not receive a paper bill. You can view and pay your bill online in MyRED or at the Bursar's Office if you prefer to pay in person. The Bursar’s Office is now located within HuskerHub, which is located in room 130 of Louise Pound Hall, on City Campus.
- Step-by-step details for paying your bill online
- Different payment options
- Paying your bill with a foreign currency
It is recommended that incoming students attend New Student Enrollment's online info session that describes the bill payment process.
Safety and Laws
The university has its own internationally accredited police department. Though part of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Police Department's (UNLPD) responsibility is to enforce the law, much of the department's work is devoted to keeping campus safe and preventing crime. Police officers are trained to receive reports of crimes from community members, investigate crimes, assess and manage emergencies and implement policies and measures that will keep campus safe.
UNLPD officers have extensive experience working with students, and one of the reasons Nebraska is one of the safest universities in the U.S. is because students contact police when they see unsafe, suspicious or worrisome behavior. Students can report crimes in person at the police department, located at 300 North 17th Street on campus, or by calling 402-472-2222. The police department is open all day and night, and officers patrol campus by car and on foot day and night.
An additional safety precaution that students can take is signing up for UNL Alert, which is an emergency notification system for the university community.
The U.S. has far too many laws for them all to be summarized here, but there are several laws that are important to highlight for international students because they might differ from your home country.
Driving a car
Though a foreign driver's license can be used to drive a rental car, you are required to have a U.S. driver's license to own or operate a personal vehicle. (To rent a car, it is best to have a translated version of your license if it is not originally in English.) To legally own a personal vehicle, you must have a driver's license, car registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and valid liability insurance. You will obtain license plates for your vehicle when you register it at the DMV.
Before purchasing a car, it is essential to confirm the legitimacy of the person/dealership from whom you are buying the car. Students have been victims of scams involving fraudulent car paperwork, particularly for luxury cars.
If you plan to drive in the U.S., it is recommended that you attend the "Driving in the U.S." session during International Orientation.
Relationship norms, expectations and gender roles might be different in the U.S. than what you're used to. Sexual harassment, assault, domestic violence and stalking are crimes that are taken seriously at Nebraska and carry serious penalties from the university and the police.
- Threatening or inflicting physical or emotional harm on a romantic partner, child or family member is considered domestic abuse or dating violence.
- Repeatedly contacting someone via electronic means without their permission (or after they have asked not to be contacted) or physically following them to class, work or home is called stalking.
- Sending unsolicited photos, messages, illustrations, etc. of a sexual nature, or making unwanted comments of a sexual nature to or about a person without the recipient's consent can be considered sexual harassment if the actions create a hostile work or educational environment.
- Forcible sexual contact without a person's consent (only "yes" means yes and "no" means no) is sexual assault or rape.
Individuals must be at least 21-years-old to legally consume or possess alcohol of any kind anywhere in the United States. People under 21 are called "minors" regarding alcohol, and "minors" are often prohibited from entering bars after 9 p.m. in Lincoln. If you are 21 or older and, in your home or elsewhere, you provide alcohol to friends or guests who are younger than 21, it is illegal and you can get into serious legal trouble.
Alcohol consumption and possession is not allowed on campus, even for individuals who are 21 or older.