Personally, I came to America with only two suitcases (mostly full of clothes, shoes, makeup, mementos and snacks from home). I was fine because I got everything else I needed here – like stationery, room décor, kitchen utensils, electrical appliances (like irons and hairdryers), sheets, pillows, blankets, lamps and medicine.
There are some things that a room does not need two of – like a mini fridge, a microwave, a coffee maker and a television, among other things. So, talk to your roommate about these! If they are an in-state student or maybe just have an easier time traveling to UNC, ask them if they would want to pick up all of this and split the cost. UNC’s RHA also has some of these items available to rent or for checking-out in dorms, so definitely take advantage of that if it’s cheaper or more convenient.
Buy within reason: Try not to get more than a year’s supply of anything, even after getting here. At the end of the year, you don’t want to trash useable items or be scrambling for expensive storage space for something you could have just bought later.
Befriend your RA: Talk to your Resident Advisor. Your RA is there to help you out with anything related to moving into and living in your dorm. Ask them about move-in dates, dorm facilities, roommate agreements and hall rules to get a better idea of how you’re going to be living the next year. Beyond this, you can also ask them questions about UNC in general.
Don't forget the small stuff: In the fuss of moving in and starting classes, there are a few other things to think about when settling in, like getting a phone connection, opening a bank account and applying for a driver’s license or a Social Security Number if you want to work.
Make friends: UNC’s August orientation session is generally comprised of international and out-of-state students. This is a really good opportunity to make friends with people who are in the same situation as you and can relate to what you're doing. As the year goes on, you can share experiences with them and help each other out.
Try something new: Orientation is designed to give you a rundown of UNC’s range of academic departments, clubs, organizations and other opportunities, like studying abroad and student research. These are great chances to try new things that you may have never even realized you were passionate about!
Go to the International Student Orientation: It is really helpful and tells you what is expected of an international student at UNC and in America. You'll learn about laws, documents, signatures and tax forms — which is very boring, I know — but it'll help you be aware and stay vigilant about ground rules and is a good resource to begin with.
Check in: International Student Orientation is also where you “check in” at the ISSS office with your documents and inform them about your arrival in the country. Don’t forget to do this!
Talk to your Orientation Leader: Like your RA, your OL is another valuable source of information and guidance that you’ll meet during your first days at UNC. So don’t be shy! They can tell you about the history, the community and the general first-year experience at the University.
For getting settled:
Explore Chapel Hill: One way to make yourself at home is to do a tour of the city. You can walk around Franklin Street, UNC’s campus, side streets and even Target.
Try to find the best bus routes for you: UNC has an extensive free transit system. So it may help to know which bus can take you back to your dorm after a tiring day of classes. You can get apps like Transloc’s Rider and NextBus which will tell you the latest information on the bus routes.
The first time I rode the bus here, I did not know what “requesting a stop” was. I missed my stop and probably sat on the "A" bus for half an hour before I figured it out and ended the journey that was supposed to be two minutes long.
Figure out where all of your classes are: UNC can be confusing to navigate during the first couple days of classes. A good way to avoid confusion is to take a little tour around campus and locate each building where you have a class.
Celebrate the Week of Welcome: Attend UNC events like festivals, expos, exhibits and free concerts during the Week of Welcome. Not only are they great opportunities for free stuff, they are there for new students like you and really help introduce you to the community, culture and environment of the University.
Bonus tip: Don’t worry. All of this stuff being thrown at you may be understandably overwhelming but know that there will always be people to help you - ISSS, your OL, RA and even us at the DTH. Just don’t hesitate to reach out, even with the smallest of problems.