Life in the U.S.

Image: International students at Hiram

American Culture

As a new student entering the U.S., you are leaving behind everything you consider normal and familiar. You are expected to adjust to and function quickly in new surroundings which are culturally, educationally, and socially different. This can lead to a sense of disorientation, confusion, and frustration. This “culture shock” is a normal, temporary part of the process of adapting to a new environment. It is usual for these feelings to diminish over time. So, be patient. Give yourself the time to adapt. Talk to the international student advisor about any specific challenges you are experiencing. She has assisted many new students and can provide helpful suggestions. Most international students make a successful transition and by the end of the first semester, they have begun to feel truly “at home” at Hiram.

Driver license requirements, rules, and regulations vary from state to state within the U.S. If you wish to be eligible to drive while a student at Hiram College, please read the information below.

  • Have a Valid U.S. Driver’s License from another state in the U.S. If you have a valid U.S. driver’s license from one of the states other than Ohio, you must apply for an Ohio license within 30 days of establishing Ohio Residency.
  • Have an International License from a Country with Reciprocity to the U.S. If you plan to remain in the U.S. for 1 year or less and hold a valid International License, you may drive in the U.S. for a maximum of 1 year.  To continue driving, you will need to apply for an Ohio driver’s license at the end of that year.
Obtain a valid State of Ohio Driver’s License

Students who wish to drive in the U.S. while residing in Ohio must apply for a driver’s license issued by the State of Ohio.

When visiting the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, you must have your passport, visa, I-20, I-94, Social Security Card (if applicable), a letter from the International Student Services Office, and your payment (Payment Methods and Fees).

There are several steps to apply for an Ohio Driver’s License
  1. Study the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws.
  2. Go to the nearest State Highway Patrol Examination Station for a written test and vision screening. No appointment is necessary, but be sure to check which days and hours the nearest station is open. Local locations include Ravenna, Kent, and Streetsboro.
  3. If you pass the written exam, you will be issued a Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card (TIPIC) which permits one to practice driving with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old.
  4. After practicing driving and maneuverability, you may schedule an appointment with an Ohio Drivers License Exam Station to take the Road Test and Maneuverability Test.
  5. After passing the driving and maneuverability test, you may visit the Deputy Registrar’s Office to have your driver’s license issued.  You are required to surrender your Temporary Permit at that time.

As with many other states, Ohio requires that all licensed driver’s purchase a minimum amount of insurance as prescribed by the state, even if you do not own or will not purchase a vehicle while at school.  A Temporary Permit/License will NOT be issued unless you have acquired auto insurance.

Whether you need transportation to the bank in Garrettsville, Walmart, a doctor’s appointment, or to the airport, you need to know the different options available to you.

Some of the transportation options include:

  • Campus-sponsored trips – often for shopping at various malls and stores
  • PARTA Dial-A-Ride– for destinations within Portage County only
    • Service FROM Hiram on Mondays and Wednesdays
    • Must be pre-registered by calling 330-678-1287
    • $6 fare each way (Exact amount needed, drivers do not carry change)
    • Transportation requests must be made 1-3 days in advance
  • PARTA(Windham-Garrettsville)
    • Monday through Friday
    • $1 fare each way (Exact amount needed, drivers do not carry change)
    • Helpful for destinations in Garrettsville or Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna
  • Office of Residence Life & Commuter Services

Travel Outside the U.S.

Whenever you leave the U.S. for a temporary trip, the Office for International Student Services takes great care to be sure that you have all of the documents and signatures you need to return to Hiram College.  When planning your travels,  the best practice is to ALWAYS meet with the International Student Advisor sufficiently in advance of your departure (at least one week). We will check to see if you will need to apply for a new visa before you return and if there are any reasons why you may have difficulty in obtaining a new visa. It is very important to us that you have a good trip and that you have minimal difficulties when you return to the U.S.

When meeting with the advisor regarding travel, please bring the following:

When you return to the U.S., please provide a copy of your new visa stamp, if you obtained a new visa during your trip.

Re-Entry to the U.S.

What are the basic requirements for an F-1 student to re-enter the U.S. after traveling abroad for five months or less?

  • SEVIS Form I-20 (signed for travel within the past 1 year)
  • Passport (valid for at least 6 months)
  • Unexpired F-1 visa (unless you are traveling to a contiguous country or adjacent island for less than 30 days)

Other recommended items include:

  • Evidence of financial resources sufficient to cover tuition and living expenses
  • Evidence of student status such as tuition receipts, transcripts, or letter of acceptance
  • Paper receipt of the SEVIS fee (if applicable). To find out if you are required to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee, please speak with the International Student Advisor or read the SEVIS I-901 FAQs available online.
  • Name and contact information of the International Student Advisor

Students on Optional Practical Training must travel with the following items:

  • SEVIS Form I-20 (signed for travel within the past 6 months)
  • Passport (valid for at least 6 months)
  • Unexpired F-1 Visa
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD card)
  • Letter from your employer verifying current employment
  • Hand carry all documents. DO NOT CHECK THEM IN YOUR LUGGAGE.
  • Inform the CBP Officer at the Port of Entry that you are a new or returning student or exchange visitor in the United States
  • Report to Hiram College upon arrival so that the DSO/International Student Advisor can make photocopies of your travel documents.
  • Maintain contact with the DSO/International Student Advisor throughout your stay to ensure that your SEVIS data is updated and accurate

For more information, please read the USCIS Travel FAQS and make an appointment to speak with the International Student Advisor.