Student Life In The United States: A Guide For International Students


Prepare for student life in the U.S.: everything you need to know about housing, food and drink, jobs, health care, and government aid.

Student Housing in the United States

There are three housing options for student life in the United States:

On-campus housing

This type of housing includes a shared room or apartment in student housing. Admittedly, this option can be slightly more expensive.

However, it gives you the opportunity to interact with other students. Meals at the university restaurant are also included in on-campus housing.

Off-campus housing

This option is usually the least expensive. You will need to rent an off-campus apartment or room, either private or shared. Newcomer centers will usually provide you with all the information you need about off-campus student life.


Only a limited number of universities offer this type of accommodation. Living with a host is more expensive than off-campus housing. However, it gives you a sense of family life. As a result, you will feel less of a stranger and more at home. In other words, it will be easier for you to immerse yourself in American society and culture.

Food in the United States

  • Campus restaurants offer something for everyone. For example, Johns Hopkins University menus offer Canadian barbecue and Indian and Turkish breakfasts.
  • American cuisine differs from state to state. Nevertheless, it is a mix of European and Native American cuisine. You can still find any type of cuisine in any U.S. state.
  • Some of the most famous foods in America are hamburgers, hot dogs, and apple pie.
  • The popularity of different types of food varies from state to state. You’ll notice that crispy chicken is more popular in the South, while spicy food is widely available in Texas. Similarly, North Carolina is particularly known for its barbecue.
  • Crispy chicken meals normally cost $7 or $8, while cheap restaurant meals cost $12 to $13.
  • Drinking and sparkling water prices range from $1 to $3.

Working Part-Time as an International Student

  • As we mentioned earlier as one of the reasons why you should study in the United States, international students are allowed to work in the United States. During studying, you can work up to 20 hours per week. During vacations, this number increases to 40 per week. You can earn approximately $9 to $15 per hour, depending on the nature of your work.
  • During your first year of college, you will be limited to jobs on campus. For example, you can work in labs, libraries, gyms, and university dining halls.
  • If you can commit to working 10-15 hours per week, this will be enough to cover your personal expenses.
  • After your first year, you can work as a housing assistant for newcomers. In other words, you will help newcomers from all over the world find housing and solve any problems related to student life.
  • As a housing assistant, you will receive free housing and a modest salary.

Health and government support in the U.S.

  • The American government spends more on health care than any other government, according to the World Health Organization.
  • Under U.S. law, international students are entitled to health insurance while studying.
  • Spending a night in the hospital can cost more than $1,000. You can reduce this cost by enrolling in the university’s health insurance program.
  • In some cases, universities may not offer a health insurance program. In this case, you can contact an international insurance agency. You should note that enrollment will vary depending on your personal abilities.

Now that you know about student life in the United States, you can find some examples of health insurance programs at the American University in Washington.