Planning for Your Trip to Austin

Planning for Your Trip to Austin

Electricity

U.S. appliances use 110-volt electricity. In most cases, you’ll need only an adapter plug; in some cases, a voltage converter or transformer.

    • Some electrical devices use heating elements or mechanical motors. Many are rated for dual-voltage, and may be automatic or manual. Examples include:
      • Hair dryer
      • Electric shaver or toothbrush
      • Irons (for clothes or hair)
      • Coffee maker or water heater
  • Some electronic devices use chips, circuits or electronic motors. Most are rated for multi-voltages. Examples include:
  • Laptop, notebook, tablet, e-reader
  • Smartphone, cell phone, MP3 player
  • Camera
  • Battery chargers (for devices with rechargeable batteries)

Both types of devices are likely to need an adapter plug to work in foreign outlets.

Some devices however, are single-voltage rated and may require a voltage converter or a transformer in addition to an adapter plug. Every device carries a voltage label. To better inform yourself about various devices, it’s best to visit a web site in your country and in your language that fully explains voltage transformer, converter or adapter requirements for travelers from your country to the USA.

Weather

“If you don’t like the weather in Austin, just wait an hour and it will change.”

Although Austinites expect long, hot summers and short, mild winters, they also know to expect the unexpected.

  • Summer typically starts in late May and ends in late September. During the summer months, it’s not unusual for the temperature to rise over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Centigrade).
  • Winter typically starts in late November and ends in late March. Temperatures can vary dramatically during these months, with overnight freezing temperatures scattered throughout the season. Although snow or hail is rare, it does occur.

Packing

Packing for a long trip abroad may seem like a daunting task. Fear not! Take advantage of the many online student bloggers who have created their own version of the “ultimate study abroad packing list” that mentions everything from belts and pajamas to nail clippers and earplugs. Although we don’t provide a full list here, we would like to emphasize:

  • During the summer months, it’s best to bring clothes made of light, natural fabrics like cotton, rayon or silk.
  • In the winter, bring at least one warm coat or jacket, warm gloves, a wool scarf, several sweaters or long sleeve shirts. Plan to layer your clothing: T-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, sweater, etc.
  • Bring at least two pairs of comfortable walking shoes and a comfortable pair of sport shoes (running shoes or “sneakers”) so that you can take advantage of Austin’s famous hiking and running trails.
  • Make sure to bring any prescriptions for any medications that you are taking or that you may need. It is advisable to bring a back-up supply of any necessary medication in case you are delayed during your trip. Keep it on you when you travel in case your luggage is delayed. Keep in mind that some medications may be prohibited. You can find a current list of prohibited and restricted items here: http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/kbyg/prohibited-restricted.  It is also advisable to get a letter from your doctor listing your medications and why you need them. Remember to keep your prescriptions in the original bottles so that they are easily identified by customs.
  • Pack an extra outfit and toiletries in your carry-on in case your luggage is lost or delayed.
  • Take all valuables, including jewelry in your carry-on bag.
  • Make sure your luggage is labeled clearly with your name, address, and telephone number.
  • Avoid wearing heavy perfumes.
  • For a complete list of prohibited items in both your carry on and checked luggage, please visit http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/prohibited-items.
  • Always carry the following with you when traveling:
  • Passport with nonimmigrant visa
  • Envelope of immigration documents
  • I-20
  • Evidence of financial resources
  • School Acceptance Letter
  • 2 Pens

On the Plane

Prior to landing in the U.S., you will be given a Customs Declaration Form. You must complete one Customs Declaration form per family traveling. This link will take you to a page with a sample Customs Declaration Form and full explanation of the requested information: http://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/sample-declaration-form

Immigration

Once you exit the plane, you need to proceed to the Immigration Line. An immigration officer will request to view the following documents:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • I-20
  • Customs Declaration Form

All entering visitors are asked to state the reason they want to enter the U.S. They will ask you to provide them information about their final destination.

It is important that you tell the immigration officer that you will be a student. Be prepared to tell them the name and location of your school. In addition, they may ask you other questions, such as how long you plan on studying English, and how long you plan to stay in United States. Answer all questions confidently and honestly.

The officer will then:

  • Take your digital fingerprints
  • Take a digital photo
  • Stamp your passport with the date of your arrival, end date of stay, your visa class
  • Create a digital I-94 form.

The I-94 form is an Arrival/Departure Record issued to all non-US citizens who are admitted to the U.S. We advise you to print a copy of your I-94 form and keep it for your records. It can found at the following site:  https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html

The immigration officer will not print you a copy of your I-94. It is your responsibility to do so.

Customs

After immigration, proceed to customs.

Follow the signs to Baggage Claim. Check the screens to see which carousel your flight has been assigned to and just wait for all of your bags to appear. Go to the correct baggage claim carousel and claim your checked baggage, even if you have another connecting flight.

After you have picked up all of your bags, proceed to the customs lines. Make sure to have your completed Customs Declaration Form that you received on the plane. On your form, you stated whether or not you had any items to declare. If you responded no, proceed to the green lanes marked “Nothing to Declare”. If you do have items to declare, proceed to the red lanes marked “Goods to Declare”. It is not unusual for customs agents to randomly search baggage. Don’t be alarmed if you are stopped. The process generally takes only a few minutes.

After the customs officer indicates that you may continue, either follow the signs to the Connecting Flights/Connecting Baggage Drop-off Area or, if you have reached your final destination, follow the exit and ground transportation signs.

Transportation to your Hotel/Apartment

  • Once you arrive in Austin, you have the following options to get to your apartment or hotel: Rent a car: Arrange this online before you arrive. Occasionally, vehicles are in high demand. Car rental agencies require you to show your driver’s license and a major credit card.
  • Super Shuttle: Cheaper than a rental car, but more wait time. You purchase a “ticket”. The fee is based on your destination. You may have to wait a bit for the shuttle to fill, but it will drop you off at the front door of your destination. You can also make these arrangements online and we will be happy to help you make reservations with the Super Shuttle if you wish.
  • Taxi Service: Taxis queue directly outside the baggage claim exit doors. You can ask the driver for a trip fee estimate, which will vary by destination.
  • Private Car: This can also be arranged online. However, if you would like assistance. We are more than happy to help.

HOFT Institute ESL Program

2400 Pearl Street Austin TX 78705
(512) 472-6666 | English@hoft.edu