International Student Information - Preparing for your Trip to Illinois College

What to Bring, Packing Tips and What to Expect at Arrival in the United States
As you plan your travel to Illinois College, please take into account the information about how to get to Illinois College via Springfield, Illinois, how much time to allow for connections along the way, etc. Most likely, you will be coming through Chicago (ORD) before reaching Springfield (SPI).

Considerations for What to Bring:
In central Illinois, it can be very hot (30 degrees Celsius and above), some years for several weeks into the fall semester, but then it will also get very cold in winter (below freezing). You will need clothes for both summer and winter and in between. For footwear, sandals/slippers are fine in the warm months, but in the cold months, you will need shoes, perhaps even winter boots. If you do not have a warm winter coat, a warm hat and gloves, you will need to get those items sometime in the fall. Many students buy quality clothes at local second-hand stores, where everything costs much less than at the Walmart discount store.

Medication. If you take any kind of prescription medicine, be sure to have documentation for the prescription and the original containers. Also, be sure to record the generic name of the medication (rather than the brand name, which may differ from country to country). This would enable health care personnel here to identify the medicine if necessary. Should you need injections (for instance, for allergies) and therefore bring syringes and needles, please pay particular attention to packing tips below!

Something from Home. Bring something to personalize your room, and if possible, bring some small item from your country to share with the Illinois College community – some tangible souvenir to showcase your country. Also, feel free to bring traditional clothing or something typical that you wear at home, there will be occasions for you to use such outfits.

Electrical Appliances and Electronics. In the U.S., the typical household electrical current carries a voltage of 110 V, as opposed to the 220-240 V in many other countries. As a result, most of the electrical household appliances that you might use at home would not work in the U.S. On the other hand, electronics that are intended for mobility (laptops, mobile phones, some electric shavers) come with a built-in current converter and will work around the world. Check the label of your electronic equipment: If it says “Input 100/240 V~”, then the device will work here. You may still need an adapter, which you can buy here, to plug the cord into the “Type B” two- or three-prong receptacle. Your mobile phone from home may or may not get a signal in the U.S., as the band width for mobile phones in the U.S. is generally different from the rest of the world. Most students get a new mobile phone after they arrive.

Do NOT Bring Bedding and Linens. The size of beds in typical American campus residences is called “Twin Extra Long,” which – very confusingly – means a single bed, not a bed for two! (Usually, two such beds are placed in one room, which is probably how they became called “twin” beds.) Because finding the right size linens in another country may be difficult, Illinois College will have economically priced bed linen packets ($20-25) ready for international students to purchase on arrival. Your resident assistant or “RA,” another student responsible for your floor in the residence hall, will have your linen packet when you check into your room.

Some Tips for Packing:
Carry-On Luggage.
Put valuables (including your visa documents), overnight necessities and medication into your carry-on luggage, not into your checked bags. Note restrictions for toiletry articles in carry-on luggage: Liquids and gels in carry-on luggage are allowed only in small amounts and sizes (that is, no regular-size shampoo bottle or toothpaste tube) and must fit into one clear plastic bag of 20x20 cm size. Also, do not place any object with sharp or pointy edges in your carry-on — even nail files may be confiscated. Instead, place larger-sized liquid and gel containers and scissors, clippers, files, etc. into your checked luggage. If you bring a laptop, keep it in your carry-on luggage (but be prepared for needing to remove it from its bag several times) as it may get damaged with the rough handling of checked bags.

Checked Luggage. Be prepared that your bags may be searched. They will be X-rayed and possibly hand-searched. Therefore, do not lock your luggage, otherwise airport security staff may cut locks or even zippers. (In the U.S., one can buy “TSA approved” locks, which can be opened by airport security without destroying them. These locks have a red symbol on the side.) Place items that may trigger a search or that do not X-ray well — for instance, syringes and needles for medications, metal containers, even books — inside your bag in a manner such that security staff can examine them quickly. The more proactive you are in anticipating a search, the easier and faster the search, which in turn increases the chances of your bag making it onto your plane.

Be sure to identify your bags both on the outside and inside with your name and this address: Illinois College, 1101 West College Avenue, Jacksonville, Illinois 62650, USA, tel. + (The phone number is that of the Illinois College Office of Campus Security, who can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week.) With the delays caused by airport security inspections, it is relatively common that a bag does not arrive with the passenger. If that should happen, the airline will deliver your bag to Illinois College, but only clear identification will help the airline get the right bag to you as soon as possible.

Handling your luggage on your own. Travelling with luggage can be a challenge and make you vulnerable (through pickpockets, for instance). You may have someone help you at check-in, and you will be picked up at your destination, but there will be stretches on your trip when no one can assist you. Luggage carts are not as widely available in U.S. airports and train stations as in many other places of the world, and when they are, almost always you have to pay with several $1 bills to release a cart from a storage rack, which is quite inconvenient. There may be long staircases where you have to carry your luggage up or down. For all these reasons, for the sake of your own well-being, pack only what you really need and make sure that you can safely handle all of your luggage on your own.

En Route:
Before Boarding Your Flight. You will have to take off your shoes, take laptops and liquids out of carry-on luggage, and in many places now, go through a full body scan machine at American airport security checkpoints. Once at the gate, if you are waiting and take a walk to pass the time, be sure to be back at the gate in time for boarding. When passengers have checked in but then do not show up early enough for boarding, their already loaded luggage is pulled off the plane again, even if it means delaying the flight.

Arriving in the United States:
Immigration. During the flight, you will fill out Immigration and Customs Forms. After de-boarding the plane, you will first arrive in a hall to go through the immigration process. No picture taking and no cell phone use is allowed until you are past this point! During the examination of your passport and visa, the officer will also collect biometric data, your fingerprint(s) and your picture, and collect the Immigration Form. In the future, when you go through Immigration again, your biometric information will be matched with the database, and the process of clearing Immigration should go faster.

Once you are past Immigration, you will go to the baggage claim area. Even if you have a connecting flight and your bags are checked to your final destination, you must still first pick up your luggage and clear customs at the port of entry into the U.S. (Note that this is different from many countries where you pick up your bag at the final destination.) If you have a connecting flight through Canda, it is possible that all border crossing procedures take place there before you board your flight to the U.S.

Customs. You may see an officer with a sniffing dog wandering through the crowd. The dog is trained for drugs, of course, but also for food and plants. Bringing in baked goods or sweets or the like is fine, but raw items would be confiscated. Customs officers may ask what you are bringing into the country, and collect your Customs Form. Once you are past customs, you can re-check your luggage to a connecting flight. Usually the conveyor belts are just a few steps beyond the customs area.

If Your Luggage Doesn’t Arrive With You. If at any time along the way your checked luggage does not arrive with you, the airline is responsible for delivering it, but you have to file a claim. Since a package delivery company will deliver the bags, you must provide a real street address where your luggage should be taken. For an address, give Illinois College’s Office of Admission, 1101 West College Avenue, Jacksonville, Illinois 62650, USA, and list two phone numbers: 217.245.3030 (Office of Admission) and 217.245.3111 (Office of Campus Security, on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week).
Arriving in Springfield:
Once you have reached Springfield, you have almost made it to Illinois College! When you come to campus for the first time, we will pick you up at the airport or train station in Springfield (SPI). Thereafter at the beginning and end of each semester, you can make use of our shuttle service, IC Rides, for transportation between Springfield and Illinois College.

Planning Ahead for Breaks, the End of the Semester, and the End of the Year:
The end of the semester and even more so the end of the year may seem very far off when you have not even arrived at Illinois College. However, since you may be booking a return flight home at the same time as your flight to the U.S., please note the following concerning breaks and the end of the semester.
First, there are three breaks during the academic year when the Residence Halls close completely and we have no food service on campus. Those breaks are Thanksgiving Break (5 days in November), the break between semesters (mid-December until mid-January, about 25 days), and Spring Break (9 days in March). However, international students and those whose home is more than 500 miles away may stay on campus during these breaks, for a charge of $15 per night. (The very few students who stay on campus always have access to cooking facilities.) 

Secondly, at the end of each semester, students are expected to leave campus within 24 hours after their last final exam. You will know your precise final exam schedule at the beginning of each semester, and the Academic Calendar publicizes the last day of exams more than a year in advance. The IC Rides transportation between the campus and the train station and airport in Springfield is arranged according to this Academic Calendar, taking into consideration domestic and international travel patterns. Please take these dates into consideration when you book your return flight at the end of the semester. 
Have a Safe Trip!

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