【Jason先生の英語講座】解消!留学の疑問あれこれ 【前編】


Hello, everyone! Welcome back. In this new installment, I’m going to help those planning to study abroad settle safely in their host country. When first arriving, it’s important to know how to get around, how to get a phone, how to open up a bank account, and how to set up your living space, as well as what to do if you are experiencing health issues. 



Transportation (交通手段)

When arriving to your host country, the first thing you obviously want to do is learn how to get around. First, if you haven’t scheduled someone to pick you up, make sure that you’ve downloaded a rideshare app such as Uber or Lyft. These services are usually much cheaper than taking a taxi and should get you to your first destination with no problems. After that, familiarize yourself with local bus and train routes. For college students, most bus services provide free fares as long as you show your campus ID card. If you want to use a local train system, many stations have automated machines where you can purchase a monthly pass.


A few tips

  • Unlike Japan, most people don’t place their backpacks in front of themselves when riding public transit.


  • While there are no strict rules about talking or eating on a bus or train, for the courtesy of others it might be better to be on the safe side and behave in your host country as you would in Japan.


  • Elderly people, pregnant women, and those with disabilities get priority seating, so please be mindful of that.


  • A lot of times, people do not like when strangers sit next to them unless there are no other available seats. 


  • Many public transportation services do not run into the late evening, so plan accordingly!


  • If someone is struggling with heavy luggage or so, it is normal for strangers to offer help.


  • Most importantly: If you are in the US, most buses and trains rarely ever arrive or leave on time! So if you are planning a trip by looking at a time schedule, plan to leave earlier!


  • When using a rideshare app, always make sure to check that the license plate on the car matches the one on the app. Also, before you enter the vehicle, make sure to get a picture of the license plate for safety reasons.


  • Bicycles are used, but more in terms of recreation, rather than as a main mode of transportation.


Some useful phrases

  • “Could you tell me if this bus/train stops at ⭘⭘⭘?”
  • “Where do I transfer to get to ⭘⭘⭘?”
  • “How late does this bus/train run?”


Phone (携帯電話)

It is highly likely that you already have a phone, so you may not need to purchase a new one when moving overseas. However, this depends on if your phone is locked or not. With an unlocked phone, you can use your old device with any service provider as long as you get a new SIM card. If your phone is locked, you will probably have to buy a new device.


Before purchasing a new phone and signing up for a plan, make sure to do some research. Many major companies such as Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T have many different plans to choose from and provide wide coverage and plenty of data, but they can be expensive, depending on the plan. There are smaller companies, such as Total Wireless, Straightalk, and Simple Mobile that are more affordable but might not have the best network coverage. Since most contracts require a deposit and proof of address, prepaid or pay-as-you-go plans are the most convenient for international students as they typically do not require those.

新しい携帯電話を契約する前に、 必ずリサーチをしてください。Verizon、T-Mobile、AT&Tなどの大手の携帯電話会社は、さまざまなプランから選ぶことができ、広い通信エリアと豊富なデータ量を提供していますが、プランによっては料金が高くなる場合があります。Total Wireless、Straightalk、Simple Mobileなどの小さな会社では、より手頃な料金で利用できますが、ネットワークのカバー率が低い場合があります。ほとんどの契約では、保証金と住所証明が必要ですが、プリペイドプランやペイ・アズ・ユー・ゴー・プランは、一般的にそれらが不要なので、留学生にとって最も便利なプランと言えます。

If you’re worried about wasting money on a new phone, many companies offer a buy-back program where, at the termination of your contract, you can return your phone back to the provider in exchange for cash. So remember to keep your phone in good condition and make sure to keep the box and supplies that it came with! Also, remember to do a factory reset on your phone before you return it!


Some useful phrases

  • “I’d like to sign up for a plan, but I’m an international student. Can you please help me pick one that’s right for me?”
  • “Are there any extra fees that I should be careful about?”
  • “How’s the coverage area?”


Bank Account (銀行口座)

When setting up a bank account, first contact your school’s international student service office to see if they have any local banks that they recommend, or you can research local banks yourself and compare which ones offer the best services for international students.


Some things to consider when choosing a bank (銀行を選ぶ際の注意点)

  • Overseas wire transfers
  • Foreign currency conversion
  • Monthly maintenance and overdraft fees
  • Minimum balance requirements


When opening an account, consider opening a checking and savings account, as by doing so, you’ll be able to earn interest on your money, but be careful because certain banks have balance requirements for their savings accounts.


Required documents (必要書類)

  • A valid passport
  • Proof of address in your host country
  • I-20 form if you have an F-1 or M-1 visa, or DS-2019 if you have a J-1or J-2 visa
  • I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
  • Any secondary form of identification (e.g., student ID card, foreign driver’s license, credit card, etc.)
  • The money you want to deposit in your account (some banks require a minimum deposit for opening a new account)


Some useful phrases

  • “Hello, I’m an international student and I’d like to open a checking/savings account. Could you please help me?”
  • “What is the minimum deposit/balance requirement?”


Also, be careful because many ATMs charge a high fee for withdrawing money, so try to pick a bank that has ATMs close to you, as that will save you money. Other than that, cards are generally used more than cash when making transactions.


Setting up your room (部屋のセッティング)

If you are studying abroad, it is likely that you won’t have a car. In order to get items to decorate your living space, you can order from places like Amazon, Wal-Mart, or Target. If you want to really save money, use the site craigslist that sells mostly secondhand items. Most people selling on that site will charge a small fee to deliver your items to you, but it will still be cheaper than buying something new from a store. Many college towns also have yard sales for when students and other people are moving out of their apartments or dorms. These can be great places to find a bargain.


Some useful phrases

  • (When going to a store like Target or Wal-Mart): “Can you tell me where the home department is?”
  • “What’s the delivery fee?” 

(ターゲットやウォルマートなどの店に行くとき) 「ホームセンターの場所を教えてください」

Healthcare (ヘルスケア)

If you are studying in the US, remember that this country does not offer socialized healthcare and a simple examination can be quite expensive. Fortunately, many colleges and universities offer general medical care at a lower price. When first arriving, make sure to take a copy of your medical records (which should include your immunization, vaccination, and prescription history) to your school’s health care center. 


If you plan to visit an off-campus medical practitioner, you can choose between private doctors (which require an appointment), and small clinics (which don’t). A visit to the hospital should only be made if your condition is life-threatening.


Hopefully this information will help you get settled into your new place as soon as possible. As a general piece of advice, research places and compare services, prices, and reviews. The more you become familiar with what services best fit your needs, the more comfortable you will be able to spend your time in your host country, and you might be able to help others have a better experience studying abroad as well! Next article, we will talk about basic Do’s and Don’ts when studying abroad. Until then, be good and stay safe!