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Joining UIC this Fall'21? Here's a guide that can help International Students!

Last Edit: July 20, 2021.

If you are reading this article, there is a high probability that you are joining UIC this Fall’21. First of all, congratulations on your admit and your new journey ahead. Now that you have got your admit sorted, you might have plenty of questions popping up in your mind. Many international students have reached out to me, enquiring about the university, accommodation, travel plans, and other information. I thought I would compile all of them here, so it can help a lot more people.

A little bit of a background about me, I’m a current graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. And let’s dive into the frequent questions that I received.

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How much cash you should bring?

Cash transactions are very minimal here, so I would suggest you take 100 USD in cash max(I still have some money left of the 100USD cash that I brought with me, and it’s already been over 7 months now). You can load money in your forex card and use it here, you should be good.

How to commute from O’Hare to the UIC neighborhood?

There are two options that you could take.

  1. (Recommended) Take an Uber/Lyft. You can use to get an idea of how much it would cost. Install these apps beforehand. you can make use of the Airport’s Wifi.
  2. Take CTA Blue Line, and get down at UIC Halsted Station or Racine Station, whichever is feasible to your apartment. CTA Blue Line starts from O’Hare, you can enquire nearby or follow the signs to the station.

Since this is the first time you are reaching here, you would have multiple baggages, and taking a CTA can be really hard.

Mobile networks

Before arriving in the US, Recharge your mobile with an international roaming pack, with a limited internet pack. It would be very useful especially for Google Maps, booking Uber, and others. This will be essential till you sort out your internet connectivity.

Once you arrive here, there are plenty of Mobile stores nearby, where you can get a Line. If you have your family here, you can look at options for joining their family plan.

Opening a Bank Account

It’s absolutely essential. You need to have a bank account here, and the two best options, if you are a UIC student, are PNC and Chase bank.

- PNC Bank is located at the Student center east.

- Chase bank is located near the UIC East campus.

To open a bank account, take your Photo ID: Passport, Address proof: Signed Lease copy, Student documents like I20. You can call the bank ahead to book an appointment and get the list of documents required.

Note: If you are over 24 years of age, PNC is the best option. Chase requires you to have a minimum balance if you are over 24 years of age.

Grocery stores and Supplies:

Jewel Osco, Target, and Costco are within a mile range from UIC.

There can be quarantine rules due to covid, so you can explore options like Instacart, where you can order supplies and Instacart will deliver it to you at your doorstep. You can reach out to seniors, and they can help with ordering through Instacart from their subscription.

Amazon also provides free 6 months Prime membership for students, you can activate this once you get a valid school email id. This is also a very good option to purchase your supplies.

Walmart is cheap, but it’s not within walkable distance from UIC. So you either need to take an uber, or get a Walmart Plus subscription.

Moving to an unfurnished apartment?

If you are moving to an unfurnished apartment, then you need to make plans for your own furniture. I first moved to an unfurnished apartment, so I ordered a mattress, comforter, and pillows from Walmart a couple of days before my arrival, so it arrived exactly on the day that I reached my apartment. Check out the estimated delivery date and plan accordingly. Sometimes the shipment might arrive early as well, so try and get to know someone here already so that can take the parcel for you.

OIS Holds and Course Registration

International students usually have holds on their accounts, which prevents them from registering for courses. Attend OIS Seminars and meetings, and they will provide detailed information on what steps to do and how to remove the holds. Once holds are removed, then you can proceed ahead with the course registrations.

The list of courses that are being offered by UIC is already available by now. You can easily get access to the list by googling. Here is the course list for the Computer Science department: CS Courses Fall21

Applying for SSN

You can apply for SSN only after you get a job here at UIC. Once you get a job here, you will be asked to apply for an SSN. You have to send the following documents to SSN Office through email

  1. Filled and Signed SSN Application form (SS5 form)
  2. Passport
  3. I-94 Form
  4. F-1 Visa
  5. I-20 Signed
  6. Authorization Document with DSO and Supervisor Signature - printout

After reviewing your request, the SSA office will make you an appointment, where you need to visit the SSA office in person with the above-mentioned original documents.

Part times and Assistantships:

Jobs will be listed in UIC Handshake and portals. Keep an eye for new opportunities and start applying for the roles.


If you have any more questions or help with anything else, you can reach out to me. I’ll periodically add the questions here in this article, so it can help others as well.

You can reach out to me through Email: or LinkedIn - Lakshmanan Meiyappan

Once again, Congratulations on your admit, and all the very best.