Services for International Students and Scholars

Living in Boston

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Banking

When you open a bank account in the United States, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Look at the location of branch offices and automatic teller machines (ATM) locations
  2. Compare banks’ monthly fees, fees for writing checks, whether the bank requires a minimum balance. (Minimum balance requirement should be waived for active students under 23 by presenting a Student ID or visa)
  3. Most banking operations are done online; however, to open an account you should go to the nearest bank office and speak to a customer service representative
  4. Present two forms of identification to open an account- your passport, visa, or foreign ID are examples of accepted documents,  and proof of a local address (bill, bank statement)
  5. Ask for an international operations sheet that includes BA Routing, SWIFT code, and an address to receive foreign wire transfers. 

Banks offer checking accounts, savings accounts, debit cards, and credit cards to their customers. Checking accounts can be used to write paper checks to pay bills or to pay bills online. Savings accounts do not usually have check-writing privileges. Debit cards draw immediately on the funds in your checking account and can be used for cash withdrawals at ATMs.

When considering a U.S. credit card, international students and scholars should check the credit terms carefully. You will most likely need a Social Security number (SSN) to complete the application process.

On occasion, credit card companies freeze accounts when they notice transactions from locations that are not in the same town as the billing address attached to the credit card. Please notify the credit card company before you travel to avoid a sudden lack of credit.

Recommended Commercial Banks:

Cost of Living

Boston, a city with a rich past and vital present, has one of the highest costs of living in the United States. Northeastern University Student Financial Services supplies calculators to estimate the annual cost of living as a student. While housing and food costs may be higher than other parts of the United States, inexpensive and free cultural and recreational activities are also widely available.

Food

Boston is famous for its chowder, lobster, cranberries, and baked beans, but the city also offers an abundance of world cuisine, including Chinese, Ethiopian, French, Indian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, and Thai — almost every cuisine you can think of. Boston is home to some of the world’s elite chefs, but also has lots of casual restaurants. There are options for every budget: you can dine at a restaurant, bring home take-out food, or eat on campus.

There are a number of university dining spots that serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, fast food, coffee, and snacks. If you like to cook at home, try one of Boston’s supermarkets, ethnic food shops, or farmer’s markets.

Supermarkets

Brazilian markets:

Chinese markets:

  • C Mart Supermarket, 692 Washington St, Boston 02111
  • Super 88, 1095 Commonwealth Ave, Boston 02215

Indian markets:

  • Punjab Mini Mart Incorporated, 1576 Tremont St, Roxbury Crossing 02120
  • Patel Brothers, 425 Moody St, Waltham 02453

Italian markets:

  • Deluca’s Market, 11 Charles St # 1, Boston 02114 and­ 239 Newbury St, Boston 02116
  • South End Formaggio, 268 Shawmut Ave, Boston 02118

Mexican markets:

Health

This health care section presents information for NEU students and scholars at the Boston campus. Students in Seattle should refer to the Health Resources section of the campus website.

Students

To assure that students in Massachusetts have access to health care and are protected against the potentially significant financial impact of an unexpected illness or accident, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts mandates that all students participating in at least 75% of a full-time course load in a degree-seeking program must participate in their school’s student health plan or in a health benefit program with comparable coverage that meets Qualifying Student Health Insurance Program (QSHIP) standards.

In accordance with Massachusetts regulations, you will automatically be enrolled in Northeastern University’s health benefits program, NUSHP, each academic year. The cost of coverage will be included in your bill. You have the option to waive this coverage, but only if you provide proof that you are covered by a plan with comparable health benefits that also meets Massachusetts’s regulations.

The NUSHP healthcare program offers comprehensive benefits to students throughout their studies and wherever they travel, work, or study. The NUSHP web pages explain the process for using the health care center and for emergency needs. Students with other health programs will receive a guide to services from those programs.

Students studying in the United States may not waive insurance based on coverage through insurance carriers owned and operated outside the United States nor by coverage through foreign National Health Service programs. Students sponsored by foreign embassies, agencies, and organizations are not excluded from the requirement for U.S.-based health insurance.

J-1 Exchange Visitors and Scholars

In compliance with federal regulations, the U.S. Department of State requires J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents to have a health insurance policy that meets or exceeds these benefits:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • In case of death, repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses in the amount of $50,000 associated with the medical evacuation of the J Exchange Visitor to his or her home country
  • A deductible amount not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

J-1 scholars sponsored by Northeastern University should be aware that Northeastern health plans do not include insurance for evacuation and repatriation of remains. Scholars eligible for and selecting a Northeastern plan must purchase separate evacuation and repatriation insurance.

Housing

Northeastern University Housing and Residential Life provides in-depth information on on-campus and off-campus housing.

Upperclass students, graduate students, and scholars interested in off-campus housing will find that rent will be your greatest expense when living in Boston. Many students live with roommates and choose to use the T (subway) to get to/from Northeastern. The University Housing and Residential Life’s Your Guide to Living Off Campus covers useful topics for off-campus renting. The Off Campus Student Services office is a great resource for students searching for off-campus apartments.

The College of Engineering Graduate Admissions Support Center provides a guide of rental costs in the Boston area.

Safety

Boston is a safe city although there is occasional crime, as in all populated areas. Please check with the Northeastern University Police Department (NUPD) for special concerns or questions.

NUPD Phone numbers

  • NON-EMERGENCY: 617.373.2121
  • EMERGENCY: 617.373.3333

Northeastern has NU ALERT, a service that allows the administration to reach all students and staff with time-sensitive information during unforeseen events or emergencies. The system uses voice, e-mail, and text messaging to broadcast pertinent information and, when appropriate, provide directions. Your myNEU information is your link to NU ALERT, so please keep your information up to date.

General safety tips for walking and exercising:

  • Avoid walking or jogging alone, especially at night.
  • Use well-lit, familiar streets. Never take poorly lit shortcuts through alleyways or wooded areas.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Avoid using cell phones or listening to music with headphones. Plan your route and walk confidently.

Northeastern’s Public Safety Division provides an on-campus personal safety escort service twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Call the Northeastern University NUPD at 617.373.2121 and give them your name, NU ID number, and location.

Public Safety also provides an off-campus shuttle, the Red-Eye, when you leave campus to return to your off-campus apartment from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. This university-operated hourly shuttle departs from the Snell Library on the hour, starting at 7:00 p.m. The shuttle is free and provides service to student residences in a one-and-a-half-mile radius of campus. Exceptions will be made under emergency situations only. Call 617.373.2121 to schedule an escort pick-up.

The Northeastern University Police Department also offers assistance with all areas of campus and personal safety, including sexual assault and harassment, identity theft, and online safety. Register your laptop with the STOPTheft Registration HERE.

Transportation

Boston is a great city for walking and biking. The benefit of living in an urban setting is the easy access to major attractions using Boston’s bus and subway system called the T, short for MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority). Check mbta.com for detailed information on Charlie Cards options. A monthly pass gives you unlimited access to subway and local bus routes.

As the home to a major international airport and one of the nation’s busiest train stations, Boston is well-situated for all of your travels.

Northeastern University Office of Environmental and Health Safety lists different eco-friendly transportation modes. Some transit possibilities:

Telephone and Internet Service

If you buy a cell phone, you may be asked for a Social Security Number (SSN). If you do not have one and are not eligible for one, you may be asked to pay a security deposit. The amount of the deposit varies according to the provider. There are alternatives to avoid the SSN or deposit requirement. One is to buy a prepaid mobile phone or to make international calls through an online service. 

Northeastern University is wired for Internet. Northeastern IT Services explain how to make use of Internet facilities on campus. If you live off campus, you will need to contact and sign a contract with a local cable/Internet provider. Northeastern University’s Housing and Residential Life site has the details. Recommended Carriers: T-Mobile, 1084 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02215 AT&T, 699 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116 Verizon,  745 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116 Sprint, 197 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115

Weather and Clothing

Boston has four seasons with three distinct weather periods:

  • In summer, June through mid-September, temperatures range from over 60° Fahrenheit/15.5° Celsius in the evening and over 80° F/26.7° C during the day. Sea breezes and thunderstorms can refresh the city during this time of year.
  • In fall — late September through early November — and spring — April through June, high temperatures can be in the 60s and lows from the 30s to the 40s.
  • Winter, late November through March, is generally cold with occasional freezing rain and snow.

For a successful experience in Boston, it’s important to go outside in all weather except when weather services publish alerts. Clothes make the difference: be prepared to live in layers and take more time to get ready to go anywhere during the late fall through early spring months. A few minutes to review the weather, prepare the necessary clothing, and enjoy all that nature offers will help your study and sleep habits, so that you can make the most of your time in Boston.

Family Matters

Boston Public Schools

Primary and secondary education in the United States falls under the aegis of each state. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education offers general information on the state’s education structure while the Boston Public School’s website has more practical information on how to register children for school.

Childcare

While exploring childcare options, families can inform themselves at:

Resources for Spouses/Partners

Study at Northeastern

Spouses/partners with F-2 and J-2 visas may study part time at Northeastern University.  Please check with the Office of Global Services (OGS) for details.

Postal Service

Most U.S. post offices are open on weekdays and Saturday mornings. Near Northeastern University, you’ll find a full-service post office at 207 Massachusetts Avenue and a UPS Store on Huntington. In Boston, the Fort Point Post Office, 25 Dorchester Avenue, near South Station, is the local postal branch that remains open all days of the week.

On campus, your mail will be handled by the Northeastern Office of University Mail Services. If you live off campus, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) delivers mail once a day with the exception of special delivery mail, which can arrive outside of normal delivery hours. Registered mail allows tracing of important documents. Letters and postcards may be deposited in blue mailboxes found on street corners or at mail-drop boxes on campus.

Northeastern University Mail Services has guidelines for mail preparation. All letters and packages require a zip code. The USPS website has a search tool for finding zip codes by address.

You can also ship by carriers like DHLFedEx, and UPS from locations near campus.

Summer Storage

You may want to store your belongings over the summer. Storage can be complicated when you do not have a car to drive to storage units or you do not need that much space for your belongings. There are a variety of options with different price levels based on convenience, storage type, and amount of storage you need.

  • Fetch: Store as much as you want with Fetch, and the company charges by volume. The service includes pick up, storage, and delivery.
  • Lazy Bones: The company also has a laundry service as well as storage. The storage service includes pick up, storage, and delivery. The price is based on the number of boxes and the size of each box.
  • Storage Squad: You receive the boxes and packaging tape for free! The service includes pick up, storage, and delivery. However, you will need to carry the boxes to the truck yourself. The price is based on the number of boxes and the size of each box.