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Arrival Information

Get ready for the English learning adventure at ELS! 


We're so excited that you'll be joining us in the USA at one of our ELS Centers! We know that there is a lot to organize to ensure that you have a great English study experience. Below you'll find helpful information so that you know how to prepare and what to expect, before, during and after you arrive at ELS.


Before You Leave Your Home Country

Preparing for your departure is both exciting and overwhelming; we’re here to help if you have any questions. Here are some of the things to check off your list before you arrive:
Make sure you have all the right documentation
Right Documentation

Your visa, passport, Form I-20, and other important documents must be in a safe and accessible location. Keep them together in a folder and be sure to make extra printed and digital copies just in case.

You should also download and complete the following Important Forms that you will need to bring with you. (If you will be under 18 years old on your first day of class, your parent or guardian must complete and sign the forms for you.)

Complete the online placement test

Six weeks before your scheduled start date, a unique test link will be sent to the student email on your application. The link will expire 14 days after it is received. The online test consists of speaking, listening, reading, writing, vocabulary, and grammar and takes up to 75 minutes to complete. To take the test, you will need a computer with both a camera and a microphone. All students who apply to ELS must take the online ELS Academic English Placement Test before coming to the ELS center. This test will help us place you in the right class. 

Make your travel arrangements

Make sure you book your travel in time to attend the first day of classes. If possible, allow yourself a few days to settle into your new environment. 

Finalize your accommodations 

There are many housing and accommodation options available for international students. It’s important to organize your housing before you arrive so that you are prepared and have somewhere safe to stay. Should you need assistance in booking housing, please contact your ELS representative.

Find the location of your school, accommodation, and amenities  

Find the location of your school using an internet map. Check to see how far it is from your new home in the United States. You should also research local markets, stores, and restaurants in your new area.

Check the Weather in Your Study City 

Learn what the weather will be at your ELS Center so you can bring the appropriate clothing for your stay. 

Things to Bring with You to the USA 
  • Bring small souvenirs from your home country (such as candy or postcards) to share with your new classmates or American friends. If you will stay with a host family, bringing a small gift from your country can be a nice gesture.
  • A notebook and pencil or pen for your first day of class.
  • An electricity converter. The electrical current in the United States is 110V, 60 Hz. 
  • Recommended: a laptop for your studies at ELS and our higher education partners if you will matriculate to a college or university.
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Arriving in the USA

All ELS centers offer an airport pick-up service upon arrival to the United States. If you would like to arrange this, please contact your ELS representative.

Your First Day at ELS

Center Registration

On the first Monday, ELS Centers will be open only to newly arriving students. Centers will administer any placement tests that have not been administered pre-arrival, host an orientation session and register all new students.

If a holiday falls on the first Monday, ELS Centers will be open for newly arriving students checking in. Normal first Monday activities will take place on the following Tuesday.

Attend your orientation session on your first day of classes

Our orientation program for international students is an opportunity for you to learn about campus life, meet other students, and learn how you can make the most of your experience at ELS. The orientation can help you feel more prepared for your studies and help you adjust to life in the United States.

What to Bring with you on your first day
  • Your Passport.
  • A copy of your Form I-20 (if applicable).
  • Funds to pay all remaining fees at ELS if they have not already been paid.
  • Your completed Important Forms, which will be needed on your first day of class.
  • Proof of medical insurance (if not purchased through ELS).

Learning English at ELS

The Learning Process Inside the Campus

Studying English outside of your country may be a new experience for you. Your ELS classes may also be different from the English classes you took in your country. Your teachers will ask you to speak often, share your thoughts and ideas, and practice with other students. To learn quickly in class you should do the following every day:

  • Speak only English.
  • Sit next to someone who does not speak your language.
  • Ask questions. If you don't understand something, raise your hand and ask.
  • Speak in complete sentences.
  • Take notes.
  • Keep a "vocabulary notebook," where you write down new vocabulary every day.
  • Don't be afraid to make a mistake. All language learners make mistakes. Mistakes help teachers know what you have learned, and what you need more help with.
Learning in Daily Life

At ELS, your learning does not stop in the classroom. Of course, you should do your homework every day, but you can also practice your English in other ways. While living and studying in this country, you will be surrounded by English 24 hours a day. Being on campus is a great opportunity to interact with native speakers of your own age! Make the most of each day by doing the following:

  • Practice what you have been learning in class with people you meet outside of class.
  • Use new vocabulary often.
  • Speak only English, even with friends who speak your native language.
  • Ask an English speaker to help you with something, for example, tell you the time, give you directions, or explain a sign you don't understand.
  • Participate in fitness activities alongside American students at the on-campus sports facilities for a great ice-breaker!
  • Read the local English newspaper, watch English TV, and listen to English radio—you can learn a lot by singing English songs!

General Tips for Living and
Studying in the USA 

  • When you convert your money into US Dollars, you should ask for some small denominations. A lot of American shops and restaurants will only accept $20, $10, $5, and $1 increments, because $50 and $100 bills are not commonly used in the United States for everyday purchases.
  • Restaurants in the US do not include a service charge in your check. It is customary to leave 15% of your bill for your waiter as a tip. (The amount can be increased or decreased, depending on the quality of service you received.) Taxi drivers should also receive a similar tip for their service.
  • When shopping, prices in the US are generally a fixed price, and it is common for a small tax to be added to every purchase (usually 5% - 10%). Most American shops do not negotiate prices with customers.
  • Many students want to open a bank account or purchase a cell phone once they arrive. The staff at the ELS Center can give you advice on how to open these accounts.

  • There are many different ways for Americans to greet each other for the first time. Some people wave, shake hands, hug or give a kiss on the cheek. This may be different from how you greet strangers for the first time.
  • Americans treat people of different religions, gender, and ethnicity equally. Work and household responsibilities are shared evenly throughout the home, and respect is given to everyone.
  • Good topics of social conversation are sports, entertainment, and other everyday topics. Taboo subjects are politics, religion, income, and sex. Most Americans will ask you “Where are you from?” which is not meant to be offensive, but rather an inquiry about your home country and culture.
  • A neat and tidy appearance is valued highly in the US. Americans generally shower every day, and brush their teeth twice each day. They wash their hair at least twice per week, apply anti-perspirant or deodorant every day, and wash their clothing after every use.
  • Pointing at an object is acceptable, but it is considered rude to point at a person.
  • Waiting in line is common in the US. It is considered rude to push or shove ahead of anyone else in line.
  • Americans value punctuality. It is usually unacceptable to be even 5 minutes late to planned events. You are expected to be in class a few minutes before class begins. Arriving late is considered rude and disrespectful.

  • If you want to drive a car while you are in the United States, you should consider getting an International Driver’s License before you arrive. It may not be possible for you to obtain a US Driver’s License after you arrive.
  • In America, pedestrians must yield to cars and other automobiles. Cars will only yield to pedestrians in designated areas (with corresponding signs) and in crosswalks.
  • If you are lost and in need of directions, it is acceptable to ask anyone for help. Most Americans are friendly and will help strangers.

  • The weather and food may be different from your home country. Some students bring a small amount of medicine from their home country just in case they get sick when they first arrive.
  • There are no public toilets on the streets in the US. Public toilets can be found in hotels, restaurants, gas stations and stores. However, some businesses may reserve their restrooms for the use of their customers.
  • Americans are very sensitive to health risks associated with smoking. Therefore, it is customary to ask if anyone in your vicinity minds if you light a cigarette, especially when visiting someone’s home. In public places, smoking is only permitted in designated areas. Each campus location follows university rules on smoking, so be sure to respect the institution’s policies.

  • The minimum drinking and smoking age is 21 years old. If you wish to purchase these items, you must have a valid government-issued picture ID that includes your date of birth.
  • Besides your Passport, you should bring another form of picture ID that includes your date of birth. You can carry that ID with you while you are in the United States. Or, you might also make a photocopy of your Passport to carry with you while you are in the United States. You will want to keep your real Passport secure while you are here.

  • Be careful not to bring too many unnecessary items with you to the US. Your bedroom may be smaller than your room at home, and you will also purchase many items in America during your stay.

  • If you plan to apply to a college or university in the United States, you should bring official copies of your high school or university transcripts, letters of reference and immunization documents. It will be difficult for you to obtain these after you arrive in the US. If you will apply to more than one college or university, bring more than one copy of each document.