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Arriving in the United States

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Arriving in the United States

The idea of living and studying in a different country can be both exciting and anxiety-producing, and you may have questions or concerns. Below are some resources and information that can help you feel prepared for your graduate study in the U.S.

There are many online resources to help you transition to life in the U.S. Additionally, our Graduate Student Life and Incoming Students webpages contain valuable information about life in Norman and on the OU campus.

The International Student Services (ISS) office provides information about immigration documents. New student welcome events and orientations provided by the Graduate College, the Center for Teaching Excellence, and possibly your academic unit in the weeks before your first semester begins will help you navigate the campus and transition to a new culture. 

Transitioning to Norman

The University of Oklahoma is located in Norman, OK, a university town with about 20,000 students and about 100,000 year-round residents. Norman is home to a vibrant arts community with over 25 festivals per year as well as many dining and shopping options. Additionally, Norman is located approximately 30 minutes from Oklahoma City, which offers arts and cultural experiences, outdoor adventures, professional sports, dining, and shopping, as well as the Will Rogers World Airport.

The weather in Oklahoma is quite variable. Summer temperatures can exceed 40° C, and winter temperatures can be below freezing with high winds. Summers will be hot, but throughout the rest of the year the temperature can vary widely between morning, afternoon, and evening. During spring, autumn, and winter, it’s a good idea to dress in layers so you can stay comfortable.

Storms can occur any time of the year, and tornadoes are common in this region in the spring. Being weather aware and knowing what to do in case of severe weather will help you stay safe.

Transitioning to the United States

Culture Shock

Many people who live or study in a new country experience culture shock. Culture shock is considered to be a completely normal part of adjusting to life in a new culture. By understanding the culture shock process and learning about the cultural differences you may experience, you can minimize its effect. 


While OU and Norman are very safe, no community is without crime. By taking precautions and being aware of safety concerns, you can reduce your risk of troublesome situations.


OU students have free access to OU’s bus system, Cleveland Area Rapid Transit (CART). Many students also choose to walk or bike to class, and some choose to purchase a car.

To drive a car, you will need a valid driver’s license. An Oklahoma driver’s license can be obtained through the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.

All cars must have insurance and be registered with the state. When registering your car, bring your vehicle title, driver’s license, and proof of insurance to a local tag agency

For more information on transportation options, including parking on campus, visit our transportation page.


Most graduate students choose to live off campus and often rent an apartment or house. You can find available rental property listings by searching online. The Norman Chamber of Commerce also has a list of rental properties.

Some students choose to live on campus. Living on campus can be very convenient and offers many advantages. It can also be more expensive than renting a privately-owned property. Do your research and choose the housing option that works best with your lifestyle.


It’s important to follow U.S. tax law since failing to do so can affect your visa status. OU international students can receive online tax assistance.