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Packing Your Bags

As you pack your bags it can be helpful to determine what you need to bring from home and what you can obtain upon arrival in the U.S. You’ll want to pack lightly – only bring luggage that you can carry on your own!

Clothing Heading link

For clothing, you’ll want to consider the weather upon your arrival. Illinois is located in the Midwest region of the U.S. where we experience distinct spring, summer, fall and winter seasons. Temperatures can change quickly and rain and snow are common, depending on the time of year.

Daily temps in July and August reach 80-90 °F (25 – 30 °C) but evenings can get cool. If you come from a warmer climate you may want to bring a light sweater or coat to stay comfortable, especially when indoors where air conditioning is heavily used during U.S. summers. When it rains, an umbrella or good rain coat are necessary and waterproof boots or shoes can be helpful in Chicago where flash flooding is common.

In January and February temperatures reach 30 – 40 °F (0 – 5 °C) and the wind chill factor can make it feel even colder. Plan to bring, or quickly purchase, a warm coat, hat, gloves, and scarf. Warm, waterproof boots are also essential as winters in Illinois can be very snowy and wet.

In general, you will want to pack clothing and shoes that are comfortable and appropriate for the season as you will likely do a lot of walking outside as you initially explore your new surroundings.

Medicine, prescriptions and medical records Heading link

It’s a good idea to have full medical, dental, and eye check-ups before your departure so that you can get prescriptions updated and filled at home. Visits to the doctor can be expensive in the U.S. and may not be covered by insurance. However, bring your prescriptions with you so that you can facillitate a refill in the U.S. and answer any questions at customs, if needed.

All members of the UIC community eligible and able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and recommended boosters must submit evidence to the University. See for more information.

Additionally, beginning spring 2022, admitted students must present documented proof of immunity against five diseases in addition to COVID-19. Failure to submit the required documentation could impact your ability to register for future terms. For more information, visit the Office of the Registrar, student medical immunization records.

Packing your carry-on bag Heading link

You’ll want to keep certain items in-hand during your trip to the U.S. such as your immigration documents, travel confirmation numbers, proof of health insurance, contact information for UIC, emergency contact back home, and the location where you will stay upon arrival. You’ll also need to consider how you will pay for initial expenses. It’s unwise to carry large sums of cash (over $200 USD) when traveling so you may want to consider carrying travelers checks or a debit card. Connect with your bank before departure to confirm that your debit card will work in the U.S. to withdraw cash from an ATM.

Things you do not need to pack Heading link

If you do not already own winter gear, save that luggage space and plan on purchasing your warm coat, boots, hat, and gloves after arriving in the U.S. In Chicago, there are many department and designer discount stores along State Street which is located in the Loop and a short train ride away from campus. Second hand stores such as Goodwill and others offer used clothing at low prices. You can also find many spices and food items at Chicago’s international grocery stores so only pack those tasty treats you are certain will not be available away from home. Supplies for your new home can also be purchased after your arrival by visiting a local store or shipping directly to your dorm or apartment.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection Heading link

Before your trip, review the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) list of items that are prohibited or restricted from entering the U.S. You may not be allowed to bring some food, agriculture, and pharmaceutical items into the country. CBP also has information on when and how to declare the money you are carrying over the border.