It is best to apply early for an F-1 visa, as the background checks can take up to 4-6 weeks. Thus, it is advisable to apply as soon as you receive the I-20 form from the University and have all other documents ready. You will need to fill out an online Visa Application Form available at the US Embassy website and schedule an appointment for visa interview.
You should try arriving about one to two weeks prior to the day of the orientation. This will give you some time to look for a place to live, find roommates, unpack/purchase things for the apartment and familiarize yourself with the area in general.
You should arrive at the BWI Airport, as it is the closest to the Baltimore city and is well-connected by public transport. Avoid booking flights flying to Dulles International Airport as it is much further away and can cost almost $100 to get to Baltimore from there.
Students are encouraged to book tickets together. From the airport, one can avail shared shuttle services like SuperShuttle and Go Airport Shuttle.
IGSA uses a google mailing list for all public communications within IGSA community, including notifications from the board, information on rental, sublets, sale of goods, carpooling and any other messages. However, no soliciting is allowed on either of the forums. To be added to this mailing list, please register with us. New students are suggested to join the Johns Hopkins Fall 2013 group to make sure they do not miss out on useful information.
We also recommend you to join the IGSA Facebook group for important updates on IGSA activities.
For suggestions on things to bring here, please visit the link above (Things to bring to USA)
Baltimore has four seasons – spring, summer, fall and winter. Thus the temperatures vary greatly through the year. The summer can be quite hot and humid with temperatures above 350C, while winters are pretty cold with below freezing temperatures on several days from December through February. Baltimore also receives few snow showers during the winter months, and occasional winter storms can result in accumulations of several inches. Thus, a heavy winter jacket and boots are recommended.
Like many big cities, Baltimore has many good and bad areas and has a relatively high crime rate. Thus, it is important to be very careful about the safety. The area around Homewood (between 30th and 35th Street and St.Paul Street, Charles Street and W. University Parkway are well secured by the Hopkins Security.
Taking necessary precautions can avoid unpleasant experiences. Avoid walking alone in the dark and in sketchy areas. Use the Hopkins Escort Van service during evening and night. You can check out the campus crime and safety reports online at http://www.jhu.edu/~security.
Mughal garden 920 North Charles St Baltimore 21201, Phone: 410 547 0001
Indian Delight 622 Frederick Road, Cantonsville, MD 21228, Phone: (410) 744-4422
Lumbini Restaurant 322 North Charles Street, Baltimore, Phone: (410) 244-5556
Kabab Stop 5719 Falls Road, Baltimore, MD 21209, Phone: (410)323-6060
Pawan Foods 8904 Harford Rd, Parkville, MD, 21234-4142. Phone: (410)497-5376
Spicy Garden 6400 Baltimore National Pike Catonsville, MD 21228 (410) 747-0080
The grocery stores close to the Homewood campus are:
Giant Foods (at the Rotunda) 711 West 40th Street, Baltimore Phone: (410) 467-0417
Giant Foods 601 East 33rd Street, Baltimore Phone: (410) 649-4180
Superfresh 1020 West 41st Street, Baltimore Phone: (410) 243-0001
Safeway 2401 North Charles Street, Baltimore Phone: (410) 261-6110
Walmart 1238 Putty Hill Avenue #5, Towson Phone: (410) 494-4610
Target 1238 Putty Hill Ave, Towson Phone: (410) 823-4423
Baltimore city has several modes of public transport including MTA buses, Light Rail and Subway. The subway and light rail are not well-connected to the Northern part of the city (around Homewood campus), and commutes over long distances may require multiple connections and long travel times. The recently started Charm City Circulator is a free and convenient option for traveling on few routes in Downtown Baltimore.
The Homewood-JHMI shuttle is a university-run shuttle service between the Homewood campus and the Medical campus in downtown, with intermediate stops at Penn Station and Mt. Vernon. It is extremely convenient for people who are living near Homewood or Mt. Vernon and work at the Schools of Medicine, Public Health or Nursing or at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
The complete schedule can be found at here.
The collegetown shuttle is a shuttle service that connects different universities and colleges in the Baltimore area. It also goes to some popular places such as the Towson Town Center Mall, Towson Place (Sunday only) and the Inner Harbor (Weekends only). For a complete schedule, please visit Collegetown website. Please note that university ID is required for boarding and each student is allowed one guest.
The university offers a free door-to-door pickup and drop-off service during evening and night within a 1 mile radius from the Homewood campus. The route vans follow a fixed route and cover common places of interest (such as the Rotunda and Superfresh) as well as the bigger apartment complexes. These vans run during the evening at fixed times. The schedule can be checked here. In addition, there are non-route vans which run from 5 PM to 2 AM and can be used to travel between any two places in the coverage area. To request a van, please call 410-516-8700.
For more information: Visit: nextbus.com
Having a car is not necessary in Baltimore, as there many form s of public transport are available. Also, the Yellow Cab service (410-685-1212) in the city is quite convenient.
Though having a car can drastically reduce commute times, additional costs such as parking, insurance, maintenance and fuel must be considered before purchasing a car.
In Maryland any country’s license is valid for one year, and can be used for driving during this period. In addition, having a valid driver’s license can hasten the process for obtaining a Maryland License, as you can avoid the learner’s license and driving school classes. For the latest rules about driver’s license, please visit: http://mva.state.md.us/. An international driver’s license does not offer any additional advantages.
What different campuses does JHU have and how do I commute between them?
Yes. IGSA tries to provide incoming students temporary living arrangements with other host students for the first few days of their stay in Baltimore. This gives them an opportunity to explore the neighborhood and find roommates before signing a lease. Please register here for temporary accommodation.
Most students prefer living near the Homewood Campus. Majority of the Indian graduate students choose to live in the apartment complexes are located in the neighborhood. The areas from 30th to 35th Streets and N Charles, as well as around University Parkway are generally safe. Some students also stay in the row houses (independent units) located near St. Paul or Calvert Streets which are cheaper, however there are generally less safe than the apartment buildings. For a more comprehensive list of apartment buildings, please visit the housing link above.
Most areas near JHMI are not very safe. Thus most students working in the medical center prefer living near Homewood and taking the Homewood-JHMI shuttle to work daily.
You can submit your roommate requirements and preferences to the IGSA Housing database. The database can also be used for getting contacts of other students who may also be looking for roommates. Additionally, you can send an e-mail to the JHU-Fall2010 Yahoo! Group.
The rents depend on the type of apartment and their occupancy. The rents for studios (efficiency), 1 BHK and 2 BHK are typically in the range of $700-900, $900-1200 and $1300-1600. Sometimes one can manage to get some deals with the apartments, which can lower the rents.
Please refer to the Things to bring section above for details
A social security number is essential for most official and financial transactions, including payment of stipend/wages, insurance, investment etc. You can apply for a SSN after 15 days of arrival in USA. The Social Security office is located on the fourth floor in the Rotunda (40th Street). The letter from OISSS office stating your employment rights and status needs to be taken to the office. The SSN card is mailed within two weeks to your residential address.
Most students prefer to open an account with Bank of America. There are branches near both the Homewood (3121 St. Paul Street) and Medical campuses (1800 E. Monument Street). Also, there are many ATMs throughout the country, in case you are travelling.
Some of the other banks in the area include the Johns Hopkins Federal Credit Union and M&T Bank.
You can apply for a credit card after you have received your SSN and have been in the US for one quarter. It is generally advisable to get a credit card linked to your bank account.
The main living expenses include rent, food, utilities, groceries, books and transport. The rent is variable depending on the apartment. The other expenses vary on an individual basis, and typically range between $300 and $500.
People generally carry $20-50 on them, as credit or debit cards are the more convenient modes of payment. It is not recommended to carry large amounts of cash.
Absolutely. Health care in the United States is very expensive. Thus having a decent health plan is absolutely necessary.
The Johns Hopkins University provides full-time graduate students an insurance plan from Aetna Student Health. The School of Medicine has a separate plan. These plans are not the best insurance plans due to their relatively high co-pays (10-20%) and deductibles ($75-250), however they are free through the University. The annual fees for other plans will be higher. Please note that the health plan does not include dental and eye care. Thus, it is recommended to get a routine eyesight and dental check up before coming to Baltimore. It is also advisable to have a routine blood test back home.
Students enrolled in certain part-time programs, such AAP, are not eligible for the University health plans. and must purchase an individual insurance plan.
If you do not have an active health insurance before coming to the US, it is advised to get travelers’ insurance. This is a precautionary measure as healthcare without insurance can be very expensive.
The Homewood Campus Student Health & Wellness Center is open for all full-time Arts & Sciences and Engineering graduate students, and provides free of cost consultations.
For consultation at other facilities, please check with your insurance provider in advance to ensure that your health plan covers the consulation/procedure.
The closest emergency facility is at the Union Memorial Hospital. In case of any emergencies, please call 911.
The closest 24-hour pharmacy is Rite Aid (located in the Rotunda, phone: (410) 467-3343). Some over the counter medicines are also available at some supermarkets and grocery stores.
It is a good idea to get some common medicines such Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, antacids, anti-allergic, cough syrup and a course of antibiotics.
In general, books are cheaper in India. Hence, if you know in advance, please buy them in India. The University has its own bookstores at Homewood (Barnes and Nobel) and JHMI. Additionally, usually you can get better deals online at sites such as www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnobel.com, www.half.com.
You can also buy used books from senior students. The website www.mysugu.com is a useful resource for that.
Free Wi-Fi is available on campus. The JHGuestNet network is open for all, while Hopkins network requires login using your JHED login ID. There are public computers available in the MSE library and Krieger Hall.
Generally the department administrative staff can provide you with the contacts information of some senior students in the department. You can also contact someone on the IGSA board to introduce you to someone else in your program.
Part time jobs depend on your visa status. Most of the students at Hopkins are on an F-1 visa, which allows them 20 work hours a week of on-campus job. However, please note that the research assistantship and teaching assistantship often fill up that quota of allocated 20 hours. You can get a job and then get a special form from the International Student’s Office. One copy goes to your employer and another copy goes to the Student Employment Office in the basement of Garland Hall. This is a onetime affair done to enter you into the payroll system. If you are here on a tourist visa, then you will only be allowed to take part-time classes and not work at all.