Frequent Asked Questions
 More info at BBS (更多信息请看BBS)
http://bbs.csssosu.org is the BBS for CSSS & UCSO.
Note: Please refer to the Office of International Affairs (OIA, previously known as OIE) at OSU for official answers on questions concerning new international students. Should there be any conflicts among the contents, please follow those provided by OIA (International Students).
New visiting scholars please also visit our New Visiting Scholars' Guide for more information.
 What is the climate in Columbus?
It's very cold in winter and hot in summer. But classrooms and offices are air-conditioned throughout the year. The climate is somewhat similar to that of Beijing, except for the humidity. It rains a lot even in winter. One more point: Columbus and Beijing have the same latitude.
 What is the time difference between Beijing and Columbus?
Normally 13 hours later than Beijing, but 12 hours in summer (between the first Sunday of April and the last Sunday in October).
 How big is the OSU campus?
The main campus is not very big. It takes about 15 minutes to walk through. A bicycle is helpful and easily available. There are also free campus buses running around campus and some residential areas nearby.
 How many Chinese are there at OSU and in Columbus?
About 800 - 1000 Chinese from Mainland China, 500 Chinese from Taiwan, and 200 from Hong Kong at OSU. There are many Chinese Americans in Columbus as well, est. 20,000.
 Is it easy to get access to Chinese food?
There are many Chinese grocery stores and restaurants here. You can get almost any Chinese stuff you want in the Chinese grocery stores. Some of them are on city bus lines, which is free for OSU students. There are several Chinese restaurants close to the main campus. A fast meal is about $3-5.
 How about living expenses?
Monthly rent for a room is roughly $180 - 400 per person, depending on its quality (and your luck). Food costs less than $150, if you cook for yourself.
 How to rent a room?
On-campus dormitories are well-maintained, close to classroom and provide you good opportunities to communicate with students from other countries. But to cook over there is not very convenient, and the rent is a little bit high.
For off-campus housing, plenty of them are available either within walking distance from the campus or along the bus line. You can find cheaper room, but the quality is not guaranteed. To find a cheap and reasonably priced house off campus, it's better for you to arrive at OSU at least 10 days before the deadline given on I-20 Form. You can also ask a friend for help, but keep in mind that it is not appropriate to ask someone that is not very familiar with you to find a room for you. There is legal responsibility involved upon signing the leasing contract. You can live temporarily in the house of your host-family for a few days until you find a place. So, you should prepare to arrive earlier in order to settle down prior to the start of classes.
Most single students here share a 2-4 bedroom apartment with roommates, i.e., they each have their own bedrooms but share the living-room, kitchen and bathroom. Married students usually live in the dorm or share an apartment with others until their spouses come.
Dorms are furnished. Some off-campus houses are furnished or semi-furnished (the landlord provides bed and sometimes small tables, etc.), others are unfurnished. Furnished house is slightly more expensive than unfurnished one. Furniture is usually easily available.
The leases for off-campus housing normally last one year. If you want to move out earlier, most of the landlords allow you to sublease your room to another person. As for on-campus dorms, if you move in during the summer quarter, the lease will be renewed quarterly, but if you move in after the end of the summer quarter, the lease will be 9 month long and sublease is not allowed, except for the case that the spouse of a married student comes. A security deposit (usually equal to the monthly rent) is required for any kind of housing, and every month's rent should be paid in advance. On the day when signing your lease, you will have to pay the deposit and the first month's rent. So, please reserve about $500 for housing when planning your budget.
Some useful links about housing at OSU:
- On Campus Housing
- Student Housing Legal Clinic (www.law.ohio-state.edu/shlc/index.htm)
- The Lantern (OSU student newspaper): Classfied Ads, room rental section
- Other links:
 How can I get pickup at the airport?
CSSS can arrange someone to pick you up at the Columbus airport if you need. People from the OSU International Friendships Association, Chinese Churches and some Chinese students will be such volunteers for you. One important issue is: do not ask more than one organizations or persons to pick you up. We understand that you have concerns about whether the person will show up, but we will definitely pick you up if we received your message and have confirmed you. In the past, some American friends asked one day off, and went to the airport only to find that the student had left with another person. Also, remember to write down the name and the telephone number of the person who's picking you up.
Usually, you will meet the person at the gate where you come out of the plane. Otherwise, you should WAIT in the "luggage claim" area where your luggage comes out on a circling belt. Don't leave until you meet somebody there. In case no one meets you at the airport, you can call up any of the CSSS committee members (please keep some phone numbers at hand) from the airport using the pay phone, then either wait or take a taxi to OSU.
[Important !!! If for any reason, you cannot come with the flight, please DO inform us. If you have arranged someone else to pick you up at the airport, please DO let us know by any means.]
Do you need us to pick you up? Click here.
 What stuff shall I take to US?
Besides study materials, you should take some basic items that will be used immediately after your arrival, e.g. a thin quilt. You can virtually find everything from the stores. But the price might be a little bit high compared to that of China. So, as long as your luggage limit allowed, take as much as you need. Clothes are a major concern. For small or thin person, our suggestion is to bring enough with you, especially upper outer garments, since you might not be able to find the right size in stores. Shoes are cheap. You probably don't need to bring too many. They're heavy. But slippers are a must, since they are relatively expensive and of much fewer variety here. If you like swimming, bring your swimming suits along with you. You might also need to bring some medicine, but not too much, since many medicine will expire soon! Some traditional Chinese medicine such as ban3-lan2-gen1 is indeed useful, but it is also available in those Chinese grocery stores in Columbus. Keep in mind that do not exceed the luggage limit set by the airlines.
 How much money shall I take to US?
Since you need to buy a lot of stuff and to pay for the housing deposit during the first month, it is highly recommended that you take at least $1000. If you have $1500 at hand, you will be at much ease. If you do not have enough money, the Office of International Education can help you get a 3-month emergency loan of up to $1000 with an annual interest rate of 7%, which means less than 2% interest for 3 month. You can also ask your friends here to lend you some money for a short term. You should prepare some small bills at hand when coming to the US, in case you need to make a phone call or to rent a cart to carry your luggage. There are changing machines at the airport to change bills to quarters (25c coins). A local phone call costs a quarter, and the rent for a cart is 6 quarters.
 I am required to pass the Speak Test to become a qualified TA. Can you tell me more about it?
It is required that all international TAs have to pass the Speak Test. If you failed in that test, not only you would have to take 1 or 2 spoken English courses, but your stipend might be reduced by several hundred dollars a month, depending on the policies of different departments. For instance, an unqualified TA in Zoology Dept still receives full stipend, whereas in Chemistry Dept, the stipend would be over $300 less. Please contact your department to ask about the policy.
The Speak Test is identical to the old version of TSE test given by ETS. A TSE score of 60, which is quite impossible to get, is also accepted as a proof of TA qualification.
Some tips for preparing of the Speak Test:
- First, find some related materials such as the TOEFL bulletin to get familiar with the style of TSE (if the old version is not available, the new version would be fine).
- Second, speak as much English as possible to cultivate your fluency and confidence.
- Third, and most importantly, "correct" your pronunciation: here at OSU, the "standard" pronunciation assumed by the Spoken English Program is somewhat different from what is taught in China. You might be astonished at the fact that the word "not" should be pronounced as [na:t], so is "stop", "hot" (the difference between "hot" and "heart" is that the latter is [ha:rt], where [r] is typical American style), etc., because the letter "o" in British stressed closed syllable should be pronounced as [a:] here. The letter "a" in British open syllable such as in "grass", "class", "after" should be pronounced as in closed syllable ([ae], the same vowel as in "glad"), in stead of [a:]. If you can pronounce those words this way in the Speak Test, the graders will be greatly satisfied. They are also very picky at the distinction between "th" and "s", so make sure the tip of your tongue touches your upper teeth when saying "the", "both", etc. Other common confusions made by Chinese students are [e], [AE] and [ai] in "bet", "bat" and "bite"; [l] in "world" in comparison to "word"; [i] and [i:] in "live" and "leave", etc. (although they are easy to tell in pair, make sure you not pronounce "live" as "leave" in conversations). One more reminder: the consonant [h] is voiceless in English even though it's voiced in Chinese (can you feel the difference? Try to pronounce "he" in both way). Anyway, it'll be helpful if you can find the spoken English textbooks used in the English class here: Focus on Pronunciation and Well Said and adjust your pronunciation accordingly.
Frankly speaking, it is really difficult for us Chinese students to pass the Speak Test, because the English teachers at OSU are very picky at pronunciations. It is NOT recommended to take a TSE workshop in China, because those workshops mainly focus on test-taking skills in stead of accurate pronunciation. How much energy should you put into the preparation of the Speak Test? It's all up to you, but do not expect too much out of your preparation. According to many senior students' experience, if your English background was not so strong, it might be your fate to spend several quarters at the English classes no matter how hard you had tried. Sorry for the bad news.
 How to find someone here for help?
You can find helps here in various aspects from finding a room, pickup at airport, to providing information. Most Chinese students are willing to help new students. You may ask the graduate studies secretary in your dept to introduce you to a senior Chinese student (in some dept it is already a convention that every new student is assigned a mentor/buddy that is usually a senior student from the same country). Don't be too shy in asking for help. Those who helped you want nothing back but that you'd help others when you became senior.
The International Friendships, Inc., an organization seeking to promote friendship and hospitality for international students, has played a significant role in providing new student accommodation in the past. Though it is organized by Christians, please feel easy with it: you have no religious obligation. All those pious Christians have done is to show their kindness to international students from all over the world. They may be the host family who picked you up at the airport, provided you with several days of initial accommodation, and helped you find a house. You'll be warmly treated in their family and you can learn a lot about the American culture. Believe us, the comment above is based on many senior Chinese students' experience. You may contact them by e-mail or they may have already got your address from the university's admission office and wrote to you.
 How early should I arrive before the quarter starts?
At least 10 days before class starts. What you need to do before class include:
- Rent a room
- Orientation by OIE
- Take English replace test (you may not be required)
- Contact advisor
- Sign up courses
- Other requirement by advisor, department, and school.
 Which airline should I take? Can I book ticket from US?
There are many airlines flying from China to US. Previous students have taken Northwest (US), China Eastern, and a few Korean or Japanese airlines. There are no direct flights from China to Columbus. You need transfer at other city(s), which is quite convenient. At the first stop in America when passing the US custom, you have to pick up your luggage by yourself and have it transferred to the following flight. Later it'll usually be done by the airport staff and you won't need to worry about it until arriving in Columbus.
Price varies among airlines. Generally speaking, flights with more transferring stops are cheaper. But you may feel extremely tired to travel in such a long distance with a lot of transfer stops. Sometimes you'll have to wait for the next flight for hours. Please try to find a flight with the best quality/price ratio.
We doubt if you can book ticket from US (you may if you have credit card). As far as we know, the price gap is not too much. If you have friends or relatives in US who can pay you air fair in advance, you can ask them to buy ticket for you in US. Otherwise, you'd better buy it in China.
 If my spouse or my parents want to come to US, what material do I need to prepare?
For you spouse or your children to come, you will need at least:
1. A bank statement to show how much money you have; 2. An I-20 form for your spouse or your children (from OIE, Office of International Education); 3. A letter from graduate school to confirm your status as a full-time student; 4. An invitation letter from you to invite your spouse or your children; 5. Copy of your own I-20, passport, visa and I-94 form.
For your parents, you will need at least:
1. A bank statement to show the amount of money you own; 2. An invitation letter from OIE; 3. A letter from your department to show your status as a full-time student; 4. The W2 tax for your income tax return; 5. One month's paycheck (not the real one, the upper part); 6. An invitation letter from you to invite your parents. 7. Your relevant material ( I-20, passport, visa and I-94 form etc.).
 Do I need to learn to drive in China?
It is very easy to learn to drive here. If you're thinking of learning it solely for the purpose of driving in US, we suggest you not to take the trouble. But if it does not cost much and you have enough time, go ahead. It's easier to drive in US if you've learned something about driving in China.
 What is the power voltage in US?
110 V (not 220 V). So electric devices brought from China will not work unless you have a converter. A voltage converter costs around $30 here. You may want to bring one from China if needed.
 If I bring a radio from China, will it work well in US?
Digital radio may have problems in picking up stations accurately, because the frequency step used in US is 0.2 MHz (US standard) instead of 0.05 MHz in China (European standard). Check your digital radio to see if it's adaptable to US standard. Normal hand-adjusted radio works fine here.