COVID-19: Essential Information

Living in the U.S.

The information provided in this section is designed to help international students, scholars, and their familes as they make the transition from abroad to living in the United States.

For topics specific to the Middlebury campus (printing services, purchasing textbooks, laundry, internet access, etc.), please click here.


There are many different banking options in the U.S. When you are choosing a bank, ask about automatic teller machine (ATM) and checking fees, and minimum balances. Some banks offer special student accounts. For more information about banking, please click here.


ISSS maintains a Skype account that can make calls to a phone (cell phone or landline) if you need to call home and let family know that you have arrived to campus safely.

The first question new students often ask is, "How do I get a cell phone?" While ISSS understands the need to remain connected to family and friends abroad, we suggest that students and scholars research information about cell phones and find the best plan that meets their needs before rushing to make a cell phone purchase.

There are other ways to remain connected! Some students and scholars choose not to get a cell phone. Another option is to take advantage of the widespread availability of Wi-Fi on campus and use devices (such as an iPod, tablet, or computer) to communicate with people on campus and family back home. There are options, such as Google Voice, Viber and Skype, where you can buy credit and call landline and cell phone numbers without having a U.S. one! For more information about communication, please click here.


Driving regulations and practices differ from state to state in the U.S. If you intend to obtain a Vermont or California driver's license, you should follow the procedures for that state. For more information about driving, please click here.

Also, see Travel Reminders below for information about the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol 100-mile border zone.

Thrift Stores/Re-Use Shops

In the U.S. many people seek out and find good quality clothing and household items at thrift stores and re-use shops as well as at “yard” or “garage” sales and via on-line forums where items are sold or given away.  To see a selection of thrift stores in the local area and near Burlington, please click here.


Tips are often a major source of compensation for waitstaff at sit-down restaurants. The tip should be calculated as a percentage of your total bill. Tipping 15-20% is considered standard in most communities. Tipping less than 15% is a sign that you were unhappy with the service and tipping more than 20% means that your service was outstanding.

While some coffee shops, bakeries and other establishments have tip jars on their check-out counters, it is not expected that you contribute a tip. Fast food restaurants do not have tipping as there is no 'table service' (when a server brings your food to your table).


There are many transportation options available to you while attending Middlebury. Middlebury College offers shuttles, public transportation, and Zip cars. For more information about transportation, please click here.

Travel Reminders

Before you travel off-campus, please review the travel reminders below, especially regarding the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol's 100-mile border zone area where some of our campuses are located. (Note: You can find ISSS's April 2017 all-campus email here.)

100-mile Border Zone:
Most of Vermont is located within 100 miles of the Canadian border and falls within U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) 100-mile border zone.  Federal regulations grant CBP the authority to operate and question individuals about their status in the United States in this zone. Within this area, individuals may encounter CBP officials at traffic checkpoints or transportation hubs who may ask to see documentation of their lawful status. For more information, see Border Patrol operations.
  • CBP has reinstituted its practice of transportation checks at public bus terminals. (In Vermont, this includes the bus transit stations in Burlington and White River Junction.) During these checks, a CBP agent may board the bus and ask each passenger to self-identify as a U.S. citizen or present documents demonstrating lawful status in the U.S.
  • ISSS advises non-U.S. citizens who travel within the U.S. 100-mile border zone to carry appropriate identification documents that confirm their lawful status in the U.S. Concerned members of our community may also choose to carry contact information for Middlebury College’s Department of Public Safety and an immigration attorney. (If needed, Public Safety would reach out to ISSS staff outside of regular business hours.)
  • We encourage anyone with questions or concerns to contact ISSS. We will continue to communicate with officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and our local congressional offices and will update our website accordingly.

See our International Travel Restrictions Information for the latest updates on that topic.

(last updated 3/28/2018)

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)

Service Building - Second Floor
14 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753
Phone: 802 443-5858