Bollywood Night

IGSA’s opening event in the Fall for new students, Bollywood Night provides a stage for students to show off their artistic side through music, dance, and varied art forms. In recent years, we’ve had picture collage presentations, sand art displays, and a comic skit by Mithya.

Meet and Greet

Meet and Greet is a recent, informal event, in which we invite new students to meet each other and ask questions about life at C-U. Watch out for the next announcement!

Diwali on the Quad

Our signature event held towards the end of the Fall, Diwali on the Quad had been covered by the Daily Illini, and attracts over a thousand members of the local community. Everyone gets candles to light up on the Quad, making for some of the best pictures in the glow of the lit-up Foellinger Auditorium.

The event is also a fundraiser, where we sell Indian food such as chai and chat. It has been a regular part of the campus calendar for many years, and we hope to improve on it this year.

To-do List

I’m controlling, and I want everything orderly, and I need lists. My mind goes a mile a minute. I’m difficult on every single level.

~ Sandra Bullock

Here’s a quick and easy to-do list for your first days here:

  • Registration: Visit the Illini Bookstore at 809 S. Wright Street to get your I-Card made for which you will need your I-20 and your Letter of Acceptance along with your passport. This will get you free bus access and your University Identity Number (UIN) too. If you already have an on-campus job, please collect a Temporary Control Number (TCN) as it takes some time to get Social Security Number (SSN).
  • Next, go to the International Students and Scholar Services building(ISSS) on Sixth and John St. and check yourself in as an International student. You will get maps of the campus there. For one week, this process is moved to the Illini Union. Please check the website to know where you need to go.
  • Go to any of the Banks on campus. Chase, Busey, PNC, and UICCU are some of the widely used ones and set up student checking accounts. This should get you an account to transfer your money into a debit card for your expenses.
  • Vaccination at McKinley – Take the health form you got with your I-20 (or will recieve at the ISSS) and report to the McKinley Health Center. They might require your I-20 and your passport for verification. The staff there will take your TB test, check your form and will brief about your next steps. Carry your I Card with you and some cash (~$30). You also need to have a doctor’s prescription for all the medicines that you are carrying from home.
  • Getting a Social Security Number (SSN): For all the students who are getting assistantship, it is mandatory to get a SSN. It helps to get Credit Card and necessary to build Credit History in USA.
  • Do go to your departments, talk with your adviser, fix up your class schedule. Submit your transcripts at Coble Hall (home of the Graduate College).
  • Familiarize yourself with the campus:
    • Walk around, go to the different labs, explore the Union, talk to your seniors/accommodating hosts about the campus, visit the different sites around campus.
    • Check out the bookstores, you will get a lot of free stuff from them and instructions too.
    • Pick up Bus schedules from any bus that you take.
    • Take buses to Market Place Mall, Walmart, Meijers and explore downtown too!

This time is precious and you will not get it again! Maximize it!

Campus map:

Shopping List

I want my wardrobe to be full of good clothes, so that when I’m deciding what to wear, I don’t run out of options. I love shopping! ~Virat Kohli

Even if you don’t agree, you’ll have to buy some stuff anyway. As most of you are coming abroad for the first time, we would like to suggest to Carry all the Original Certificates, Passport (with VISA-Stamped), I-20, Ticket and money (both USD and INR) with you in your cabin luggage. Also, you need to carry some cloths, medicines (with prescription), utensils and some optional items in your check-in luggage.

For a full list of items we recommend you carry, download this:

List of items to bring along

Finding a roommate

Dogs are like kids. Cats are like roommates.
~Oliver Gaspirtz, A Treasury of Pet Humor

It’s not easy finding a new roommate, but it is well worth the effort. Depending on who you are who you’re with, a roommate can be your best friend who throws you a surprise birthday party, or can be the person who puts the thermostat way too high.

IGSA can’t find a roommate for you – you’ve got to do that yourself. We can however, give you a place to start looking. Why don’t you post a query on our Facebook group and roll the dice?

Finding an apartment

Home is where the heart is. Also, you need a bed to sleep in.

There are several landlords in C-U. Here’s an sample list:

  • World Elites:

    They have good discounts on houses.


  • Campus Property Management:

    Main Office: 303 E. Green Street Champaign, IL 61820, United States

    Phone: +1-217-328-3030

  • University Group:

    309 S 1st St, Champaign, IL 61820-4164, United States

    Phone: +1-217-352-3182

  • Barr Real Estate:

    1710 S Neil St # 3, Champaign, IL 61820-7234, United States

    Phone: +1-217-356-1873

  • Roland Realty Inc

    212 E Green St, Champaign, IL 61820-5607, United States

    Phone: +1-217-328-1226

  • Ramshaw Real Estate:

    1817 South Neil Street, Champaign, IL-61820, United States


There are many more apartment rental agencies. There are other private owners near to the campus. You can also contact the University Tenants Union.

What do I bring?

A black hole is a singularity in space-time. Your baggage isn’t.

Worried about what you need to bring for your new life in C-U? Here’s our handy guide!


You will need money for the following :

(The list is only indicative and not exhaustive)

  • Security deposit for the apartment and a month’s rent. The rental rates are approximately as follows:
    • Efficiency (one room) : $350
    • Single bedroom : $400
    • Double bedroom : $700
    • Triple bedroom : $900
    • Utility bills for first month (phone, cable, electricity) : $100
    • Food and other things for the apartment : $300 – $600
  • A conservative estimate for the amount of money you need to bring would be a figure more than $1500


For all grad. students food is a major issue. Its nice to have at least a basic knowledge of cooking before coming here.

Here’s a list of some Indian grocery stores:
Harvest Market – 2029 S Neil St.
Annapoorna Grocery – 505 S. Neil St. , Suite #11
Mirsung – 49A E. Green St. (out of business)
Bombay Stores – 48 E. Springfield Ave.

You will find frozen curries, roti, Nan and other stuff in these stores.You need to bring some crockery and cutlery with you. Some non-stick pans and a pressure cooker might be useful.


  • It gets really cold in winters. You will need warm sweaters and jackets. You might bring a blanket with you.
  • Try to bring 2-3 double size bed sheets and some pillow cases.
  • In summer it also gets quite hot, so you may need lighter clothes.
  • Also try to get some Indian attire like kurtas, salwar, sarees, and lahengas as you might need them in Indian get-togethers.


  • Books are extremely expensive here. Each book costs around $50-$100.
  • Try bringing the books that are relevant to your field along with you.
  • Please don’t hesitate to contact someone from your department if you are not sure of the book list. Also have a look at the Illini Union Bookstore’s website to check if any of your courses have required textbooks.


  • Its a good idea to learn driving. You don’t need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in Illinois, but you may need it in other states. You can drive for the first few months with your Indian license, but you need to get an Illinois state license eventually.
  • You definitely do need medical insurance till your coverage starts here. Normally this should be the date school starts.

About IGSA

To provide a platform for graduate students from India and of Indian-origin to interact with the larger community in Champaign-Urbana.

The Indian Graduate Students Association (IGSA) is a not-for-profit, private association of like-minded students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, registered with the RSO Office at the U of I. We deal with Indian grad students on campus, right from when they land in the US to making them feel at home.

IGSA UIUC organizes the Diwali on the Quad event every year, which attracts hundreds of students from India and other countries who want to experience the Indian festival of lights. We also organize Bollywood Night to welcome new students. In addition, we participate in several events organized by ISSS and other RSOs on campus.

To help new students settle in to campus, we offer a volunteer-driven pick-up and temporary accommodation service in the first few weeks leading up to the Fall Semester. We also manage an active Facebook group and page to share information.

The first steps…

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Lao Tzu

After being cooped up in a metal tube half way across the world, you’re finally back on solid ground… unfamiliar, solid ground. First things first, keep these things in mind at the airport:

  • After leaving the plane proceed towards the immigration counter. The queues tend to be really long, especially at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.
  • The immigration officer will look at your forms and passport. Be ready with your I-20, before you get to the counter. The officer may ask you some questions about why you want to be admitted into the US – be honest, and calm. You’re coming to one of the best schools out there, you deserve it.
  • The officer will return the custom form and other documents. Unlike the old procedure, you will not be given a paper I-94 form, you can download that from here instead anytime afterwards. Keep this with you for future use.
  • Pick up your bags from the luggage claim area and proceed towards the customs area.
  • Normally they ask you if are carrying any fruit, vegetables, spices, bay-leaves, papad, pickles etc. Declare whatever you have.

To get from Chicago to Champaign:

  • Some of the most popular shuttle services are the Peoria Charter Coach Company, and Express Air Coach (EAC) Shuttle. You will need to buy a ticket beforehand from India. Do this as soon as your itinerary is confirmed, since it can be a busy time.
  • ISSS sometimes runs a shuttle service. Check their e-mails to your account regularly for information.
  • There are some groups on Facebook made by Indian students who are coming to UIUC .These groups will be particularly helpful in locating other students in your region who are coming to UIUC too. Its a nice place to look for prospective roommates as well!