Ultimate Travel Guide + Tips for Incoming Students

As an International Student Ambassador, I get many questions from international students who are coming to Bloomington. A few of the most frequently asked questions include “Where is IU?”, “What do I bring when coming to IUB?” and “What should I prepare before coming to IUB?”, so I thought to compose a list of tips for incoming students who are traveling to Bloomington for the first time.

IN, Not IL

There were cases of students went to look for IUB in Bloomington, IL instead of IN. Indiana University is located in Indiana, not Illinois. You will be having a hard time finding the campus if you went to Bloomington, IL.

United states map with a pin on Bloomington, IN

Booking Your Flight and Arriving at the Airport

If you are required to take a flight to Bloomington, the nearest airport to Bloomington is in Indianapolis (Indianapolis International Airport – IND). There are shuttles (GO Express Travel and Star of America) at the airport that takes you to Bloomington, so you can book your flight tickets around the shuttle schedules: GO Express Travel and Star of America. Both shuttle services have different drop-off locations in Bloomington, so you can purchase your shuttle ticket based on their schedule.

You can either purchase your shuttle tickets at the airport at the Ground Transportation area (you will see the Ground Transportation sign near the Baggage Claim area, and follow the sign to take an escalator to the Pedestrian Bridge Level to Ground Transportation and Parking Garage areas) or book it online (GO Express Travel and Star of America). I highly recommend you to book the shuttle tickets online because sometimes the shuttles may be full.

Here is a short video for you with tips on getting through the airport and finding transportation to Bloomington from Office of International Services:

Know Your Bloomington Address

Before heading to the airport, make sure you know your address when staying in Bloomington. You can see your residence hall’s assignment through one.iu.edu and search “Housing Information”. Take a picture of the address with your phone or write it down on a piece of paper.

I’ve heard many stories where students lost their luggage at the airport, and it becomes handy for you to write your Bloomington address on a luggage tag or to tell the airport where to send your lost luggage.

Take a Picture of Your Luggage

Many students lost their luggage at airports when transferring their flights. If you are taking an international flight, some forgot that you are required to pick up your luggage when transferring flights as you enter the United States, so they left their luggage at the transferring airport. In case this happens to you, you can show the luggage center at the airport a photo of your luggage so they can easily identify your lost luggage.


I once heard a story where an international student arrived in Bloomington at midnight when the residence hall was closed. There was a phone number to the center desk on the door, but the student just arrived in the United States without a working local number, so the student was not able to call the center desk. In case this situation happens to you, make sure you have a working U.S. number before/when arriving.

For the first couple of days, it is very common for students to get lost around campus. If you are worried about how to get around the campus, having cellular data can be helpful. You can also get apps such as Google Map and Double Map (it tracks the exact location of buses in Bloomington in real time) to help you figure out your way.

Also, before arriving in the U.S., you can write down a couple important contact numbers such as your residence hall’s center desk (http://www.rps.indiana.edu/housing.cfml) in case of some sort of emergency happens.

What to Bring

This is the part where you will have to figure out yourself. Yes, you can purchase a lot of your daily products such as shampoo, shower gel, laundry detergent, and laundry basket at the retail stores nearby; but keep in mind: you are not the only incoming student. There are thousands of incoming students at Indiana University every year, and I can guarantee you, places like Target and Walmart will be emptied in a week (three days to be exact) during move-in week. I remember one time I couldn’t even find a place to buy a trash can. I know right? Trash can! The entire Bloomington was out of trash cans!

So write down a list of items that you need before packing and figure out what items you can bring and what items you can purchase at the local stores or IU Classifieds (search “Classifieds” on one.iu.edu).

Things to consider when moving into the residence hall:

  1. Essential items – Is there anything you absolutely cannot live without? Yes, shower gel is an essential item. Please shower (I mean, you don’t REALLY have to, but it would be nice if you do).
  2. You have limited space at the residence hall – You are most likely sharing a room with a roommate, so you don’t want to take up the entire space of the room
  3. Communicate with your roommate – Is there anything you can share? What are your habits like? What is it going to be like if one of you is having a fridge, microwave, or coffee machine?
  4. You are required to move out by the end of the school year – Keep it simple. Maybe having a three-seat sofa would be a bad idea?
  5. Residential Programs and Services (RPS) policies – Research and know some of the residence hall policies. For example, you are not allowed to light a candle in the room.
  6. Standard furniture – Most rooms include a bed, a desk, a closet, and a storage unit. They will be empty (no bedding or hangers).
  7. Air conditioner – If your residence hall does not have an air conditioner, maybe think about having a fan. If you have special needs (such as medical conditions), contact your center desk, and they will walk you through the process.

If you are not moving into a residence hall, then you can consider things like:

  1. Essential items – Yes, shower gel is still an essential shower. Please shower.
  2. Is the place furnished or unfurnished? – How long does it take to have furniture to be delivered? (Bloomington International Student Ministries: BISM is a great resource that offers free furniture to new international students and families every fall).
  3. Are you required to move-out by the end of the school year?
  4. Do you have a roommate or housemate?
  5. How much space do you have?

I hope this list of tips helps your travel easier! Don’t hesitate to reach out to other student organizations and resources if you still have questions. Safe travel and welcome to IU!

June Huang
Juno Huang

Marketing, Business Analytics, and International Business. Class of 2018.

0 replies on “Ultimate Travel Guide + Tips for Incoming Students”