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Life in The United States


Driving in Ohio

  • It is illegal to drive without a valid Ohio-issued driver’s license, proof of automobile insurance, proof of the car’s registration and valid license plates. Failure to meet these requirements could result in you receiving a citation from the police.
  • You are required by law to have automobile insurance. Student Legal Services highly recommends that you have more than the minimum amount of automobile insurance required by state law. Please meet with an insurance agent to discuss the proper amount of coverage for you. You can find a list of agents on Student Legal Services’ website (studentlegal.osu.edu).
  • Seat belt use is mandatory for the driver and any passengers.
  • It is required by law that children who are under age 4, children who weigh less than 40 pounds, and children between the ages of 4 and 8 years who are shorter than 4’9” must be secured in an approved, properly used child safety seat.
  • If you have questions about obtaining a driver’s license, insurance, buying/selling a car, or have received a citation, schedule an appointment to meet with a Student Legal Services’ attorney.

Getting an Ohio Driver’s License

You must have a valid license to drive in Ohio. Generally, an International Driver License will not be considered a valid license by law enforcement in and around Ohio State. Review the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws at bmv.ohio.gov/forms-general.aspx. This manual contains directions on how to obtain a driver’s license and lists offices where you can take both a written exam and driving test to receive your license.

Before getting your driver’s license, you must get a Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card. Bring the following documents with you to a license agency in order to obtain a temporary permit: proof that you have or will reside in Ohio (a letter of admission from Ohio State will meet this requirement for new students); a valid, unexpired passport; a printed copy of your I-94 card and one of the following: I-20, DS-2019, I-9 or letter from an employer stating that you are working in a valid non-immigrant status.

While driving with a Temporary Instruction Permit, you must have a passenger in the front seat of the car who is a licensed driver, is over the age of 21 and is not impaired by alcohol or other drugs. After completing twenty-four hours driving practice, you must complete the Twenty-Four Hour Affidavit found at bmv.ohio.gov/forms. You can have the form notarized at Student Legal Services—call or go online to schedule an appointment.

A designated practice driving area is available on campus. Students may check out a weekend driver’s pass and a BMV manual from 140 Enarson Classroom Building on Fridays between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. only. To check out the materials and receive the location of the practice driving area, students will need to bring a paper copy of their temporary driving permit, as well as a copy of the driver’s license of whomever will be in the car with them and their proof of auto insurance. By state law, that person much be age 21 or over.

Students should display the pass in the window of the car while practicing over the weekend.

If you wish to park on campus in designated lots, you will need to purchase a university parking permit. Call 614-688-0000 for more information.

State of Ohio Identification Card

This card is available to non-drivers who want a form of identification to use in place of a driver’s license. Take the same documents required for a driver’s license to 4503 Kenny Road or another license agency. You need to have lived in Ohio for 30 days to be eligible to get this card.

Social Security Number

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique, 9-digit number used for taxpayer identification, income reporting and record-keeping purposes. You may apply for an SSN if you are employed in the United States. Once issued, the number is valid for one's lifetime. If you are not employed, you may apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Steps on how to apply for an SSN is available at oia.osu.edu/employment/social-security-number.


Email Etiquette

Plan to use your Ohio State email address. It is customary to wait at least 24 hours for a response to an email. While some matters may be urgent and will be answered more promptly, most of the time, it will take your classmate, professor or OIA immigration coordinator at least one day to answer your email. Depending on people’s schedules and time constraints, it can take even longer. Also remember that American names are spoken and written with the given name first and the family name last. Someone who is named John Smith, would have Smith as their family name, not John.

Learn more tips at go.osu.edu/EmailEtiquette.

Personal Space

In the United States, people like to maintain personal space (physical distance) between themselves and others. They create an “invisible bubble” around themselves and may feel uncomfortable if others get too close. 


Ohio State has adopted a tobacco free policy that supports a healthy environment for all members of its community. The use of all types of tobacco products is prohibited in all university buildings and on all university-owned properties, including parking lots, garages and all outside areas. Students who are caught smoking on campus will be referred to Student Conduct. Learn more at tobaccofree.osu.edu.

Bias and Discrimination

Bias incidents are negative acts or behaviors motivated by bias against how another person looks or on the group, class or category to which they belong. While these acts do not necessarily rise to the level of a crime or a violation of university policy, a bias incident may contribute to creating an unsafe, negative or unwelcoming environment. If you witness or become a victim of a bias incident, report it using Ohio State’s BART website at studentlife.osu.edu/bias.


Health Insurance

International students are required to purchase the Ohio State Student Health Insurance and are automatically enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Benefits Plan, which includes medical, prescription, dental and vision coverage. You will be charged for health insurance when you register for classes, and the fees will be automatically added to your Statement of Account.

Mental Health

In general, it can be very difficult to transition to college, especially as international students. Not only may this be your first time living alone and away from your family and friends, you also must navigate a new culture and, possibly, a language. If you are experiencing mental health issues, please contact Ohio State’s Counseling and Consultation Service (CCS) at ccs.osu.edu. Counselors at CCS are available to help with:

  • Stress Management
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Relationship Problems
  • Transitions in Life
  • Identity Exploration
  • Substance Use
  • Eating Concerns
  • Feeling Overwhelmed
  • Academic Adjustment
  • Trauma

CCS is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

  • Younkin Success Center, 1640 Neil Avenue, 4th floor
  • Lincoln Tower, 1800 Cannon Drive, Suite 1030

Counseling services are offered in English, Cantonese Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and Yórùba.


Students covered under the Student Health Insurance Plan should first seek care at the Wilce Student Health Center. When the Student Health Center is closed or if the student’s spouse or children need care, a network provider should be used. You can search for a network provider at osuhealthplan.com/network-access-search.

Wilce Student Health Center

1875 Millikin Road

Should be used for most instances regarding student illness or injuries.

Emergency services

Emergency Medical Squad (EMS) Trained paramedics will arrive in a special medical van to your home. They will give advanced first aid and/or take you to the nearest hospital. Call 9-1-1, but only in an emergency.

University Hospital Emergency Room

410 W. 10th Ave. 614-293-8333

Use for emergencies only.


Ohio State offers support for students who are non-native speakers of English.

Composition courses

Most incoming international students must take the ESL Composition Placement Test, to determine placement in ESL writing coursework (for rules on exemption to the test, see esl.ehe.osu.edu/home/testing/undergraduate). Most students then test into courses offered by the ESL Composition Program. Taken in the first semesters of enrollment at Ohio State, these courses assist students in developing the writing skills necessary for success in Ohio State coursework.

Spoken English

The Spoken English Program trains and qualifies international teaching assistants. If you will work in your department as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, you may be required to enroll in Spoken English coursework. The ESL programs office also offers elective classes in spoken English to interested students at any degree level.

English Conversation Program

ECP is a program designed to help students of all backgrounds improve communication skills and make friends from all over the world. Participants are placed in groups of five or six, for weekly conversation practice and cultural exchange. There is a “Language Improvement Track” of ECP for students with a more specific interest in developing English speaking and listening skills.

Get involved!

The best way to improve your English language skills is to practice every day, and one great way to give yourself this opportunity is to get involved in campus and community organizations. Consider joining a student organization—there are over 1,300 to choose from at Ohio State! For the directory, see go.osu.edu/OrgsOhioState.