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 For very short-term stay, these are very modest, inexpensive accommodations recommended by students/visiting scholars who have used them:

(1) Irving House, 24 Irving Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Tel. (617) 547-4600. Includes breakfast. https://www.irvinghouse.com

(2) HI Hostels International Boston

19 Stuart Street, Boston MA 02116, Tel.(617) 536-9455, bostonhostel.org/contact

In Theater district, close to Chinatown and downtown. Accessible by Red Line, Green Line and Orange Line T stations.

 (3): Rental website:




For short-term or long-term



Boston Globe: http://realestate.boston.com/section/renting/


Most popular cities: the listed price is only a rough estimation.

Somerville, Cambridge (Harvard, MIT, >$1000/month/person),

Brighton, Allston (close to BU, >$900/month/person),

Brookline (>$850/month/person), Fenway (>$1000/month/person), Jamaica Plain (close to Longwood  Medical Area, ~$800/month/person).

Not very recommended: Mission Hill

·         You will need to sign the lease with the landlord, pay the first, last month rent and deposit fee at the beginning. We would suggest you to actually see the place first before signing the long-term lease. You can ask the landlord for the fixation before making the decision. If you have any concerns, do not sign the lease until the concerns are settled.



 MTBA pass for bus and green/red/blue/orange lines: http://www.mbta.com/

 Get the free Charlie card at the T station, add value.

·         Students or staff in hospitals may have discount in monthly card.

Pay attention to the inbound and outbound train platforms, it leads to opposite directions

Inbound is always toward downtown Boston, and Outbound is away from it. In the subway system, Inbound is toward four stations: Park Street, State, Downtown Crossing and Government Center. However, this can get confusing if you are already in the city and don't know which way you are going. At every stop it will name the stop, show the color of the line and say "inbound" or "outbound". Underneath the inbound/outbound sign it will say something like "to Lechmere" or "to Boston College" for example. these stops indicate the end of the line in the direction you are going. All you need to do is find a map of the T stops, find your stop and the stop you are trying to get to. check to see which stop is at the end of the line in that direction, then get on the side that has that stop listed under the inbound or outbound sign.

 Useful bus/train tracking app: Smart ride

 Uber: Uberpool (share with other strangers) is cheaper than taxi.

 Ways to travel to New York:

4-5 hours commute travel: https://www.amtrak.com/home

4-5 hours bus travel but usually with heavy traffic, usually 7-9 hours https://www.megabus.com/


BankPick the one close to your school / company / home


Bank of America


TD bank

Citizens Bank


What do you need to open a bank account (without a social security number)?

 The USA Patriot Act says that all Banks, Credit Unions, and Savings Associations (and some non-federally regulated banks) must have specific steps for checking the id of anyone who wants to open up an account. The requirements are dierent at each bank, but most banks want proof of:


unexpired passport

birth certificate

consular ID card

government issued driver’s license

Date of Birth:

unexpired passport

birth certificate

consular ID card

government issued driver’s license

Street address:

utility bill

Army/Fleet Post Oice box number

Identification number:

Social Security number

ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number)

Employer ID

If you do not have a Social Security Number you might be able to apply for an ITIN!


How to transfer money from Hong Kong?

            You can go to a local bank (e.g. Hong Kong Bank; Hang Seng Bank etc) and purchase ‘Money Order’. The bank usually do not charge the handling fee if you have an account.

            You can also wire money using Moneygram. Link: www.moneygram.com


How to apply  for  a credit card to shop online?

            It is very different to apply for a credit card in US compared to Hong Kong.

            Credit Score is required for the application of credit card in US. There is no credit for a new US resident. The new resident has to accumulate their credit score.

            Ways to increase credit score:

1)    Get a charge card: Usually you can apply for a Macy charge card in Macy Department Store. Although it looks like a credit card, you can only do purchasing at Macy.

2)    Similarly, you can also apply for an American Express. If you have an American Express credit card in Hong Kong, you can negotiate to switch it to US.

3)    One young alum's experience: I opened  a CD deposit account in the credit union of the college that I worked. Then I negotiated with them to let me have their credit card. It took a long time for negotiation, but it worked.


Phone Carrier

 It is very important to get an inexpensive phone carrier. In general, there are 4 basic phone carriers in Boston.

1)    Verizon (www.verizon.com)

2)    AT&T (www.att.com)

3)    Sprint (www.sprint.com)

4)    T-Mobile (www.t-mobile.com)

5)    Else: Phone carrier website (very cheap) www.ctexcel.us/index_pc.jsp

 * T-Mobile has pre-paid phone card. You don’t need to have a contract and pay monthly.



 Use “Yelp” app

Chinatown: close to Green Line Boylston Station, Orange Line Chinatown station, and Red Line Downtown Crossing Station.



 Always remember that sale tax (6.25%) is usually not included in the price (except that there are no sale taxes for groceries, clothes and shoes under $175, and for prescription drugs)

Newbury Street

Prudential center

Copley place


Downtown Crossing area  (Macy's, T J Maxx, Primark)

Online: Amazon (university email address has 50% off in the annual fee for Prime: 2-day shipping)


Registration with the Chinese Consulate/ J1 Visa

1.       For protection and other services, all Chinese citizens should register with China's Consulate  immediately upon arrival in Boston.  According to the Chinese Consulate website, although registration is voluntary, it is highly recommended.


           This may be done online through the New York Service Center for Chinese Study Fellows, Inc. 紐約中國留學服務中心


2.      2.     Keep the original or E-copy of all documents/forms related to your arrival in US (visa stamps, forms associated with visas, university letters, entry/exit records etc). 
 it will also be helpful to ask the university/organizations (US and HK sides) to generate a letter to show that you have finished the program successfully.

3.   3.      For  those who are from Mainland China:  If you have J1 visa coming to US, you will be automatically subjected to 212(e) two-year home residency rule, which means you will need to go back to Mainland China to physically stay there for two years before you apply H, L, K visas or green card to come back to US again. You can apply for a waiver for this J1 if needed.



i) The two-year rule still applies even after you have changed your citizenship to HK or other countries.
 The two-year rule still applies even after you have switched to other type of visas (e.g., F1 or O type etc).
iii) If your legal permanent residence is Hong Kong when you arrive in US with J1, you may be able to get Advisory Opinion (
https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/advisory-opinions.html) to show that you are not subjected to 212(e) rule. But if the funding source for your program is directly or indirectly from the Hong Kong or U.S. government, you may still be subjected to the same rule.



Other Resources

 Association of Chinese Students and Scholars


Has an extensive online guide to life in Boston波士顿新生生活指南


Boston Universityhttp://bucssa.net/wordpress/

Northeastern Universityhttp://nucssa.org/website/

Umass Bostonhttps://www.facebook.com/umbcssa/


·         Pick-up service from the airport may be provided for newcomers at the beginning of each semester. Contact each Association of Chinese Students and Scholars for details.


Longwood Translational Medicine China Initiative (good match for Chinese scholars working in  Longwood Medical Area / Harvard Medical school)

Website: http://www.lwtransmed.org/zh/

Wechat: 长木转化医学中国计划


Mayor's Office of New Bostonians


An interactive, online database of community-based organizations that work with immigrants, refugees and newcomers in and around Boston. This comprehensive directory is searchable by name, location, population served, languages on staff, and services offered.


Useful travel website:

 Airlines: Delta, United Airlines, Jetblue, American airlines

Websites for flights/hotels:



www.studentuniverse.com Students travel website (for cheap air tickets)


If you desire answers to questions not answered above, please send email to contact@hkuaane.org

We will try our best to help you find the information you need.






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HKU Alumni Association of Boston-New England (HKUAANE)
Development & Alumni Affairs Office (DAAO)
The University of Hong Kong