Clothing, Climate, and Culture

What should you bring (hard-to-get Indian spices) — and not bring (clothes irons, laundry hampers)? What to expect when clearing customs on your way here? What to wear to stay warm during our long winters (well-made, insulated snow boots, gloves, hat, and jacket)? Watch these videos from international Huskies like you for advice about travel, studies, and life at Michigan Tech.

Michigan Tech is in a remote area eight hours from any major city — but there are many stores where you can buy affordable essential items, including groceries and socks. Most anything else you need can be ordered online.

Things you can buy in Houghton

  • Toiletries like soap, hair-care products, and toothpaste. If you bring travel sizes to use for the first few days you will not have to go shopping right away. We recommend bringing travel-sized moisturizer, sunscreen, and lip balm at least for the first few days.
  • Bedding: Pillows, blankets, and sheets.
  • Cooking utensils like pots and pans, plates, cutlery, glasses, mugs, etc. If you live in any of the university-owned housing arrangements (such as Daniell Heights or any of the East Street houses), you are more than likely to get standard kitchen appliances like microwave, refrigerator, oven with cooktop, blender. If you live in an off-campus housing, make sure to speak with the landlord beforehand about what is provided and what isn't.
  • Winter clothing, including snow jacket, gloves, and snow boots. Houghton weather receives an average of 200 inches of snow from November through April! During winter, even daytime temperatures can be below freezing (like -5oC or 23oF). At night, it can drop as low as -20oC or -4oF. Be prepared! Do not disregard the importance of snow boots! Without proper boots, walking on campus and getting to class can be extremely difficult and dangerous as well.

Bring these from home

  • If you use glasses or contact lenses, bring at least two pairs — they are more expensive the US.
  • Medicines and prescriptions — fill your prescriptions before coming, and bring your prescription slips with you for future refills and for US Customs inspection.
  • Have dental and eye examinations before you come, because these might not be covered in the US by your insurance.
  • Personal items that remind you of home — posters, photos, and other momentos—will help you settle into your new home.
  • If you like to cook, bring international food items and spices. Just be sure to check US Customs and Immigration policy to see what you are allowed to bring. Generally fresh fruits, vegetables, animal products, rice, pulses, tea leaves, etc are not permitted. Certain cooking utensils like traditional pressure cookers, woks, etc are hard to get in the US (even if they are available, they are expensive), so you may want to bring those.

More what-to-wear advice

  • Jewelry — Do not bring anything extremely valuable. Pack your jewelry in carry-on luggage so nothing is lost or stolen.
  • Cultural/ethnic clothing —You’ll have opportunities throughout the year, including the Parade of Nations and multicultural festival, to wear traditional clothing, and teach American friends about your country.
  • Casual or business-casual dress is common at Michigan Tech, and most places in the area have no dress code. But there are times when you need an outfit for more formal occasions like an awards ceremony, internship interviews or events, Career Fair, and your graduation reception.

For men

Bring pants and a suit coat or a suit, a tie (sometimes optional but good to be prepared), a dress shirt (long-sleeved with collar and buttons), and dress shoes (like loafers or Oxfords).

For women

Pants and dress shirt or dress/skirt/suit and dress shoes.

About gifts or presents

Some students bring a few small, inexpensive gifts for mentors, academic advisors, host families, new friends, or other helpful people. It is not expected or required, so please do not feel obligated.

If you decide you want to bring something, presents that represent your country are a special way to give.