The Complete Guide to Living in West Lafayette

We’ve surveyed our current students and asked them to share with us, things that they started doing once they’d accepted admission, or resources they found to be helpful as new students, arriving to campus for the first time.  So, we’ve included their feedback in the accumulated resources and added some of our own, and hope you find it helpful, as you start your campus experience!  (Please note that we are not endorsing any particular vendor and they are not listed in any particular order; you should always check out on your own their hours, etc. as things may change from when this list was released.)   As you come across new resources you feel would be helpful to share with our students, please let us know by sending an email to Sheri Tague:

Secure housing

Purdue doesn’t offer grad student housing, so you’ll need to find off-campus housing.  Plan and secure a place early, as there is limited housing available. Most grad students either live in Lafayette or north of campus, near Walmart, in West Lafayette.  The closer you are to campus, the more expensive it will be. Most big apartment properties away from campus are on the CityBus route, which offers free rides to Purdue students.

Many landlords rent by the room and do roommate matching.

Some resources to use, other than individual apartment complex websites:

Please read over all contractual paperwork closely, and follow the rules.  It’s always best if you can visit in person, before committing, but that’s not always possible.  Ask about what is important to you—are there washer/dryers in the rooms or is there a general laundry on site; do the rooms have lights in them or will you need to provide lamps, what internet service are you limited to, if any; what transportation is available (some may provide a shuttle to campus, is it directly on the CityBus routes or how close is the closest bus stop);  quality and timeliness of maintenance if needed; are there any hidden or extra fees you should be aware of; parking availability (if you’ll have a car);

When you do arrive at your rental, take pictures when you first move in of all the rooms, appliances, etc. to show the condition at move in.   Document everything!  This will help you down the road, get your full security deposit back, if there’s no additional damage done while you’ve living in the space.  Per Indiana law, landlords must give you an itemized receipt of deductions from your security deposit, and return the remainder of the deposit within 45 days of move out.

Purdue Student Legal Services is a great FREE resource, if ever needed.

Watch for the Purdue Housing Fair which will usually be advertised around campus and in the Purdue Exponent which has an online presence and offers free hard copies around campus.   Various housing vendors attend and provide information on what they offer, but also usually have various freebies at their tables.  You may find better housing options for you for the future.

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Suggestions for what to possibly bring (or not bring) with you to campus

We sent out a survey to our existing graduate students about what they thought was helpful and not helpful to bring to campus, and here’s how they responded:

Some things to think about bringing with you:

  • High performance laptop for both study and entertainment, possibly electronic tablet as well
  • Favorite snacks if you’re not sure they’re available near campus
  • Winter clothes, especially warm coat/hat/gloves/snow boots—it can get very cold here during the winter months, but you should always dress in layers.
  • Waterproof boots
  • Comfortable foot wear, as you will do a lot of walking
  • Unusual cooking appliances, if you use any (ex: pressure cooker).  You can always bring more kitchen items, but it’s recommended for standard items (plates, utensils, etc) to consider purchasing here so you don’t have to transport a lot, as there are several places to purchase these rather cheaply, especially during all the back-to-school sales or the second-hand stores. (see the shopping section)
  • Driver’s license from your home country, if you have one
  • Photos, things that help you relax and/or related to your hobbies (like musical instrument if you play, specialized sports equipment, etc), artifacts from travel/life experiences as they can help remind you of home, can bring peace, and may also help be conversation starters with peers/co-workers.
  • Cell phone
  • Scientific calculator of your brand choice
  • Motivation and lots of energy to get the most out of Purdue. 😊

Some things to think about not bringing with you:

  • Too many clothes and utensils (bring basics, and if you find you need more, consider purchasing once you’re on campus (see the shopping section of this guide)
  • Bicycle (see transportation section of this guide)
  • Undergrad notes and text books (a lot of respondents did and it was a big regret as they never used them; most text books can be found through Purdue libraries)
  • Be careful on bringing various appliances as the voltages may not be the same as here in the U.S. (see shopping section of this guide)
  • Utensils, cups, notebooks, etc (a lot of these things can be purchased here cheaply; see shopping section of this guide)
  • Expectations—don’t limit yourself before even arriving on campus, come with an open mind, ready to explore and pursue new experiences.

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Purdue’s campus is relatively large and you will have opportunities to cover most of it at one time or another.  There are a lot of ‘highlights’ to see and a lot of greenery most of the year, so it’s a very beautiful campus and sightseeing can be a great way to exercise and relax.   Besides walking, there are some other transportation alternatives to consider:

Bikes/Scooters.   Even though the campus is bicycle-friendly and big, and, it was suggested that you might not want to bring your bike, it is entirely up to you.   International students might want to look into the SLCF Bike Loan program.  All students have the opportunity to work with Veo, which Purdue has partnered with to rent scooters, sit-down scooters, and bicycles anywhere you find them around town.  You’ll rent through their app.

There are over 30 miles of paved trails for walking, running, and biking in West Lafayette.  Please see the city’s website, West Lafayette’s, for maps, biking and scooter rules, road signage etc.

If you do bring your personal bike, you should check out how to register it, just in case you ever need any assistance with it.

CityBus.  Offers free rides to Purdue students with a valid Purdue photo ID.  Most are equipped with the capability of transporting your bike as well, if needed.  This is especially useful if the weather changes suddenly or you’re ready to leave campus and head off to your non-campus apartment or somewhere else off campus.  This is probably not the quickest method, but they offer real-time GPS tracking of busses and offer an app you can use on your phone.   This is a great method of transportation for getting to all those off-campus sites, especially those that are back in Lafayette, as long as they’re close to a bus route.   They do not run 24/7, so do make sure to check their hours.  Check out their website for the various routes they offer as well, as sometimes you may have to switch buses to get to a specific destination. 

Personal Vehicle.  If you’re planning to bring your own personal vehicle to campus, familiarize yourself with the parking garages or lots on campus that are associated with the sticker-type (B or C) that most students can get, as it’s very unusual for a grad student to be able to receive a A-permit.  Purdue University Parking’s website, covers a lot of useful information, including traffic and parking regulations, parking map, parking portal, and tells you how to apply for a parking permit.

You’ll want to make sure you have current automobile insurance when driving in Indiana, as it is against the law if you don’t, and there are penalties.

Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is the official government agency that issues driver’s licenses and identification cards, as well as titles to vehicles.

Indiana has started implementing roundabouts in more intersections throughout the state and there are several in the West Lafayette/Lafayette area.  The City of West Lafayette, has released information on how to correctly drive when you encounter a Roundabout intersection, and even includes a helpful video.

Indiana celebrates four seasons of weather, although sometimes it might seem like you’re experiencing more than one season in a day.   It’s been known to be fall-like during the morning and early afternoon, and then drop drastically to colder temperatures throughout the evening.   While we don’t have snow and/or ice constantly during the winter months, we will have days where you’ll encounter it.  If you’re going to have a personal vehicle, we thought it would be helpful to provide these resources on winter driving safety tips, from the Indiana Department of Transportation, and the Indiana State Police.  But, unless there’s an emergency, if the roads are really bad due to weather, consider staying off of them and stay home and be safe, as most local residents will do, or consider taking CityBus if they’re running and you really need to get somewhere off campus.  Watch local news station, WLFI News 18, for information on weather and road conditions, as well as business/event closings due to weather.

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Grocery Shopping

Our current graduate students have shared how important it is to cook for yourself to save money, and have shared the resources we’ll list below, but this is not an all-inclusive list and stores may come and go, depending on the economy.  Use your networking with other students as well as the internet to find out the most recent information on a store, but this will give you a good starting point on what to expect in the local area.

  • Payless/Kroger—there are a few locations around town, but the West Lafayette location is pretty large and offers a variety of food options, and is on a CityBus route.  You can find their sale flyers online.  If you sign up for their membership card (free), you get discounts on various items, and some coupons are mailed to you on a monthly basis, based on what you normally shop for.  If you sign up for their credit card, which can be used anywhere that accepts Mastercard, it’ll be tied to your membership number, and you also get dollars back in ‘cash coupons’ every quarter, that can be used toward future Payless purchases.    Most Payless locations also have their own gas station, and you get discounts on their gas by being a member.  For a fee, you can order to pick up in their parking lot, and they’ve also implemented delivery.  Payless has a pharmacy on site, and a Walgreens within walking distance in the same retail center. 
  • Fresh Thyme—there are two locations in town, but the West Lafayette one is the biggest.  It’s a smaller store than others, but offers a lot of organic options.   They have a membership program (free) that allows you to access discounts and special offers, etc.  You can find their sales flyer online.
  • Walmart Supercenter—there are multiple locations around town, but the West Lafayette is most frequented by Purdue students due to location and is located on a CityBus route.  Offers both grocery items as well as clothing, household goods, auto care center, vision center, pharmacy, and garden center.  For a fee, you can order online and pick up in the parking lot, or have items delivered.  If interested, they have a credit card program, that can be used anywhere that Mastercard is accepted, but allows you to earn cash back on purchases.
  • Meijer—Similar to Walmart, but located farthest out on US 231 in West Lafayette, it offers grocery as well as clothing, household goods, pharmacy, etc.  It also has a gas station.  They have a membership program (free) that will allow you to get discounts on certain items and earn points on purchases.
  • Sam’s Club—Located in Lafayette, off State Road 26; probably a 15-20 minute drive from campus, depending on traffic.  It is also on a CityBus route.  Requires a membership, but look for membership deals for Purdue students, and especially around back-to-school time and holidays.   This is a store where you buy things in bulk, similar to a Costco, if you’re familiar with those stores.   They offer some items with same-day delivery.  Depending on your membership level, free shipping on most items may be available.  You can order online and they’ll have the items pulled for pickup, as well.  They have an auto & tire center, pharmacy and bakery.  If you’re buying items in bulk, this usually has the better prices.   They have a fully cooked rotisserie chicken for $4.98 USD.  If you become a member, watch for special sales they have throughout the year to save even more on certain items.
  • Aldi—Very small grocery store in comparison to other big chain stores, but great prices.  Has two locations in town, one in West Lafayette, but neither are located on the CityBus routes.  To keep prices so low, they don’t offer free bags to bag your groceries, so bring your own or purchase theirs.  Does offer curbside pickup and delivery to some areas.  You can view their weekly ad online.  You do need to have a quarter with you, to ‘rent’ their shopping cart, but it’s returned to you, when you return the cart.
  • Target—Has a very small store on State Street in West Lafayette, or a Supercenter in Lafayette, off State Rd 26.   The small store is a little pricier than the larger store and offers limited selection, but could be a great solution if you just need to pick up something on campus really quick.  You can sign up for their ‘Red Card’ as a debit or credit card, and it offers you 5% discount on purchases and special discounts throughout the year.  Target Supercenter offers grocery items, clothing, household goods, etc.  They do offer a pickup option and sometimes there are extra discounts offered when you order something via the pickup versus shop for it in the store.
  • D&R Market—This small store has been around for a long time in Lafayette; it’s across from Lowe’s in a small shopping center, out east off of State Road 26.  They also have a smoked BBQ restaurant nearby that they operate, as well as a catering service.  You can find their sales ad online.  They do their own butchering, and do custom meat cuts for international foods if you call them in advance and tell them what you need.  They offer packages of meat at a discount savings.  They offer fresh meat and fish options, specialty cheeses and other delicacies.   This is one store you can find Morrel mushrooms when they’re in season, but despite their cost, they sell out fast.  
  • Buetler Meats--Offers beef and pork processing, but has a small retail store on site where you can purchase fresh butchered pork and beef products, cheeses, frozen fruits, etc.  If you’re lucky enough to have large freezer storage, you can also purchase a full side (half) or quarter of a steer, which is cost-efficient.  Located in downtown Lafayette, just across the river from campus.  They have been in the same spot, since 1967, although in business since 1953.  
  • Boilermaker Butcher Block—offers a small retail store on campus, as they sell premium meats raised and processed by Purdue Animal Sciences students.  You can subscribe to their email list, and get the latest on what they’ve offering.  Product selection varies based on what they have to process.  Limited hours available. 
  • Sunspot Natural Market—located in West Lafayette, health food store specializing in natural, local, and organic grocery items, supplements, and body care products.
  • International Specialty Markets—Because of Purdue’s diverse population, there are various international specialty markets around the area, including in the Chauncey Square area near campus.   It would be best for you to search the internet for what you’re looking for as new ones may open, but we’ll list out a few here that our grad students have shared with us (but please confirm their hours, etc online):
  • Asia Global Market—recommended by our students as great and cheap for good rice and noodles and other essentials.
  • Indian & International Grocery-recommended by our students for specialty spices selection.
  • Safari Global Market—African & Caribbean market
  • Mama’ Ines Mexican Bakery-offers delicious traditional Mexican bakery items.

Food Pantries—If you’re experiencing food insecurity, there are various food pantries in the area; check online for details.  We’ve listed a few below:

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Clothes Shopping

One thing you can count on is the Indiana weather changes on a regular basis, but students also shared that they wished they’d not brought all the clothing they did, when they first arrived to campus. 

We’ve had feedback shared that our students do online shopping to meet a lot of their needs.  But, if you’re interested in some local stores, which mostly will be found on the Lafayette side, unless you’re looking for the clothing section of Walmart, Meijer, or Target (limited section at campus store) the below list has been shared: (Check out each store’s websites as a lot offer shopper reward programs where you can earn future discounts on purchases.)

  • TJ Maxx and Burlington Factory—located in Lafayette Pavilions off State Rd 26 East and also offers a lot of other stores and restaurants, and a Fresh Thyme Market (groceries), students feel they offer quality apparel, shoes & accessories, housewares, etc, for cheaper prices.  Burlington is said to have great prices especially for winter clothes shopping, especially winter coats.  Both are said to carry decent business and casual clothes and name brand items.  Clearance or sales, make their selections even more affordable.
  • Tippecanoe Mall, has anchor stores of JC Penny’s, Kohl’s, Macy’s, but also smaller stores like H&M, Old Navy, etc.
  • Discount Den—They’ve been a campus staple for a number of years, and good source for Purdue gear and their famous Den Pop (large soda).
  • Target—They have a smaller location near campus, but for bigger selection, you’ll need to go on to the Lafayette location, or order online.   The Lafayette location, also has a Goodwill store located near it, and it’s just down the road from the Lafayette Pavilion shops and Sam’s Club, and Lowe’s Home Improvement stores.
  • Von’s—Campus icon and known for their book shop, but they also carry unique items and some clothing items.  It’s worth it just to stop in and check out what they do have, especially since they’re so close to campus.  
  • Men’s Warehouse—also located in Lafayette Pavilions, but specific to men’s clothing and accessories.  Watch for their sales!
  • Events/Fairs around campus—Purdue and various student groups hold various events and fairs around campus that sometimes give out free t-shirts, etc.   Check them out, especially any open career fair!   You may find things listed on the PU Events Calendar, the Purdue Grad School calendar, listed in the Purdue Today newsletter, etc.  Keep your eyes and ears open for notices!
  • Used Clothing, etc—these are stores which receive pre-owned goods, so selection varies, but you can usually find some good deals locally, if you’re interested in clothing, furniture, housewares, etc:
  • Purdue CCO—if you’re needing career clothing for an interview, etc., check out the Purdue Center for Career Opportunities Career Closet.   They may have suiting attire for you at no-cost, but you must make an appointment in advance.
  • Goodwill—there’s one location in West Lafayette, but several locations on the Lafayette-side.   Selection varies by store.
  • Plato’s Closet—this is a store that sells on consignment, so if you’re interested in selling some of your clothing, this may be an option for you as well.
  • Salvation Army Family Store-- (proceeds go to the Salvation Army to help out locally those in need)  Similar to the Goodwill stores, they offer a mix of items, including clothing, books, DVDs, household goods, furniture, etc.  Students have shared this is a great place to find decent and practical cookware for a cheap price.

You’ll probably have your own favorites, but some online vendors that have been shared to check out:

  • Adidas, Zara, Hollister, Fabletics, Amazon
  • Spier & MacKay—great quality suits for around $300 USD;  you can get it tailored to fit perfectly.
  • Charles Tyrwhitt—shirts, but they play games with pricing so keep an eye out for their 3 for $99 deals.

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Specialty Stores

We’ve tried to incorporate specialty food and clothing stores into their respective categories, so we don’t just keep repeating things all over.   Here we’ll list specialty stores that have been shared, but don’t seem to fit into the food or clothing categories:

  • Purdue Surplus Store---on campus, easy to get to even without a car, limited hours, but offers bikes, furniture, and other things that are being recycled from campus building remodeling, or where departments have unused items they’d like to get rid of, etc. for very cheap prices. 
  • Purdue University Bookstore—Text books and more.
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods—located at Tippecanoe Mall, offers athletic equipment, apparel, shoes, etc.
  • Virtuous Cycles—offers new and used bicycles, repairs, parts and accessories.
  • Second Flight Books and Main Street Books both are located in Lafayette and offer new/used books and gifts.
  • Merrell’s Furniture 1—used + new furniture, affordable basics.  One student shared that they bought their bed frame, dresser and couch here for a very reasonable price.
  • Restore--Habitat for Humanity of Lafayette—offers new and gently used furniture, appliances, home improvement products, building materials at a fraction of retail prices.  Proceeds benefits Habitat for Humanity.
  • Sell It Here (flea Market as customers can purchase booths to sell their items)—lots of interesting items for sale; selection changes every few months.  One student shared they found an inexpensive LayZBoy recliner here.
  • Lazy Cat Lounge—cat café downtown Lafayette.   Great place for people who aren’t allergic to cats to get some stress relief by playing or petting an animal, but can’t due to apartment restrictions.   Offers a student discount.
  • All Fired Up—pottery painting place; good for date nights or homemade gifts.   Has daily discounts, but can be expensive depending on what you select to paint.
  • Dollar General and Dollar Tree stores around Lafayette and West Lafayette offer many food items, household cleaning items, office supplies and party supplies, at reduced costs.  
  • Ollies Bargain Outlet—Currently only located in Lafayette, just past the Tippecanoe Mall, offers various discounted items, most from overstock purchased from other big chain stores.   They have great prices on new books, but selection will vary.
  • Once Upon a Child—If you’ve got children and are looking for a shop that buys and sells gently used clothes, shoes, toys, etc, then check out this shop in Lafayette.

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Medical Treatment in the US

Please Note:  if you ever find yourself or a friend in a life-threatening medical emergency, call 9-1-1 for emergency services (police/fire/paramedics)

The US medical system is complicated and can be confusing, even to those of us that have lived here all our lives.  Medical care is very expensive in the U.S. and people are expected to pay for it themselves.   A simple procedure can cost thousands of dollars.  If you end up needing a procedure, you’ll receive bills from the hospital, the various doctors involved, labs, medicines, etc.  International students are required to purchase Purdue student health insurance which can help offset high health care costs.  Read your Student Health Insurance policy over and make sure you’re aware of what is covered and what is not, where you can go for treatment, etc. well before you’ll need medical assistance.

Medical insurance is intended to help you keep your costs as low as possible, especially against a serious illness or injury that might normally cost thousands of dollars.  For each injury or sickness, you are responsible for a portion of every medical bill, called a ‘co-pay’ (co-payment) or ‘deductible’.  

‘Co-pay’ is a flat fee that you pay at the time you go to your doctor or fill a prescription.   ‘Deductible’ is the amount of money you must pay out of your own pocket toward a covered claim, before your insurance plan starts to pay.   For example, a $1,000 USD deductible, means you pay the first $1,000 of covered services yourself.  After you reach your annual deductible, you usually then only pay a co-pay or coinsurance for covered services and your insurance company pays the rest.  There could be separate deductibles for certain services, like prescription drugs.   You must follow what your insurance plan covers in terms of providers, prescription drug coverage, etc, in order for them to pay any amount.  Not all procedures, labs, or tests may be covered, so READ, READ, READ, and ASK questions before agreeing to a lab or procedure to know what your financial responsibility will be.   There should be a toll-free number with your insurance policy so that you can always call the company and ask specifics in regards to your proposed medical treatment and what your plan covers.

Make sure that your medical care provider will accept your health insurance before seeing them, or you’ll be responsible for all costs associated with the visit.  Make sure you know when you’ve met your deductible so you know what your financial responsibility will be going forward. 

Sometimes you may be expected to pay the entire amount up-front, and then submit a claim to the insurance company for reimbursement of the insurance-covered expense.  Always be prepared to pay the entire bill any time that you receive medical care or buy prescription medicine, just in case.  Always make sure to bring your health insurance ID card with you anytime you are requesting medical services or picking up prescription medicine, as sometimes a medical provider will call the insurance company to verify that you have insurance, but they’ll also need that information for your medical file.   Always remember to get a detailed statement of your bill before you leave the medical office for your records, or in case you need it to submit a claim to your insurance company.

Medical Services Terminology

Primary Care Physician (PCP) is a health care professional who practices medicine.   Usually this should be your first stop for routine medical care.  Most PCPs are doctors, but nurse practitioners and physician assistants can sometimes also be PCPs.

It’s usually cheaper to establish a primary care physician that accepts your medical insurance than visiting Urgent Care facilities.  Please understand that you should only go to Urgent Care or the Emergency Room, if it’s an actual urgent need.   Obviously, if you’re in a medically life-threatening situation, you should get to the Emergency Room.  If you are unable to get transported to the emergency room yourself, you (or someone) should dial ‘9-1-1’ as that is the telephone number that will take you to the 911 call enter who coordinates emergency services for the area and will send out police/fire/ambulance to your location to render initial assistance and stabilize you for transport to the hospital.

Don’t be surprised if you can’t get an appointment for the same day you need assistance with your primary care physician.   Sometimes, you might be more successful if you call first thing in the morning as there’s a chance they’ll block off a few appointment times later in the day for ‘emergencies’, but there’s no guarantee.   For non-emergency issues, expect to wait a bit for an appointment time.

Most primary care physicians will require you to meet with them for a ‘wellness’ check before they will take you officially on as a patient, as they want to be able to establish a baseline of your medical condition.   So, once on campus, try to set yourself up with a primary care physician, so you can get this ‘wellness’ appointment done before you actually need their services when you’re sick.

Walk-In Clinics/Urgent Care—These are facilities that allow you to walk-in for treatment where an appointment isn’t always necessary.   However, you’ll want to check the facilities polices, as since COVID, sometimes it is necessary to schedule an appointment to be seen that day.   These are staffed with doctors/nurses who treat minor health problems and most allow for X-rays and other diagnostic procedures to be done on site.  These should not be confused with a hospital emergency room.

Hospital Emergency Room—located at full hospitals and these are the most expensive places to obtain medical care, so should not be used for routine illnesses.   Your insurance is likely to pay for visits here, if you have a serious, life-threatening medical emergency such as traumatic injury, breathing problems, high fever, serious burns or an urgent need when other walk-in care facilities are closed.  

Ambulances—Only use an ambulance if emergency medical procedures may be needed along the way, as ambulance transportation costs hundreds of dollars.   Your insurance may only cover part of the ambulance fee, and even then, only if the ambulance was needed for a true medical emergency.  For serious, but non-life-threatening health problems, use a less expensive form of transportation, like a taxi or ask a friend to take you to the hospital, etc.

Medical billing can take a while to process, as they’ll run things through your insurance company to see what they will pay, so don’t be surprised if you receive a statement several months after receiving services, showing that your insurance didn’t cover the full fees and requesting you to pay the balance of what is still outstanding.

Be aware that currently this is no hospital in West Lafayette, although Purdue is working on getting one established.  Lafayette has several hospitals, including Franciscan and IU Health. PUSH and other medical facilities in West Lafayette are not equipped for a lot of things, so make sure if you’re visiting them, it is for something they can actually handle.

Well-Being Resources

  • PUSH (Purdue University Student Health Service)—On campus health care provider who can provide primary care as well as ongoing care for chronic conditions.
  • Purdue University Student Health Insurance
  • Purdue University Pharmacy—On campus pharmacy, located next to PUSH, and offers a variety of services besides filling prescriptions, including clinical services like routine vaccinations, flue s hots, etc., as well as offering a variety of non-prescription, over-the-counter medications.  They also have two vending machines located on campus that provide 24/7 access to various over-the-counter items.
  • CAPS—Purdue’s Counseling & Psychological Services, offers short- to mid-term counseling and therapy services for students, and online resources.  Most services at CAPS is provided to students at no charge, but there are a few services that do have fees associated with them.
  • Task-Human—Purdue has partnered with TaskHuman, a mobile app that helps you achieve your personal wellness goals, including life coaching, stress management, and more, all on your phone, for free!
  • WellTrack boost (interactive self-help therapy)
  • Steps to Leaps—offer seminars and self-improvement tools to bolster student fortitude and success; seminars are usually offered live but recorded as well for viewing later.
  • CVS Pharmacy—is located close to campus off Northwestern Ave by the stadium and allows for in-store shopping, in-store pharmacy, and they also offer delivery.
  • There are other pharmacy locations in Lafayette and West Lafayette that you can check out if they’re more convenient to where you live.   You can always find pharmacies within the Meijer, Walmart, Payless Grocery stores, but there are also stand-alone CVS, Walgreens, and other independent pharmacies within the area.
  • Purdue Recreation & Wellness (known as Co-Rec or RecWell)—There is a fee involved, but this amazing on-campus facility offers A LOT of opportunities to stay physically, mentally, and financially fit.  You should at least take an in-person tour and check out all that it has to offer (virtual tour)—from various wellness programs, massage & light therapy, personal training and fitness certifications, one-on-one wellness/nutrition/financial coaching, club and intramural sports, dance, fitness, workout equipment, aquatics, climbing & bouldering, safety training and so much more!
  • West Lafayette Wellness Center—A West Lafayette Parks & Recreation Center, that offers aquatics and fitness programs and has a membership fee.
  • Lilly Nature Center & Celery Bog Nature Area—Free.  Close to campus and offers paved trails (bicycling permitted) and natural paths through woods, savanna and prairie.    West Lafayette has other community parks as well, including Happy Hollow Park which is also close to campus and offers trails, shelters, and a playground area.
  • Purdue Horticulture Park—located west of campus it offers a nice escape to relax and enjoy nature.

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Social Media Recommendations

Students have shared the following social media platforms to consider using to connect to various Purdue student groups, like Purdue, Mechanical Engineering, OMEGA, Purdue Graduate School, Purdue Grad Student Government, etc., or to keep in touch with those back home:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • GroupMe
  • WhatsApp
  • Discord
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • ME Grad Student blog
  • WeChat
  • Slack

Here are ME’s specific social media links:

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School Spirit

You’re now a Boilermaker, so check out the various Purdue traditions, including the official fight song ‘Hail Purdue’, school colors, mascots, etc.  Check out other ‘can’t-miss traditions for new Boilermakers’ that students have shared, or traditions and oddities.  You can find ‘150 things to Love About Purdue’, in the Purdue Alumnus newletter.

When attending Purdue football games or other sporting activities, be prepared in advance for the various traditions and jargon, you’ll encounter.

You can find Purdue-logo apparel at various shops around campus.  Directly across from Mackey Arena, is the University Bookstore.  Within a few blocks of that, are multiple stores offering a wide array of Boilermaker clothing, Follett’s Bookstore, Discount Den, and Von’s Shops.  But, you may also find official Purdue logo merchandise in standard retail stores around the area like Walmart, Meijer, Target, etc.   You can also check out the official Purdue Team Store for online purchases.

If you’re part of a research lab, check with the lab’s student organization, as a lot of times they’ll offer lab-specific Purdue apparel and other merchandise throughout the year as a fundraiser for the organization.

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How to meet other Grad Students

Go to campus ‘meet & greets’ and other events, to meet fellow students.  Socializing is important and will greatly improve your Purdue experience.   The School of Mechanical Engineering (ME) will usually offer at least one event each month, but also watch the Grad School Newsletter which is emailed out every Friday, and Purdue Today for events held around campus.  Get involved with OMEGA, ME’s graduate student association as they hold various activities throughout the year, can help you with PhD area exams, and there are leadership opportunities as well.  Subscribe to the ME grad blog, as event notifications the Grad Office receives will be posted there. 

Talk or get together for lunch, with senior students in your lab, class, etc as their advice and guidance is precious and will save you a lot of time in the long run.

Find a hobby and a build a daily routine.  Join a club or organization.  One student shared they are in the Purdue Outing Club, and some of their friends are in rocketry clubs, etc.  These opportunities give you a structured activity to look forward to and to meet friends, even if it is largely undergrads in the club.  There are grad student organizations that do some things as well and are also nice to join.  Just check out what interests you and get involved!

The various churches, mosques, and other religious centers will offer events during Welcome week and throughout the year.  Check around what is offered on campus,

Purdue has several cultural centers that you should check out as they are open to everyone, not just members of that specific culture.  They host a variety of activities and events throughout the year and offer a great place to learn new things and meet new people.  You can also check out the Office of Graduate Diversity Initiatives (OGDI) newsletter for other event opportunities. 

Women in Engineering programming is open to all races, genders, and backgrounds, and host interesting events throughout the year.

Boilerlink provides information on various student organizations and events on campus.  You can search for specific ethnic/cultural organizations, or by graduate and professional student organizations, or by specific athletic or hobby interest, or in many other ways, to find what you interest you and give you the opportunity to make connections.

SAO (Student Activities and Organizations) provides information on various organizations and events happening around campus and there’s even an app you can add to your phone so you can easily find out what’s going on.

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Advice students wanted to share

  • Do your homework for classes early on; don’t postpone it to the last minute.  Most courses will require homework, and have mid-terms and final exams or projects.
  • Indiana weather can get really cold.  If you have issues with heating in your residence, get it fixed ASAP as most property maintenance is slow to respond.  Dress in layers, so don’t just rely on one winter coat.
  • Don’t try to be a super-hero; try to be a regular person and people will respect you for it.   On the other hand, stand up for yourself and have difficult conversations right away, as it only gets harder over time, especially after you’ve been going along with it.
  • Don’t try to please a crowd, do what is best for you.
  • Be patient with yourself.  Grad School isn’t like undergrad, and you will never know everything.  Do your best, Purdue is determined to help you succeed and graduate.  If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask.
  • Don’t spend the entire day working (like inside your lab or library).  Explore the campus, meet new people, and learn new things from them.
  • The first year is the hardest, but stick with it.  After the first year, it gets better.
  • Treat your graduate studies like a job and you will be successful.  Classes and progress in your research are important.  Classes will take time even though you may only take two classes a semester plus your research.  Be sure you keep research a priority and make a schedule if you need one to stay on track with your deliverables.
  • Start strong but don’t be too stressed out.  Your research professor expects you to have an adjustment period, but be confident in your work during that time as well.   Don’t be afraid to communicate with your research professor, when needed.  
  • Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to your peers.   People learn material at different rates, especially material related to your research.   You belong at Purdue, or you would not have been admitted!
  • Don’t stress it if you feel like you will know no one, when arriving to campus.   You will gradually get to know people and create a friend group.  Give it time.  Take care of yourself.
  • Collaboration is encouraged as long as it is helping you learn the subject faster, but cheating is not allowed.
  • Enjoy life.  School is not everything.  Go out, relax, workout, eat well, sleep well. 
  • Keep a work-life balance.  Use the mental support options on campus and leisure activities the university offers.
  • Learn to cook.  Aim to cook almost everyday for your physical, mental and financial health.
  • There are resources for almost everything, but it may take time to find the right department.  Start with the ME grad office and they’ll be happy to help you find what you need.
  • Take advantage of the free ME research seminars offered, as they’re great for networking, but also for learning about others research.  Other seminars will be offered as well, and any the ME grad office is notified on, will be posted on the ME Grad Blog.

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Business Office Resources

ME Business Office, ME 2007G –  They can help you with any financial questions, from things related to your assistantship offer, to credit card purchasing, etc.

College of Engineering Employment Center – process all PU-funded and fellowship offers and notifies the bursars’ office of which students are entitled to tuition/fee remits (grad staff payroll).  If you are PU-funded on a fellowship or assistantship, you should contact them, if there’s any issue with tuition/fee remits being applied to your account.

This is the office that will initiate the first contact with you, when they process your PU-funding offer and will provide information to you as to how to complete the I-9, request a social security number, etc.  If PU-funded, once on campus, you’ll make arrangements with them to confirm your I-9 documents before your 3rd day of employment, otherwise your employment will be terminated.  If you ever need to extend your I-20, which will require proof of funding, this office can provide you with that information if you are PU-funded.

College of Engineering Purchasing Center (travel/purchasing) may be who you would need to contact if you encounter purchasing or travel questions, but you should start with the ME Business Office staff first.

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ME Resources

  • ME Grad Website—your go-to for ME policies and procedures, as it outlines just about everything you need to know administration-wise.  Review the incoming student to-do list,, and complete tasks that you can before arriving to campus, especially getting registered for your first semester as soon as you can as seats can fill up fast, and there’s a good chance that registration has already been open by the time you’ve accepted admission. 
  • ME Grad Blog—highly recommended you subscribe to this posting blog as you can subscribe for daily or weekly summaries of all new posts.  This is where we place all notices we receive that might be of interest to you, so that we don’t have to tie up your email inbox.  When you subscribe, you’ll automatically get an email of all new postings, so you don’t have to search the blog for anything new.  This is a great place to find notices on courses, funding, employment, seminars/workshops, etc.   This is also the place to find all the details/links on all our virtual meetings, including the virtual office hours!
  • ME Building Safety & Emergency Information—This is where to go to find all building safety links and policies, REM safety training, to file an injury report, etc.
  • ME Building & Technical Services—This site allows you to get information on the computer & web services in ME, request access to stuff and check out equipment, make ME room reservations, etc.  You can get information on the Project Machine Shop, 3D Print Lab, Electronics shop, and more.
  • ME Emergency Scholarship—Only residential PWL students can apply for the emergency scholarship, established for unforeseen and unavoidable emergencies that may arise while at PU-ME student. 
  • Anonymous Feedback to ME Department Head—If you feel you have feedback to share about anything ME-related, you can send an email through this link anonymously and it will be seen directly by Dr. Groll. 
  • Nominate any ME Staff Member for an Award—Students can nominate a ME staff member for a $10 gift card, in recognition of someone helping you above and beyond.  You will be asked to submit a short description of how they helped you, and that will also be shared with the staff member you’re nominating.   This is a great way to express your ‘Thanks’ for someone’s help.

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Purdue University Resources

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Professional Development

The Graduate School’s Office of Professional Development offers nearly 250 workshops annually, addressing topics such as: Communication & Networking, Mental Health, Teaching, Research, Industry & Academic Career Preparation, Grantsmanship, and more! In addition to workshops, this office hosts two major competitions, including Purdue University’s annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) research competition, and Say It In 6, a competition aimed at highlighting the Purdue graduate student experience. Looking for an opportunity to feature your research? Check out the Graduate School’s premiere graduate research magazine, InnovatED. To discover all of the professional development opportunities available to Purdue’s graduate students and postdoctoral trainees, please visit:

  • College of Engineering-Graduate Education offers a lot of professional development opportunities, including workshops, teaching experiences, mentoring information, entrepreneurship resources, job search information, and much more.  Communications Workshops: Learn about Designing and Delivering Oral Presentations; Discussing Research with Various Audiences; Effective Graphics; English for Engineers; Online Writing Groups; Overview of Academic Paper Writing; Preparing a CV; Writing a Publishable Paper, and more!
  • Purdue Writing Lab and Online Writing Lab (OWL) assist clients in their development as writers—no matter what their skill level—with on-campus consultations, online participation, and community engagement. The Purdue Writing Lab serves the Purdue, West Lafayette, campus and coordinates with local literacy initiatives. The Purdue OWL offers global support through online reference materials and services.
  • Office of Graduate Diversity Initiatives offers all students from diverse backgrounds, free innovative programs, workshops, and opportunities that enable you to thrive in a diverse, global environment
  • Purdue Graduate Student Government (PGSG) is the legislative arm of, and the dedicated advocate for, the Purdue graduate student body, and offers many events covering Life, Career, Professional Development and Community.
  • Purdue BoilerLink is the way to find various student organizations at Purdue and get involved!

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