Arrival Essentials


Transport from the Atlanta Airport

Depending on your budget and preference, you can choose from public transportation, ride sharing, taxis, or car rentals.

Public Transportation

The airport is directly connected to the MARTA rail system, inside the Domestic Terminal, between the North and South baggage claim areas. Taking the Marta from the airport to Villa International will require a switch from train to bus. You will take the GOLD line from the airport to the Lindberg Center Station and transfer to Bus Route 6.

Ride-Sharing Services

Uber and Lyft are available at the airport. There are designated pick-up areas at the Domestic (at the North and South economy lots) and International Terminals (lower level outside the terminal). We recommend downloading the app and adding a method of payment before arriving in Atlanta.


Taxi stands are located at the Domestic Terminal’s Ground Transportation Center and the International Terminal’s Arrivals level. Fares are metered and can be paid in cash, but it is always good to determine method of payment beforehand.

Car Rental

Multiple car rental companies operate at ATL. The Rental Car Center (RCC) is accessible via the ATL SkyTrain, which is located at the west end of the Domestic Terminal.


Public Transportation

Atlanta has a bus and train public transit system called MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority). Emory University offers a free shuttle services.


Bus Routes

MARTA bus #6 stops by Villa’s driveway and goes to the Lindbergh Metro train station. Over 90 bus routes are operated around the city. Marta On the Go app provides real-time bus and rail schedules, and you can map out your trip within the app.

Train Routes

MARTA trains connect to many key areas in Atlanta, including downtown, Midtown, Buckhead, and Decatur. Trains run every 10-20 minutes, with slightly longer intervals during late-night hours.  The main lines are the Red, Gold, Blue, and Green lines.

Fares and Tickets

A one-way fare is $2.50. Tickets can be purchases at vending machines in MARTA stations or in the MARTA app Breeze 2.0. We recommend downloading the app to reload fares.

Emory Shuttle

Routes and Schedules

The shuttle operates on multiple routes covering the main campus, residence halls, off-campus housing, and other locations such as Emory Village, Emory Decatur Hospital, Georgia Tech, and Grady Memorial Hospital. Routes and hours can be found on the Emory website here.

Service Hours

Shuttles typically run from early morning through the evening, with reduced service on weekends and holidays. Check the current schedule for exact times using the Passio Go! Website or app.

Getting a SIM Card in the US


There are three main cell service providers in the United States: Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Note that many older international phone models might not get LTE service with any carrier, as the providers use different frequencies than most countries outside North America. 5G service with a non-US phone is even less likely. If you’re not sure whether your phone is compatible, this site Will My Phone Work? may help.


Verizon has one of the largest networks. Historically, Verizon used CDMA technology, incompatible with most phones not sold by them, but has rolled out GSM-based LTE and 5G service in recent years. This means some phones sold overseas, including recent iPhones, can now use its network. However, its prepaid service costs more than the competition, and many non-Apple international phones still won’t work. Verizon is best for international visitors who know their phone is compatible and need reliable coverage in areas only Verizon serves.


AT&T has the largest and often most congested network, offering coverage throughout most of the continental United States. If you’re planning on road-tripping through lightly-populated states like Idaho, Montana, and others, you may encounter large dead spots. AT&T has shut down its 3G network, leaving LTE and 5G as the only options. The company has a whitelist of devices permitted on its network, causing potential issues for international visitors. Check their website or contact customer support for up-to-date device compatibility.


T-Mobile has less coverage in rural areas, with significant gaps in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Montana, Utah, and eastern California. However, downloads are typically faster when service is available, often exceeding AT&T’s speeds in major urban areas. T-Mobile is also shutting down older networks, leaving LTE and 5G as the only options. Any phone that doesn’t support Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) is already prohibited from being activated on T-Mobile’s network. Despite these restrictions, T-Mobile’s urban coverage, pricing, and in-store service make it a solid choice for city-bound travelers.


Several resellers offer service on AT&T and T-Mobile networks. Prices are slightly lower, often with data speed limits and poorer customer service. Availability may be limited for overseas visitors without a local address or credit card. Checking Walmart for discounted deals

Buying a SIM Card

Selling prepaid SIM cards at international airports hasn’t really caught on in the US. However, in Atlanta, there is a possibility: the InMotion store is located in Atlanta airport – Concourse A – Space A-R6. InMotion Store

Plan choices are more limited and prices are higher than what you’d pay elsewhere, but the convenience may make it worthwhile for many.

If you’d prefer to wait until you’re outside the airport, T-Mobile and AT&T stores are quite common, and even smaller places should have at least one.

The process is usually simple: confirm you’ve got an unlocked phone, specify the plan you’d like, and hand over the money. You’ll get a receipt with your phone number printed on it. It’s always worth putting the SIM in your phone and confirming it works straight away.

If you have a recent iPhone (XS or newer), there’s an even easier option. T-Mobile provides a prepaid eSIM alternative to buying a physical SIM card, aimed at those traveling in the country or otherwise wanting a short-term option. This page T-Mobile eSIM has all the details, but the basics are simple: download the app, provide basic contact and billing details, then activate the eSIM and a call, text, and data package on your phone.

Pre-paid SIM Cards

Note: You can’t always get the same deals in-store that you can online with either company. Since most international visitors will be buying their SIM from a store, I’ve focused on those options — but if you’re using T-Mobile’s eSIM option or have a US shipping address you can use, it’s worth checking out the online-only plans as well.

At both the AT&T and T-Mobile stores, the SIM card and activation were free. This isn’t always the case, however, so definitely check before committing. You’ll also pay sales tax on top of the quoted price. This ranges from nothing to nearly 10%, depending on which state you’re in at the time.

Other Systems and Cards


  • TracFone is a great provider for international phones. They have a SIM card kit for $1 with three cards: AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. They also have great plans, for example, a 30-day unlimited talk and text and 3GB of data with rollover for $30 a month.
  • TracFone on Walmart

Tello Mobile:

  • You can order online and it will take 3-5 days to have a SIM card delivered. For those who do not use a lot of data, Tello offers unlimited calls and texts and 4GB of data for less than $20.
  • Tello Mobile

Mint Mobile:

  • Mint offers plans in 3-, 6-, and 12-month allotments. Three months is usually a good way to try their service.
  • Mint Mobile

Remember: Before buying a SIM card, please check your phone compatibility either on Will My Phone Work? or at the store.


Opening a Bank Account

Steps to Opening a Bank Account

  • Choose a bank (Banks Near Emory)
  • Visit the bank
  • Provide documentation
  • Complete application
  • Initial deposit (some banks require an initial deposit; amount
  • Set up online/mobile banking for easy access to your account

Required Documents

These are common documents that may vary by bank/situation

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • I-94 Form
  • 1-20
  • Proof of Address (ask Villa staff if you require proof of residence)
  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

Health Insurance:

J-1 Visa Holders

Health Insurance Requirements:

The U.S. Department of State mandates that J-1 visa holders (and their J-2 dependents) have health insurance that meets specific criteria:

  • Medical Benefits: At least $100,000 per accident or illness.
  • Repatriation of Remains: $25,000.
  • Medical Evacuation: $50,000.
  • Deductible: Should not exceed $500 per accident or illness.

Failure to maintain appropriate insurance coverage can lead to termination of your J-1 status.

Resources at Emory University

  • Emory Student Health Services: Provides health care services and can assist with questions about the Emory University Student Health Insurance Plan. Emory Student Health Services
  • Emory Human Resources: For H-1B visa holders employed by Emory, HR can provide information on health insurance benefits and enrollment. Emory HR Benefits
  • International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS): Provides support and resources for international students and scholars. Emory ISSS

Emory University Student Health Insurance Plan (EUSHIP):

  • Emory offers a comprehensive health insurance plan that meets the J-1 visa requirements.
  • Coverage includes medical benefits, mental health services, and prescription drugs.
  • Enrollment is typically automatic for international students, and the cost is billed with tuition and fees.

Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance:

  • Employers typically provides health insurance benefits to employees, including H-1B visa holders.
  • These plans often include comprehensive coverage for medical, dental, and vision care.
  • Contact the Human Resources department for details on available plans and enrollment procedures.

Marketplace Insurance:

  • If your employment does not provide health insurance or you prefer a different plan, you can purchase insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Private Health Insurance:

  • You can also buy insurance from private companies outside of the marketplace. Compare plans for coverage options and costs.

Important Tips

  • Review Employer Plans: Carefully review the health insurance options provided by Emory, including premiums, coverage, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums.
  • Understand Enrollment Periods: Ensure you enroll in a plan within the required time frame to avoid any gaps in coverage.
  • Evaluate Coverage Needs: Consider your health needs and those of your dependents when selecting a plan. Look at coverage for routine care, emergencies, specialist visits, and medications.

General Considerations

  1. Dependents Coverage: Ensure your dependents (spouse and children) are also covered. Dependents on J-2 visas must meet the same insurance requirements as the primary J-1 visa holder.
  2. Pre-existing Conditions: Check if the insurance plan covers pre-existing conditions and what the waiting period, if any, might be.
  3. Plan Limits: Be aware of any limits on coverage amounts and types of services. Some plans might have caps on certain types of care.
  4. Prescription Drugs: Verify if prescription medications are covered and what the copayment or coinsurance amounts are.
  5. Emergency Services: Ensure the plan includes coverage for emergency medical evacuation and repatriation of remains, especially for J-1 visa holders.

Schools to Enroll Children In Around Villa International

Here’s an overview of some of the schools in the vicinity, including public and private options.

Public Schools

DeKalb County School District: The DeKalb County School District serves the Emory University area and offers a range of public schools. Some notable schools include:

Fernbank Elementary School

    • Kindergarten-5th grade
    • Address: 157 Heaton Park Dr, Atlanta, GA 30307
    • Website: Fernbank Elementary

Druid Hills Middle School

    • 6th-8th grade
    • Address: 3100 Mount Olive Dr, Decatur, GA 30033
    • Website: Druid Hills Middle School

Druid Hills High School

    • 9th -12th grade
    • Address: 1798 Haygood Dr NE, Atlanta, GA 30307
    • Website: Druid Hills High School

Briar Vista Elementary School

  • Pre-k through 4th grade
  • Location: 1131 Briar Vista Terrace NE, Atlanta, GA 30324
  • Website: Briar Vista Elementary School

Private Schools

Note that private schools will require tuition payments. Scholarships or financial assistance may be available.

The Paideia School

    • Pre-K through 12th grade.
    • Address: 1509 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307
    • Website: The Paideia School

The Lovett School

    • Serves students from kindergarten through 12th grade
    • Address: 4075 Paces Ferry Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30327
    • Website: The Lovett School

The Westminster Schools:

    • Serves students from kindergarten through 12th grade
    • Address: 1424 West Paces Ferry Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30327
    • Website: The Westminster Schools

Resources for Finding Schools

  • GreatSchools: GreatSchools provides ratings and reviews of public and private schools in the area.
  • Niche: Niche offers comprehensive profiles and rankings of schools based on various factors, including academics, diversity, and extracurricular activities.
  • DeKalb County School District: For more detailed information about public schools, visit the website.