With your I-20 or DS-2019 in hand, contact the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy to find out about application requirements, procedures, hours, fees and processing times, since the procedures differ between different countries. Visit the U.S. State Department for a list of U.S. embassies and consulates.
Make plans to arrive in Cullowhee at least two weeks before the start of the semester if you plan to live off campus, to give yourself time to find a place to stay. If you have made arrangements to live on campus, you should plan to arrive in time (2-3 days prior) for the mandatory international student orientation, usually held a few days before the first day of class.
On the airplane, before entering the United States, you will be given a white card to fill out, called Form I-94. At the port of the entry, you will be asked to present your passport, containing a valid F-1 or J-1 visa, and your I-20 or DS-2019, and the I-94 to an officer of the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). The officer should then return the following documents to you:
These are your immigration documents. Make sure that you have these documents before leaving the USCIS desk. The form I-94 (a white card) is usually stapled into the passport opposite the visa. Keep them in a safe place. The "D/S" notation stands for "Duration of Status," which means that you are authorized to stay in the United States, as long as you are maintaining student status.
F-1 students who have been accepted to several different schools, and have received several Forms I-20, must enter the United States with the I-20 of the school they plan to attend, regardless of what I-20 was used in order to obtain the F-1 visa. It is acceptable to have an F-1 visa issued with a notation of one school, and at the port of entry present an I-20 of a different school. (If asked, explain to the immigration inspector what the situation is, that you were accepted to more than one school, and this is the one you wish to attend.) This will avoid having to apply for "reinstatement" (application I-539) and paying a $300 processing fee for entering with the wrong I-20.