Ask the student support services at your university. They may be aware of banks that offer free student accounts, for which you as an international student, might qualify. This would be especially helpful if your foreign student status is making it hard to find an option. However, I wouldn't count on the university having the best information; I would want to do my own research, too.
Search local banks for free checking. Just about every bank offers some sort of free account option. As you point out, an annoyance these days is that there is often a default monthly fee, with some requirements you must meet in order to have it waived.
It may be possible to find a free student account that doesn't have any fees at all.
Otherwise, look for an account that has a very easy way to waive the monthly fee (for some accounts this is as minimal as making one transaction of any kind per month. In other cases you have to have some money put in your account each month by direct deposit).