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Establishing a Bank Account

One of the first things you should do after you arrive in the United States is establish a bank account. It is not a good idea to carry large sums of cash or to keep it in your room. Most banks have main offices in the center of a city or town. Banks generally are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. On Fridays, many banks stay open a few hours later. Many banks, but not all, are also open on Saturdays, often from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Your international student adviser can suggest which banks are convenient to campus.


For convenience and privacy, most students will want to have their own telephones. Almost all dormitories have at least a dorm or a "floor" telephone, which students share. Other dormitories have telephones already installed in the rooms. If there is no room phone, it is permissible to have one installed. Remember that you will be responsible for the telephone bills. If you decide to have a telephone installed in your room, ask the residence adviser of your dormitory for advice. If you live off-campus, you will need a telephone not only for convenience but also for safety. Ask yourinternational student adviser for advice on how to get a phone installed in your home or apartment.

When you get a phone line installed, you will have to buy your own phone and pay for installation charges and perhaps a deposit (to ensure that you will pay your telephone bills). You will be billed monthly for use ofthe telephone , usually a flat fee for local service (depending on the kind of service you have) plus extra charges for long distance calls. These costs vary from area to area inthe United States.

Emergency Numbers

It is very important to write down emergency numbers (fire, police, doctors, paramedics, campus emergency numbers, and so on) and to keep them near your telephone. Emergency numbers are given in the front part ofthe telephone book, though sometimes there are several districts for fire, police, and paramedic services (often called the rescue squad). In many communities inthe United States, when you need police, the fire department, or paramedics in an emergency situation, you simply dial "911." 

Cellular or Mobile Phones

Cellular phones are widely available in the United States, and most mobile phones purchased in other countries will not work in the United States. If you wish to have a cellular phone, it is best to get one after you arrive. Many types of phones and a number of service providers are available in most places, so investigate to find those that best suit your needs. Many cell phone companies provide free long distance.

Public ("Pay") Phones

These telephones can be found in many locations in commercial areas. Directions for making calls are printed on the telephone. You usually need to insert 35 to 50 cents to make a local call. Most telephone companies sell debit cards. When you buy the card, you pay a certain amount that is recorded into the card's computer chip or magnetic strip. Afterwards, you can use this card in public telephones until the balance is depleted.

Phone Cards

Many supermarkets and convenience stores sell pre-paid phone cards for specific dollar amounts ($5, $10, $20) that charge a small connection fee and provide long distance service. Prices vary by provider, but it is possible to call other countries for as little as 4 cents per minute; choose the card that provides the best rate for the country you wish to call.

Internet and E-mail Services

At most U.S. colleges and universities, you will be assigned, upon request, a free e-mail address. In some cases, Internet services are also free. Generally, U.S. colleges and universities have several computer rooms where you can check your e-mail, use the Internet, or use various software programs If you want Internet and e-mail services to be connected to your home computer, there are many possible alternatives. As a student, you can get a dial-up connection from your home computer to your university's server at a discount or, possibly, for free. Some universities even have network connections available in all dorm rooms. Contact your university's Information Technology (IT) Services Office for more information

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