Table of Contents
Living in Raleigh & the U.S.……...….3
What to Bring…………………….....…4
The Office of International Services is excited to welcome you to NC State!
Arriving in Raleigh ………………...….5
We have created this pre-arrival guide to help you prepare for traveling to and living in Raleigh. Throughout this guide you will find information about preparing to live in Raleigh and the U.S., as well as first-hand advice from other international spouses.
Traveling to N.C. State……................7
Information about Visa Types……......5 Health Insurance Requirements.........6 Your First Night in Raleigh……..….....8 Housing & Utilities………………….....9
Things to Know Before You Go: Advice from Other Spouses……..….11
Some international spouses have said that it would have been helpful if they had more information about Raleigh and the U.S. before arriving. Of course you will have to gain your own experiences, but the following information in this guide may help you adjust your expectations and make your adjustment a little easier. There is something for everyone in Raleigh. There are world class museums, openair amphitheaters, historic sites, professional theater companies, award-winning restaurants, professional sports, and vibrant festivals. In this pre-arrival guide, you will find information on topics like what to bring (and what not to bring), the city of Raleigh, housing and utilities, and advice from other international spouses. Raleigh is a relatively small city with a population of around 431,000 people. There are a lot of things to do in Raleigh, but you won’t find the buzzing metropolitan life, downtown streets packed with people, and the glamour of a big city like you might have seen in movies. Websites, newspapers and other international spouses are great resources to learn about events and things to do in Raleigh. Here are some helpful sites:
The News & Observer – Raleigh's Newspaper Indy Week – Weekly guide to local art, music, and events Triangle City Search – Search engine for local restaurants and events Visit Raleigh – Raleigh Tourism Website Go Live, Work Play Raleigh – Downtown Raleigh Guide “American life is not like Hollywood movies or TV dramas.” (Brenda) “I wish I knew Raleigh is not NYC or Chicago.” (Katarina)
To get a more realistic view of Raleigh you can have a look at the following websites: http://www.raleigh.com/ | http://www.raleighnc.gov/ | http://www.visitraleigh.com/ http://www.ncgov.com/index.aspx | http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/raleigh/welcome.htm 3
Do not bring too many items from home that can easily be bought in the United States. There are many stores a short distance away from campus. Many foods from your country can be bought in Raleigh too!
People in the United States tend to dress casually (jeans, tshirts, shorts, etc.), but you may also want to bring more formal clothing for special events. A good raincoat or umbrella is necessary. You will also need a coat for cold weather. Heavy winter clothing is not necessary unless you plan to travel to colder areas of the country. It rarely snows in North Carolina.
The U.S. uses 110v electrical current. Many small electrical items like hair dryers and electric razors are inexpensive in the U.S., and you may wish to purchase these items when you arrive. If you bring a computer or other electrical items, you may buy a simple plug adaptor in the U.S.
Linens and Towels
Bed linens, pillows, blankets, and towels can be purchased inexpensively in Raleigh. You may want to bring one set of linens and towels for the first days you are here then purchase more if you need to.
Make sure that any prescription medications you bring with you are labeled and are in their original containers. Make sure the name on the containers matches the name on your passport to avoid any problems when you are entering the United States. Please bring a copy of any prescription you will need using the generic name of the medication in English.
Money Raleigh has a pleasant climate. Spring and Fall are long and mild, and Winter is short and not very cold (relative to many parts of the U.S). Snow in the Winter is unusual. Summers are hot and very humid.
Make sure your ATM card will work in the U.S. before you leave! The Cirrus, Plus, Mastercard, and Visa systems are the most widely accepted. We recommend you have access to at least $300 in hard currency in case you need quick access to cash when you first arrive. You can change your money at a local bank. There may be a conversion fee, but it will probably be less than the fee at the airport. 4
Traveling to Raleigh Raleigh is located in the state of North Carolina about 280 miles from Washington D.C., 400 miles from Atlanta, Georgia; 500 miles from New York City; and 800 miles from Chicago, Illinois. Amtrak train and Greyhound bus services are available to Raleigh from various ports of entry into the U.S. The nearest airport is Raleigh-Durham (RDU) International Airport. The Raleigh-Durham International Airport is about 15 miles away from the University. The nearest Amtrak train and Greyhound bus stations are in downtown Raleigh (about 5 minutes by taxi from the university). Please note that basic safety precautions need to be taken when at the Raleigh train and bus stations. Pay attention to your baggage, money, and personal belongings.
At the Airport
You will be asked to show your documents in the first city you arrive in in the United States to be given permission to enter the country. Please carry with you (in your carry-on bag, NOT in your checked baggage): -- Passport with F-2 or J-2 visa stamp -- I-20 form (or DS-2019 form) -- the supporting documentation that you showed to the U.S. Embassy to obtain the visa. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has begun a new I-94 process. International students, scholars, and their dependents may not be issued a paper I-94 when entering the U.S. You will need to print your I-94 yourself by visiting the CBP I-94 Retrieval web page. Please print your new I-94 prior to attending the OIS spouse check-in. More information about the new I-94 process and which ports of entry will stop issuing paper I-94s can be found on the CBP web page.
Information about Visa Types Make sure you know which kind of visa type you have and what this implies. The F-2 visa is very restrictive and does not allow you to work in the U.S., however you can volunteer. If you decide that you want to study in the U.S., you must apply for an F-1 visa. Dependents on a J-2 visa will be required to provide proof of insurance that meets the Department of State requirements for all participants of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. Please see page 6 for more details. With a J-2 visa you can apply for a work permit as soon as you physically enter the U.S. It will take about 3 months to get the work permit, but then you are allowed to apply for any kind of job without any restrictions. 5
The Department of State (DOS) requires all participants of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program to have and maintain health insurance which covers the exchange visitor and all accompanying family members for the entire duration of their DS-2019. Please note that this requirement holds even if you or your family members are temporarily abroad. Failure of the J-1 or J-2 visa holder to maintain adequate health insurance for the length of the DS2019 is considered to be a violation of the Exchange Visitor Program regulations, which will result in termination of BOTH the J-1 and J-2 visa status. The health insurance plan must cover all participants for accidents, sickness, medical evacuation, and repatriation: Effective May 2015 your insurance must meet the following requirements: • Minimum coverage of at least $100,000 (USD) per accident or illness • Minimum coverage of $50,000 (USD) for medical evacuation • Minimum $25,000 (USD) for repatriation of remains • $500 (USD) maximum deductible per illness Spouses on J-2 visas are required to attend an OIS check-in. Please register for an appointment online → link. The J-1 visa holder will need to complete the registration process for the J-2 check-in. • You will be required to provide your passport, visa, and I-94 card at check-in • An OIS staff member will review resources for dependents and provide a general introduction to life in the United States and Raleigh more specifically. Proof of insurance MUST be provided to OIS at check-in and absolutely no later than 21 days after the J-2 check-in date. • You must provide your insurance card and summary of benefits. • Proof of insurance will be required when submitting forms and requests to OIS (Requests for Program Extension, Travel Signatures, etc.) The health insurance providers listed below offer plans that meet the DOS requirements: INSUBUY | Visitors Coverage | Harbour Group | Cultural Insurance Services International **The companies listed above have confirmed that they offer plans that meet the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa requirements. OIS does not recommend one company over another and exchange visitors are not limited to purchasing insurance from only the companies listed above. It is the responsibility of the Exchange Visitor to confirm the legitimacy of any health insurance plan purchased from any company.** Have questions? Please see the J-1 Insurance information on the OIS website. 6
Besides taxis, there are shuttle services available from the airport to the university and surrounding areas. Please inquire at the airport’s Information Center (near the baggage claim area) for assistance. A taxi ride to NC State from the airport is around $30-35.
Directions to OIS
Ask the taxi driver to bring you to “NC State University” (not University of North Carolina – that’s a different university in Chapel Hill!)
*Each of these entities are private companies and are not associated with North Carolina State University; the contact is provided here only as information about travel possibilities, and any arrangements you choose to make are strictly between you and the entity. North Carolina State University does not endorse or recommend any of these entities.
OIS is located in 320 Daniels Hall, 111 Lampe Drive. Daniels Hall is off of Hillsborough St. (north-east campus between the D.H. Hill Library and the Bell Tower). OIS is open 8:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M., Monday – Friday only. Feel free to call us at 919-515-2961 during business hours if you have a problem or have any questions. NC State Public Safety (Police) 919-515-3000 If you have an emergency while on campus you can call the number above or 911 for assistance. 7
In case you arrive in Raleigh later in the evening and don’t have time or the supplies to cook a meal, we’ve listed several restaurants you can find near NC State. Avent Ferry Road
Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant
Chipotle Mexican Grill - Burritos
Akari Express – Japanese and Sushi
David’s Dumpling & Noodle Bar
China Queen Buffet
Global Village Coffee, Tea, & Sandwiches
Golden Dragon Restaurant
Dalat Oriental Restaurant
Groucho’s Deli – 10 Horne Street off of Hillsborough St.
El Cerro Mexican Restaurant
Jasmin Mediterranean Bistro
Jerusalem Grocery and Bakery
Kabab and Curry
Nur Grocery and Deli
McDaid’s Irish Restaurant & Pub
Papa John’s Pizza
Mitch’s Tavern – Traditional American
Sammy’s Tap and Grill – Traditional American
Avent Ferry & Gorman St.
Player’s Retreat – Traditional American
Pearl Chinese Restaurant
Waba Korean Restaurant
Laziz Biryani Corner - Indian
Wild Cook’s Indian Grill
Grocery Stores Near NC State University – Sorted by distance from Daniels Hall If you prefer to cook your own food, you can find several grocery stores in the area. Harris Teeter
500 Oberlin Rd.
.96 km / .6 mile
3926 Western Blvd.
2.57 km / 1.6 miles
K-Mart – No fresh fruits or vegetables..
4500 Western Blvd.
3.54 km / 2.2 miles
3415 Avent Ferry Rd.
4.18 km / 2.6 miles
Consider if you prefer on-campus or off-campus housing. There are a lot of apartment complexes all around Raleigh and NC State, so just have a look around, on the internet or physically! You can drop by the privately-owned apartment communities and ask for a tour, for example. There is a University Housing Office located in Pullen Hall (Dan Allen Dr.) with an abundance of housing information. Additionally, OIS has a housing binder in the front office where rooms/apartments for rent are listed.
On-Campus Housing On-campus housing is owned by the university. Because of this, on-campus housing is managed by NC State. The cost of on-campus housing is usually comparable to off-campus housing and comes with several benefits. University housing is located on major city and university bus routes making transportation to campus and beyond convenient for students. These areas are also serviced by campus police and the campus fire department. University housing also provides programming for their residents that helps people connect with their neighbors and encourages a more community feeling. NC State offers two options for on-campus housing for families: ES King Village and Western Manor. To apply to live on campus, your spouse must apply through MyPack Portal (mypack.ncsu.edu).
Off-Campus Housing To find an apartment before you arrive, it is recommended you consult websites, ask people in your spouseâ€™s department, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice on apartments. Many apartment complexes are close together so you can spend a day comparing your housing options. You may wish to use a website such as www.padmapper.com | www.craigslist.com | http://www.move.com/apartments/main.aspx | www.apartmentguide.com | http://www.apartmentratings.com/rate/NC-Raleigh.html | http://www.uloop.com/ | www.apartments.com to help you find an apartment. Off-campus housing options include apartments which can be rented by oneself or shared with other people depending on the lease options of the apartment complex. It is reasonable to expect off-campus housing to cost between $250 to $800 per month, depending on the number of people sharing the expenses which include monthly rent and utilities (electricity, gas, and water). A security deposit (usually one monthâ€™s rent) is also required for most off-campus housing. 9
Furnished Apartments Be aware that furnished apartments usually do not include anything else other than the normal furniture such as a bed, desk, shelves, etc. This means that you still need to buy kitchen equipment (pots, silverware, plates, etc.), bedding (sheets, pillows, etc.), bathroom supplies (towels), etc.
Signing a Lease To rent an apartment off campus, you must sign a lease. A lease is a legally binding contract and is usually required for a period of 12 months. Leases obligate you to pay rent for each month of the term of the lease even if you move out of the apartment. Lawyers at Student Legal Services Center (919-515-7091 or fax 919-515-6052) are willing to review leases for NC State students before signing to make sure everything is in proper order. More information
Utilities (electricity, gas, and water in an apartment or house)
Please keep in mind that utility companies may require an advance deposit to activate the service.
Water Service: City of Raleigh Electricity Service: Duke Energy Internet Service: Available services vary by the location of your housing. Utilities Tips: • Pay your bills on time each month (some can be paid online). • Use heat and air conditioning wisely. • Phone cards are one of the cheapest ways to call long-distance. • Always review your bills before you pay them to make sure charges are correct.
Laundry You may or may not have washer/dryer connections in your apartment. If there are no connections, the apartment complex will often have a community laundry area with washers and dryers that are operated with quarters. To wash and dry one load of laundry you may spend $2.50 to $4.00, so be sure to bring plenty of quarters. Make sure you take your clothes out soon after they have completed the cycle otherwise someone else may get impatient and take them out themselves so they can use the machine if there are no others available. 10
1. What has been the most helpful to you in adjusting to life in the U.S.? •
On a personal note, I think my level of English and the willingness to go out, explore and get involved. On a more practical note, NCSU gym was awesome to get rid of all that stress. Learning about how to handle money virtually, what "direct deposit" or coupon is and how it all works. Ways to save, ways to get involved. (Katarina)
Making friends who already live in the US or have been here longer than me, if the spouses get a chance to attend the orientation day that the OIS holds at the beginning of each semester it would be a good way to learn and facilitate the adjusting process, joining the IMOM club allows the spouses to learn about life in the US and is a very good way for making friends. (Rasha)
Skype with home better to get over home-sick at some level. Friends or relatives in US; you can ask anything about you don't know, without feeling embarrassed. Make new friends in US; It's better they have the similar situation. They can understand you well. Knowing some English; It will help you to over come the fear of go out and talk to the people. (Manu)
iM.O.M is really, really useful. I made a lot of new friends, we exchange information about the activities and learn American culture. I think the biggest concern to many spouses when they arrived in US is loneliness, since iM.O.M gives them the chance to meet ladies from all over the world, they would have this sense of belonging in the US. Though I didn't take the ESL classes, but I heard ESL is very helpful, not only on learning English, but also helps spouses to blend in American way of life. ECC (English Conversation Club) is another great tool to help me adjust my life here. I learnt many interesting things about America, so I have better understanding on American culture. Speaking with native speaker helped me to improve my English and to understand the American sense of humor. Watching tv is helpful as well.... (Chibin) 11
2.What do you wish you had known before arriving in the U.S.? •
I wish I knew Raleigh is not NYC or Chicago and getting around without at least the silliest little car is not easy. I wish I knew the post office and banks and police are much, much better here than I am used to them at home. Learning to rely on other people and use services offered and provided was also a bit of a learning curve for me. (Katarina)
I would have liked to know that the Americans, in general, like their own space (big space). Americans dress in a very relaxed way. They usually don't like to be touch and they don't kiss in the cheek when they greeting, in general. If you're a woman you shouldn't kiss a man in the cheek because they might think you're interested, or if he has a wife she would think it's inappropriate. The invitations to parties and dinners, etc. have specific hours of arrival and ending that it most be respected.(Dsi)
Healthcare system is completely different in socialist countries. You have no idea how much shocked I was when I realized that how expensive is being sick without health insurance! Although there some clinics for low income people and they cost nothing or small amount of money, having no insurance is not pleasant at all. (Zahra)
Here has so many social events and activity offered by museum, library and other public facilities. You won't be able to stay one day home, if you search the internet and get the information from them. And one of the most useful web to find public events around town is visitraleigh.com (Brenda)
I wish I had known about the restrictions on an F-2 visa. (Fakeha)
Insurance (House Insurance, Health Insurance, etc. it is very expansive in America. If you want to have a baby here, you may join any insurance company first, and read insurance documents carefully.) (Ching-hui) 12
3. How has life in the U.S. been different than what you expected? •
Life here is more ELECTRONIC, they depend more on the internet and money cards (don’t need to carry cash), the system of signing up for your utilities and the process is all new, at the beginning it seemed hard but on the long run it has become suitable since you don’t have to be physically at any department to get a service (water, gas, electricity, DMV, car insurance, certificates), all can be done online or by mail. Also here you need to have a car; it is a necessity to move around, there is bus service, but is consumes a lot of time. (Rasha) People had warned a lot about loneliness that one gets in the U.S. after entering on dependent visa. But thanks to my life on campus (and again, spouse club) that I never got a chance to feel lonely anytime. Medically, the U.S. system is not much convincing/trustworthy. (Shraddha) American life is not like the Hollywood movie or TV drama Sex and the city. At least in Raleigh, it is not the splendor of the metropolis. People is away from sophisticated glitter, they live calm and purposeful life with the ideal of personal liberty. They care about their family and very friendly to international friends. Especially under F2 condition, life is relatively peaceful and have lots time to enjoy yourself. At first, I thought it is going to be a battle to survive in America, but it turns out not. But it might be a battle when you get rid of F2, and want to try your fortune in America. That's what I heard about American dream. (Brenda) Work is appreciated. People are kind. There is much more diversity and tolerance than I could ever have imagined (or experienced at home). Customer is always right. Things you do not like are "returnable". No stress. No worries. Doctors are amazing. Kind and really want to help you. But having no insurance is a nightmare. I am not sure that I expected otherwise, but where we come from values disappeared and I now wonder how could I ever lived anywhere else but here, or call any other place home but the US. (Katarina) 13
4. What activities have you gotten involved in, both on and off campus, that have helped you feel more at home here? •
My spouse’s life and attitude were changed after he attended ESL classes in Brooks Avenue. We both adored NCSU gym. Also, Farmers Market, downtown museums and theaters, Cause for Paws Thrift Shop, Biltmore Castle, the beach hiking!!!!!!!!!!!! That is the beauty of NC, the nature and the mild amazing climate. We went on several hiking trips, the lanes are so well marked and organized. I loved it. Cheap outing, but so much fun! All you need was a camera. Tents are rentable from NCSU gym for free. My favorite is i.M.O.M. It literally saved my life! I am sure I would have been in a very bad place if I was left alone. (Katarina) I got involved mostly with all the small activities that happened on campus. Wherever I could join, I did. I got to meet a LOT of people and got a LOT of good experiences about life as a whole. I was an active volunteer for KIRAN Inc. Although, I was very much busy with all the things around, honestly, I never felt more at home. I always missed my home (as in, my country). And having said that, now I call Raleigh/NCSU as my second home. ha ha! (Shraddha)
I participate in i.M.O.M. meetings and its activities. Whenever I get time, I volunteer as afterschool tutor at Salvation Army (Raleigh) for children aged 6-10 years. I have participated in a few meetings of the English Conversation club.(Krithika)
Crafts center of NCSU and Michaels (The store) are where you can find all kinds of crafts lessons like pottery, knitting, photography, cake decorating. And if you want to learn something and don't mind paying out of state tuition and not getting a degree, go to the community college, you can pick class from accounting to cooking. (Brenda)
The English Conversation Club at NCSU, i.M.O.M., and other events offered by the university such as events prepared by the Women Center. (Dsi) 14
5. What other advice would you give to a new spouse? •
Life is long, don't rush when you do have the opportunity to enjoy yourself before you find out the next better trip for you. Get ready financially and mentally before you come, and do try to find support from families when you kind of getting lost and to talk to your hubby frankly about your concerns. Remember that you come to US as someone's wife, what you need to do is only make you and your husband happy and do life adventure together. If your husband's degree is Ph.D, your degree is Ph.T ( push husband through) :) (Brenda) a) Please be open to all those opportunities which attract you. b) Say what you feel - frankly. c) Ask questions whenever needed. d) Don't be shy e) And keep smiling. :) (Shraddha)
I was initially kind of afraid of life of U.S., because I could not speak English fluently. But, people who live in North Carolina were so kind and I could feel easy. Then, everything turned out amazing. NC became my second hometown, now. Relax. There's nothing to be afraid of making mistakes. I think it's important to have confidence in yourself. (Miho)
In sum, I want to tell them: take deep breath and take your time! In 2.5 years I was a spouse of a student with lots of limitations, I cannot say I was easy to endure such a unfair restriction and be apart from my family but I definitely say it was unique experience that I proud to had in my life time. It has positive sides which makes it unique. To be familiar with different cultures from West to East at the same time, making sweet friends and learning new things would not be possible unless to come over and live in States. So, take look at it like opportunity which God provide for you. That's it! Good luck and welcome to U.S! (Zahra) 15