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Table of Contents I. Practical Resources Health Care & Insurance………...….4 Pharmacies……………………...….…6 Safety…………………………….…….7 Driving in the U.S………………..........8

Public Transportation………….….......9 Money & Banking………………........10 Consumer Information…………........11 Shopping & Grocery Stores………...12 Ethnic Grocery Stores......................15



Dining & Tipping………………….….17

‫خوش آمدید‬

Phone, Internet, & TV………….....…18 Mail Services…………………….…...19

Добро пожаловать

English Language Resources……...20 Information for Parents…….………..22

The Office of International Services is pleased to welcome you to NC State!

II. Get Involved Cultural Adjustment………………....24

We have created this guide to help you transition to life in Raleigh, NC. Throughout this guide you will find information about living in Raleigh and the U.S., as well as first-hand advice from other international spouses. 2

OIS Programs……………………..…27 Sports & Hobbies…………………....28 Volunteer Opportunities…………….29 Advice from Other Spouses…..…....30


Below are a few things we recommend you do within your first week in Raleigh. Call home to let your family members know you arrived safely. Review your electronic I-94 card as soon as you have computer access and make sure the information is correct. Upon arrival, schedule a spouse check-in with OIS. Call (919) 515-2961 to make an appointment. Apply for your visitor NCSU ID. You will need a form from OIS to get the ID Card. Your spouse will also need to be registered for classes. You can then get the ID card at the West Dunn Building. Bring your passport when you go to get your ID Card! The cost is $20. Open a bank account. More information can be found on page 12. Attend an I.M.O.M. (International Moms or Mates) meeting. Held every Wednesday from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. in the E.S. King Village Common Room. Email with any specific questions you may have. This email is monitored by international spouses like yourself who are happy to help you and answer your questions. Go to the NC Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get a state issued ID or Driver’s Permit or License. If you have this ID card you won’t need to carry your passport around for ID. 3

Find your closest grocery store. See page 16. Find your closest pharmacy. See page 6. Buy a mobile phone or SIM card. See page 20.


Healthcare in the U.S. can be very expensive, especially without insurance, which is why it’s so important to have good health care coverage.

Health Insurance and Copays • • • •

Be sure to read your health insurance policy carefully. Health insurance policies can be confusing, so feel free to call your provider if you have questions about your coverage. General health insurance information can be found on the Student Health Center’s website. Every time that you visit a doctor, you will need to have your health insurance card with you. It is a good idea to carry your card in your wallet with you – if you ever have a medical emergency, the medical personnel will need to see your card. Your card may indicate what your “co-pay” is for doctor’s visits. Your copay is what you will be expected to pay at the time of your visit (you may be required to pay more later on – check your insurance policy to find out).

Treatment Facility Options Doctor’s Offices

Urgent Care


Non-emergency Illness or Injuries, Preventative Care Fees Depend on Insurance (Copay)

Used for Illness and Injuries No Appointment Needed Flat Rate Fee Additional Costs Possible

Used for EMERGENCIES and Surgeries

Usually open 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday – Friday

Open Regular Hours, Plus Nights and Weekends

Open 24 Hours 7 Days a Week

Most Expensive Care

It is recommended that you establish a Primary Care Provider (PCP) at a doctor’s office before illness occurs. It will be much easier for you to get an appointment to be seen quickly where you have already established care. You do not need an appointment to visit an Urgent Care Facility, but you may have to wait a few hours to see a doctor. The hospital should be used for emergencies ONLY such as a broken bone, serious cut, or severe illness.

Free or Income Based Health Care Clinics • • • •

Wake County Health Clinics provide a variety of health care services based on family income. Mariam Clinic is a free health care clinic for those who meet eligibility requirements. Wake County Health Services provides a variety of health care services based on income. UNC-Chapel Hill Dental Clinic offers reduced cost services delivered by students in the doctorate in dental surgery program (D.D.S.) and allied dental education programs.

**Many hospitals and doctor’s offices are willing to work with you on a payment plan if needed.**



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. 5


Pharmacies usually have both prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs, as well as some basic supermarket items such as snacks and toiletries.

Purchasing Medicine

• You can purchase both prescription (requires a doctor’s note) and “over-thecounter” (non-prescription medicines) at pharmacies/drug stores. Some large stores (Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, etc.) and even some grocery stores (Harris Teeter, Food Lion, etc.) also have pharmacies within the store. • Target and Wal-Mart sell some generic forms of prescription medications for $4 – $10. Generic medications have the same dosage form, strength, quality, and performance as the brand name medicines, but are almost always much cheaper than the brand names. Ask your doctor if you can use the generic form of any prescription medications he or she gives to you. • When purchasing prescription medicines, you may also have a “co-pay” determined by your health insurance plan. • It is almost always cheaper to buy the store-brand of an over-the-counter medication instead of the name-brand. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.

Pharmacies near NC State (sorted by distance from OIS) Harris Teeter

500 Oberlin Road

.96 km/.6 mile

Rite Aid

510 Woodburn Road

1.28 km/.8 mile


2233 Avent Ferry Rd. Suite 113

1.60 km/1 mile


2021 Walnut Street, Cary, NC

9.17 km/5.7 miles


4500 Fayetteville Road

9.49 km/5.9 miles



For Help in an Emergency: Dial 911. (If you have been seriously hurt, there has been a

car accident, there is a fire, someone has stolen something from you, etc.). Dialing 911 will put you in touch with the police, the fire station, or anyone else you may need to assist you. Know your location (street address, landmarks, etc.) and try to speak in English when you call if possible. Translators are available but it will take extra time for you to get help.

Campus Police — They respond to emergencies that occur on campus.

Dialing 911 on campus connects you with Campus Police. If you need help while on campus for non-emergencies, for example you want to report something suspicious or need a campus safety escort from 10 P.M. to 4 A.M., call 919-515-3000. Don't hesitate to call the police (Emergency Off-Campus: 911 or On-

Campus: 911 or 919-515-3000) if you feel threatened by someone or if you experienced/witnessed a crime. Police can be very helpful to you.

The following tips are not meant to scare you. The United States, and especially the Raleigh area, is generally a safe place to live. However, by following these tips you can protect yourself . • Always lock your doors - even when driving or when you're at home! • Don’t open your door for people you do not know. • Always have your keys ready before you get to your car or house. Always keep one hand free. • Never leave items unattended in public. Don't keep valuables in your car or in your backpack. • Avoid walking around alone after dark, especially after 10 P.M. • Don't hitchhike (don’t ask strangers for rides). • Always wear a seatbelt when you're traveling. • Never leave children alone-anywhere! Be aware of child seatbelt safety laws: • Don't talk to strangers on the street, especially those who ask for money. • Know where the "unsafe areas" of town are. Be careful in downtown Raleigh at night and in shopping mall parking lots. • Avoid walking alone through deserted areas. Choose routes that are frequently used by others. • Always tell a close friend when you will be away for the weekend or a longer period of time. • If you are a victim of physical or sexual violence or abuse, call 919-828-7160 - Immigrants Seeking Safety Project in Wake County. • Attackers often avoid people who look secure, confident, and strong. Plan to take a protective skills or self-defense course this term. You will learn how to assert yourself in ways that will intimidate a would-be attacker. The Women’s Center on campus offers an excellent SAFEskills workshop each semester. Call 919-515-2012 for more information. • Be aware of what is going on around you at all times. If you suspect you are being followed, indicate your suspicion by looking behind you. If you are on foot, cross the street, change directions, or vary your speed. In a commercial or residential area, quickly head for a place where there are other people. • Follow your instincts. If your intuition tells you that you are at risk, try to leave the situation as soon as possible. For example, if you see someone suspicious in a parking lot, leave the area.



Driving by car is by far the most popular and convenient way to travel in the U.S. The public transportation system in Raleigh is not nearly as sophisticated or convenient as it is in many other parts of the world. If you plan to rent or purchase a car while you’re here, it is recommended by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that you apply for a North Carolina Driver’s license if you will be here for more than 3 months. We have created a brief online tutorial for you with instructions on how to apply for a NC driver’s license. You can also find more information on the "Driving & Cars" section of the OIS website. Also remember that if you plan to drive to campus you will need to abide by the University's Transportation Office policies regarding parking. There are many options for persons who drive to campus such as purchasing a parking permit, using the park and ride lots, or visitor parking areas (for temporary parking arrangements). The Driving in North Carolina website provides information about vehicle registration and car insurance if you decide to buy a car. If you do not want to buy a car, you still have the option of leasing a car. More information on leasing a car can be found on the N.C. Department of Justice website.

NC DRIVER’S LICENSE To obtain a North Carolina Driver’s License, you will need to take your visa, passport, I-20 or DS-2019, and your I-94 to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A valid license issued by a government agency from a home state or country is required to legally drive in this state. If you want to get a North Carolina Driver’s License you can do so at the DMV. The closest DMV to NC State is located at 3231 Avent Ferry Road. You can take either the 9 or 11 bus to get to there from NC State’s Campus. An “International Driver’s License” is not an acceptable driver’s license in NC.



For those that prefer to use public transportation, the city of Raleigh and surrounding areas offer the options listed below. Wolfline Buses (NC State Buses) – These buses go all over campus and a

mile or two outside of campus. The buses are free. The Transloc Mobile App and website are useful for tracking the location and next stop of each Wolfline bus: CAT Bus & TTA (City of Raleigh Buses) – The CAT routes run throughout Raleigh. The TTA routes run throughout Raleigh and surrounding cities. CAT Bus Routes 11, 11L, & 12 travel to NC State.

Go Triangle Trip Planner – The Go Triangle Trip Planner website provides stepby-step directions on how to get from one location to another in the Raleigh area.


There is a train station in Raleigh called the Amtrak Station. The train system in North Carolina is unfortunately not very extensive, so it is usually not the most convenient way to travel. Amtrak can be useful for traveling from one major city to another, but not for traveling within cities. For more information please visit the Amtrak website. When traveling in major cities such as Washington D.C., New York City, and Chicago, you will find extensive metros or subway systems that make several stops throughout the city.


If you prefer to ride a bike around Raleigh, please visit the NCSU Transportation website on Biking for information on campus safety and helpful tips.

Please be mindful when riding your bike: most American drivers are not used to sharing the road with cyclists, so use caution. 9


To Set Up a New Bank Account

Bring your passport to the bank (banks don’t accept student or campus IDs as proper identification) If you have a social security number, you should bring that as well. However, not all banks require a social security number to open an account. We recommend you call ahead to ask. Ask to set up a “student account” if possible. Usually, fees are cheaper (e.g. $5 per month) or free. Choose a “pin number” or secret access code than others will not be able to guess (do not choose your birthday).

To Deposit or Withdraw Money

• Bring picture identification (e.g. Passport or Driver’s License) • Fill out a form in your bank marked “deposit” or “withdrawal” with the amount and your account number. • You may also use the ATM machines outside of your bank to withdraw money 24/7. Use caution when withdrawing money from an ATM late at night.

Tips on Carrying Cash

• Try to carry at least some cash with you ($20). Some small restaurants and stores may not take cards. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

Credit History Information

If you plan to stay in US for several years or long-term, it is important that you use your credit card in order to build a “credit history.” A credit history is checked when you want to get a loan for a house or a car. Often, loans for houses are refused if you don’t have a credit history or if your history shows that you did not pay your credit card balances. The company providing the loan may also check with the management of your previous apartment and/or utility companies to verify whether or not you paid your bills on time. If you use a credit card, it is important to pay off the balance each month to avoid paying interest and extra fees.

Credit Card Tips

• Only have one or two cards and try to find cards that have no annual fee. • Pay off the entire bill each month. Interests adds up quickly! • If you can’t pay off your entire bill, make certain that your credit card has a low monthly interest rate and pay it off as soon as possible. • Allow for mail delivery time when sending in your bills so that they will arrive before the due date. NEVER give your name and credit card number, bank account numbers, passport number, social security number, or passwords to anyone over the phone! Scammers can use this information to steal your identity. No credible organization will ever contact you and ask for this information over the phone or email, no matter what the person may claim. 10

Words to Know – Important Definitions Bank Account Balance – the amount of money that you have in your bank account. Bank Account Interest – the money that the bank pays into your account the longer you

keep your money in the account. The amount of interest you receive depends on how large the sum of money is in the account. The larger the bank account balance, the more interest you receive.

Credit Card Balance – the amount of money you have borrowed and have not yet paid

back to the company; the amount you owe to the credit card company.

– the money that is added to your bill each month that you do not pay your balance in full; additional money that you owe.

Credit Card Interest

• Annual Fee – Amount of money paid per year for the use of a credit (Can be $0 to over $100). • Check – Written form of payment, which directs your bank to pay money out of your checking account.

• Credit Card – A card that allows items to be purchased on credit, a form of loan. Interest is accrued on a monthly basis and can be as high as 21%.

• Debit Card – A card that allows money to be deducted directly from your bank account. • Debt – Money that is owed. • Monthly Bill – The amount of money that is owed each month for services given (utilities, rent, or credit cards).

• 800/888/866/877 Numbers – Phone numbers for which there is no charge to call. • 900 Numbers – Phone numbers which can cost as much $4.00 to $5.00 per minute or more. Also includes 976 numbers.

Consumer Tips: • Keep your credit/debit cards and pin numbers safe and be aware of people around you when entering those digits on a keypad. Wait for others to pass or cover the keypad. • Politely say no to anyone who wants to sell you something over the phone. • Keep your check book balanced each month. 11


There are many places to shop in the Raleigh area. This guide is not all-inclusive but should help you get started with less costly shopping. Friends are a GREAT source for good ideas about the best places to shop for certain items! Don’t hesitate to ask a friend or one of the OIS staff members which grocery store they find most affordable or which clothing store has the best prices, etc.

Shopping Malls and Shopping Centers

There are several malls in the Raleigh area. Most of the stores are clothing stores, but there are other specialty stores as well. • Cary Towne Center – Walnut St. in Cary • Crossroads Plaza Shopping Center – Near Cary Towne Center in Cary • Crabtree Valley Mall – Glenwood Ave. in North Raleigh • North Hills Mall – North Hills Ave. in Raleigh • Triangle Town Center – Capital Blvd. in Raleigh • Cameron Village – Oberlin Rd. in Raleigh – A more expensive shopping center, but you can often find unique gifts here!

Shopping Super Centers – A Little of Everything

Target, K-Mart, Big Lots, Dollar General, and Wal-Mart all are fairly inexpensive stores. K-Mart and Roses are the closest stores to campus (both on Western Blvd.) Most of these stores carry everything from clothing to school supplies, to cleaning supplies and tools, to sporting equipment and groceries!

Dollar Stores

Stores such as the Dollar Tree, The Dollar Store, and Everything’s a Dollar are great places to buy small household items and personal items. Items in these stores cost $1.

Clothes Shopping

If possible, it is best to buy new clothes at the end of season when items are put “on clearance” or on sale. Example: Buy summer clothes for next year in August and September when the stores put them on sale for 50-75% off the original prices. Buy for the next winter in March when winter clothes and coats go on sale. The Sunday newspaper includes several sales advertisements. Target, K-Mart, and Wal-Mart all sell inexpensive clothing. 12


Inexpensive Household Items and Clothing Yard Sales / Garage Sales – A sale of household items, no longer wanted, held at that

person’s home. Good place to find children’s clothing, toys, kitchen items, furniture, exercise equipment, and miscellaneous household items. Check Friday’s News and Observer newspaper for a listing for yard sales, location and times. (Most yard sales are held early on Saturday morning.) You can bargain for a lower price!

Thrift Stores / 2nd Hand Stores – Stores which sell used clothing/household items at low

prices. These items are donated to the store and the store sells the items to the public for a very low price.

Consignment Stores (2nd Hand) – These stores will buy used items from individuals and

then resell them. These stores tend to be a little more expensive than the thrift stores. Examples of these stores include: NC State University Surplus Sale – 2nd and 4th Friday of every month from 8:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M. Sells used furniture, computers, and other miscellaneous items no longer needed by the university. Be there by 7:00 AM to wait in a line if you want furniture. You must be able to take it with you at the time of purchase. You must pay cash. New items every month. 3240 Ligon Street behind the Carmike Cinema on Blue Ridge Rd. 919-515-5525 NC State Government Surplus – Items from all NC State Government agencies are sold: cars, furniture (especially desks and desk chairs). Many items are $5 or less. Must take a picture ID (passport/driver’s license). You must pay cash and take items with you at time of purchase. Monday-Friday, 9:00 A.M. – 4:30 P.M. 6501 Chapel Hill Road – 919-733-3889 Bargain Box Thrift Store – Sells clothing and household items. Cameron Village Shopping Center. 401 Woodburn Road – 919-833-7587 Uptown Cheapskate – Sells clothing for men and women. Mission Valley Shopping Center – 2161 Avent Ferry Rd., Suite 200 – 919-896-8855

News and Observer Classified Ads – Section of newspaper containing information about items to sell or to buy, job openings, yard sales, or personal advertisements. You may also find furniture, a used car, and baby items in the classified ads section.



American grocery stores differ a lot in price and quality. Here are some stores you will very likely come across during your stay in Raleigh: Food Lion (cheaper end), Harris Teeter (more expensive), Whole Foods Market (organic and expensive). You can also get groceries at Target, Wal-Mart, or K-Mart (does not have fruits and vegetables), but these stores might not be the best for fresh food supplies. For fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables you should consider going to the Farmer’s Market; it’s an experience every time you go there! Grocery Stores Near NC State University – Sorted by distance from Daniels Hall Harris Teeter

500 Oberlin Rd.

.96 km / .6 mile

Food Lion

3926 Western Blvd.

2.57 km / 1.6 miles


4500 Western Blvd.

3.54 km / 2.2 miles

Food Lion

3415 Avent Ferry Rd.

4.18 km / 2.6 miles

Farmer’s Market

1201 Agriculture St.

5.47 km / 3.4 miles

When you are at the check-out counter the staff at the counter may ask you “Paper or plastic?” They are asking you if you want your food put in plastic bags or paper bags. The cashier will bag your groceries for you, free of charge.

A list of international grocery stores in Raleigh can be found on the next two pages. How to Save Money on Groceries

There are several ways to save money on groceries, listed below: • Buy generic (i.e. the store brand of items). • Use manufacturer’s and store coupons found in newspapers and magazines. • Many stores offer discount cards (Food Lion - MVP card, Harris Teeter - VIC card). You must fill out an application at the customer service desk for a discount card. It is very simple and free. You just need to put your name and phone number. • Each store has different items on sale each week. You will need the discount card mentioned above to get the sale price. Usually the stores run the sales either from a Wednesday – Tuesday (Food Lion, Harris Teeter, and Lowe’s Foods) or Sunday – Saturday (Kroger, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Target). 14



LOCATION *All are located in Raleigh unless otherwise noted.*

AFRICAN Grace African and Caribbean Market NC African Market Ojemba African Market

748 E Chatham St. Suite H – Cary, NC – 919-462-3500 2245 New Hope Church Road – 919-873-2210 3579 Maitland Drive – 919-231-0041

ASIAN A & C Supermarket Bitter Melon Asian Market and Filipino Cuisine Grand Asia Market Asia Market Far East Market Hongsamon's Asian Market

3210 S. Wilmington Street – 919-232-2288 9625 Bitter Melon Dr. – Angier, NC – 919-639-2422 1253 Buck Jones Road – 919-468-2988 101 Nottingham Dr. – Cary, NC – 919-467-2005 2265 New Hope Church Rd. – 919-872-7489 6715 Hillsborough St. – 919-851-6228

Oriental Store of Raleigh

3601 Capital Blvd. – 919-876-6911

Que Huong Oriental Market

3312 Capital Blvd. – 919-790-5325

EUROPEAN Halgo European Deli and Grocery Polonez Euro Food Market Tala Euro-Russian Mart

4520 S Alston Ave. – Durham, NC – 919-321-2014 5440 Atlantic Springs Rd. Suite 103 – 919-790-1466 5720 Capital Blvd. Suite L – 919-878-4427

FRENCH La Farm Bakery

4248 Cary Parkway – Cary, NC – 919-657-0657

GERMAN Annelore’s German Bakery

1201 Agriculture St. (State Farmer’s Market) – 919-294-8040

INDIAN Apna Bazar Around the World Market Patel Brothers Indian Store

Sangam Mart Triangle Indian Market

3607 Davis Dr. – Morrisville, NC – 919-461-3969 6715 Hillsborough St. – 919-859-5403 802 E. Chatham St. – Cary, NC – 919-319-5661

10300 Chapel Hill Rd. Suite 700 – Morrisville, NC 919-460-4300 740 E. Chatham St. Suite A – Cary, NC – 919-380-0350




LOCATION *All are located in Raleigh unless otherwise noted.*

ITALIAN Capri Flavors

1012 Morrisville Parkway – Morrisville, NC – 919-462-9255

JAPANESE Toyo Shokuhin and Gifts

748 E. Chatham St. Suite L – Cary, NC 919-319-1620

KOREAN Han Ah Reum Mart

2431 Spring Forest Road – 919-875-1577

Kim’s Asian Market

6014 Duraleigh Rd. Suite A – 919-510-5999

S Mart

1000 Ryan Road – Cary, NC – 919-469-0559


4020 Capital Blvd. Suite 148 – 919-878-1800

El Ranchito

3110 New Bern Ave. Suite 112 – 919-255-3202

International Foods

421 Chapanoke Road – 919-662-5428

La Tapatia

1700 St. Alban’s Drive – 919-954-4816

MIDDLE EASTERN Almadina Supermarket

Casablanca Market and Fresh Halal Jerusalem Bakery and Store

1019 Method Road – 919-755-6220 1365 SE Maynard Road – Cary, NC – 919-469-5671 2233 -105 Avent Ferry Road – 919-833-7008

Neomonde Bakery and Grocery

3817 Beryl Road – 919-828-1628

Nur Mediterranean Deli & Market

2233 -108 Avent Ferry Road – 919-828-1523

TURKISH Harmony Mediterranean Market

663 Cary Towne Blvd. – Cary, NC – 919-380-0077

INTERNATIONAL A & S Euro Mediterranean Market Carolina International Market Caspian International Food Mart International Foods

663 Cary Towne Blvd. – Cary, NC – 919-388-4464 3605 Bastion Lane – 919-255-1640 2909 Brentwood Road – 919-954-0029 2215 New Hope Church Road – 919-850-2400



There are so many great restaurants in Raleigh; you will not find the time to try them all while you’re here! Use these websites to find your way to great restaurants: Visit Raleigh | Indy Week | Triangle City Search

A list of ethnic restaurants can be found our website. If you want personal recommendations, ask someone at OIS – we would love to tell you where we like to eat!

Dining on Campus

On campus, there are various fast food restaurants at the Talley Student Center or The Atrium (Library). If you are interested in healthier food options (fresh fruits, vegetables, etc.), you can choose to eat at the Dining Halls on campus. Visit the Dining Hall website for information on the cost of meals.


It is expected that you tip every time you eat at a sit-down restaurant (where you are served by a waiter or waitress). No tip is given at fast-food restaurants or cafes where a tip jar is left on the counter (tipping is optional). Tips are not usually included in the bill, unless you have more than 8 guests at a table. You can leave your tip on the table before you leave or add it to the bill if you charge it to a credit or debit card. Americans usually tip 15% of the bill for average service and up to 20% for excellent service.

Other places where tips are expected: • • • •

Taxi Cab Drivers (15%) Food Delivery Person ($1 - $2) Hair and Nail Salons (15-20%) Airports – $2 per bag for the person who helps you with your luggage if you check your bags at the curb outside. • Hotels – $1 per bag if one of the staff members at a hotel takes your luggage to your room for you.



If there is an emergency and you need to quickly reach someone outside of the country, you can contact the international operator at #00. This service may be a bit expensive but convenient in the case of an emergency. For emergencies in the U.S. (i.e. car accident, deep cuts, etc.) the emergency assistance number is 911. Phone, Cable, and Internet services are offered through a variety of companies. The most popular options are listed below.* AT&T – Mobile and Home Phone, Internet Sprint – Mobile Phone Time Warner Cable – Home Phone, TV, Internet T-Mobile – Mobile Phone Verizon – Mobile Phone DirectTV – Satellite TV

“If you need a mobile, you can find prepaid SIM cards (compatible with foreign cellphones) at Wal-Mart with no contract! You have other options but one of the easiest to find is the T-mobile $30 plan (plus $10 for the SIM, one time fee) with 100 minutes to call, 5GB data, and unlimited international texts. H2O also has good plans but is not so easy to find in stores so you may have to order the SIM online.” *Each of these entities are private companies and are not associated with North Carolina State University; the companies listed are provided here only as information about some of your phone, cable, and internet options in Raleigh 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.

A Quick Note about Keeping in Touch with Home

Keeping in touch with friends and family back home has never been easier since services like Skype, Viber, and WhatsApp make international communication simple and free. While it’s important to stay connected with friends and relatives back home, it’s equally important that you “disconnect” from your home country and connect with your temporary home in the U.S. Spouses who have enjoyed their experience in the U.S. the most are those who have walked through the difficult transition of truly “leaving” home and fully embracing life in the U.S. If your body is physically here in North Carolina, but your heart and your mind are “back home” you will not be able to truly appreciate life in the U.S. or enjoy your time here. 18


United States Postal Service (USPS) Sending a letter within the USA :

1. Buy stamps from machines located within post office or at the counter. 2. Stamps cost $0.49 to mail a single letter within the U.S. 3. Stamps can also be purchased at: • The checkout counter of most grocery stores • By telephone 1-(800)-782-6724 and pay a $1 shipping charge • By credit or debit card online at 4. Place your letter in the slot marked “stamped mail” which is either a slot on the wall inside the Post Office or a separate blue bin that looks similar to a trash can (pictured below) located outside the Post Office. Sending a letter overseas:

1. Take the letter to the counter in the Post Office for a postal worker to weigh it. 2. Price will vary according to weight and destination. 3. A 1-3 page letter will cost from $0.80 and up to mail overseas. If you need to send an important letter or package overseas you may want to consider using UPS or FedEx. These shipment companies are slightly more expensive, but they offer better options for tracking your package to ensure it arrives at its proper destination.



English Conversation Club (ECC) at NCSU

Students, scholars and spouses meet in small groups with native/fluent speakers for conversation in a very relaxed, informal atmosphere. It’s a great way to practice speaking and listening in English! Children are always welcome. Centennial Campus ECC Meetings – Held Weekly • Tuesdays and Thursdays (3:30 – 4:30 P.M.) • Check the ECC website for location. Main Campus ECC Meetings – Held Weekly • Fridays (3:30 – 4:30 P.M.) in Daniels Hall, Room 216

Wake Tech ESL

Wake Technical Community College offers free English as a second language (ESL) classes throughout Wake county. The closest classes are held Monday through Friday from 9 A.M. – 1 P.M. at Brooks Avenue Church of Christ, only 6 blocks from NCSU campus. These classes are basic skills classes for adults age 18 and up (beginners to advanced) and help develop language skills to live in the United States (speaking, listening, writing, reading). You may register on special registration dates (except in August and December when there are no classes); however classes often fill up quickly. Children are not allowed in the classrooms and no childcare is available. For a detailed schedule go to the Wake Tech ESL Registration website.

City of Raleigh English ESL Classes The City of Raleigh offers free ESL classes for adults. Visit the ESL Program’s website for more information and class times and locations. Call (919) 9966844 or email with questions. 20


Forest Hills Baptist Church – Located at the corner of Dixie Trail and

Clark Avenue (15 minute walk from NCSU campus). Forest Hills provides free English conversational classes and American culture classes for children and adults on Wednesday from 6:00-7:45 P.M. (September - May) for all levels taught by volunteers. They also offer Sunday morning conversational classes using the Bible, 9:15-10:45 A.M., for internationals who want to learn more about Christianity. Child care is provided for children under the age of 3. Call 919-828-6161 or visit for more information.

Colonial Baptist Church (6051 Tryon Rd.) – Offers free ESL classes on Fridays from 9:30-11:30 A.M. Five levels are offered, ranging from beginners to advanced, and include practice in conversation, listening, reading comprehension, writing, and pronunciation. Free childcare is provided. Some Bible teaching is included. Anyone is welcome! The classes have open enrollment so you may register at any time. Workbooks are available for $15. To register or for more information please contact Leah Suarez at

Private One-on-One Tutoring – Literacy Council of Wake County

volunteers are available for FREE one-on-one tutoring. For more information call 919-787-5559. They also have monthly ESL workshops around specific topics. Email: or visit

Libraries – The campus and public libraries have limited ESL resources. Bookstores – Area bookstores have ESL books and materials as well as reading groups.

Internet – There are numerous ESL resources on the web to help you practice English. Go to for over 3000 site listings. 21


Wake County Public School System

To enroll your child in Wake County’s Public School System, you will need to contact the Center for International Enrollment. Center for International Enrollment Wake County Public School System 5625 Dillard Drive Cary, NC 27518 Phone: (919) 431-7404 | Email: |

Student Parent Community at NCSU

The Student Parent Community’s website provides many great resources to help students and their families transition to life at NC State. For more information email

Fun Activities for Children in Raleigh

Macaroni Kid – Calendar of Events for Children and Families Social Butterflies NC – Kid Friendly Activities in the Raleigh Area Pullen Park (Right next to NC State!) Marbles Kids Museum and IMAX Theater Story Times at Local Libraries NC Museum of Natural Sciences NC Museum of History Weekly Reader – Online Activities

Fun Activities for Children in North Carolina North Carolina Zoo – Asheboro, NC Discovery Place – Charlotte, NC Carowinds Amusement Park – Charlotte, NC Old Salem – Winston-Salem, NC Emerald Pointe Waterpark – Greensboro, NC 22


Child Care Resources

• Daycare Database: official database of the state with license information. Once you select a center go through the tabs at the top to see about DCD visits, actions taken, etc. • Daycares that offer discounts to NC State students and staff • Tips on choosing child care in the U.S. Family Daycare: Individuals licensed by the state of NC can take care of children in their private homes. Providers set their own fees. Quality and style will vary greatly between providers. It is important to visit the home and speak with the provider before making a decision on a provider. Day Care Centers: They will often offer all-day programs. There are typically a greater number of caregivers at a day care center (as opposed to a family daycare) and will therefore have more children there as well. Fees are set by the provider and are typically more expensive than family daycare. Community and After-School Programs: Many public schools offer “after-school” care. After the school day ends, children can stay for activities and snacks. Contact the school your child will be attending to find out what is available. Babysitters: An individual who will come into your home to care for your child. This is usually on an occasional or part-time basis. Usually you find babysitters through referrals from other individuals who have hired them.

Additional Parenting Resources • Carolina Parent – Find activities for children, childcare listings, etc. • GoAskMom – Find out where kids can eat free, where to find free or cheap family movies, free museum days, preschool profiles, park and playground database, etc. 23


You have recently left family and careers to accompany and support your spouse during his or her studies in the U.S. This transition is difficult and full of many changes, some of which you may not have expected. The most obvious change is the shift to an entirely new country and culture. While you may find life in the U.S. similar to what you expected, you may be surprised by the differences you’ve experienced so far. The American media is often the source of misperceptions about life in the U.S. Some internationals arrive believing that all Americans are wealthy, practice immoral behavior, or carry guns. Everyone arrives with some predetermined ideas of what their life will be like in the U.S. What are yours?

Whatever the differences between life in the U.S. and your home culture, cultural differences from the way you greet another to how you pay your bills, may challenge you. The accumulation of all of these differences, big and small, can cause “culture stress”. Experiencing culture stress is normal for everyone. You may find yourself becoming more easily frustrated or irritated with yourself and others as you learn the cultural norms here in the U.S. The best way to work through this stage of cultural adjustment is to relax, to get enough rest, to ask questions, and to not be afraid to make mistakes in speaking English or in interacting with others. Over time you will learn how to interact with others and everyday life here will become easier for you. “You will feel like never before with no roots or connections. You will question your decisions. You will doubt. But the truth is there is a reason why you are here and there is a lot you can do to help yourself and people around you, including your husband […]. I met a lot of amazing people along the way. You will, too! Just get up, get out there and have fun!” (Katarina) “Get ready […] mentally before you come.” (Brenda) 24


Adjusting to a new culture takes time and it might be helpful to have a look at the idea of “Culture Shock” in order to mentally prepare for the cultural adjustment process.

Even though people experience many different emotions during the adjustment process, experts widely agree that you will experience the phenomenon of “Culture Shock” in one form or another. To help you understand why you might experience these different emotions, changing from excitement to fear, interest and loneliness, a closer look at the idea of “Culture Shock” can provide you with good insights. Keep in mind that you might not experience all stages, or you might repeat different stages… Stages of Cultural Adjustment Honeymoon Phase: During this phase, you might feel very excited about the new adventure! You may be very busy and euphoric! Sometimes people also describe this phase as the “tourist phase”, in which you tend to enjoy the differences as you are interested in exploring your new surroundings. Culture Shock Phase: When the novelty of the new culture has worn off, you will most likely enter a phase of hostility when culture shock kicks in. You might focus more on the negative differences between your home culture and the new culture, and even small issues might seem like huge catastrophes. It is very likely that you will feel homesick and miss familiar surroundings and contact with family and friends. Initial Adjustment Phase: You start to develop new routines and start to build a network. You feel like you start to understand how the new system works and you might even question how you did things at home. Mental Isolation Phase: After having established new routines and a new social network, you might feel like you should be feeling comfortable and sure about your situation. However, you might feel like you would rather avoid some issues or situations, and also some relationships might not develop the way you had expected without being able to understand why.

Acceptance & Integration Phase: You feel comfortable about your situation and you have good insights into the differences between your home culture and the new culture. Even though you still might not be able to completely understand the way people act in some ways, you are okay with it. 25


Tips on How to Ease the Process of Cultural Adjustment Many women say that it helped them to consciously decide to approach the relocation in a positive way by being open to new opportunities, by getting involved, by participating in events, by going out, by being open-minded and curious, etc. It might also help to prepare yourself for differences. If you do not expect everything to be the same, you won’t be disappointed as easily. Because your life will be different! If you are interested in learning about underlying values in the United States in comparison to your home country, you might find Geert Hofstede's website helpful. You can use the comparison tool to identify cultural differences and likely mismatches, which might affect your process of cultural adjustment. For more information please visit the OIS Local Customs and Cultural Adjustment website. Here’s some advice from other spouses about adjusting to life in the U.S.: “It is not easy to move to another country especially if you are here for a short period of time (2-5 years), you will not feel the stability because this might just be a transition stage of your life, but try to learn new things and try to visit other places in the U.S. when you get the chance. When you feel bored, there are a lot of places to visit even in Raleigh, museums, parks, lakes, shopping centers, and ethnic stores”. (Rasha) “Besides trying to blend in the life here, another important consideration is to adjust our attitudes. Many friends told me that they sacrificed a lot to come to the US with their husbands. They quitted their jobs, left their parents behind, and learn to do all the housework. However, their husbands were busy at their studies and took everything the wives did as granted, they didn't notice the imbalance or the unfair their wives felt. So two of them fight a lot, even a tiny bit things can lead to a big fight. Therefore, I think wives should try to make their lives colorful and interesting, and communicate more with their husbands. Because if you don't tell them, they will never known. Rather have a bad mood by yourself, it is better to say it aloud.” (Chibin) 26


The Office of International Services has several programs to help international students, scholars, and spouses meet Americans and vice versa. If you are interested in learning more about American culture or teaching others about your own culture, you may want to join these programs. You can find more information, including applications on the OIS websites linked below. iM.O.M. (International Moms or Mates) is a group for spouses of international students and scholars at NC State University. Students and scholars are encouraged to schedule a separate checkin appointment for their spouses. Please call 919-515-2961 to schedule a spouse check-in. All spouses are advised to bring their travel documents with them to the check-in (I-20/DS-2019, passport, and I-94 card printout). iM.O.M. meets every Wednesday from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. in the E.S. King Village Common Room.

International Friendship Program

The International Friendship Program pairs international students with American students to become friends and learn about one another’s cultures. Partners meet once a month during the school year to get coffee, go to the movies, or do something else fun together. Application required.


ISSERV connects international students with service projects at NCSU and in the Raleigh community. It is a great way to meet new people with interests similar to yours! You can volunteer individually or with a group. Application required.

Breaking Bread

Breaking Bread gives international students the chance to have a meal with an American family at their home. This is a fun way to learn more about America and have a nice homecooked meal! If you are interested you must turn in an application to OIS.

English Conversation Club

English Conversation Club is a fun place to practice your English with American students and teachers. It is a great place to learn idioms and slang that you may not learn in class. To see this semester’s meeting times, see the OIS website.

Culture Corps

Culture Corps lets you share your country and culture with others at NC State and in the surrounding community. Culture Corps members often give presentations in school classrooms or for community organizations. It’s a great way to practice your English and your presentation skills. Application required.



One of the biggest challenges that you will face as the spouse of an international student or scholar will be how to fill the hours of “free time” you will have here. Once you adjust to shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry, you will need to have ways to get to know other women and explore your interests or make new ones!

Gym Memberships at NC State University’s Carmichael Gymnasium The NCSU gym is a great place to keep fit and take exercise classes. Carmichael

Gymnasium is location on Cates Avenue. To receive a gym membership, visit the Carmichael Facilities Office in Room 2012 of the Carmichael Gym. Membership is $25/month or $240/year for spouses of employees. Membership fee is $60/semester for spouses of students. For more info: Carmichael Membership website.

To receive a gym membership as a spouse you will need to bring one of the following “Proof of Same Address” documents to show that you are a member of your spouse’s household: current utility bill, personal checks, current lease agreement, valid driver’s license, current insurance bill or card, current credit card statement, current bank statement, current semester tuition bill. You may also want to explore a hobby or learn a new one by enrolling in classes through the NCSU Crafts Center or continuing education classes at Wake Tech. Wake Tech offers classes on a variety of topics including NC History & Culture, Jewelry Making, Photography, Cooking, Sewing, a variety of languages, & more! Because these classes do not count towards a degree program, both J-2 and F-2 visa holders can take these courses.

Art Classes NC State Crafts Center | Pullen Arts Center (Next to NC State) | Artspace

Theatres Pullen Park Theatre | Raleigh Little Theatre | Arts NC State Theatre



General Volunteer Opportunities • 10,000 Villages • Idealist • Volunteer Match • Wake County Libraries Animal Rescue • SPCA • Wake County Animal Center Cultural • Divan Center • Hindu Society of N.C. • Islamic Center of Raleigh • Triangle Area Chinese American Society Education • OIS Culture Corps Women’s Health and Wellbeing • InterAct of Wake County • Kiran, Inc. • NC State Women’s Center



1.What has been the most helpful to you in adjusting to life in the United States? •

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) 30


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 (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) 31


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) 32


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 iMOM. 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 iMOM 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, iMOM, and other events offered by the university such as events prepared by the Women Center. (Dsi) 33


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) 34


Resource Guide for International Spouses  
Resource Guide for International Spouses