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TEXAS A&M HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER

INTERNATIONAL STUDENT

SURVIVAL MANUAL

OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL SERVICES

CONTENTS
Contents .................................................................................................................................................................... 2 Disclaimer ................................................................................................................................................................ 8 Welcome ................................................................................................................................................................... 9 Notice about Websites in the Handbook................................................................................................... 10 Office of International Services (OIS) ......................................................................................................... 11 OIS Office Staff................................................................................................................................................. 11 OIS Address and Contact Information ................................................................................................... 13 Important Phone Numbers ............................................................................................................................ 14 Important Websites .......................................................................................................................................... 15 Telephones ........................................................................................................................................................... 16 General Telephone Information............................................................................................................... 16 Finding Phone Numbers ............................................................................................................................. 16 Local Calls ......................................................................................................................................................... 17 Long Distance Calls ....................................................................................................................................... 17 Answering Machines and Voice Mail...................................................................................................... 18 Obtaining a Telephone................................................................................................................................. 18 Cell Phones ....................................................................................................................................................... 19 Free International Calls by Computer ................................................................................................... 19 Banking .................................................................................................................................................................. 20 Bank Accounts ................................................................................................................................................ 20 Checking accounts ......................................................................................................................................... 20 International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 2

Savings accounts ............................................................................................................................................ 21 Check Cards or Debit cards ........................................................................................................................ 21 American Money ................................................................................................................................................ 22 Social Services and Public Assistance ........................................................................................................ 22 Dependent Children Born in the U.S. ..................................................................................................... 23 Some Examples of Public Assistance Programs................................................................................. 24 Sales Taxes ............................................................................................................................................................ 24 Federal Taxes ....................................................................................................................................................... 25 Tax Determinations ...................................................................................................................................... 26 Glacier Tax Prep(GTP): For Filing Taxes ............................................................................................. 27 Common Tax Forms for Non-Immigrants ............................................................................................ 28 April 15th is Federal Income Tax Filing Day ....................................................................................... 29 Be Aware of Scams ........................................................................................................................................ 30 Face-to Face Help: IRS Assistance Centers .......................................................................................... 30 Choosing a Professional Tax Preparer .................................................................................................. 31 HSC Tax Assistance ....................................................................................................................................... 32 Metric Conversions............................................................................................................................................ 33 Transportation in Bryan/College Station ................................................................................................. 34 Bicycles .............................................................................................................................................................. 34 Bicycle Registration .................................................................................................................................. 34 Bicycle Theft ................................................................................................................................................ 35 Bicycle Safety .............................................................................................................................................. 35 Texas A&M HSC Bike Rack Locations & Rules ............................................................................... 35 Automobiles ..................................................................................................................................................... 36 International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 3

Drivers License.......................................................................................................................................... 37 Automobile Insurance ............................................................................................................................. 38 Automobile Emergencies ....................................................................................................................... 39 Car Purchasing Guides............................................................................................................................. 40 Transferring Car Title .............................................................................................................................. 41 Basic Driving Laws .................................................................................................................................... 41 Child Safety Restraint .............................................................................................................................. 42 Annual Automobile Inspection ............................................................................................................ 43 Campus Shuttle ............................................................................................................................................... 43 Transportation Outside of Bryan/College Station ................................................................................ 44 Airports.............................................................................................................................................................. 44 Rental Cars ....................................................................................................................................................... 45 Hitchhiking ....................................................................................................................................................... 45 Cross-State or Cross-Country Buses....................................................................................................... 46 Medical Care ......................................................................................................................................................... 46 Emergencies: ................................................................................................................................................... 47 Non-emergency Care .................................................................................................................................... 48 What to Expect When Seeing a Doctor .................................................................................................. 48 Common Health Insurance terms: .......................................................................................................... 49 Personal Safety.................................................................................................................................................... 51 General safety tips ......................................................................................................................................... 51 Apartment or home ...................................................................................................................................... 51 Driving a car..................................................................................................................................................... 52 On the telephone ............................................................................................................................................ 52 International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 4

In an elevator................................................................................................................................................... 53 Self defense-Plan Ahead .............................................................................................................................. 53 Three Basic Rules to keep in mind .......................................................................................................... 53 American Police Officers ................................................................................................................................. 54 Committing a Crime .......................................................................................................................................... 55 Alcoholic Beverages .......................................................................................................................................... 56 Legal Age for Drinking/Serving Alcohol ............................................................................................... 56 Open Container Laws in Texas ................................................................................................................. 56 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Alcohol .................................................................................... 57 Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) of Alcohol ....................................................................................... 58 Implied Consent Laws.................................................................................................................................. 58 Smoking ................................................................................................................................................................. 58 Illegal Drugs ......................................................................................................................................................... 59 Housing .................................................................................................................................................................. 60 Apartments ...................................................................................................................................................... 60 Utilities & Other Services ............................................................................................................................ 61 Water, Sewage, and Electricity Services ........................................................................................... 61 Natural Gas Service ................................................................................................................................... 62 Television .............................................................................................................................................................. 62 Cable, Satellite and Internet Providers ................................................................................................. 62 Home Furnishings.............................................................................................................................................. 63 Buying Furniture............................................................................................................................................ 63 Renting Furniture .......................................................................................................................................... 64 Mail & Postal Service ........................................................................................................................................ 64 International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 5

Express mailing .............................................................................................................................................. 65 Social Security Numbers ................................................................................................................................. 66 Applying for an SSN ...................................................................................................................................... 67 F-2 Dependents and SSN ............................................................................................................................. 68 J-2 Dependents & SSN .................................................................................................................................. 68 Identity Theft ....................................................................................................................................................... 69 Cooking at Home or Dining Out .................................................................................................................... 72 Buying Food to Cook at Home .................................................................................................................. 72 Some ethnic food Stores in BCS ........................................................................................................... 72 Dining Out ......................................................................................................................................................... 73 Restaurant Dining Tips ................................................................................................................................ 74 Children ................................................................................................................................................................. 74 Childcare Centers........................................................................................................................................... 74 Children ages 6 and over ............................................................................................................................ 75 Public Schools ................................................................................................................................................. 76 Listing of schools in College station ....................................................................................................... 76 Listing of schools in Bryan ......................................................................................................................... 76 Living in Texas .................................................................................................................................................... 77 Interesting facts about Texas .................................................................................................................... 77 Traveling Around Texas .............................................................................................................................. 78 Common Texan Expressions ..................................................................................................................... 79 Common Texas Greetings and Responses............................................................................................ 83 Common Texas Farewells and Responses ........................................................................................... 83 Texas Good Samaritan Law........................................................................................................................ 84 International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 6

American Holidays ............................................................................................................................................ 84 Other Celebrations ........................................................................................................................................ 88 Texas Holidays .................................................................................................................................................... 88 Daylight Savings Time ...................................................................................................................................... 90 Shopping Tips ...................................................................................................................................................... 91 General information ..................................................................................................................................... 91 Area stores ....................................................................................................................................................... 91 Weather in Bryan/College Station .............................................................................................................. 92 Climate ............................................................................................................................................................... 92 Seasons .............................................................................................................................................................. 93 Spring ............................................................................................................................................................. 93 Summer ......................................................................................................................................................... 93 Fall ................................................................................................................................................................... 93 Winter ............................................................................................................................................................ 93 Severe Weather .............................................................................................................................................. 93 Tornados ....................................................................................................................................................... 93 Hurricanes.................................................................................................................................................... 94 Thunderstorms & Lightning.................................................................................................................. 95 Social Invitations ................................................................................................................................................ 96 Adjusting to American Culture ..................................................................................................................... 97 What is Culture? ............................................................................................................................................. 97 What is Culture Shock? ................................................................................................................................ 98 The Four Stages of Culture Shock............................................................................................................ 98 Honeymoon Stage ..................................................................................................................................... 98 International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 7

Shock Stage .................................................................................................................................................. 98 Negotiation Stage ...................................................................................................................................... 99 Acceptance Stage ....................................................................................................................................... 99 Some Symptoms of Culture Shock .......................................................................................................... 99 Some Solutions for Culture Shock ......................................................................................................... 100 American Cultural Traits ............................................................................................................................... 100 Equality............................................................................................................................................................ 101 Individualism ................................................................................................................................................ 101 Time Consciousness ................................................................................................................................... 102 Materialism .................................................................................................................................................... 103 Freedom of religion .................................................................................................................................... 103 Privacy ............................................................................................................................................................. 103 Informality...................................................................................................................................................... 104 Verbal Communication .............................................................................................................................. 104 Non-Verbal Communication .................................................................................................................... 105 Other Cultural Items ................................................................................................................................... 107 Nothing wrong with the left hand ..................................................................................................... 107 Signs of Respect ....................................................................................................................................... 108 Nothing wrong with thumb up in America ................................................................................... 108 Shoes & Bare Feet.................................................................................................................................... 108 Cleaning Teeth in Public ....................................................................................................................... 109 We Wish You the Best .................................................................................................................................... 109
D ISCLAIMER
The OIS makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents of this manual and expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions in the contents of this manual. The information in this manual is intended only for current and prospective international students and scholars of Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC). Any information on immigration regulations is subject to change at any time and without notice and may not apply to individuals outside the TAMHSC community. All information was correct on the day of publication. (March 1, 2012)

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WELCOME
Welcome to Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) and to Bryan/College Station (BCS), Texas. We are glad that you have chosen to study with us and we look forward to helping you during your time with us. Let us encourage you to explore and get to know both the people and places around Texas. This handbook is designed to help you learn more about some practical items needed to help you as you start your time of living in Texas. You will find a variety of practical resources to help you get settled here at TAMHSC. Moving to a new place is never easy, but we hope that we can provide you with enough information to make the transition as smooth as possible. We hope you have a fruitful and enjoyable time here.The Office of International Services is here to assist you principally in assisting you in immigration compliance issues, as your academic department is responsible for assisting you in your academic needs. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns during your time in the Bryan/College Station area. We wish you the best during your time at Texas A&M Health Science Center.

THE OIS OFFICE STAFF

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NOTICE ABOUT WEBSITES IN THE HANDBOOK


The International Student Survival Manual is both a printed and online publication. The online version of the International Student Survival Manual has clickable links to the websites of several TAMHSC offices, federal offices, organizations, and outside businesses which are mentioned in the manual. If you are reading the print version of the Survival Manual and would like to have access to these websites, please view the International Student Survival Manuals at www.tamhsc.edu/ois under Manuals

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OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL SERVICES (OIS)


The Office of International Services (OIS) is committed to providing an environment in which each individual international student is able to share his/her own culture with the rest of the HSC community, and through the same process, learn to value and respect all cultures of the world. Their presence and integration into academic, community and student life is essential in helping meet the overall mission of the Health Science Center of "advancing the knowledge and technologies of HSC professions, and to bringing Texans the finest in health education, promotion and care." Moreover, the OIS strives to ensure that each international student is given the opportunity to experience a rich and meaningful experience through the following measures: 1. By providing the students with comprehensive information regarding federal government regulations that affect their status in the United States. 2. By serving the HSC international community through the coordination and administration of programs that are designed to meet those special needs that are not specifically within the province of the students academic department staff. 3. By providing socio-cultural and educational opportunities that will ease the adjustment process of international students as well as enhance their experience at the Health Science Center. 4. By providing an environment conducive to the scholastic and cultural well-being of our international community by providing opportunities to advance internationalization of the Health Science Center through international events, services and programs

OIS OFFICE STAFF


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OIS Director
(Bryan/College Station)

979-436-0185

intsrvc@tamhsc.edu

Philip O. Clay

OIS Administrator
(Dallas Office)

214-828-8182

kluttman@bcd.tamhsc.edu

Kim Luttman

OIS Lead Office Associate


(Bryan/College Station)

979-436-0185 intsrvc@tamhsc.edu

Julie Brooks

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OIS ADDRESS AND CONTACT INFORMATION

Office of International Services in Bryan/College Station Texas A&M Health Science Center Health Professions Education Building 8447 State Highway 47, Bryan, TX 77807-3260 Phone: 979-436-0185 FAX: 979-436-0099 intsrvc@tamhsc.edu www.tamhsc.edu/ois Office Hours 8:00 am 5 pm, Monday Friday

Office of International Services in Dallas

(Dallas Students Only)


Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry 3302 Gaston Avenue Dallas Texas USA 75246-2098 Phone: 1-214-874-4537 FAX: 1-214-828-8182 Office Hours Tuesday through Thursday, 8:45 am to 3:30 pm central standard time kluttman@bcd.tamhsc.edu www.tamhsc.edu/ois

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IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS


Emergency (Fire/Medical/Police) College Station Police Department Bryan Police Department Operator General information on telephone numbers and addresses within your area code Information on telephone numbers outside of your area code Office of International Services 911 979-764-3600 979-361-5316 0 411

1-(area code)-555-1212

979-436-0185

After hours emergency only


Office of International Services (BCD)

979-575-0526
214-828-8182

After hours emergency only (BCD)

817-614-6347

OTHER NUMBERS

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IMPORTANT WEBSITES
Click on office for hyperlink to webpage.

Texas A&M Health Science Center TAMHSC Office of International Services TAMHSC Office of the Registrar TAMHSC Student Business Services

Texas A&M Health Science Center Directory Bryan/College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services U.S. Department of State (DOS) Websites of U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the World Visa Information Visa Wait Times Texas Department of Public Safety Social Security Administration Internal Revenue Service

If you are looking at a hard copy please go to our website to access links: www.tamhsc.edu/ois

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TELEPHONES
GENERAL TELEPHONE INFORMATION
There are several three-digit numbers in the U.S. One is especially important to remember:

Emergencies: 911

FIRE MEDICAL POLICE

Directory Assistance 411: Another three-digit number is Dial 411. This is the number for the United States. There is a small fee per call for using this number. You will be asked for the state and city of the person or business for whose telephone number you are looking. Local telephone numbers in the United States have 7 digits, for example: 5556666. Long-distance phone numbers have 10 digits, for example 800-555-6666 The first three digits are called the area code. It is necessary to use the area code only when calling to a phone number in a different area code. You must also use the number 1 when you are dialing outside your area code, for example 1-800-5556000.

FINDING PHONE NUMBERS


Twenty years ago the easiest way to find a phone number was through phone books commonly known as the White Pages or the Yellow Pages. Phone books have become less common because of the internet but you can still find them so it is good to be familiar with them.

The White Pages contain alphabetical listings of government, business and private
home phone numbers. These three categories are listed separately: government numbers come first; private numbers are next; and business listings are last.

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The Yellow Pages is a separate directory that lists commercial and business
numbers organized alphabetically by business type rather than name. For example, under Restaurants is an alphabetical list of many restaurants in the local area. An index of topics is at the back of the Yellow Pages.

LOCAL CALLS
The area code for Bryan/College Station is 979. A local call is a call made to someone within your area code. There are no additional charges on your phone bill for any calls made to another number that has the same area codein other words a local call. It means you are calling someone close by. Local calls can be made from your cell-phone, your home landlines and public phone booths. It is becoming difficult to find public telephones nowadays. If you do they are usually located in most public buildings and on busy streets. Unlike many other countries, the post office and the telephone company in the United States are not connected to one another. It is rare to find a public telephone in a post office.

LONG DISTANCE CALLS


To place a long distance call from a landline or public telephone, follow the directions for Long Distance at the front of the telephone directory. If you are calling overseas you will need a country code; these are also listed in the directory. There are several ways to call long distance from a public telephone.

Direct-dialed: This is the cheapest. Use it if you will speak to anyone who answers the telephone. Operator-assisted: This method is more expensive. Person-to-person. If you wish to speak with one particular person and to no one else, you may use this method. It costs more, but you pay for the call only if that person is able to answer the call. Collect calls. This means that the person you are calling will pay for the call. When the call is connected, the operator will say to the person who answers the phone, I have a collect call from (your name). Will you accept the charges? If the person says yes, the operator will tell you to go ahead." International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 17

ANSWERING MACHINES AND VOICE MAIL


Many offices have "on-hold" queue for busy times. If you call and get a message to wait, dont hang up and call back immediately. Instead, stay on the line and wait until someone takes your call. Many people and offices, including ours, also have answering machines or voice mail that takes their calls when a person is not able to answer. When leaving a message, speak slowly and clearly and be sure to leave your name (spell it out) and telephone number. Often, you will get a faster response and better service by leaving a message rather than calling back at a later time.

OBTAINING A TELEPHONE
To arrange telephone service at your home or apartment, you must first buy a telephone. Most discount and department stores, such as Target, Best Buy and Wal-Mart, sell them. Check with your department about local providers of service. The company may ask you for a Social Security Number. If you do not have one, offer your passport number as an alternative. You will have several options to upgrade your service with features such as call waiting or voice mail." These features cost extra. Long Distance service, including international service, is provided separately. You should be prepared to tell your provider if you would like a long distance provider when you arrange your local telephone service. Another option is to purchase pre-paid long-distance calling cards which may have lower rates to the countries you call frequently. The Yellow Pages telephone book lists several choices of providers. Call several to compare service and costmost have a variety of service packages. Describe your calling patterns (which countries you will call the most, how often, when, etc.) so they can help you choose the best package.

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CELL PHONES
Cellular or mobile phones are increasingly popular with international students who use them in addition to or instead of a land line phone. There are many options for setting up a cell phone account. Most cell phone companies will require a Social Security Number if you are signing a contract agreeing to pay a monthly bill. There are options to get a cell phone if you are not eligible for a social security number. Some companies have pay as you go cell phone that requires no contract and no credit checks. These cell phones are prepaid or the payment is deducted from your bank account.

FREE INTERNATIONAL CALLS BY COMPUTER


As long as you have an internet connection and the right hardware on your computer, it is really easy to make totally free international long distance calls. You can keep up and talk to anyone overseas for free using some simple software available on the internet. You should have a broadband internet connection for the best call quality, but it is possible to make calls over a dial up connection. You need to make sure that your computer has a sound card with a speaker and microphone jack (or a built in microphone). You will then need to download free internet phone software from the VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) provider of your choice, which is the method for making phone calls over the internet. Popular VoIP internet phone service providers are Skype, Gizmo, Net2Phone and WebPhone. It doesn't matter which one you use - the important thing is that everyone you talk with uses the same VoIP provider.

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BANKING
It is not safe to keep a lot of cash (currency) with you. Financial institutionscredit unions, banks, and savings and loans institutionsprovide a safe way to keep your money because they carry insurance on all funds kept in them. Most Americans pay their expenses with personal checks, or electronic checks.

BANK ACCOUNTS
The cities of Bryan/College Station are home to numerous banks and financial institutions. We recommend that you consult the internet to locate the bank that you would like to work with or ask other students in your department. To keep your money in a financial institution you must open an account. Usually you need a picture I.D., such as a passport, when you open an account, and you are often asked to provide a Social Security number. Many local banks are accustomed to dealing with international students and will assist you in opening an account, even if you do not have a Social Security Number. Ask at the institutions information desk about the types of services it offers. These can vary widely. However, there are basically two different types of accounts:

CHECKING ACCOUNTS
Institutions often offer free checking if you keep a minimum balance of $100 to $300 in your account; a few may offer free checking with no minimum balance. If there is no free checking, you will be charged about 25 cents per check, or a basic monthly fee.

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SAVINGS ACCOUNTS
Savings accounts earn interest. You can withdraw any amount at any time during regular hours. Some institutions will charge a monthly service fee if your balance is below a certain amount, or if you make more than a certain number of transactions per month.

CHECK CARDS OR DEBIT CARDS


These cards can also be used for purchases. The money is electronically transferred from your checking account to the merchant. If you have only a savings account, however, you may not be able to get a check or debit card. Bank cards for different institutions may have different names, but most cash machines serve several institutions. Just place the card in a machine and enter your personal identification number to activate it. Some machines take deposits, too. You should be aware that most banks charge a fee for each of these transactions. NOTE: If you decide to get a debit card, be sure to record your withdrawals, purchases, and fees in your check book register! Before opening an account, ask the bank about these additional services: Bank Statements ATMs Canceled Checks Wiring Service for Money Travelers Checks Loans Checking Reserves Credit References Safety Deposit Boxes Foreign Currency Exchange Money Orders Draft Cashiers Checks Notary Public Night Deposit Branches Check Cashing

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AMERICAN MONEY
The basic unit of U.S. currency is the dollar (one dollar is worth 100 cents). U.S. currency includes paper money (banknotes) and coins. The most commonly used banknotes are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollar bills. Many places will not accept $100 bills for small purchases. We would recommend that you always use 5, 10 and 20 dollar bills. U.S. Coins Names: one dollar = 100 cents (not commonly used) half dollar = 50 cents quarter = 25 cents dime = 10 cents nickel = 5 cents penny = 1 cent It is becoming more common for people to not carry or use currency but rather to do all transactions by a debit or check card. Almost all stores, restaurants and other places of business accept debit, credit and check cards.

SOCIAL SERVICES AND PUBLIC ASSISTANCE


Occasionally international students and scholars with families, like American students and scholars with families, find themselves in difficult financial situations. The federal and state governments have set up social services and assistance programs to assist those who need a helping hand for U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. These programs are NOT available to non-immigrant visa holders. If you try to participate in federally funded programs, you International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 22

will jeopardize your immigration status. International students and scholars should not, under any circumstance, accept public benefits from the federal, state, county of local government agencies in the United States. This includes, but is not limited to, participation in programs such as Medicare/Medicaid, Supplemental Social Security Income, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, food stamps, free lunch programs and subsidized housing. Accepting such benefits can cause you to lose your legal status in the United States and create a bar to your re-entry to this country. Cooperation between state social service agencies and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Department of State make it possible for a USCIS inspector or U.S. Consular officer to become aware of an individual who has accepted public benefits. The acceptance of public benefits is interpreted as a declaration that the individual is unable to meet his or her financial obligations (a requirement of obtaining and maintaining status) and thereby rendering him or herself ineligible for F-1 or J-1 status. Occasionally a well-meaning social service agency, hospital or public housing administrator may offer such assistance, not realizing that non-immigrants are ineligible for such benefits.

DEPENDENT CHILDREN BORN IN THE U.S.


If you have a dependent child who was born in the U.S., you are still not eligible to participate in Public Assistance Programs. Even though the child is a U.S. citizen, he/she is still considered a dependent of an F-1 or J-1 visa holder and therefore you are responsible for all expenses without the help of public assistance programs. Please be aware that some international students had their immigration status terminated because of accepting assistance for their U.S. born child.

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SOME EXAMPLES OF PUBLIC ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS


The following is a partial list of public assistance programs for which non-immigrants are not eligible: CHIP (Childrens Health Insurance Program); aid to Families with Dependent Children Medicaid Food Stamps Federally-funded housing programs Free School Breakfast or Lunch programs WIC (Women, Infant and Children Program)

SALES TAXES
In the United States, when you purchase tangible goods, utilities or other services, you generally must pay a State Sales and Use Tax which is imposed on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods, as well as taxable services. Texas cities, counties, transit authorities and special purpose districts have the option of imposing an additional local sales tax for a combined total of state and local taxes of 8 1/4% (.0825) Sales tax is not stated in the price of an item; it is added to the price when you pay. As mentioned previously, sales tax varies depending upon the state and, sometimes, the county within the state. Thus, if an item is priced at $1.00, your total cost will be $1.07. If you are uncertain about how much a particular item will cost, you can ask a cashier to check for you.

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FEDERAL TAXES
Most international students studying in the United States realize that it is a privilege to come to the U.S. to study. Therefore, they are careful not to do anything which might jeopardize their status here, for instance, by not paying income taxes that they may owe. Since taxes are usually withheld from wages, paying taxes is a relatively easy process. However, the United States income tax system depends to a large extent upon voluntary compliance. That means that a taxpayer can often, for a short while, keep from paying his/her rightful share of income tax by simply ignoring his/her duty to pay the taxes. This is especially true if a student is paid without having income taxes withheld. Some students, therefore, ignore their duty to pay taxes. Many students who are here only a short time, apparently succeed in not paying their rightful amount of tax. However, if you have friends who don't pay their income taxes and encourage you to do the same, you should consider the following facts: 1. It is a crime to willfully fail to correctly file an income tax return. 2. If you incorrectly claim "exempt" status on your W-4 form, you will be fined $500. 3. If you are going to be in the United States for an extended period of time, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will eventually catch-up with your failure to pay your income taxes. At that time you will not only be required to pay the taxes that you owe, but you will also be required to pay interest on the taxes and you will probably be assessed additional penalty taxes as well. In addition, if you ever decide to apply to become a legal permanent resident of the U.S., the Immigration Service often asks to see the tax returns which you have filed in the previous years. If you failed to file tax returns previously, you will have to file the tax returns and pay any taxes that you may owe or risk having your application for legal permanent residency denied

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In general, international students and scholars in nonimmigrant visa classifications must pay federal taxes if employed by TAMHSC. However, in certain instances they may be exempted because of tax treaties between the United States and their home countries, or if their employment can be considered a fellowship, as defined by the IRS. U.S. taxes can be complicated and therefore the OIS is not able to assist or advise due to liability issues.

TAX DETERMINATIONS
Income tax determinations are complex and do not always follow the categories of immigration law. Depending on the particular circumstances, an international student or scholar in F-1 or J-1 status could be considered a "nonresident alien for tax purposes"; under other circumstances, the same nonimmigrant could be considered a "resident alien for tax purposes." Most F-1 and J-1 students are considered to be nonresidents for taxation purposes during their first five years of presence in the US. J-1 scholars are considered to be nonresidents for taxation purposes during their first two years of presence in the US. It is important to note that these are calendar years, so if you arrive at any point in a year, even on December 30, that will count as the first year of presence. This information is subject to change. Please talk to the HSC Payroll Office if you have questions. In addition, students in F-1 and J-1 status do not pay US Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes for the first five calendar years of presence in the US. Scholars in J-1 status are exempt from FICA for the first two calendar years of presence in the US. After that point, they become resident taxpayers and are subject to FICA withholdings. Holders of H-1B status are subject to FICA withholdings, and are generally considered to be tax residents after their first six months of presence in the US. If you are considered a "nonresident alien for tax purposes", please be aware that some popular tax programs, including TurboTax, may not include the required forms for this tax status. Glacier Tax Prep (see below) is a program that the OIS has purchased and that is specifically designed for non-resident tax preparation.

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Glacier Tax Prep is designed to assist a student, scholar or department in determining the student or scholar's tax status. The HSC CANNOT assist you in answering tax questions or completing tax forms.

GLACIER TAX PREP(GTP): FOR FILING TAXES


Each year the OIS purchases a license for a web-based tax preparation software program, which is made available for your use. Formerly known as CINTAX, Glacier Tax Prep (GTP), allows you to easily prepare your federal income tax return from any computer connected to the internet. After you collect all of your tax and immigration information, it should take you only twenty to forty minutes to complete your federal income tax return using Glacier Tax Prep (GTP). Once you answer Glacier Tax Preps questions about your immigration status, income, and related matters, Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) will produce (in PDF format) your completed federal income tax forms ready for printing, signing, and mailing to the Internal Revenue Service. Federal regulations do not permit non-immigrants to submit forms electronically. To use Glacier Tax Prep (GTP), you will receive an email from the OIS around February 15 each year telling you that Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) is available. It will contain instructions on how to request login instructions from Glacier Tax Prep (GTP). Please note that neither the OIS nor other HSC offices can answer tax related questions or provide e-mail or telephone support for Glacier Tax Prep (GTP), but Glacier Tax Prep (GTP), with its clear format and many help menus, is easy to use to prepare your federal income tax return. GTP is only available during the tax season (February-April).

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COMMON TAX FORMS FOR NON-IMMIGRANTS


These are typical tax forms that an international student, scholar or staff member will complete, receive or use to comply with U.S. federal tax regulations. Non-resident aliens will use information on these forms to assist you in completing your federal and state tax returns. Form W-2 This is a statement of your wage (job) income and the taxes, if any, that were withheld from your paycheck in that year. It is issued by your employer after the end of a calendar (tax) year. Use this form to file forms such as 1040NR-EZ, or 1040NR. Four copies of the W-2 are enclosed. Send the one marked Federal with your 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. Keep the copy marked Employee for your records. Form 1042-S This is an income statement, which is specific to internationals receiving certain nonwage income (like a room and board scholarship), as well as wages exempt from income tax due to a tax treaty. If you did not receive a 1042-S, and believe you should have, or lost it, please contact the HSC Office of Payroll Services at payroll@tamhsc.edu . Form 1098-T A record of the amount you paid (or HSC paid on your behalf) for tuition and mandatory fees to HSC in a given tax year. If you were tax non-resident for that year you do NOT need to do anything with the 1098T. We suggest keeping it for your records. Glacier Tax Prep will assist you in determining whether you will pay taxes as a resident or a non-resident. Form 1040NR (or) Form 1040NR-EZ Forms which you will use to file your income tax return. If you use Glacier Tax Prep to file your return, the 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ will be included. These forms are also available to download from www.irs.gov . Form W-4 This form is completed when you accept employment at HSC. The HSC uses this information to determine how much in taxes should be withheld from your Page 28

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paychecks. If you have questions about your W-4, contact the Payroll Services Office. You do not send a W-4 with your tax return. Form W-7 This is the application for an IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If you are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number, you must get an ITIN. See definition of terms. Form 1099 Form sent by banks or investment companies to show any interest earned on bank account, stocks, funds, etc. which you may need to claim. Form 8843 All international students and scholars must file an 8843 even if they receive no U.S. income, unless they are deemed tax residents. This term is used by the IRS to identify certain individuals visiting the U.S. to study, teach or research. An exempt individual is exempted from counting days of presence for the Substantial Presence Test which is used to determine whether a person is classified as tax resident or tax non-resident. It does NOT mean a person is exempt from filing an appropriate tax return.

APRIL 15TH IS FEDERAL INCOME TAX FILING DAY


Traditionally, Tax Day falls on April 15 unless that day happens to be on a Saturday, Sunday or federal holiday. That means that your tax must be completed and postmarked by the U.S. Post Office before midnight of April 15th. Late submissions may incur a fine. Sometimes there are circumstances that happen beyond your control that cause you to file late taxes. It happens from time to time, and the government is aware that sometimes taxpayers have legitimate reasons that force them to file late taxes. For such occasions, the IRS has forms for late filing taxpayers. If you find that you cannot meet the April 15th deadline, you must complete and file the appropriate late filing forms. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 29

BE AWARE OF SCAMS
A scam is a fraudulent attempt to obtain money by means of deception including fake personalities, fake photos, fake template letters, non-existent addresses and phone numbers, forged documents. The world is full or evil people who will seek to take advantage of you. Please know that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will not contact anyone via IRS email. If you receive such an email, you should not open it as it likely contains some sort of virus or malware. You should NEVER provide your SSN/ITIN to anyone via an e-mail or on the phone. Always verify that you are talking to an IRS representative and not someone pretending to represent the IRS. If you are using Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) please be aware that the Glacier Tax Prep Support Center will never ask you to send your SSN/ITIN via email - and you should never include it when sending in a support email. Should you have any tax-related questions, please contact a professional tax preparer.

FACE-TO FACE HELP: IRS ASSISTANCE CENTERS


The Internal Revenue Service has Tax Taxpayer Assistance Centers located in most major cities. The centers are there to provide personal tax help when you believe your tax issue cannot be handled online or by phone. This is a walk-in service only and they do not accept appointments. Please click on Tax Payer Assistance Centers for address, phones, hours and other information. Please make sure that you carry all of your forms with you when you visit.

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CHOOSING A PROFESSIONAL TAX PREPARER


If you pay someone to prepare your tax return, the IRS urges you to choose that preparer wisely. Taxpayers are legally responsible for whats on their tax return even if it is prepared by someone else. So, it is important to choose carefully when hiring an individual or firm to prepare your return. Most return preparers are professional, honest and provide excellent service to their clients. Here are a few points provided by the IRS to keep in mind when someone else prepares your return:

Check the person's qualifications Ask if the preparer is affiliated with a professional organization that provides its members with continuing education and resources and holds them to a code of ethics. New regulations effective in 2011 require all paid tax return preparers including attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. Check the preparer's history Check to see if the preparer has a questionable history with the Better Business Bureau and check for any disciplinary actions and licensure status through the state boards of accountancy for certified public accountants; the state bar associations for attorneys; and the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility for enrolled agents. Find out about their service fees Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers. Make sure the tax preparer is accessible Make sure you will be able to contact the tax preparer after the return has been filed, even after the April due date, in case questions arise. Provide all records and receipts needed to prepare your return Page 31

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Most reputable preparers will request to see your records and receipts and will ask you multiple questions to determine your total income and your qualifications for expenses, deductions and other items.

Never sign a blank return Avoid tax preparers that ask you to sign a blank tax form. Review the entire return before signing it Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions. Make sure you understand everything and are comfortable with the accuracy of the return before you sign it. Make sure the preparer signs the form and includes their PTIN A paid preparer must sign the return and include their PTIN as required by law. Although the preparer signs the return, you are responsible for the accuracy of every item on your return. The preparer must also give you a copy of the return.

The IRS can help many taxpayers prepare their own returns without the assistance of a paid preparer. Before seeking a paid preparer, taxpayers might consider how much information is available directly from the IRS through the IRS Web site.

HSC TAX ASSISTANCE


Filing U.S. income taxes can be complicated and errors can result in fines. Please be aware that because of liability issues, the HSC does not have trained or expert tax preparers on staff to assist U.S. or foreign taxpayers. Therefore the OIS and other HSC staff must direct you to address all questions to the IRS or to a professional tax person. If you are using Glacier Tax Prep the process should be very simple and no assistance should be needed. Please keep in mind that Texas A&M Health Science Center employees, while in their official role at TAMHSC, are not allowed to act as tax consultants or provide tax advice.

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METRIC CONVERSIONS
The U.S. measurement system is a confusing matter and still holds itself apart from the metric system employed by most other countries. There are a few exceptions. Medical and scientific fields use the metric system, and many items for trade are now measured in the International System of Units (SI), also called the metric system. The U.S. measurement system is based on the English system, or imperial units, though England has now long since converted to SI. Legally, according to laws passed in 1988, SI became the standard measurement system for trade and commerce in the U.S. but efforts to move the U.S. to a metric system failed. The metric system it is not used or understood by most people. The most notable places of use are in the medical field and product packaging. Here are some common conversions: SOME BASIC METRIC CONVERSIONS METRIC AMOUNT millimeters Meters Meters kilometers millimeters square meters square meters Hectares square kilometers Milliliters Liters cubic meters cubic meters Grams Kilograms Celsius MULTIPLY BY 0.039 3.28 1.09 0.621 0.0016 10.764 1.195 2.47 0.386 0.034 0.264 35.314 1.307 0.035 2.202 1.8C + 32 TO DETERMINE inches feet yards miles square inches square feet square yards acres square miles fluid ounces gallons cubic feet cubic yards ounces pounds Fahrenheit SYMBOL in ft yd mi in2 ft2 yd2 ac mi2 fl oz gal ft3 yd3 oz lb
o

F Page 33

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TRANSPORTATION IN BRYAN/COLLEGE STATION


The transportation system in the United States is quite different from that in most other countries. Public transportation is limited as most Americans own cars, which are the most common form of transportation. The HSC Bryan/College Station campus and administrative offices are in different areas so a car or other means of public transportation is needed in order to visit the OIS or other student service offices. Public transportation is especially limited in Texas as the vast distances between cities and the size of the state make public transportation hard to implement. Also, in Texas almost everyone has a car (or pickup truck; 25% of car owners in Texans own a pickup truck) and chooses to use it rather than public transportation. There is an intercity/interstate bus system and limited rail systems available.

BICYCLES
For many international students (especially those who live near the HSC campus) the most common means of transportation is the bicycle. You may want to purchase a used bike and a good lock to secure it from theft. Be advised that bicycle riders are required to observe the same traffic rules as automobiles.

BICYCLE REGISTRATION
You do not need to license a bicycle. However, you may wish to have your bicycle's serial number registered at the Police Department. Having the serial number registered can help the police recover your bicycle if it is stolen. You can take your bicycle serial number to the College Station Police Department. There is no fee for registering the serial number. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 34

BICYCLE THEFT
It is important to lock your bicycle securely whenever you leave it. Although bicycle theft is not as common in Bryan/College Station as it is in large U.S. cities, it is still a serious problem. Ask the person who sells you the bicycle to recommend an effective lock for it. You should lock your bicycle into a bicycle rack, not to light poles, trees, or posts.

BICYCLE SAFETY
When you are riding your bicycle on a street or road, you must obey the same rules and traffic signs as a motorist. You can be ticketed by police and be required to pay a fine for violating traffic regulations with a bicycle, just as you can for violating them with a car. There are hand signals you should use to let motorists know when you plan to make a turn. Putting your left arm straight out from your side signals a left turn. Bending the left arm upward at the elbow indicates a right turn. If you are riding your bicycle before sunrise or after sunset, you must have a headlight and rear light or reflector. It is a good idea to wear light-colored or reflective clothing when riding at night and a very good idea to wear a helmet anytime you ride a bike. Bicyclists must be quite attentive to cars, trucks, and pedestrians, and must be able to stop or turn aside if they find their path obstructed. Never ride on a sidewalk. We recommend that you also buy a good quality helmet and use it when riding.

TEXAS A&M HSC BIKE RACK LOCATIONS & RULES


Bicycle parking is available throughout both the university and the HSC campus and is designated by the presence of bicycle racks. Bicycles must be parked within the boundaries of designated bike racks. The following are general guidelines regarding bicycle parking on campus: Racks are not to be utilized as long term bicycle storage. Bicycle related gear (or other items) should not be left at the bicycle racks. Bicycles shall be parked in accordance with federal, state, and local fire and safety regulations.

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Bicycles shall not be parked or stored: In any public area of any University building (e.g. offices, residence halls, classrooms or parking structures without a bicycle storage facility) or without express permission of the building proctor; Against or fastened to any tree, plant, bush, or foliage; Against or fastened to any water, steam or gas pipe, fitting, electrical fixture, fence, sign post, railing, public seating fixture, or emergency safety device; Upon or attached to any ingress/egress ramp, stairway or stairwell railing or otherwise fastened to or blocking any exit/entrance or handicap access to any University building; In any other area not designated for bicycle parking or where parking is specifically prohibited by these regulations or by signs.

All bicyclists must operate under Texas Motor Vehicle Laws while on public roadways

AUTOMOBILES
Many students purchase an automobile. Although owning a car is very convenient, it can also be expensive. In addition to the initial cost of purchasing the car, there are insurance costs, general maintenance, fuel costs, licensing, and parking costs on the campus.

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DRIVERS LICENSE
You must have a valid drivers license to drive a car anywhere in the United States. Each state in the United States issues its own drivers license. To drive a car in Texas you must have a valid Texas drivers license. Issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) the drivers license or state I.D. card serves as the primary identification document. The Texas Drivers License is a nationally accepted form of identification that can be used to establish your identity. The State of Texas will accept the validity of an international drivers license for only one year from the date of arrival in the U.S. if you are between the ages of 18-75 and belong to a country with which Texas has a reciprocity agreement. If your country in on the list, you may drive on your foreign driver's license for a period of up to one year, provided they have an International Driver's Permit (IDP). The IDP is a document secured in one's home country of origin and serves only as a valid translation of a home country driver's license. It may not be used by itself, as the official home country driver's license must accompany it to be considered a valid driving document. Please check with your home country government office on how to obtain an IDP in your home country.

Please note that an IDP is not an International Driver's License - the internet has a lot of false information regarding an invalid document called an "International Driver's License". Please do not purchase one of these false documents, as it is not an acceptable legal document to drive in the US.
To obtain a Texas drivers license, you will be required to demonstrate your knowledge of the traffic laws in Texas by taking both a written test and a driving test. You should study for the written test as the questions and correct answers are not always intuitive. You can find a Texas Drivers Handbook with the information on which you will be tested at http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/documents/DL7.pdf . Never drive a vehicle unless you understand all of the applicable road rules, recognize all of the road signs, and possess a valid license to drive. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 37

In order to obtain information on the requirements and on how to obtain a drivers license, please visit the following website: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/ Or contact the following agency: Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) 2571 North Earl Rudder Freeway Bryan, TX 77803 Phone: 979-776-3110 Hours: 8:00 am -5:00 pm, Monday Friday Thursday only 8:00 am -7:00 pm For identity purposes, a drivers license is a major form of identification in the United States. For example, you may be asked to show your drivers license when you write a check. You can obtain a picture identification card from the Department of Public Safety (DPS). It is similar to a drivers license but does not allow you to drive. The cities of College Station and Bryan cover large areas and as a result, you may want to obtain a drivers license in order to drive a car in Bryan/College Station as well as Texas and the United States. In this case, the drivers license will act as an identification document and as a license for you to operate a motor vehicle. Contact the Texas Department of Public Safety by e-mail at their Customer Service Contact Center for any questions that you may have or call 512-424-2600.

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE
The State of Texas requires car owners to purchase and maintain automobile insurance. In case of an accident, automobile insurance protects you against most of the cost of injuries and repairs. The cost of repairs can be very high. In some states, you may be required to pay for the cost of repairing the other vehicle if you caused the accident. Insurance agents can be found on the internet or in the Yellow Pages of the phone book under Insurance. All rates in Texas are about the same for the same risk: 1. Each vehicle you own must have insurance coverage that meets or exceeds these standards:

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At least $25,000 for bodily injury or death to one person per accident. (subject to change) At least $50,000 for bodily injury or death to two or more people in an accident. (subject to

change)
At least $25,000 for property damage in an accident. (subject to change) 2. Remember that if you finance your vehicle, you also will be required to carry complete comprehensive and collision coverage. This is required because your lien holder will want to be fully reimbursed in the event of a serious accident. This type of coverage is not mandatory for someone who owns a car outright - but it reduces the overall amount you have to pay in the event of a total loss of your vehicle. 3. If you fail to follow Texas insurance regulations, there are penalties: Driving uninsured will result with a fine of at least $175. If you are fined again, the fees can increase exponentially, and you could lose your driver's license and vehicle if you commit a third offense. Texas also has a category called "surchargeable violations" that can result in payment of penalties for consecutive years - it means a single offense could stay with you and your driving record for several years. There are very few exceptions, if any, to Texas insurance laws. If you have a vehicle, you must insure it. Even non-working vehicles must be insured. You are required by law to carry proof of auto insurance in your car at all times.

AUTOMOBILE EMERGENCIES
IN CASE OF AN ACCIDENT
We advise these measures if you have an accident in your car: Call the police if there is any substantial damage to any car or other property. Do not move any car that was involved in an accident until the authorities arrive. Obtain identifying and insurance information from all drivers involved, and furnish your own Page 39

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insurance information to the other drivers. Never admit that you were at fault in the accident. It is the polices responsibility to determine who was at fault.

IN CASE YOUR VEHICLE BREAKS DOWN ON THE ROADWAY


The Texas Department of Public Safety (the state police/troopers) recommends the following measures for drivers whose vehicles break down: Park your vehicle as far off the road or highway as possible. Turn on the four-way emergency flashers (hazard lights). Tie a light-colored (preferably white) cloth or handkerchief to the radio antenna or traffic-side door handle. Make (or have readymade) a sign saying SEND HELP,

and put it in your window. Stay in your vehicle until a police officer arrives, especially if it is nighttime or if the weather is bad. If you decide to walk from your vehicle, write down and leave in your vehicle a note with the following information: your name, the date, the time you left, the direction you are going, and what you are wearing. If you decide to take a ride with a passing motorist to get help, leave a written message in your vehicle that gives this information: Your name, the date, the time you are leaving, the direction you are going, what you are wearing, the motorist's name, the motorist's vehicle license plate number, and a description of the motorist's vehicle. Notify the police, sheriff, or Texas Department of Public Safety of the location and circumstances if you need to leave your disabled vehicle along a highway.

CAR PURCHASING GUIDES


Helpful guides to purchasing cars can be found in local bookstores, and on-line. The newspaper in your community, your campus newspaper, campus bulletin boards, and electronic bulletin boards are good sources of information on used automobiles. Be very careful when purchasing a car, especially a used one. Before you buy, have a reliable International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 40

mechanic inspect the vehicle for defects. Be sure to obtain the title to the car you buy. You can also check on a free website CarMax http://www.carmax.com/ to see availability of quality used cars in the area and vehicle histories. If you are unsure ask an American friend to accompany you.

TRANSFERRING CAR TITLE


The title is an official document issued by the state that signifies ownership of the vehicle. Additional documents may be required to complete the transfer of a car from the previous owner to you. If you decide to buy a car, make sure that the Certificate of Ownership or Title is transferred to you from the previous owner. Also, make sure that you register the car within ten days after purchase. Contact the Brazos County Tax Assessor Collectors Office for additional information.

Brazos County Tax Assessor Collectors Office 300 East William Joel Bryan Parkway Bryan, TX 77803 (979) 361-4470

BASIC DRIVING LAWS


Unlike many countries, driving laws are strictly enforced in the U.S. Driving laws almost may vary from state to state. You can Texas Driving laws listed in the Texas Drivers Handbook

Below is a partial list of some of the Texas Driving Laws Drive on the right-hand side of the road. Speed limit is 65, 70 or 75 mph on highways or as posted. All passengers are required to wear seat belts.

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Right-hand turns at red lights, after stopping, are permitted unless otherwise posted that you cant. All previously opened containers of alcohol must be transported in a vehicles trunk where the driver and passengers do not have access. You are required to carry proof of automobile insurance coverage in your car at all times. Cars left unattended along highways will be towed away at owners expense within 24 hours. Traffic fines double for violations within marked school zones and road construction areas Unlike many countries, in the U.S., pedestrians always have the right of way. Failure to yield to pedestrians can result in a large fine. If you have a wreck, never leave the location where it occurred until the police have completed a report. If you drive or walk away from the scene of an accident, before the police arrive, you will receive a heavy fine and be arrested. You may also have your immigration status terminated and be deported. Some areas now restrict cell phone use while driving. Please look for posted signs. We do not recommend that you ever use a cell phone to call or text while driving. It is illegal to drink alcohol and drive or to drive while under the influence of any drug or alcohol. This law also includes prescription medications that may cause drowsiness.

CHILD SAFETY RESTRAINT


If you transport a child in a motor vehicle in Texas, the law requires you to secure a child in a child restraint device if he/she is under 8 years of age. Most child restraint devices use either your vehicle's seat belt system or, on newer vehicles, the LATCH system to attach to your vehicle. Booster seats use a shoulder/lap belt combination. When it comes to a minor using a seat belt by himself/herself, you must consult Texas' separate seat belt law. It requires motor vehicle occupants, age 8 and older, to buckle up when riding in both the front and back seat. Texas permits children younger than 8, who are taller than 4-foot-9, to use an adult safety belt. As with all regulations, this is subject to change. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 42

ANNUAL AUTOMOBILE INSPECTION


State safety inspection laws require that the automobile be inspected once a year at a DPS approved Official State Inspection Station. These include certain gasoline stations and automobile repair garages. There is a fee for the inspection. Look for the large inspection signs (see example on left) on the outside of businesses indicating that they do required inspections. If you automobile passes inspection a sticker will be placed on the left hand side of the windshield displaying the month and year of inspection in large numbers visible of police officers. If the inspection sticker has expired you will be stopped and fined by the police. The example on the right indicates that this sticker expired on December 2008.

CAMPUS SHUTTLE
Texas A&M University provides a free shuttle to students, faculty, staff and visitors at both the university and the Health Science Center in Bryan/College Station. During the school year, the on and off campus shuttle system operates between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. After 6 p.m., the shuttle schedule is once every hour until midnight. There are currently 17 stops a day at the Bryan HSC campus. Oncampus service is fare-free for students, faculty, staff and visitors to Texas A&M University and the Texas A&M Health Science Center. Off-campus service is fare-free for students, faculty, and staff. Bus passes are no longer needed to ride the bus. However, Texas A&M Transportation Services reserve the right to check TAMU or TAMHSC ID's on a random basis, so always have it handy when riding the bus. For a complete list of bus routes and updates to existing routes, refer to the Texas A&M University Transportation Services website. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 43

TRANSPORTATION OUTSIDE OF BRYAN/COLLEGE STATION


Although you may never want to leave the Bryan/College Station area, at times you find that you need to travel to other places in Texas or the United States. When you must travel to other parts of the country or state, you can choose several modes of transportation. These include airplane, rental car, ride sharing, and bus.

AIRPORTS
For long distance travel, flying is the fastest and most efficient. Easterwood Airport in College Station provides limited flights to both Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (DFW). Listed below are the major airports closest to Bryan/College Station: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (about 2 hours) Austin, TX http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/austinairport Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (about 3 hours) Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas www.dfwairport.com George Bush Intercontinental Houston (about 2 hours) Houston, TX http://www.fly2houston.com/iah William P. Hobby Airport Houston (about 3 hours) Houston, TX http://www.fly2houston.com/hobbyHome International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 44

Most people fly to Houston or Dallas and take a connecting flight to Bryan/College Station.

RENTAL CARS
Some people prefer to rent an automobile or van when driving a distance. Rental car agencies are listed in "Yellow Pages" of the telephone book under the category, "Automobile Renting and Leasing." You can also find them on the internet listed under rental cars. You must hold a valid driver's license in order to rent an automobile. Most companies have minimum age restrictions for renting and will require you to have a major credit card before they will lease a car to you, or may require a cash deposit. In Bryan/College Station most rental car agencies are found at Easterwood Airport.

HITCHHIKING
"Hitchhiking," is one of the cheapest ways of traveling. By tradition, hitchhiking is defined as soliciting a ride by standing at the edge of a road, facing traffic, with one's thumb extended/upwards. Although it may be normal practice in many parts of the world, hitchhiking in North America is not common and can be very dangerous for both women and men. Not only may you encounter danger along the way, you can also become very frustrated; today's drivers are more fearful of picking up hitchhikers than in the past. Many people have been robbed, raped, or killed while hitchhiking. People who wish to travel are advised to find other means of transportation besides hitchhiking. Hitchhiking in itself is rarely illegal, but there are often rules about where you can do it (e.g. not on highways, near intersections, at bus stops), so read up on the rules first to avoid getting booked for "trespassing" or "obstructing traffic". The OIS recommends that you DO NOT HITCHHIKE! International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 45

CROSS-STATE OR CROSS-COUNTRY BUSES


Greyhound Lines, Inc. is the largest provider of intercity bus transportation, serving more than 2,300 destinations with 13,000 daily departures across North America. The Greyhound Bus Station in Bryan/College Station is located at: Brazos Transit District 3350 S Texas Ave. Bryan, TX 77803. (979) 846-3836. Cross country buses are cheaper than flying but the trip will take longer and you will have many stops in small towns along the way. You will also need to be careful as many times the bus terminals in major cities are located in the middle of town and are not safe areas at night. But if you have the time bus trips are a good way to see America and have great discounts for long periods of travel. You can see fares, purchase tickets and see routes on the Greyhound website.

MEDICAL CARE
Medical care is available from doctors in private medical practice or through community medical clinics. It is a good idea to find a doctor soon after you arrive in the U.S., so you will have ready access to medical care if you, your spouse or a child becomes ill. Medical costs are very high in the United States and therefore federal regulations require all J-1 Students maintain medical insurance for you and your dependents the entire duration of your stay in the United Sates. The State of Texas requires all F-1 students to be insured at all times. There are no regulations pertaining to F-2 students but we do recommend that you also International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 46

purchase medical insurance for F-2 dependents. Medical insurance does not cover all medical needs and only pays a portion of expenses that you may incur. You must read and be familiar with your medical insurance policy BEFORE seeking treatment.

EMERGENCIES:
You should only go to a hospital for non-emergency care. Hospital Emergency Departments are true emergency situations and therefore are very expensive, even with your insurance. Due to the seriousness of emergencies you can also end up waiting several hours while those with more urgent needs will be given priority. There are two main hospitals (and a new one under construction) and one Major Emergency Center in the Bryan/College Station area:

College Station Medical Center 1604 Rock Prairie Road College Station, TX 77845 979-764-5100

St. Joseph Regional Health Center 2801 Franciscan Drive Bryan, TX 77802 (979) 776-3777

St. Joseph Emergency Center (Major Emergencies) College Station ER 4411 Hwy 6 South College Station, TX 77845 (979) 776-2479

Scott and White Hospital (Scheduled to open summer 2013) 700 Scott & White Drive College Station, TX 77845 (No phone at this time) International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 47

All four have (or will have) 24-hour Emergency Departments that are available for serious or life-threatening illnesses and accidents. In an emergency, dial 911 to request an ambulance (this number also is used for police or fire emergencies).

NON-EMERGENCY CARE
Physicians see patients on an appointment basis. You must call the physicians office to schedule an appointment for an office visit. On your first visit to the office, the receptionist will have you fill out an information form and copy your insurance card, so its a good idea to arrive a little early for you appointment. You may have to pay part or all of the charges before you leave the office; although some physicians will file a claim for the visit with your insurance company and then send you a bill after the insurer has paid its part. Be prepared to pay for the visit, though. Get recommendations from your department or other researchers to find a physician that will suit your needs.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN SEEING A DOCTOR


Most clinics in the United States are staffed by physicians, physician assistants (a healthcare professional who is trained and licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician), nurse practitioners (registered nurses qualified to evaluate, diagnose, and treat many common conditions), midwives (registered nurses specializing in prenatal and childbirth practice), registered nurses, and a variety of health care workers. You may not see a physician when you first seek medical careor at times, you may not even see one at all. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may receive care immediately, later the same day, or the next day. You may be offered a choice of doctors or health-care providers.

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You will actually spend very little time with the doctor. Before you see the doctor the nurse will ask you many questions; some may appear unnecessary or intrusive, but you should try to answer them as completely as possible. You may think the approach abrupt and impersonal; however, the workers are only trying to be efficient and thorough. The doctor sees so many patients that they are trying to save both you and the doctor time and money. American-trained physicians generally expect their patients to participate actively in making decisions about medications and treatment choices. If you ever have difficulty understanding anything about your medical status or treatment, ask for clarification. You can ask workers to talk more slowly, to repeat, or to write something down. If you think you will need a translator, ask a friend to accompany you.

COMMON HEALTH INSURANCE TERMS:


Policy (whole): A contract with a health insurance company
providing for a broad range of medical treatments and/or payments in case of accidents or illness. Most whole policies usually provide a standard set of benefits, but the provisions, conditions and benefits of different policies can vary widely.

Supplemental Policy: A policy providing only very specific,


limited benefits (i.e.: medical evacuation, repatriation of remains), and whose benefits can supplement benefits by another policy you already have.

Premium: The amount you must pay each month to purchase the insurance coverage. In
some policies, the premium varies with the age of the insured(s).

Dependent coverage: Coverage for your spouse or children. Sometimes, dependents can
be enrolled in a policy independent of you.

Deductible: The amount of money you must pay, in each case of accident or illness,
before the insurance starts paying. Most policies have a deductible.

Application Deadline: Sometimes you and/or your dependents must be enrolled in the
insurance within a certain period after arrival in the U.S. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 49

Coverage Period: The units of time in which the insurance can be bought (i.e.: six
months, one year). Most policies are renewable, but the premiums may increase at renewal. Coverage: The percent of costs the insurance will pay and the maximum amount up to which the insurance will pay per accident or illness, or per coverage period. The coverage starts after you pay the deductible.

Hospitalization: Usually includes a semi-private room, doctor's fees, drugs, x-rays,


laboratory tests, etc. Sometimes there is a limit on the number of days covered.

Maternity: It includes visits to your doctor, the delivery and related hospital charges.
Sometimes policies limit or do not offer this coverage. Some policies do not cover abortions.

Prescription: Coverage for medications ordered by a doctor for use outside of the
hospital.

Dental: Most policies cover injuries to teeth, but not preventive/maintenance dental care. Evacuation: The amount the insurance policy will pay if you need to be transported to
your home country for medical treatment.

Repatriation: The amount the insurance company will pay to transport your remains to
your country, in the event of death.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment:


The amount the insurance will pay if you are killed or maimed accidentally

Exclusions: These are the injuries,


illnesses or treatments for which the insurance will not pay. "Usual Exclusions" normally means pre-existing conditions, eye care, foot care, infertility and birth control, injuries while playing organized sports or piloting an airplane, injuries or death from war, terrorism, revolution or suicide, cosmetic surgery, experimental treatments, treatments administered by a member of your family, and expenses covered under other insurance policies you may have. This is not a complete list of exclusions. Different policies may have different exclusions. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 50

PERSONAL SAFETY
The following list was adapted from a list of personal safety tips published by the University of California at San Diego Police Department

GENERAL SAFETY TIPS


Be especially aware of your surroundings at times when you may be less alert and more vulnerable to an attack (e.g., during periods of stress) when you are upset or sick, or if you have been drinking. Use discretion and caution when taking shortcuts through isolated parts of the campus. If you must be in an isolated area (e.g., working or studying alone in labs or offices) lock the doors and tell a friend, security or the Police Department where you are and when you plan to leave. Know the location of campus emergency telephones on routes to and from campus destinations. Keep personal belongings in view while eating, meeting, or shopping on campus. Whenever you are on campus or off, and see or hear someone who might be in trouble, your options include running, yelling, confronting, and calling the Police Department (911). Learn self-defense techniques.

APARTMENT OR HOME
Install and use locks on your doors and windows. Keep doors locked day or night whether you are home or not. Know who is at the door before opening it. Insist on seeing an ID from anyone you do not know. If someone comes to your door and asks to use your telephone to call for help, offer instead to make the call. Door-to-door solicitation is prohibited on campus. Page 51

International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station

Please report the presence of solicitors to the Police Department. Give your home a "someone is home" look. Put radio and lights on a timer. Maintain good lighting around entrances. Leave spare keys with a friend, not in accessible places. Keep emergency numbers near the telephone.

DRIVING A CAR
Have your keys in your hand as you approach your car. Lock your doors when driving and after parking. Check the backseat and floor before entering your car. Keep your valuables out of sight, under the seat, or in the glove compartment or trunk. Park in well-lighted areas. If you have car trouble, signal for help by raising the hood or tying a handkerchief to the door handle. Remain in your car with doors locked until identifiable help arrives. Should another motorist offer to help, roll down the window slightly and ask them to call the police or an auto club. Keep an emergency kit containing a flashlight, flares, telephone change, distress signs, and other essentials in your car. To protect your car, use a lock bar that prohibits the use of the steering wheel. Consider also the installation of an alarm system, ignition by-pass, or fuel shut-off switch in your car.

ON THE TELEPHONE
Be wary of telephone surveys. List only your first initial and last name in the telephone directory. If you receive a threatening or obscene telephone call, hang up. Contact the Police Department and make a report. Answering machines are useful in screening calls. Your outgoing message should not say that you are away from home. Page 52

International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station

IN AN ELEVATOR
Check the inside of an elevator before entering. Wait for the next elevator if you are unsure of the people inside. When riding an elevator, stand by the control board. If you feel in danger, press all the buttons and get off the elevator as soon as possible. Most elevators on the HSC campus are equipped with emergency telephones.

SELF DEFENSE-PLAN AHEAD


If you are attacked, whether you resist and how you resist will depend on your personal resources and your personal values. Give some thought right now to what you would do in various situations that could arise. The more you have thought ahead, the more likely you will be to act in the way you have planned. If someone tries to snatch your purse, let it go. Most injuries from robberies occur when people resist during purse snatches.

THREE BASIC RULES TO KEEP IN


MIND
In considering your reactions to different situations, keep these three basic rules in mind: 1. Trust your instincts. 2. Don't be afraid to be impolite or make a scene; this is especially important if someone you know threatens or attacks you. 3. Try to remain calm and use your imagination and good judgment; give yourself time to think. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 53

AMERICAN POLICE OFFICERS


There are as of 2011, over 700,000 full-time state, city, university and college, metropolitan and non-metropolitan county, and other law enforcement officers in the United States. There are approx. 120,000 full time law enforcement personnel working for the federal government adding up to a total number of over 820,000 law enforcement personnel in the U.S. Police officers in the United States, unlike many countries, should not be feared. You should always treat police officers with respect and as a friend. The majority are good officers doing an important and dangerous job. Aside from enforcing the law, their job is to serve and protect the public. If in trouble, never be afraid to seek for a police officer to help you. Please remember, that you should never offer a police officer a bribe. You will be arrested! What should you do if you are stopped by the police while driving? Pull over to the right hand side of the road onto the grass or emergency lane at the very first possible spot. If you are not sure the people attempting to stop you really are police (no flashing light-bar, no marked police car and/or no police uniforms or identification) KEEP DRIVING at a safe speed to the nearest police or fire station, open gas station or open business place. After you pull off the road, stop and turn off your engine. (If you are stopped in your car at night, pull completely off the road, turn off your engine, lock your doors, roll up all windows except the driver's window and turn on the overhead light.) Do not get out of your car and keep your hands on top of the steering wheel so the police officer can see them. Do not bend down or reach for anything as the officer may think that you are reaching for a weapon or attempting to hide illegal drugs or a weapon.

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COMMITTING A CRIME
The main responsibility of a police officer is enforcing the law. When an international scholar is charged with a crime, they face not only criminal charges, but possible removal and deportation from the United States. Certain convictions can also make them inadmissible to the U.S., even if the crime is a misdemeanor under Texas law. If an international student is convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, and the possible penalty is one year or longer, they are deportable. The term "moral turpitude" does not have a precise meaning, but includes crimes that involve fraud or that create a danger to others. When an international student is charged with a crime, they face not only criminal charges, but possible removal and deportation from the United States. Certain convictions can also make them inadmissible to the U.S., even if the crime is a misdemeanor under Texas law. If an international student is convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, and the possible penalty is one year or longer, they are deportable. The term "moral turpitude" does not have a precise meaning, but includes crimes that involve fraud or that create a danger to others. Rights are not dependent on immigration status You have the right to remain silent and not answer questions asked to you by law enforcement officials You have the right to an attorney, lawyer public defender You have the right to examine witnesses/ evidence You may not or may not be advised of immigration consequences of criminal conviction. May or may not be advised that plea/ adjudication counts as conviction for immigration.

If arrested you should call your immigration advisor at the HSC immediately.

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ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
Laws, which govern the sale of alcohol, are strictly governed by local ordinances. Some generalizations follow. Alcohol is purchased in private retail stores from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., although beer and wine may be available at grocery stores and convenience marts. Liquor stores are closed on Sundays, and restaurants may only sell alcohol in conjunction with food between 10 a.m. and noon on

Sundays. No alcohol may be sold in any store until noon on Sunday Bars and restaurants serve alcohol Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., in general. Alcoholic beverages include any drink which contains any amount of alcohol, including beer, wine, hard beverages, liquor, etc.

LEGAL AGE FOR DRINKING/SERVING ALCOHOL


You must be 21 to consume alcohol in Texas, as in all other states, but any employment that requires selling or handling alcohol can be entered into at age 18. You are required to show a valid ID which documents your age.

OPEN CONTAINER LAWS IN TEXAS


It is illegal to possess an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle in the State of Texas. House Bill 5, passed by the 77th Texas Legislature, makes it a Class C misdemeanor to International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 56

possess an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of a motor vehicle which is on a public highway or the right-of-way adjacent to a public highway. What is an open container? Under the new law, an open container is a bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and that has been opened, that has a broken seal, or the contents of which are partially removed. What is considered the passenger area of a motor vehicle? The passenger area is the area of a motor vehicle designed for the seating of the operator and passengers. It does not include a locked glove compartment or a similar storage container that is locked, the trunk of a vehicle, or the area behind the last upright seat of the vehicle if the vehicle does not have a trunk. What is a public highway? This includes any public road, street, highway, interstate, or other publicly-maintained way if any part is open for public use for the purpose of motor vehicle travel. Does the motor vehicle have to be moving for a violation to occur? No. Under the law, a person commits an open container offense by possessing an open container in the passenger area of a motor vehicle regardless of whether the vehicle is being operated or is stopped or parked. There is an exception for people who are passengers in a bus, taxi, or limousine; or who are in the living quarters of a motorized house coach or motorized house trailer, including a self-contained camper, motor home, or recreational vehicle.

DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE (DUI) OF ALCOHOL


Driving under the influence (DUI) refers to driving under the influence of any amount of alcohol. This charge is restricted to people under the age of 21 (minors), for whom there are zero-tolerance laws (meaning that they may legally have a blood-alcohol concentration of no more than zero). Minors may be given a DUI charge as a citation, or it may be accompanied by an arrest. Automatic suspension of the minor's driver's license ensues, and if he's convicted, the license will be International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 57

suspended for a prolonged period of time. Minors may also be arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) if they have a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08.

DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED (DWI) OF ALCOHOL


To be charged with the offense of DWI, an individual must be arrested and taken into police custody. This offense is more serious than DUI. If youre driving appears impaired, you may be pulled over and arrested for the offense of driving while intoxicated even if your BAC is under the .08 limit. You may be penalized by up to six months in jail for your first conviction. You may be penalized with up to one year in jail for a subsequent conviction. A third conviction is a felony and can result in up to 10 years of jail time.

IMPLIED CONSENT LAWS


Laws requiring drivers suspected of driving under the influence to concede to breath, blood, or urine testing for alcohol content are known as implied consent laws. A person agrees to abide by these laws when signing for a drivers license. Refusing to comply with chemical testing for intoxication can incur a penalty of mandatory suspension of the drivers license for up to one year. The penalty of vehicle confiscation for DUI conviction either permanently or temporarily is a possibility in Texas with the third offense.

SMOKING
Smoking in the United States has continued to fall out of favor. A 2008 study by the U.S. Center for Disease Control revealed that only 19% of Americans smoke. Smoking is banned in most public places such as offices, restaurants, hospitals, stores, and schools. If you smoke, it is always appropriate to ask if, and where, you are permitted to smoke.

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If you are at someones home, it is generally customary to smoke outside, unless your host is also a smoker and indicates that smoking indoors is permitted. In many parts of the US, all public buildings are designated "smoke free," meaning that you cannot smoke in any part of the building. The Texas A&M Health Science Center does not permit smoking on the propertywhich includes buildings, restrooms, parking lot or green areas. Most restaurants are non-smoking. If you are a guest in someone's home, room, or apartment, always ask permission before you smoke. Even if you are in your own room or apartment, it is polite to ask your guests if anyone objects to your smoking before you reach for a cigarette. Be prepared to see "No Smoking" signs in most offices, classrooms, and stores and to step outside to smoke.

ILLEGAL DRUGS
Drug possession is a serious criminal charge in Texas carrying a wide range of punishments from probation to lengthy prison sentences, depending on the amount of the drug. If you are charged under the possession law, it means the state has accused you of carrying or having access to a controlled substance such as marijuana, cocaine, or Ecstasy. And any drug possession conviction will result in a 6 month drivers license suspension under Texas statutes. Texas A&M Health Science Center prohibits the illegal possession or transfer of any illicit drug so defined under state or federal law, and views the use, possession, or sale of any illicit drug as contradictory to the welfare of both the individual and the HSC community. International students arrested for illegal possession or transfer of any illicit drug face immediate termination of their immigration status, deportation from the United States and becoming ineligible for any future U.S. visas.

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HOUSING
APARTMENTS
The Bryan/College Station area offers a variety of housing options. When choosing a place to live you should consider location, budget, preferences and safety. It is best to live near where you will be completing your program. Most housing and apartment units do not include monthly utility expenses in the rent. You will want to consider this when you decide your price range. We recommend that you contact your department or friends about their recommendations for housing. In the United States many people also use companies called apartment locators that will assist you, at no charge, to find an apartment that is suitable for you. Please be aware that apartment rent starts around $600 a month and goes higher. We have listed below one of the apartment locators which our international students and scholars have used:

Aggieland Apartment Finders www.aggielandapartmentfinders.com


For off-campus apartments, you will almost certainly be required to sign a lease (rental contract). Be sure to read the lease carefully before signing. When you sign a lease, you are legally committed to the conditions of the document, including payment of rent for all months of the agreement. Make sure you avoid leases that obligate you for more than a year. Most landlords will require a security deposit ranging from $100 to one or two months' rent. This deposit will be returned to you when you vacate the apartment, provided nothing has been damaged and you have maintained the conditions of the lease. You should be certain that you have found a satisfactory living situation before you sign any sort of a lease, as this is a binding legal contract. Once you have found an apartment you will need to arrange for electricity, water and gas to be connected. Your apartment manager should be able to give you information on what you will need. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 60

UTILITIES & OTHER SERVICES


Once you find a place to live, you will need to contact some of the service providers below to turn on or install their services. All fees listed are reflect fees, only, on date of publication and are subject to change.

WATER, SEWAGE, AND ELECTRICITY SERVICES


In Bryan, contact Bryan Utilities www.btutilities.com/index.html 205 East 28th Street Bryan, TX 77803 Phone: 979-821-5700 Hours: Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. A deposit is required for connecting your water, sewage and electricity in Bryan. The deposit is $160 for electricity and water service or $145 for electricity service only. If you need sewage service and garbage, a $10 deposit is required. The deposit is smaller for homeowners. The deposit may be refunded when service is disconnected. Fees are subject to change. You need to bring a copy of your lease and some type of identification, such as a passport, social security card, or driver's license. In College Station, contact College Station Utilities www.cstx.gov/home/index.asp?page=93 310 Krenek Tap College Station, TX 77840 Phone: 979-764-3535 Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. No deposit is required unless you have two or more late payments within a 12-month period. You will be required to pay a connection fee that will be included on your first bill. The fee is $15 if you only need electricity and $25 if you require electricity and water service. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 61

NATURAL GAS SERVICE


TXU Electric & Gas provides Natural Gas service. You may request gas service by calling 800-460-3030 or going online to www.txu.com/us/default.asp The connection charge is $27.50. The need for a deposit is determined on an individual basis. While TXU Energy generally does not require a deposit; you may be required to provide one if you have not established adequate utility payment data or your current electric service account is not in good standing. Please check with the apartment as many apartments do not need gas services.

TELEVISION
There are several free broadcast television stations in the Bryan/College Station area: KAMU-TV (Channel 15) KYLE (Channel 28) KMAY-LP (Channel 23) K28AK (Channel 28) KRHD-LP (Channel 34) KSCM-LP (Channel 12) K47ED (Channel 47) KBTX-TV (Channel 3) K35DI (Channel 35)

CABLE, SATELLITE AND INTERNET PROVIDERS


There are three main cable/satellite/internet providers in the Bryan/College Station area. Suddenlink (Cable) http://www.suddenlink.com/ Direct TV (Satellite) http://www.usdirect.com/directv/tx-collegestation-direct-tv.html Dish Network (Satellite) http://www.usdish.com/tx-dishnetwork-college-station.html

Many providers will bundle your phone land-line, internet services and cable/satellite services and charge you a lower monthly fee. This ends up being cheaper than ordering all three separately.

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HOME FURNISHINGS
BUYING FURNITURE
Once you have a list of all the furniture and household items you will need, you may consider buying used items instead of new ones in order to save some money. There are several different ways you can go about buying used items.

Local bulletin board advertisements There


are bulletin boards in some areas of the Texas A&M Health Science Center campus where students advertise the sale of used items. This is an easy way to obtain furniture and other household items, but extensive use of the phone is necessary. Newspaper advertisements -- The classified sections of the local newspapers include ads for the sale of many items ranging from clothes to cars. A phone number will be listed for you to contact the person selling the item. Yard sales or garage sales -- Another way to obtain used items is at "yard or garage sales" which are advertised in the newspapers (classified section). These sales are usually held on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. They are held at people's homes, where several families may get together to sell items they no longer want. The locations are advertised in the classified section of the local newspapers. You will also see signs posted on street corners on weekends advertising particular yard or garage sales Craigs List--Craigslist essentially is an Internet classified ad page. It is just on a larger and more comprehensive scale than other classified ad pages. It is immensely popular because it is mostly free and it works for many users. It gets 10 International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 63

billion page views per month and has an estimated 40 million users. Craigslist says they list jobs, housing, goods, services, romance, local activities, advice--just about anything. Go to Craigslist.org. The various Craigslist pages are presented by location. There are more than 500 locations in 50 countries. Craigslist may be an international website, but it works on a local level. The assumption is that things you are looking for need to be close to you. Find the geographic area closest to you and click on the link.

Thrift stores -- These are stores that sell used items. You can locate these stores by
looking on the internet or in the yellow pages of the telephone directory under the heading of Thrift Shops.

RENTING FURNITURE
If you would rather rent furniture instead of buying it, you can do so at several furniture rental stores in town. You can locate these stores by looking on the internet or in the yellow pages of the telephone directory under the heading of Furniture Rental.

MAIL & POSTAL SERVICE


You can either receive your mail at your home address or you may rent a Post Office Box available at any U.S. Post Office. If you live in an apartment, there will be a place where each apartment will have its own private box for mail delivery in a central location in the complex. Mail is currently delivered Monday-Saturday although the U.S. Postal Service has tentative plans to go to Monday-Friday service only. It is also in the process of closing many post offices due to budget constraints.

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A Post Office Box is accessible 24 hours a day. Mail can be posted from any U.S. Post Office or any US Postal Service mailbox. Costs vary with the type of item being sent and the type of service required. The main U.S. Post Office in College Station is located at 104 Houston Street College Station, TX 77841-9800 Bryan-College Station, TX (979) 846-5716 The U.S. Post Office in Bryan is located at 2121 E Wm J Bryan Pkwy Bryan, TX 77802 (979) 774-2300

EXPRESS MAILING
There are four main express mail services in the United States: 1. US Postal Service Express Mail http://www.usps.com/shipping/expressmail.htm 2. FedEx http://fedex.com/ 3. UPS http://www.ups.com/ 4. DHL http://www.dhl.com/en.html

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SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS


During the Great Depression, a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War IIof the 1930s, some of the poorest Americans were the oldest. Many people had failed to save adequately for their retirement; others suffered illnesses that consumed their savings. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed and Congress enacted the Social Security Act of 1935. The Social Security Administration administers a national trust fund that provides benefits for U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents, usually for retirement. Employees, employers, and the self-employed make contributions (Social Security Tax) to this fund during time of employment. When workers retire, they can qualify for monthly cash benefits. Both F-1 or J-1 students and scholars who are "non-residents for tax purposes" are not required to pay these taxes. See the IRS Publication 519, to determine if you are considered a resident or non-resident for tax purposes. In order to collect this tax, a Social Security Number (SSN) is required. The Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique taxpayer identification number issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to individuals (including non-immigrants) who are authorized for employment in the United States. If you have ever been issued an SSN before, you do not need to apply for one again. If you are working at Texas A&M Health Science Center you will need to obtain an SSN. This is given to you in the form of a card after you have made the appropriate request to the SSA. However, a Social Security card is not a work permit. A SSN is issued once per lifetime. The application for a Social Security Card (SS-5) can be used by anyone who has never been issued a card, needs a replacement card or has changed his or her name. THIS SERVICE IS FREE. You can find the SS-5 form at http://www.ssa.gov/online/ss-5.html International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 66

APPLYING FOR AN SSN


Only those non-immigrants who have authorization to work in the U.S. are eligible to apply for a SSN. Students in F-1 student immigration status will not be eligible for a social security number unless they are working on campus or have obtained a written job offer, or have been approved for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT). The Social Security Administration will verify documentation of all non-immigrants with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) before issuing SSNs. You may not apply for a SSN until at least 10 days after you enter the U.S. and have checked in with the OIS in order for your information entered in SEVIS to be processed from the USCIS database into the Social Security database. Applying for your card before doing both of these things will result in further delays. Make sure you provide a correct address when applying. Documents needed to apply for a Social Security Number:

Valid Passport I-94 Card (the small white card that you received when you entered the US; usually stapled into your passport) F-1 students: I-20 Form; J-1 students: Form DS-2019 Letter from employer verifying employment or job offer Letter signed by International Student and Scholar Services staff verifying status and full-time enrollment Birth Certificate (if available; not required)

In order to apply for an SSN, you must visit one of the local social security offices. The social security office, which serves the Bryan/College Station area, is below. The office is open Monday Friday from 9 a.m. 4 p.m. Social Security Office 2120 W. Briargate Dr. Bryan, TX 77802 731-1140 Phone: 979-731-1140 International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 67

Your card will show your name and number and notes, VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION. The SSA issues this type of card to people lawfully admitted to the United States on a temporary basis and who have DHS authorization to work.

IMPORTANT NOTE

Do not carry your SSN with you. Once you receive your card, memorize your number and keep your card in your home in a secure place. Provide your SSN only when it is absolutely required. Never give out your number over the phone or by e-mail.

F-2 DEPENDENTS AND SSN


F-2 dependents are not eligible to work inside the United States and therefore are not eligible for a Social Security Number.

J-2 DEPENDENTS & SSN


J2 Dependents may apply for SSN only if they apply for, secure work permission, and obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) through US Immigration and Customs Services (USCIS). Contact the OIS for necessary forms and information about filing an application. A work authorization application approval takes about 90 days for approval. USCIS will only grant work approval if the following two conditions are met: 1. If you can demonstrate the money is not needed to support the J-1 Student 2. Only as long as the J-1 student is in status and actively pursuing his/her program J-2 Dependents are also eligible to study. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 68

IDENTITY THEFT
Identity theft is a serious and growing problem in the United States. It occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. The best prevention is to beware and protect all of your personal information. Never throw away anything that may have your name of other personal information listed on it. Shred, shred, shred!!! Most information is found by people involved in dumpster dives. A dumpster dive is the term given the act of someone who goes through garbage to hunt for anything of value. It is popular in many cities for people looking for old furniture or books that may have been discarded but still can be sued. An identity thief is a person who does a dumpster dive with the specific purpose of finding something that may have someones personal information listed. This can be old letters bills or other items. Once the thief obtains this information the thief can then open credit card accounts in the persons name leaving the person, whose identity was stolen, with thousands of dollars of bills.

ROSEWOOD APARTMENTS DUMPSTER

Should your identity be stolen you need to report it immediately to the Texas Attorney

Generals Website for Identity Theft .


The following information is excerpted from the Attorney General of Texas website. To view the information in its entirety, please go that website.

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Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information without your permission. This information may include your name, address, driver license number, Social Security number, mother's maiden name, birth date, or financial information such as your bank account, credit card, or PIN number. Identity thieves can use your personal information to open credit cards or checking accounts, make purchases using your existing bank account or credit card, get a bogus driver license or Social Security card, make long distance calls, or apply for a job. However, you can take steps to protect your identity. Preventing Identity Theft 1. Protecting your identity begins by reducing the number of places where your personal information can be found. 2. Next reduce the number of credit cards you have and only carry the cards that you intend to use. If possible use credit cards that have your photo on them. 3. Do not carry your Social Security card with you unless you need it. Provide your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary. 4. Use passwords and install an electronic firewall to keep burglars and Internet hackers from accessing your computer. 5. Minimize the amount of personal financial information you carry. 6. Memorize passwords and PIN numbers. Do not carry them. 7. Keep financial information in a secure place in your home. Shred documents before throwing them away. Purchase a cross-cut shredder to better protect your information. 8. Do not give sensitive information to unsolicited callers. Legitimate businesses will not make unsolicited calls asking for your Social Security or bank account numbers. Caller ID information can be spoofed, so do not rely on the name and number that is on your box. 9. Shield your hand when entering your PIN at a bank ATM or when making long distance calls with a calling card. Take your ATM slip and shred it before throwing it away. 10. Pick up new checks or credit cards at your bank rather than having them delivered to your home. Do not print your driver's license or social security number on your checks. 11. If your bank or credit card statement does not arrive on time, call to make sure they sent it to the proper address. Also contact the Post Office to see if a change of address
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has been filed in your name. A thief may steal or divert your statements to hide the theft. Because of the nature of identity theft, you may not realize your identity has been stolen until much later. By then, your good name and credit history can be in ruins. Because nothing can guarantee you protection from identity thieves, you should also be vigilant to detect theft as quickly as possible. If You Become a Victim If you become a victim, it's important you act quickly. Visit the Texas Attorney Generals Website Identity Theft web site, texasfightsidtheft.gov to find a wealth of helpful information including our Identity Theft Kit. Information at texasfightsidtheft.gov will help you stop a perpetrator from continuing to use your identity and help you recover from the effects. Information on the site includes: how to report the crime, work with businesses, close fraudulent accounts, and place a security alert and/or freeze on your credit report. Also visit the Federal Trade Commission and Texas Department of Public Safety's Identity Theft pages for more information. You can also contact the Victims Initiative for Counseling Advocacy and Restoration of the Southwest (VICARS) at www.idvictim.org. VICARS is a program of the Texas Legal Services Center that provides free civil legal services to victims of identity theft and financial fraud. If another person is arrested and falsely uses your name or other personal information, Texas law allows you to have this information expunged from the arrest record. Contact the Crime Records Service at the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) for more information on the expunction process. Report ID Theft You can contact the Federal Trade Commission's Dallas office to report identity theft in Texas. Their Dallas office covers all of Texas. Federal Trade Commission 100 N. Central Expressway, Suite 500 Dallas, TX 75201 (877) 438-4338 www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/ You can also file a complaint with our office. For a consumer complaint form, call our Consumer Protection Division at (800) 621-0508 or file on line.
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COOKING AT HOME OR DINING OUT


BUYING FOOD TO COOK AT HOME
There are three general kinds of food stores: "supermarkets," "convenience stores," and "specialty stores." A supermarket is a large store, which sells groceries, paper goods, kitchen supplies, and health and beauty aids. Large supermarkets in the surrounding areas include Kroger, HEB and Wal-Mart. Convenience stores are smaller, have far fewer non-food items, usually have longer hours of business, and charge somewhat higher prices. Convenience stores usually sell gasoline and some automobile supplies as well as a limited range of foods. Most people do nearly all their food shopping at the supermarket most convenient for them, and go to neighborhood stores or convenience stores only to buy one or two items needed quickly. There are some specialty" food stores Bryan/College Station. You can ask other scholars or students from your country where they buy specialty food items which you might need to cook familiar foods.

SOME ETHNIC FOOD STORES IN BCS


Asian Food Markets BCS Asian Market 2704 Texas Ave S Suite 4 College Station, TX 77840 (979) 695-6888

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Mexican/Hispanic Food Markets Because of the large Mexican/Hispanic influence in Texas every grocery store carries Mexican/Hispanic food products. Indian Food Markets A few supermarkets may sell a very limited assortment of Indian food products. There are several convenience stores in the area that carry some Indian products due to the large Indian population in Bryan/College Station. Ask Indian students, friend or colleague where you might find such products.

DINING OUT
Eating in restaurants is very common in the United States. There are a lot of reasons that people like to eat out and the prevalence of eating out is increasing. In fact, one of the industries in the United States that is experiencing a lot of growth right now is the restaurant business and it is because people are eating out more and more. There are several reasons why: Time--people are busy; many times both spouses work; work hours are longer Cheap--eating out is getting relatively cheaper. It can be cheaper than even preparing food at home People enjoy eating out and trying new restaurants More relaxing--no cooking mess or clean up afterwards

Restaurants are always opening and closing so it is not possible to give a list and we cannot recommend good restaurants. Ask for recommendations from friends or colleagues or be adventurous and try them all! You can also search for restaurants on the following websites: Urban Spoon Bryan/College Station Visitors and Convention Bureau

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RESTAURANT DINING TIPS


Restaurants in Bryan/College Station are very busy from 5-9 pm. During the fall and spring semesters you can expect to wait at least 30 minutes to be seated in most restaurants. Most restaurants do not take reservations so be prepared to wait during busy hours No smoking is permitted in restaurants. American meals are served in large portions. It is common to ask for a container or box to take home any left-over food. You cannot carry home left-over food from a buffet restaurant. The tip for the server is not included in the bill so be prepared to tip 15-20% of the bill to the server. In a large group (normally 8 or more people) the tip may be automatically included in the bill. Ask your server. To get the attention of the server make eye contact with them. It is considered rude to call to them across the restaurant or wave at them. You cannot take alcoholic beverages out of a restaurant.

CHILDREN
CHILDCARE CENTERS
Child-care centers, day care centers and pre-schools are established settings that, in Texas, are strictly regulated by the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services (DFPS). While there are many day care centers and preschools near the Texas A&M Health Science Center, admission to a day care center may require a waiting period and/or can be very costly. As a result, most students and scholars find it helpful to postpone the arrival of their dependents until after arrangements for housing and child-care have been made. Please take note: it is important International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 74

that you research and check the credentials of child-care providers. Child-care centers have set hours of service, payment and staffing, as well as routines for play and nutrition. In most cases, you will be asked to sign a legal, binding document that states you understand your financial responsibilities and parental obligations. You may use the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services (DFPS) website to search for child-care centers in your area.

CHILDREN AGES 6 AND OVER


All children between the ages 6-16 are required by law to attend school. Public school education in the U.S. is free for all children age 6 and older. There are also private or religious affiliated schools for which there is a tuition charge. Typically, the school year is from late August to mid-June. There are basically two types of schools in the Bryan/College Station area: public schools, which are free, and private schools, which charge a tuition fee. Some private schools have a religious affiliation. Within the school system there are three levels of education: Elementary School (around ages 6-10) Middle or Junior High School (around ages 11-13) High School (around ages 14-18)

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PUBLIC SCHOOLS
If you will be accompanied by your school-age children, you will find several schools in town. You are in most cases required to send you children to the school that is closest to where you live unless you choose to send your children to private schools. Public schools have school buses which provide transportation to the schools for no charge. Private schools are normally expensive since they receive no city, state or federal funding. Private schools, also, normally do not provide transportation for students. International parents will need to provide the following information about their children: 1) Passport or birth certificate 2) Immigration documents (I-20 and Form I-94) 3) Medical health forms 4) Medical history and immunization records. Please contact the school for more complete information.

LISTING OF SCHOOLS IN COLLEGE STATION


You can find a complete listing of schools in the College Station area on the College Station Independent School Districts website.

LISTING OF SCHOOLS IN BRYAN


You can find a complete listing of schools in the Bryan area on the Bryan Independent School Districts website.

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LIVING IN TEXAS

"Texas can make it without the United States, but the United States can't make it without Texas!"
President Sam Houston First Elected President of Texas, 1836 The stars at nightare big and brightdeep in the heart of Texas! Thats right. And being in Texas means youre in the land of cattle, oil wells, the Alamo, cowboys, big skies, NASA, pine forests, beaches, deserts, country music, pickup trucks, armadillos, barbeque, fandangos and rodeos. Texas is known around the world for our western heritage and "can do it attitude". Youre in Texas (the best state in the United States and second largest behind Alaska) and since you are now living in Texas you too can be Texas Proud. Texas is the only state in the United States to have ever been a country before it was admitted to the United States, by treaty, in 1845. Texas is unique and proud of its history. In your time here take the time to know and explore the richness of Texas. Take a chance to visit the historical places and know the people. You wont find a friendlier more welcoming bunch of people anywhere in the world. Your visa will permit you to travel anywhere in Texas (in fact all of the United States but why would anyone ever want to leave Texas?). You must carry your original immigration documents with you if you leave the Bryan/College Station area.

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT TEXAS


The state was an independent nation from 1836 to 1845. Texas is also known as The Lone Star State. Population of Texas 25,000,000 (2009)

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Texas possesses three of the top ten most populous cities in the United States: Houston #4, San Antonio #7 and Dallas #9. 70% of the population of Texas lives within 200 miles of Bryan/College Station The state's cattle population is estimated to be near 18 million. Texas has its own version of the Grand CanyonThe Palo Duro Canyon Texas is the only state to have the flags of 6 different nations fly over it. They are: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate States, and the United States. The King Ranch in South Texas is bigger than 23 other countries in the world. The soft drink, Dr Pepper, was invented in Waco in 1885. Texas comes from the Hasinai Indian word tejas meaning friends or allies. The armadillo is the official state mammal. There are more trucks in Texas than in any other state The worst natural disaster in United States history was caused by a hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900. Over 8000 deaths were recorded. You can go to the mountains, the beach, the forest, the lake, or the desert without ever leaving the state. In the spring Central Texas highways and fields are covered with wildflowers. Although many people will argue that it is illegal to pick wildflowers, it is not true. But legal or not, it's just inconsiderate. Texas counties spend a great deal of money seeding Texas byways for everyone's enjoyment. They're not there just for you. Take all the pictures you want, but leave the flowers for everyone to enjoy.

TRAVELING AROUND TEXAS


We encourage you while in Texas to travel around and get to know Texas. There are seven distinct geographical areas all with their own beauty and uniqueness. You can visit mountains, lakes, beaches and deserts. You can go hiking, surfing, tubing, horseback riding, camping, star-gazing and deep sea fishing all within hours of where you live. Throughout the year many small town hold festivals celebrating different events or the peoples Heritage. There are Scarecrow Festivals, Kite Festivals, Rattlesnake Roundups, Chili Cook-offs, Cajun Festivals, Kolache Festivals, Outhouse Races, Mardis Gras Festivals, Christmas Festivals, Rodeos, Blues Festivals, Bat Festivals, 4th of July celebrations, Watermelon Festivals, Onion Festivals, Watermelon Festivals, Ice Cream Festivals, Grapefruit Festivals, Oktoberfest, Czech Festivals, German Festivals, Greek Festivals, the Festival of India, Polish Festival, Nigerian Festival, Chinese Mid-Autumn International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 78

Festival, Japan Festival, the Renaissance Festival and the list goes on and on and on . . . You name it and youll find it in Texas! Three good websites for checking out Texas events and festivals are: All Across Texas Texas Highways Lonestar Calendar

COMMON TEXAN EXPRESSIONS


If you've ever visited Texas or have spoken to someone from here, you will notice a few expressions that may have you wondering "what does THAT mean?"! Most Texans take pride in their culture, the accent (known as drawl -- from drawing out, or elongating, the vowel sounds) they have, and the unique expressions that comes with being a Texan. There is no way to expound on every word or slang phrase, but below are some common ones that should help you communicate just like a native Texan. You will find these expressions used more in the small towns and rural areas that have been little impacted by the internationalization of the big cities. Aggie: an "Aggie" is someone who attends, graduated from or works at Texas A&M University. Aggie comes from the word agricultural (Texas A&M: A=Agricultural and M=Mechanical). HSC students are NOT aggies. aggravate: used to describe everything from mild annoyance to dangerous, murderous rage. It aggravates me that she didnt call. aim to: to plan to do something We aim to buy a new house in March. all choked up: upset, overcome with emotions (other than aggravation). A person is usually "all choked up" when they are deeply moved by sadness or by the thoughtfulness of others. Mary was all choked up when she heard he had left. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 79

all worked up in a state of aggravation;in a state of deeply offended pride, in a state of anxiety, etc; agitated. Bill was all worked up when someone stole his dog. between a rock and a hard place: no options are good; no matter what you do it will turn out bad; He found himself between a rock and a hard place. blue norther : storm that comes up as a giant, blue-black cloud of cold air comes over the warm gulf air and brings in quick drop in temperature; Rain and wind may accompany the blue-black cloud; compare to norther A blue norther came in this

morning and I forgot to bring a coat.


catty whompus: used to describe something that doesn't fit properly or is out of line.

Your hat is all catty whompus.


coke: this may be confusing, but in Texas "coke" can be a general term to refer to any kind of soft drink. It doesn't just refer to Coca-Cola (which is also called "Coke" here). Coke can mean Dr. Pepper, Sprite, Pepsi, etc. I would like a coke to drink.

(Waitress: What kind?) I think a Dr. Pepper.


come hell or high water: shows determination to proceed, regardless of the problems, obstacles, etc. She is going to complete her research come hell or high water. conniptions : to have conniptions is to get upset and raise a ruckus. The children are

having conniptions because they cant go to the party.


dad blame it, dad gum it, dag nab it; dog gone it: euphemisms coined to allow expressive speech without swearing. Dad gum it! I lost my keys! dinner: this can be the noontime meal or the evening meal. Do you want to go out for

dinner tonight? Do you want to come over for dinner Sunday afternoon?
downpour: an extraordinary amount of rain; It came a downpour this morning. There

was water everywhere.


dumb as dirt: a person is not very smart; That boy is as dumb as dirt. falling out: a disagreement; Theyre not talking. They had a falling out yesterday. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 80

fit to be tied: really upset. When she found out, she was fit to be tied. fixings: food; the rest of the meal, excluding the main dish. They supplied the meat and

we provided the fixings.


fixin' to: getting ready to do something. Diana was fixing to leave when it started to

rain.
frog-strangler: an extraordinary amount of rain. It came a frog-strangler this morning.

There was water everywhere.


get outta here: an expression of unbelief; You have a new job? Get outta here! hanging around or hanging out: to pass time idly; loiter; Im just hanging around here

until 5 oclock.
hey: a greeting meaning Hello; often followed by the expression Hows it going?

Hey, hows it going?


hi: a greeting meaning hello Hi. hissy fit: a state of extreme agitation; She threw a hissy fit when he finally came home. hold your horses: be patient; stop; Now hold your horses! We havent got paid yet. howdy: a greeting meaning hello; Howdy! hows it going?: a greeting meaning How are you? Hey, Hows it going? in a pickle: to be in a problematic situation; He lost his job and now hes in a pickle. killing time: to pass time idly; loiter; Im just killing time until she comes home.. let the cat out of the bad: Disclose a secret; Everything was fine until Juan let the cat out

of the bag.
long drink of water: a tall person; He sure is a long drink of water. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 81

norther: a storm; not as bad as a blue norther. Were expecting a norther to come

through here tonight so we better cover the plants.


over yonder: a directional phrase meaning "over there." I parked the car over yonder

someplace.
plum tuckered out: tired; fatigued; I need to go to bed I am plum tuckered out. ready to (or time to) hit the books: ready to study Okay, its time to hit the books. ready to (or time to) hit the hay: ready to go to bed; Ive been working all day and

ready to hit the hay.


ready to (or time to) hit the road: ready to leave; We been here all afternoon and Im

ready to hit the road.


reckon: to think or suppose so; You reckon anyone is coming to the party? shoot: an expletive (should be used with an exclamation point); Shoot! I left it in the

car!
shut up: an expression of surprise or disbelief; You had a baby! Shut up! sorry: meaning worthless, no-count, useless, bad. Youre the most sorry person I ever

met.
tuckered out: fatigued, exhausted; I am tuckered out from working so hard.. up a creek without a paddle: to be in trouble with no options left; James is up a creek

without a paddle. Hes already spent all of his money and now he has to pay for his car to be fixed.
worn out: fatigued, exhausted; I need to go to bed I am worn out. yall: you all; Two or more people; Yall be ready for me to pick you up at 5:00.

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you bet: meaning of course; given in response to a request; (Request): Could you

help me cook lunch? (Answer) You bet!

COMMON TEXAS GREETINGS AND RESPONSES


Common Greetings Howdy! Hows it going? Whats up? Whats happening? Whats going on? How ya doing? How are you? Hi! Common Responses Hello; howdy; hi; Okay; alright; pretty good; cant complain Not much. Not much. Not much. Okay; alright; pretty good; cant complain Okay; alright; pretty good; cant complain Hello; howdy; hi;

COMMON TEXAS FAREWELLS AND RESPONSES


Common Farewells Bye! or Goodbye! See ya later! Take it easy! Take care! Hasta luego! Nos vemos! Ciao Common Responses Bye; good-bye; see ya later; adios; ciao; take it easy, take care Bye; good-bye; see ya later; adios; ciao; take it easy, take care You too; Not much. see ya later; adios; ciao; take it easy, take care; nos vemos see ya later; adios; ciao; take it easy, take care; hasta luego see ya later; adios; hasta luego; take it easy, take care

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TEXAS GOOD SAMARITAN LAW


Good Samaritan laws are meant to protect those who come to the aid of others for no other reason than kindness. Good Samaritan laws only help if the rescuer (or would-be rescuer) is acting without any expectation of reward. In other words, if you are getting paid to rescue then you aren't a good Samaritan. Paid rescuers are expected to do their jobs correctly and can be held accountable for mistakes. The basics of the law are as follows: If you voluntarily attempt to help someone who is in an urgent situation as a result of an accident or other emergency, then you are protected from any liability for damages that may result from your care. This law applies to most common situations, such as where someone is injured in a motorcycle, having a heart attack, drowning or hurt in an automobile accident. The idea behind the law is really very simple: The State wants to encourage bystanders at an accident scene to render assistance to someone in need, and to do so without fear of being sued if things dont turn out well for the victim.

AMERICAN HOLIDAYS

The U.S. has adopted legislation which moved the celebration of several holidays to the Monday nearest the date of the event the holiday commemorated. The purpose of this legislation was to create as many "three-day weekends" (i.e., Saturday-Sunday-Monday) as possible. The fact that the dates of holidays could be changed to provide longer vacations is seen by some as a reflection of Americans' lack of concern for tradition. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 84

Four principal national holidaysNew Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmaswere not subjects of the date-changing legislation. They are still celebrated on the same day each year. Another principal holiday, Labor Day, has traditionally been on Monday. Many businesses and all government offices close in observance of these holidays. Of the holidays on the following list, not all are celebrated throughout the U.S. and not all are celebrated by everyone. Some are holidays only for members of certain religions; others are for particular groups, such as lovers or children. Schools, universities and other institutions will only be closed for a few of these holidays.

This next section taken from USA.Gov www.usa.gov/citizens/holidays.shtml


Americans celebrate a variety of federal holidays and other national observances throughout the year. American holidays can be secular, religious, international, or uniquely American. With the wide variety of federal holidays, and the many levels of American government, it can be confusing to determine what public and private facilities are open on or around a given federal holiday. You can usually find such information in the daily newspaper or by calling the office you wish to visit. The following are American federal holidays and other common national observances. Federal holidays are indicated as such. New Year's Day is January 1. The celebration of this federal holiday begins the night before, when Americans gather to wish each other a happy and prosperous coming year. Many Americans make New Year's resolutions. Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in January. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was an African-American clergyman who is recognized for his tireless efforts to win civil rights for all people through nonviolent means. Groundhog Day is February 2, and has been celebrated since 1887. On Groundhog Day, crowds gather in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to see if groundhog Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow after emerging from his burrow, thus predicting six more weeks of winter weather. Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14. The day was named after an early Christian martyr, and on Valentine's Day, Americans give presents like candy or flowers to the ones they love. The first mass-produced valentine cards were sold in the 1840s. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 85

Washington's Birthday is a federal holiday observed the third Monday of February to honor George Washington, the first President of the United States. This date is commonly called Presidents' Day and many groups honor the legacy of past presidents on this date. Easter falls on a spring Sunday that varies from year to year. Easter is a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For Christians, Easter is a day of religious services and the gathering of family. Many Americans follow old traditions of coloring hard-boiled eggs and giving children baskets of candy. Earth Day is observed on April 22. First celebrated in 1970 in the United States, it inspired national legislation such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Earth Day is designed to promote ecology, encourage respect for life on earth, and highlight concern over pollution of the soil, air, and water. National Arbor Day was proclaimed as the last Friday in April by President Richard Nixon in 1970. A number of state Arbor Days are observed at other times to coincide with the best tree planting weather, from January and February in the south to May in the far north. The observance began in 1872, when Nebraska settlers and homesteaders were urged to plant trees on the largely treeless plains. Mother's Day celebrates mothers every second Sunday of May. President Woodrow Wilson, who issued a proclamation in 1914, asked Americans to give a public expression of reverence to mothers on this day. Carnations have come to represent Mother's Day, following President William McKinley's habit of always wearing a white carnation, his mother's favorite flower. Memorial Day is a federal holiday observed the last Monday of May. It originally honored the people killed in the American Civil War, but has become a day on which the American dead of all wars, and the dead generally, are remembered in special programs held in cemeteries, churches, and other public meeting places. The flying of the American flag is widespread. Flag Day, celebrated June 14, has been a presidentially proclaimed observance since 1916. Although Flag Day is not a federal holiday, Americans are encouraged to display the flag outside their homes and businesses on this day to honor the history and heritage the American flag represents. Father's Day celebrates fathers every third Sunday of June. Father's Day began in 1909 in Spokane, Washington, when a daughter requested a special day to honor her father, a International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 86

Civil War veteran who raised his children after his wife died. The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers was issued in 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson. Independence Day is July 4. This federal holiday honors the nation's birthday - the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. It is a day of picnics and patriotic parades, a night of concerts and fireworks. The flying of the American flag is widespread. Labor Day is the first Monday of September. This federal holiday honors the nation's working people, typically with parades. For most Americans it marks the end of the summer vacation season and the start of the school year. Columbus Day is a federal holiday celebrated on the second Monday in October. The day commemorates October 12, 1492, when Italian navigator Christopher Columbus landed in the New World. The holiday was first proclaimed in 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Halloween is celebrated on October 31. On Halloween, American children dress up in funny or scary costumes and go "trick or treating" by knocking on doors in their neighborhood. The neighbors are expected to respond by giving them small gifts of candy or money. Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11. Originally called Armistice Day, this federal holiday was established to honor Americans who had served in World War I, but it now honors veterans of all wars in which the U.S. has fought. Veterans' organizations hold parades, and the president places a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Thanksgiving Day is a federal holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. The holiday began in 1621, when Puritans, who had just enjoyed a bountiful harvest, showed their gratitude to the Native Americans for their help by hosting a feast to give thanks. The Thanksgiving feast became a national tradition and almost always includes some of the foods served at the first feast: roast turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is December 7. In 1994, Congress designated this national observance to honor the more than 2,400 military service personnel who died on this date in 1941, during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by Japanese forces. The attack on Pearl Harbor caused the United States to enter World War II. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 87

Christmas Day is a federal holiday celebrated on December 25. Christmas is a Christian holiday marking the birth of the Christ Child. Decorating houses and yards with lights, putting up Christmas trees, giving gifts, and sending greeting cards have become traditions even for many non-Christian Americans.

OTHER CELEBRATIONS
Various ethnic and religious groups in America celebrate days with special meaning to them even though these are not national holidays. Jews, for example, observe their high holy days in September, Muslims celebrate Ramadan, African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa, Irish Americans celebrate the old country's patron saint, St. Patrick, on March 17, and Mardi Gras is the day before the Christian season of Lent begins and is a big occasion in New Orleans, Louisiana, where huge parades and wild parties take place. There are many other such religious and ethnic celebrations in the United States.

TEXAS HOLIDAYS
Many of our holidays have significance in the cultural heritage of Texas. You will notice that some people who are honored were not Texans, but the issues they stood for affected Texas. Before a day is set aside as a holiday, the state legislature must agree on this remarkable significance. Martin Luther King Day (January 15th) is a day that honors the birth of civil rights leader, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. who organized civil disobedience marches during the turbulent 1960s. He was assassinated in 1968 shortly after his famous "I have a dream" speech. Confederate Heroes Day (January 19th) is a day that honors those Confederate soldiers who died during the American Civil War. At issue was who had the right to determine certain laws, such as whether slavery should be abolished. Some states were so upset by the Federal government actions that they withdrew from the United States and formed their own government, called the Confederacy.

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Texas Independence Day (March 2nd) is a day that honors the day in 1836 when Texas declared itself a free and independent republic. This represents the period when Texas stood as an independent republic with its own flag. Cesar Chavez Day (March 31st) is a day that honors Cesar Chavez the man who formed the National Farm Workers Association (now the United Farm workers of America) in order to improve working conditions and better pay for migrant farm workers who worked long hours in the fields for very low pay. San Jacinto Day (April 21st) is the anniversary of April 21, 1836, when the Texas Revolution came to a victorious conclusion. General Sam Houston, commanding a small force of Texans, defeated a larger Mexican army led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the president of Mexico. Emancipation Day (June 19th) is also called Juneteenth," commemorates the day in 1862 when Congress approved an act that would secure freedom to all persons within the U.S. Territories. It brought an end to slavery in the United States. Lyndon Baines Johnson's Birthday (August 27) is a day that honors the birth of Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th President of the United States and a native Texan.

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DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME


Most places in the United States observe Daylight Savings Time. In the spring, all clocks are moved forward one hour, and in the fall they are moved back again. Daylight Savings Time begins each year at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday of March. Move clocks ahead one hour at the start of Daylight Savings Time. Standard Time begins each year at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November. Move your clocks back one hour at the resumption of Standard Time. Many countries observe DST, and many do not. The reason many countries implement DST is in hopes to make better use of the daylight in the evenings, as well as some believe that it could be linked to reducing the amount of road accidents and injuries. The extra hour of daylight in the evening is said to give children more social time with friends and family and can even boost the tourism industry because it increases the amount of outdoor activities. DST is also considered as a means to save energy due to less artificial light needed during the evening hoursclocks are set one hour ahead during the spring, and one hour back to standard time in the autumn. However, many studies disagree about the energy savings of DST and while some may show a positive outcome of the energy savings, others do not. It is difficult to predict what will happen with Daylight Saving Time in the future. The daylight saving date in many countries may change from time to time due to special events or conditions. Since in the spring you move the clock forward one hour and the fall you move it back one hour. Many Americans use the following phrase, which has a double-meaning in English, to help them remember . . .

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SHOPPING TIPS
GENERAL INFORMATION
First, and most importantly... never sign your name on any paper which you do not fully understand . Never buy anything until you know how much it costs, no matter how great a bargain it seems. Once a contract is signed, it becomes a binding legal document and it cannot be cancelled. Some foreign students have had difficulty with unscrupulous business people and companies. Always be sure to keep the receipt, or sales slip, for anything you buy. In some stores all packages are checked at the door as a protection against stealing; your receipt is your proof that you have bought the things you are carrying. If you find that what you have bought is the wrong size or color, you can usually return it, exchange it, or ask for a refund or credit. To do this you must show the receipt or sales slip. In the U.S., sales taxes are not included in the price; therefore, be prepared for this added cost. Everything you buy in a store in Texas is taxed, except necessary food items. In most of Texas the tax is 8%; that is, for every dollar an item costs, you pay an additional eight cents.

AREA STORES
Please refer to the internet or Yellow Pages section of your local telephone directory for a list of places like: Shopping centers and malls Laundry and dry cleaning services Movie theaters Hardware stores Other businesses, stores, restaurants, etc.

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It's usually a good idea to call a store or business to see if they carry the item you wish to purchase. Stores and businesses are listed in the Telephone Directory, both in the white or yellow pages. Learn to use the telephone in conjunction with the Telephone Directory and you will often save yourself a trip...and money!

WEATHER IN BRYAN/COLLEGE STATION


CLIMATE
The local climate is subtropical and temperate and winters are mild with periods of low temperatures usually lasting less than two months. Snow and ice are extremely rare. Summers are warm and hot with occasional showers being the only real variation in weather. Month Record high F (C) Average high F (C) Average low F (C) Record low F (C) Precipitation inches (mm) Jan
86 (30)

Feb Mar Apr May Jun


99 94 91 100 (37.2) (34.4) (32.8) (37.8)

Jul

Aug Sep

Oct Nov Dec


86 (30)

104 109 108 106 98 89 (40) (42.8) (42.2) (41.1) (36.7) (31.7)

61 66 73 79 85 92 96 96 91 82 71 63 (16.1) (18.9) (22.8) (26.1) (29.4) (33.3) (35.6) (35.6) (32.8) (27.8) (21.7) (17.2) 40 (4.4) 44 (6.7) 50 (10) 57 65 72 74 73 69 (13.9) (18.3) (22.2) (23.3) (22.8) (20.6) 42 (5.6) 53 58 60 44 (11.7) (14.4) (15.6) (6.7) 59 (15) 29 (-1.7) 49 (9.4) 42 (5.6)

7 14 (-13.9) (-10)

17 28 (-8.3) (-2.2)

19 2 (-7.2) (-16.7)

3.32 2.38 2.84 3.20 5.05 3.79 1.92 2.63 3.91 4.22 3.18 3.23 (84.3) (60.5) (72.1) (81.3) (128.3) (96.3) (48.8) (66.8) (99.3) (107.2) (80.8) (82)

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SEASONS
SPRING
Springs in Bryan/College Station are pleasant and mild but short. Spring usually starts in March and ends by midApril. During the spring it is not uncommon to have strong storms pass through the area with strong winds, heavy rains, hail and perhaps tornados as the weather starts to get warmer.

SUMMER
Summers are usually very long and very hot. It starts getting hot in mid-April and stays hot through September. Most people stay indoors at this time of year enjoying the air conditioning or go to the beach or lakes. In recent years Texas and many parts of the U.S. have been in a drought so there has been little or no rain during the summer months.

FALL
The fall season is a welcome change of pace from the harsh heat of summer. Nights are cool (50-60 degree range) and days are mild (60-70 degree range). Leaves begin to change colors and many outdoor activities and festivals are held across Texas.

WINTER
Winters are mild and short. There are some days when the temperature will be very cold but after several days the temperature will once again be in the 50-60 degree range. Because of the wide variations and quick changes in temperature, most people do not own or buy coats but rather dresses in layers of clothes that can be easily put on or taken off.

SEVERE WEATHER
TORNADOS
A tornado is a narrow, dangerous, violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground. They are often referred to as a twister or a cyclone. Since wind is invisible, you can't International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 93

always see a tornado. A visible sign of the tornado, a condensation funnel made up of water droplets, sometimes forms and may or may not touch the ground during the tornado lifecycle. Dust and debris in the rotating column also make a tornado visible and confirm its presence. Wind speeds can reach 300 miles per hour and destruction paths can be up to one mile wide and stretch for 50 miles. Tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible. Some major cities in tornado-prone areas will have loud warning sirens that will proved several minutes to get to shelter. Compared with other states, Texas ranks number 1 for frequency of tornadoes and number 1 for number of deaths due to tornadoes. If you are inside a building when a tornado hits, go to the lowest building level. The go in to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. If you are outside a building when a tornado hits lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding. If you are in a vehicle, trailer or mobile home get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes. Unlike hurricanes, there are no seasons for tornadoes. They can occur at any time during the year.

HURRICANES
Hurricanes are large tropical storms with heavy winds. The ingredients for a hurricane include a pre-existing weather disturbance, warm tropical oceans, moisture, and relatively light winds aloft. If the right conditions persist long enough, they can combine to produce the violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains, and floods we associate with this phenomenon. By definition, they contain winds from 75 miles per hour up to around 200 miles per hour. The path of destruction can be hundreds of miles wide and long. Texas is impacted by the Atlantic Hurricane season during which all Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes. International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 94

Although Bryan/College Station area is almost 3 hours from the Gulf of Mexico it can at times receive high winds and heavy rains when hurricanes hit the Houston/Galveston area. Unlike tornadoes there is usually several days of warning before a hurricane hits land. You should listen to the news and make preparations accordingly. Unlike coastal areas of Texas, no evacuation would be needed from the Bryan/College Station area.

THUNDERSTORMS & LIGHTNING


Texas ranks second in the United States in the number of thunderstorms. A thunderstorm is a storm with lightning and thunder. It usually produces gusty winds, heavy rain and sometimes hail. Thunderstorms are often accompanied by tornados. Thunderstorms can occur year-round and at all hours. But they are most likely to happen in the spring and summer months and during the afternoon and evening hours. Television and radio stations will provide two types of warnings: (1) Severe Thunderstorm Watch- A severe thunderstorm (damaging winds of 58 miles per hour or more, or 1" hail in diameter or greater) is likely to develop in your area, and (2) Severe Thunderstorm Warning- A severe thunderstorm (damaging winds of 58 miles per hour or more, or hail three-fourths of an inch in diameter or greater) is taking place in your area. Despite their small size, all thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes. Lightning is a year-round danger in Texas. Texas ranks second in the number of deaths from lightning strikes each year. According to a 35-year study by the National Lightning Safety Institute, 5 percent of lightning strikes occur on golf courses, while 8 percent are water-related and 27 percent occur in open fields and recreational areas. Lightning can reach 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit -- five times hotter than the sun's surface -and can travel 90,000 miles per second, according to the institute. According to NASA, men are four times more likely to be struck by lightning than women -- though experts aren't sure why.

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SOCIAL INVITATIONS
While you are here, we hope that you will meet and spend time with Americans and their families. These suggestions may help you feel more comfortable when you are invited out. The invitation is usually for you only, unless your hosts specifically invite your family or friends. Bringing guests of your own without asking your hosts permission is considered impolite. The written invitation will include the date, time, place, and description of the occasion. You should always answer a written invitation, especially if it says RSVP (Rpondez sil vous plat; French for please respond). You may respond by telephone or by letter; prompt notice is appreciated. It is considered impolite not to respond. Never accept an invitation unless you really plan to go. If you must decline an invitation, it is enough to say, Thank you for the invitation, but I am unable to attend. If an unavoidable problem makes it necessary for you to change plans, be certain to tell the host as soon as possible before the time when you are expected. Make sure you get directions to the place where the event will be held. When accepting an invitation for a meal, be sure to explain to your host if there is anything you are not supposed to eat. This courtesy will help the host to plan for food and beverages that everyone can enjoy. If you must refuse something after it has been prepared, refuse politely. Never hesitate to ask for any food on the table: Would you please pass the rolls?, since asking for more food is considered to be a compliment to the host. Also remember that being on time is very important in American culture. You should not arrive over 5 minutes early or more than 10 minutes late.

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ADJUSTING TO AMERICAN CULTURE


The following information has come from a variety of sources including other international offices, handouts from seminars and other items in the public domain. Many international offices share and use the same information so original source citations are not available. Some are items that have come from personal culture studies, observations and thoughts. It is only an overview to help you get started on your road to adjusting to America.

WHAT IS CULTURE?
A culture is a way of life of a group of people--the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next. Our culture of origin provides us with our basic understanding of the world. It provides us with the means to perceive and explain our experiences. It teaches about customs, philosophy, and behavior. In other words, it is just the way we are.

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WHAT IS CULTURE SHOCK?


Culture shock is the physical and emotional discomfort one suffers when coming to live in a completely new environment, i.e. another country or a place different from the place of origin. It can include feeling a lack of direction, feeling of not knowing what to do or how to do things in a new environment. It is generally experienced after the first few weeks of coming to a new place. Most psychiatrists, or therapists, breakdown this transition into at least 4 distinct phases or stages.

THE FOUR STAGES OF CULTURE SHOCK


1. 2. 3. 4. Honeymoon Shock Negotiation Acceptance

HONEYMOON STAGE
Everything is great and interesting. Everything is new and different. Everything is an exciting adventure. You love everything. Two cultures! Texan and American! How wonderful!!

SHOCK STAGE
Everything is new and different. Yuck! Americans here do everything different and you dont know their way. The way Americans do things are wrong. This culture is bad; your culture is better! You hate almost everything. You miss your home, your family, your favorite food. What was I thinking by coming to America? Page 98

International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station

NEGOTIATION STAGE
Youre able to start comparing and evaluating the two cultures without frustration or anger. You learn that being different is not bad. When you find out your old ways of doing things arent working you try the new way. Slowly you learn to start functioning in the new culture. You learn new survival skills; new ways to do things.

ACCEPTANCE STAGE
You are able to live in the new environment. You find that the new ways of doing things really work. You can see the value in the new culture. You understand that there are not good cultures and bad culturesjust different cultures. You are happy and content.

SOME SYMPTOMS OF CULTURE SHOCK


Anger over minor inconveniences Irritability Withdrawal-only want to be with my kind Extreme homesickness Over-eating or loss of appetite Need for excessive sleep Headaches Upset stomach Depression Loss of ability to think Unexplained crying Marital Problems

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SOME SOLUTIONS FOR CULTURE SHOCK


Be aware that it is normal Find people to interact with Decorate your room with familiar objects Dont just be with friends from your own country Keep active Make friends Read about the new culture Exercise Get involved in community activities Work on Your English Be patient Seek help Dont feel like you are aloneeveryone experiences it

AMERICAN CULTURAL TRAITS


Due to its vast size and population, it is hard to fit all Americans into one category. Values, manner and customs often differ depending on the region of the country in which are living . . .whether it be the Deep South, East Coast, Gulf Coast, Mid-Atlantic States, Midwest, Mountain States, New England, Northeast, Northwest, Pacific Coast, Southeast, Southwest, Upper Midwest, West or West Coast. Even in Texas there are some differences depending on the region of Texas in which you are living: Deep South International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 100

Texas, the Hill Country, West Texas, North Texas, Southeast Texas or Central Texas. But the following are some general characteristics that are common across all regions of the U.S.

EQUALITY
Americans are taught from childhood that all people are created equal and most Americans treat others equally regardless of sex, race or religion. People of different race, religious beliefs, and national origins have full, legal, equal rights. It is important to remember that American women are equal citizens with men in this country. They are as free as men to live, work, dress, talk, and act as they please. Regardless of your background or culture, in the United States you treat women with the same respect as men. This means you shake hands with them, do business with them, speak to them and treat them with the same respect you would give a man. If you have personal or religious views that are critical of how American woman live and act, it is strongly recommended you keep them to yourself or else you will be rejected by most Americans.

INDIVIDUALISM
Americans generally believe that the ideal person is an autonomous, self-reliant individual. Most Americans see themselves as separate individuals, not as representatives of a family, community, or other group. They dislike being dependent on other people, or having others dependent on them. Most Americans expect their children to leave home when they finish college and be independent. At times the child will move out and share an apartment with other friends but many will live by themselves. In America there are no stigmas attached to a young single person living alone. It is unusual to see older single children living with their parents. American young people also choose whom to date and marry with little or no input given by the parents. They are also free to make friends with anyone that they choose. If you are going to make friends, you will need to make the initiative. Most Americans International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 101

are busy and because they value independence and privacy, Americans will not always be looking out for you, or making sure that you are doing okay. Americans expect you to take care of yourself or ask for help. If you don't ask for help, Americans will assume you don't need anything.

TIME CONSCIOUSNESS
Be on time!!! Different cultures perceive time differently but to Americans being on time has the highest of priorities. Americans place considerable value on punctuality and you will often here the expression Time is money. Time is a valuable commodity that can never be redeemed if wasted. You are expected to be on time for class, social event and work. If late several times for work you can be reprimanded or dismissed. It seems that Americans consider time as more important than people. The American approach to time appears, to many other cultures, to be too blunt (too quick to get to the point) and to be discourteous in the lack of time spent on personal courtesies. American culture teaches a person not to waste time, when an American offers a brief greeting as the preamble to a conversation, the American is in part motivated by wanting to save the others precious time. Unfortunately, this behavior that was intended to be considerate is frequently perceived by a many cultures as cold or impolite. Americans all tend to operate on a tight schedule. As a result they may sometimes seem harried, always running from one thing to the next, and not able to relax and enjoy themselves. International students sometimes see this as being "ruled by the clock." You need to learn to be on time or even 5 to 10 minutes early for appointments. It shows respect for the person that you are meeting. Being "on time" for class, an appointment, or for dinner with your American friend is important. Most Americans consider it rude if you are more than 5 minutes late to an appointment and will need to apologize if they are late. In a university setting, some instructors do not permit students who are late to enter the classroom.

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MATERIALISM
"Success" in American society is many times measured by the amount of money or the quantity of material goods a person is able to accumulate. There is a common expression He who has the most toys (stuff) when he dies is the winner. A person accumulates money and goods by means of such valued qualities as hard work, cleverness, and persistence. Unfortunately, many Americans judge other people on how many possessions or how much money they have. The typical American family may own a home with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 3 computers, 5 televisions and two or more cars. Also many live in debt due to purchasing all of these things on credit.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION
Most Americans consider themselves as religious and one of the founding principles of the country is that of religious freedom. There is no state-sanctioned religion in America and no religious persecution. In most cities you will find places of worship for almost all religions.

PRIVACY
U.S. Americans like their privacy and enjoy spending time alone. You should not be offended if you have a good American friend and at times they want to do things alone. Privacy is considered as a time to get rid of all demands of life, relax and get rid of stress. Foreign visitors will find in American homes that many times the children will go to their rooms and shut the doors in order to be alone. That is perfectly acceptable and demonstrates the Americans respect for privacy.

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INFORMALITY
Although in some places the atmosphere is quite formal, in others, it is very informal. Treating guests informally is not being rude, but rather a way of taking you into the intimate circle of family and friends. For Americans, being asked to help yourself, or to serve yourself, is a great honor. Although Americans frequently address each other by given rather than family names, at first meeting, it is best to use a persons title (Doctor, Professor, Mister, Mrs. or Miss) unless invited to do otherwise. The U.S. American lifestyle is generally casual. You will see students going to class in shorts and t-shirts. Male instructors seldom wear a tie and some may even wear blue jeans. Female instructors often wear slacks along with comfortable walking shoes. The American workplace is also moving in the direction of more casual. Many administrators in academic institutions no longer wear ties or coats but rather slacks and a button-down dress shirt. In hot climates, such as Texas, even those who wear coats and ties rarely do so in the summer months (May-August). Greetings and farewells are usually short, informal and friendly. In most parts of Texas most will greet each other with such expressions as Hello, "Hi", "How are you?" Hows it going? and "What's up?"? In many parts (especially in Bryan/College Station you will be greeted with Howdy! The farewell can be as brief as: "See you", "take it easy", or, "take care. Friendships are also casual, as Americans seem to easily develop and end friendships.

VERBAL COMMUNICATION
Preferred topics with people who are not friends or family Preferred: Sports, weather, jobs, people in common Less Preferred: politics, personal feelings, personal problems Structure of Conversation Take turns No monologues Page 104

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No arguments Few ritualistic greetings Offensive to talk or interrupt when someone else is talking Depth of Conversation Personal lives are normally reserved for close friends and family Deep personal feelings are only shared with close friends and family Style of conversation Moderate in volume Few and restrained hand gestures Most Americans are impatient with: Demanding people or people who make demands rather than making requests People who do not show respect to the other person in the words used or the tone of voice Rude people People who are needy (not independent)

NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION
What is non-verbal communication? Nonverbal communication is sending and receiving messages in a variety of ways without the use of words. It can be done by facial expressions, gestures, body postures, etc. It is both intentional and unintentional. Many people are not aware that they are communicating through non-verbal expressions and that what they are saying is being completely misunderstood because of their non-verbal communication. It is said that our non-verbal communication speaks louder than anything that we say verbally. These non-verbal expressions include, but are not limited to: Eye Contact: While they are talking to someone, Americans International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 105

alternate between looking briefly into the listener's eyes and looking slightly away. While they are listening to another person, they look almost constantly at the speaker's eyes. Americans tend to distrust people who do not look into their eyes while talking to them. Looking away shows boredom and lack of interest. Americans do not bow or incline their heads when meeting someone. They believe it demonstrates a lack of self-respect. Touch: The United States is a relatively non-contact country, whereas in many countries touch is common and expected. The amount of physical contact between two people depends on the nature of their relationship. In a casual friendship, there might be a small amount of touching, like a friendly pat on the back. Close friends of the opposite or same gender will often hug each other without any implication of a physical (sexual) relationship. A couple that is dating may touch frequently in public, although explicit public displays of affection are generally frowned upon. Women do not generally hold hands with each other (as they do in some countries) in public, and two men will very rarely touch each other aside from a pat on the back or friendly punch on the arm. Personal Space: Every person has a personal space boundary into which no one should enter. This varies from culture to culture and from country to country. This aspect of communication is easily violated when someone invades another's personal space by standing or sitting too close. Americans do not like people that they do not know being too physically close to them. For Americans, the personal space boundary extends to about 3 feet in a circle around them or a little over the length of your extended arm. Only close friends and family members are allowed to get closer. You can see this in classrooms or auditoriums. Americans try and leave at least one empty chair between themselves and anyone else in the room. Americans consider it to be very rude and personally distressing or irritating when people "invade their personal space". If a person from another country has a much smaller personal space area than an American, it will become obvious as they talk--often the American will back up uncomfortably to compensate for the invasion of his/her personal space, while the person form the other country will move closer for the opposite reason. If you are talking to an American and you see them take a step backward for more space, dont follow them by taking a step forward! Body Language: One of the most misunderstood factors of communication is body language. This includes gestures, facial expressions, body position and movement. Body International Student Survival Manual Bryan/College Station Page 106

language is entirely learned within a cultural setting. For instance, posture is used to include and exclude people in conversations. It is said that almost 90% of our meanings (emotions) are revealed through facial expressions. Body language is complicated and varies greatly from one cultural group to another. Observing interactions between other people is a good way to learn about the body of a culture. You can watch people at parties, in restaurants, walking on campus, or in the classroom to see how they interact with friends, colleagues, professors, or strangers.

OTHER CULTURAL ITEMS


NOTHING WRONG WITH THE LEFT HAND
Unlike some cultures, Americans do not feel that there is anything wrong or unclean with the left hand. At times they will shake your left hand or give you something with the left hand. It is not considered offensive. It is also not considered offensive to touch someone with the left hand.

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SIGNS OF RESPECT
Unlike some cultures, Americans show respect by maintaining eye contact with the person that with whom they are conversing. Respect is shown looking each other in the eyes and not by looking down. Americans also do not show respect or deference by bowing to someone else or nodding the head to someone else to express thanks, to apologize, to make a request or to ask someone a favor. Although shaking hands is uncommon among some cultures, all Americans (men and women) shake hands as a form of greeting. You always look at the eyes of the other person when speaking to them.

NOTHING WRONG WITH THUMB UP IN AMERICA


Americans love to celebrate and will often hold the thumb up to encourage someone or to agree with someone. It is not a sign of disrespect or vulgarity as it is in some countries. It is always a positive gesture.

SHOES & BARE FEET


In America there is no negative connotation with the shoes (or the bottom of shoes) or feet. In many countries it is a terrible insult to show the bottom of your shoe or touch someone with your shoe or a bare foot. But Americans do not have this problem and will often put their feet up on a desk or table when talking with someone. It is not a sign of disrespect. Also most Americans wear shoes in house.

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CLEANING TEETH IN PUBLIC


Using toothpicks or dental floss to clean teeth in public is not an acceptable practice. That being said, it is very common in Texas to see people (mostly men, and even on occasion women and children) with toothpicks (or a piece of straw) in their mouth. This is NOT for hygienic (cleaning) purposes. It is just a habit carried over from the cowboy/western culturechewing

on toothpicks or a piece of hay helps you have clarity of thought and reduces stress.
Warning! This should only be done in informal situations. So set back, grab a straw or toothpick, put it between your teeth, relax and become a Texan!

WE WISH YOU THE BEST


Remember that we are here to assist you and your immigration needs. We want you to have a pleasant and meaningful experience during your time with us. The information contained in this manual is not all inclusive; rather, it contains information we hope will be especially useful to you as a foreign national during your time at the Texas A&M Health Science Center. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the Office of International Services.

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