Utilities, communication and transportation
When you arrange for telephone service, you will have to choose a long distance carrier. The major carriers are AT&T, MCI, and Sprint. You can change the carrier later. After your service is installed, call each of the carriers and ask about their discount calling plans. You will need to be persistent in asking for the discount plan that offers you the greatest savings based on your calling patterns. Remember to mention that you will be making international calls.
The telephone company will ask you how you wish to be listed in the local telephone directory. We recommend asking them to list your full last name but only the initial of your first name. You can also ask to have your number unlisted, but there will be an extra charge for this service.
Soon after you arrange for telephone service, you will receive free copies of the local telephone directories. The telephone directories are known according to the color of their pages. The White Pages list the telephone numbers of residents, organized alphabetically by name. The Blue Pages, often part of the white pages, contain a list of government telephone numbers. If you need the telephone number for the local immigration office, look in the blue pages. The Yellow Pages contain listings and advertisements for businesses organized both alphabetically and by type of business, product, or service.
If you need someone's telephone number but do not have a telephone book, you can call Directory Assistance for the number. They will ask for the name and city of the listing, and tell you the telephone number. They will charge you for each time you use this service. To reach local directory assistance, dial 555-1212 or 411.
If you are renting an apartment that does not include utilities, you will have to get the utilities turned on when you move in. The landlord can provide you with the name and telephone numbers of the gas, electric, and telephone companies that service your apartment. They may be able to schedule service over the phone, or they may require you to visit their offices. If you don't have a good credit history, they may require you to pay a security deposit. The security deposit will be refunded (with interest) after one year if your bills are paid promptly.
The gas and electric companies typically provide two payment options. The first requires you to pay the full amount due each month. The other lets you pay an estimated budget amount each month, with any difference being reconciled at the end of the year. Some people find this more convenient, since gas and electricity bills can otherwise vary considerably during the summer and winter months.
Most utilities have programs that allow you to have the monthly bill automatically deducted from your bank account. You still receive a copy of the bill, but save the cost of a stamp to mail in the payment.
Traffic laws and driving habits in the US differ so much that it is best to take a driving class and get a local license. Some states will require you to get a local license, and if the state doesn't require it, the insurance companies probably will. You will have to turn in your national and international driver's license when you receive a local driver's license.
Check the Blue Pages in the telephone book for the location of the nearest driving test facility. Sometimes these are located at State Police offices, and sometimes they are collocated with the AAA offices. They will give you an instruction book of the local driving laws, which you should memorize. You will be given a written or oral test of the driving laws, an eye test (bring your glasses with you to the exam), and a road test. The road test will involve both tests of driving skill (e.g., doing a three-point turn or parallel parking on a hill) and of practical knowledge of the law (e.g., if the examiner tells you to take the next left and you turn onto a one-way street the wrong way, you will fail). Don't forget to bring your vehicle registration and proof of liability insurance to the test. You will also need to bring your passport or a copy of your birth certificate.
If you do not already know how to drive a car, you will need to get a Learner's Permit. This allows you to learn how to drive while a licensed driver is in the car with you. After you've learned how to drive, you will be able to take the driving test. We recommend learning to drive through a driving school, since you will be more likely to pass the driving exam after taking driving lessons.
Driving laws differ somewhat from state to state.