International House (IHouse)

Living Essentials


You will find it almost essential to have a bank account in the USA, unless you are here for a short period of time. We (USA Americans) use debit cards for almost all our purchases these days. We usually carry very little cash on us.


The Triangle area (Durham-Chapel Hill-Raleigh) is a great place to raise children. There are lots of family friendly things to do as well as many parks and green areas. Good Resources to check out include:  Carolina Parent, Durham Parks & Recreation and Chapel Hill Parks & Rec. That said, one really must have a car if you are coming here with children. For more information on how to go about purchasing a second-hand car, take a look at Purchasing a Pre-Owned Car or go to our Transportation section.

Computers, Phones, Internet, etc.

  • Cellular Phone: You can get a cell phone immediately and without a social security number.
  • Computer: Where to get a new or used computer.
  • Internet, Television & Telephone (Off Campus): Suggestions for internet companies if your off-campus apartment does not have wireless already. Also more options for telephones, calling home from the USA and Television services.

Cultural Adjustment

Adjusting to a new culture while maintaining your own can be difficult. IHouse offers a variety of resources to help you successfully navigate the cultural maze.

Fact Sheets & Resources


Departure Checklist: List of things "to do" prior to your departure from Duke.

Donations: List of groups that accept donations of clothing, books, furniture, and other items.

Shipping & Storage: Companies which ship items overseas, where and how to store your stuff during breaks and recommended way to ship your books overseas.


Durham boasts some of North Carolina's most notable chefs and restaurants. Nearly 500 restaurants can be found in Durham, with fare ranging from good ol' North Carolina barbecue to grilled steaks to fresh seafood and with styles ranging from traditional favorites to more exceptional fare, such as Caribbean, Ethiopian, and Middle or Far Eastern.

Fact Sheets

  • Restaurants Close to Campus: There are some fun neighborhoods within walking distance to West and East Campuses which host a diversity of places to eat.
  • Tips on Tipping: Unlike many other parts of the world, a tip is NOT included in restaurant bills or other services provided. Take a look at this handout to get a better grasp of how US Americans tip for service.


If you are an international student  looking for a job on campus, take a look at our handout - Finding a Job on Campus.

If you are an international spouse looking for a job, please go to the spouses tab for more information.

Fact Sheets

IHouse, in cooperation with Career Center holds occasional workshops on job searching strategies in the US. Please email for information on the next offering.

English as a Second Language (ESL)

The best place to take English as a Second Language Courses is at Durham Technical Community College. Durham Tech offers FREE classes in both Durham and Chapel Hill. Applicants must attend the mandatory registration session in order to be enrolled for classes that semester. Durham Tech does not provide childcare.

Information Sheets

  • General ESL Resources - Places in the Durham area where one can study English. Also once a week activities at Duke.
  • Private Tutors List - Perhaps hiring a Private Tutor might be a good option for you. Here is a list of local tutors and editors.


International House at Duke is actually an office and not a place to live.  Sorry!

The majority of graduate and professional students live off-campus. All visiting scholars must live off-campus. Housing on campus is primarily for Duke Undergraduate Students.

When you think about looking for a place to live, questions to consider include...
How much can I afford to spend on rent?
Do I want to share an apartment or house or do I want to live by myself?
Do I need to live within walking distance to campus or will I be driving to campus?
If you need to live within walking distance, then we STRONGLY urge you to find a place to live within the Duke Vans zone.

International House staff can advise you about how to find a place to live. Please contact us with questions.

For those of you who need to be within walking distance or along a bus route, here is a great link to check out.


In case of emergency, dial 911 immediately.

Duke University is a safe place for students to learn, grow, and enjoy their college experience. Security is a shared responsibility, and students, faculty, and staff are valuable partners in helping the Duke University Police Department maintain a safe campus community.

Duke Police offer a variety of safety and security services. International House offers our own list of safety tips as well.

Fact Sheets

We recommend you follow these safety tips and resources, and don't hesitate to email IHouse or call us at 919-684-3585 with any questions.


The majority of apartments are unfurnished in the United States.  It is very easy to obtain furniture (new or second-hand).  You can do it!  Many people are ordering items online and having it delivered straight to their apartment/house.  Look at the Shopping Handout below to see where you can purchase second-hand furniture, where to rent a van or little truck if you do want to transport it, as well as where to rent furniture.

Fact Sheets


Do you wonder what you have to do about filing U.S. tax returns? Here is the answer:

*1040 NR-EZ means "1040 Non-Resident Easy."  You can to use this form if you want to claim the standardized deduction.
**1040 NR: use this form if you want to claim "itemized deduction."  For instance, if you have donated money to a charity.
***For more information on Year End Tax Forms (W-2, 1099, 1042S)click here.


  • Budget Travel - Local Travel Agents, Ways to get to DC and New York, cheaper travel websites, etc.
  • Day Trips - Places to visit in North Carolina
  • Holiday Travel - Homestays and Special Tours over the Winter Holidays. Most are Christian based.

Visa and Immigration Services

Duke Visa Services deals with visa & related legal services. International House does not do VISA work.