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 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 difficulty. 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, scholar or spouse/partner looking for a job, we recommend you download this internship/job search checklist to get started.

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.

Fact Sheets


International House and our colleagues at Community Housing can help you through the housing process, whatever your needs or difficulties may be. In addition to reviewing and utilizing the information below, we encourage you to visit the Community Housing website and NearDuke website.

International House at Duke is an office, and not actually a place to live. We have put together this short informational video to get your started with the housing process.


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.


Use this section to find suggestions on where to purchase groceries, household items, used furniture, a new mattress and much, much more. These handout also provides ideas on how to transport larger items.

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.

International students and scholars in the US are subject to income tax for income earned or paid in the US. Usually your income will be taxed before you receive it. There is the possibility that the money withheld for taxes will be returned to you after you complete your returns in the new year (tax deadline is April 15 of the following year). 

Some countries have tax treaties with the US that may reduce the amount of taxes you pay. Eligibility to invoke tax treaty benefits will not necessarily be structured around the date you begin work, but rather with your date of arrival in the United States. To find out if your country has a tax treaty with the US, visit Corporate Payroll Services website

For more detailed information or for additional questions, email Debbie Endsley, International Tax Payroll Coordinator.

Please see the presentation file on U.S. Taxes shared at our CLG workshop held on Jan 31, 2013.

The International House staff cannot offer personal assistance beyond the information on our website.  We encourage you to seek advice from the Internal Revenue Service, the North Carolina Department of Revenue, or a qualified tax professional.

Local Tax Professionals

Margaret Hung
H&R Block
800 Eastowne Drive Suite 102
Chapel Hill
Phone: 919-403-3756 Ext. 24
E-mail for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Brian Liebert, CPA
Liebert Associates LLC
Phone: 347-903-1272

Sally Trauco
Trauco Tax Preparation
Chapel Hill
Phone: 919-942-7303

Visa and Immigration Services

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