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.

Opening an account
All you need to open a bank account is your passport, a U.S. address and some money to deposit. The bank will ask for your social security number (SSN) but you DO NOT NEED this number to open a bank account. If you are eligible for a SSN, just tell the bank you will give the number to them after you receive it. If you are not eligible for an SSN, that is fine. If you open up an interest-bearing savings account, you are eligible to apply for an Individual Tax Payer Identification Number (ITIN).

Wiring Money
If you want funds transferred electronically from your home to your bank here in the United States, you will need (1) the name of your bank, (2) your bank account number, and (3) your bank's routing number.  Each bank charges for wiring funds in and out of the country. Contact the individual banks for fees.

Fact Sheets

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Campus Resources

The information sheets below contain detailed description of how to access the resources and utilize them.

Duke Card for Students

Duke Card for Scholars

Duke University Libraries

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Cell Phones and Computers

  • Cell Phones: Introduction of where and how to buy cell phones or SIM cards. You can get a cell phone immediately and without a social security number. 
  • Buying or Repairing a Computer: Where to get a new or used computer and where to repair them.

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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 & Recreation. 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.

Fact Sheets

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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

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

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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.

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If you are an international student  looking for a job on campus, take a look at our handout BELOW - 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

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English as a Second Language

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

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

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Finding a Doctor, Eye and Dental Care

Finding an Optometrist

Finding a Dentist

Finding a Doctor for Non-Students
If you are not enrolled as a student or employed at Duke, see this information sheet on

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

Housing on campus is primarily for Duke Undergraduate Students. All graduate and professional students as well as visiting scholars need to find off-campus housing.

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.  (See Duke Vans Boundary Map)

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.  Do contact International House staff for feedback/advice if you want another opinion.

Finding Housing

Fact Sheets

Price lists Fact Sheets

Resources to look for a place to live include:

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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.

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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

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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.

All international students, scholars and their family members who stayed in the U.S. on a visa in 2018 must file Form 8843 individually and send it to Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service Center, Austin, TX 73301-0215 by April 15, 2019. This is true even if you did not have any income in 2018. 

If you had any U.S. based income in 2018, you will need to file a Federal tax return and probably a State tax return as well by April 15, 2019. For more information on what to do with tax returns, please see our tax video.

Don't use TurboTax if you are Non-Resident for Tax Purposes!
TurboTax is only for U.S. citizens and other foreign nationals who are considered resident aliens for tax purposes. If you are a non-resident alien for tax purposes and need to file Federal and State tax returns, IHouse will provide an access code to use the online software Sprintax from March 1st. We will announce our distribution plan on intlflash when it gets close, so please stay tuned.

Some countries have tax treaties with the U.S. 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 U.S. To find out if your country has a tax treaty with the U.S., visit Corporate Payroll Services website

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

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
5322 NC Hwy 55, Suite 103                                                                                                              Durham, NC 27713                                                                                                                          Phone  919.294.8598                                                                                                                      E-mail for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Paul Scheible, CPA, PLLC
3400 Croasdaile Drive Suite 203
Durham NC 27705-9604
Phone 919.382.2507
Fax 919.383.4711


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* International Student Identity Card.  Although your Duke Card serves as a Student ID in the United States, some students also want to obtain the International Student Identity Card otherwise known as ISIC.  One may obtain the card by going to the ISIC website,  The cost is $25.

  • Day Trips  - Places to visit in North Carolina

There are a few bus and train options to visit other U.S. cities.

  • Greyhound
    Depart from Durham Bus Station (515 W. Pettigrew Street)
  • MegaBus
    4 trips daily to Atlanta, Washington DC, Richmond, New York, Charlotte, and other locations. Depart from Durham Bus Station (515 W. Pettigrew Street)
  • GoToBus
    Durham to NYC: $55 and up each way
  • Trains
    Durham Train Station
    601 W Main St, Suite 103
    Durham 27701

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Visa and Immigration Services

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

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