By far the best resource for international students is Duke's International House: http://studentaffairs.duke.edu/ihouse
Their mission is to assist internationals and their families with orientation and acclimation and they provide many services to help international students get settled in Durham. These include:
- an international student orientation (August 12 this year -- 2004) specifically for graduate students that covers a lot of the basic information on housing, banking, insurance, travel etc. You must register in advance at http://ihouse.studentaffairs.duke.edu/gradinfo2004.html in order to attend.
- airport pickups during the month of August. You must contact them at least one week before your arrival. They can also arrange for a hotel room for you (you will have to pay for it, though)
- a loan closet consisting of small household items such as dishes, linens, small appliances.
- emergency loans. These are small interest-free loans to internationals with unexpected financial needs.
- van trips to the DMV office, social security office and local department store. About once every other week (more often in August and September), the I-house will drive students to the DMV (department of motor vehicles) where you can apply for a driver's license or get a state ID card. They also take trips to the social security office where you can apply for a social security number. All internationals must have a social security number in order to get payed. Finally, they organize trips to the local Target (department store) where you can purchase household supplies, clothing etc.
- e-mail list. Students can post questions or items for sale or housing listings to the firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail list. To sign up for the list, send an email to email@example.com with 'subscribe intlhouse' in the body of the message.
For any information related to visas, students should contact Visa Services.
Most students are issued an F-1 visa, which places limits on certain activities such as working. You are allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours/week and you may only work ON CAMPUS. If you are a teaching assistant or a research assistant, you are officially working 20 hours/week and may not hold another position. Also, to remain in good standing with U.S. immigration, you must be registered at an educational institution, so international students must be especially diligent about registering for continuation EVERY semester. Finally, you must maintain a permanent residence outside the US. Duke requires all international students to enter a foreign address on the ACES website upon registration.