The Teach Apples's Thread

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Main Question or Discussion Point

OK. I am coming back to CA, U.S.A. after several years for university from another country. I left U.S.A. about 10 years ago.
And now that I am coming back there are many things I need to learn.

So I thought this would be a good place to learn about the general things I need to know.
So you'll help me right?

A few questions that are currently in my mind (I'll continue with these later on.):
· Should I buy a car? If I buy a car do I HAVE to get its insurance as well?
· Although I'm been driving for over 8 years, I am not familiar with U.S.'s traffic rules? Could you give me a guide by DMV or some other third party which tells all the traffic rules?
· Is traveling by train safe? (for e.x. Oxnard to Fresno, or Oxnard to San Diego?) What about by bus?
· What should I do about giving tips? How much to give to who? Who should I give tips too?
· What else should I do (for e.x. getting shopping cards etc.) once I get to CA?


I'll ask more questions as they come to my mind.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Yes, go to the DMV and get a What Every Driver Should Know book.
Yes, you must have insurance if you own a car.
Yes, trains are very safe, so are the busses.
I tip depending on the service..it varies from 15 to 25 percent for taxies and food servers. 2 dollars a bag for baggage handlers
Yes, set up a bank debit card for shopping.
 
  • #3
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Welcome back apples!

Make sure you don't use a cell phone in the car unless it is hands free!
California is the only state with anti-cellphone laws, and its a pretty hefty fine.

Oh and try to get registered to vote in the upcomming elections!!! This will be a VERY pivital race!

Here is the drivers handbook PFD, its pretty much all you need: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/dl600.pdf"
 
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  • #4
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Have you been asleep for a decade, or in the middle of the Mongolian Steppe?

If you get a car, look at the gas mileage (miles per gallon of fuel) as prices are high, and rising continually. If you have the money for it, get a hybrid, they are very fuel efficient.
 
  • #5
Moonbear
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Regardless of whether you decide to get a car, do get the driver's manual and learn the rules of the road (they're helpful for bicyclists and pedestrians to stay out of the path of trouble too) and get your CA drivers' license. Drivers' licenses are often used as ID in the US, so it's just a lot easier to have one than try to figure out alternative forms of ID.

Some areas of CA have great public transportation, and you may be able to get away with not having a car, which is really expensive to own, fuel, maintain, register, insure, etc. I know of city dwellers who don't own cars and just rent one if they want to take a long trip somewhere as it turns out cheaper for them in the long run (if you live in a city, it's also expensive to pay for a place to park the car).

Since you're coming back for university, most universities have an office or organization for foreign students that you might want to visit or join. They can help provide answers to a lot of the basic questions many of us wouldn't even realize someone needs to ask if they haven't lived here before or in a long while.
 
  • #6
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I believe he (or she, Apples, what are you?) said that he was coming back FROM uni. not going to it.
 
  • #7
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I'm a he.
I'm going to uni now.
I've been out of USA for over a decade.
So that's why I'm asking these questions.
And I'm not considered a foreign student because I'm a U.S. citizen.

Thanks for the help people, and thanks for the handbook.

Other questions:
· Is there a weight limit and a limit of the number of bags you carry on trains/buses. i might want to carry all the luggage I have with me.
 
  • #8
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Hhhhmmmmm... thats a good one apple, I think your best bet would be to look up the individual busing system that serves the area you will be living and call or go to their site to find out. I think most large city buses have storage on the outside for people with lots of baggage...
 
  • #9
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Welcome back apples!

Make sure you don't use a cell phone in the car unless it is hands free!
California is the only state with anti-cellphone laws, and its a pretty hefty fine.

Oh and try to get registered to vote in the upcomming elections!!! This will be a VERY pivital race!

Here is the drivers handbook PFD, its pretty much all you need: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/dl600.pdf"

How can a non-us citizen vote?

DC has no cell phone laws. I think NY does too.
 
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  • #10
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He says he IS a citizen...
 
  • #11
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I AM a citizen.
Anyway,
what about cellphones?
Should I get a mobile network connection?
If yes, which one? I don't know the different types? But how many are there? What are the rates? Which one is cheap to make mostly out of country and a little in-state calls?
I've heard that you get a free phone when you get a mobile connection? Are there strings attached? How can this be possible?
Should I bring my mobile phone to U.S.A. or is it really true that I can get the most expensive phone for free with a connection?
 
  • #12
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Just a thought, remembered from another thread. If for some reason, you are in a car and get pulled over by the cops. STAY in the car with your hands visable, unless your instructed to exit the car.
 
  • #13
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That sounded scary.
 
  • #14
lisab
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Just curious - where did you go for 10 years?
 
  • #15
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That's a personal question, isn't it?
Well out of U.S.A..
Why?
Because of financial problems.
 
  • #16
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I'm a he.
Other questions:
· Is there a weight limit and a limit of the number of bags you carry on trains/buses. i might want to carry all the luggage I have with me.
I've never been on the west coast of the US, but my experience on the east coast has been that if you're the only one who's going to drag your bags around (Greyhound buses, local city buses, commuter trains), then the only limit to what you can bring is how much you can carry/how many dirty looks you want to get on a crowded bus when your stuff takes up two seats and it's standing room only. If someone else will move your stuff at all (airplanes, Amtrak trains), there will be both a size and weight limit on your baggage (and a maximum number of bags allowed).
I suggest that when you plan your trip/s, either call each company you'll be riding with, or better yet, check their website.
 
  • #17
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what about cellphones?
Should I get a mobile network connection?
If yes, which one? I don't know the different types? But how many are there? What are the rates? Which one is cheap to make mostly out of country and a little in-state calls?
I've heard that you get a free phone when you get a mobile connection? Are there strings attached? How can this be possible?
Should I bring my mobile phone to U.S.A. or is it really true that I can get the most expensive phone for free with a connection?
Thanks a lot everyone for answering my questions.

What about what i asked above?
 
  • #18
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It really depends on how you conduct your social business. The recent trend in the US is for many people to have a Cell phone exclusively, no house phone what so ever. In my opinion that's the way to go. You have one bill and as long as you are careful you can avoid any really outrageous charges. You can have the internet, a camera, and a phone in your pocket for about a 100 bucks per month.

As for providers, here are a few major companies: AT&T wireless, Sprint, Verizon wireless, Cricket, T-mobile, Alltel, and there are a few other local services. All the big names are pretty much nation wide and you will get pretty good coverage anywhere. So to decide I would suggest looking at the different packages available to see what fits your needs the best.

There are many packages that offer international calling and I would absulutely suggest that you try and find a free International call plan. Calling over-seas can get expensive very quickly.

And yes most packages do come with free state-of-the-art phones. Just don't let them sucker you into a contract that might turn ugly.

Also, most contracts tend to be on a 2 year basis, i.e. if you try and pull out before the 2 year mark they'll slap you with big charges...
 
  • #19
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Oh, so what if you have your own phone.
Do you get any benefits by not getting a phone from them?

What else do I need to know.
Is this all.
What about racism? I'm colored.
 
  • #20
lisab
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Apples, the term 'colored' hasn't been used as a way to describe a person's race for a long time. Many people would find it offensive.

I won't say that racism doesn't exist, but at a university I can't imagine you would see much of it.

You said you've been gone for about 10 years - the culture hasn't changed all that much, with respect to traveling in buses and trains. Remember that they must keep on a schedule, so be prepared to load/unload very quickly.

As far as cell phones, you'd be wise to shop around. Most shopping malls will have storefronts representing many different cell companies. I would advise making a list of questions to ask at each store. Then you can compare cell companies. Be sure to ask how long the contract covers.

FYI - when my parents lived overseas, we learned that it was much cheaper for me to call them from the US, compared to what it cost them to call me from overseas.
 
  • #21
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Thank you everyone for clearing things up for me.

Is there anything else you think I should know?
 
  • #22
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Vote for Obama!
 

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