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Living in New York City

New York City (NYC) is the largest city in the United States, with a population of almost nine million residents.

NYC also hosts the most international students, with almost 100,000 international students studying within the metro area. These statistics make NYC the most diverse city in the country and we are so happy that you have chosen to study at St. Francis College. If you have never been to NYC before, you might feel overwhelmed by everything from the subway system to the different boroughs to crowded streets. We have provided you with some resources to better adjust to living in this great city.

Join SFC Student Activities
Student Activities is very active at SFC. There is always something to do and we encourage you to take part in the many different activities throughout the academic year. Student Government Association (SGA) is one organization that international students past and present have participated in.

Join Community Groups and Events
Everything from Wall St. to the U.N. to multiple Fortune 500 companies are headquartered here. This means that there are more different types of people and more languages spoken than anywhere in the world.

Just like SFC, the New York Public Library wants to support you during your time here in the U.S. They offer free English classes for students who already speak English but want to improve their reading and writing. If you are struggling with your English, Google Translate offers free, basic translation services. Download the app!

One To World, a St. Francis College partner, fosters intercultural understanding by creating face-to-face experiences among local communities, international students, and Fulbright scholars. They offer many events in the New York community for international students to get involved in. If you are interested in participating in these events, register for a One To World student account.

Get Involved in Community Sports Leagues
Many different organizations throughout New York City offer you a chance to participate in a wide variety of sports. Being a member of a sports league is a great way to meet people while having fun playing a sport. If you are interested, check out NYC Social or Zog Sports.

Inviting Family Members to Visit
We understand the massive commitment that our international students put forth in obtaining an American education and we recognize that our students may want friends and family to visit from time to time, especially for graduation. Your friends/family will most likely be arriving on a B-2 tourism visa. The next steps would be to have this person apply for this visa. To assist you, we have provided a sample letter of what you can write to assist them in this process.

Driving in New York State
According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), “you can drive in New York State with a valid driver's license from another state or country.” You do not need to apply for a New York State driver's license unless you become a New York State resident.

Note: Students from other states or from other nations who attend school in New York State are normally not considered New York State residents. You are eligible to apply for a NYS driver's license if you have a valid:

Your eligibility to apply for a New York State license is tied to your program start and end dates – your authorized status in the U.S. must have a total duration of at least one year, and you must have at least six (6) months remaining before the current expiration date. To get a NYS driver's license you must:

  • Pass a written test
  • Complete a 5-hour pre-licensing course
  • Pass a road test

See the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Get a driver license webpage for more requirements.

Note: When you pass your road test, you will be required to surrender your foreign driver's license to the DMV road test examiner. The local DMV office will destroy your foreign driver's license after 60 days. If you plan to return to your home country and will need your foreign driver's license, ask the road test examiner how to make sure that your foreign driver's license is not destroyed.

How do I apply for a NYS driver's License?

1. Study the New York State “Driver's Manual” (“Rules of the Road” book). When you drive in NYS, you are expected to know, and abide by, these rules. You can get a manual at the Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) office or you can download it from the DMV.

2. NYS License Application: Go to the DMV, fill out the application and pay the fee for a Driver's License. You must bring proof of your name AND proof of your date of birth to complete this application. (Please see the requirements below.)

3. Written Test & Eye Exam: The written test is based on the information in the Driver’s Manual. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, please wear them for the eye exam.

4. Driver’s Education: Complete a 5-hour Pre-licensing Course or a high school or college Driver Education Course. The course is offered at high schools, colleges and commercial driving schools, and at a few other DMV-approved sites, such as BOCES

5. Schedule the Road Test: After you have completed steps #1-4, and once you’re ready to be tested, you may make an appointment for a road test.

There are many banks to choose from when you arrive in New York. It is recommended that you open a U.S. account so that you have your finances local. If you need help understanding financial terms, NerdWallet is a great resource.

How to choose a bank

  • Location: Do they have ATMs and service centers close to places you frequent the most?
  • Services needed: online banking
  • Accessibility: service center hours, ATM locations
  • Interest rates: Each bank has different interest rates
  • Monthly fees: Do they have monthly fees?

Types of bank accounts
Checking account
   ○ Usually no minimum balance
   ○ Good for paying bills on a regular basis
   ○ A monthly fee may be charged
   ○ Usually unlimited deposits and withdrawals

Saving account
   ○ Accrues interest
   ○ Cannot pay bills with this type of account
   ○ Limited number of transactions

Documents you’ll need to open an account
● Passport
● Proof of address (lease, utility bill, tuition statement, etc.)
Form I-20

Some banks may ask for:
● Taxpayer Identification Number--Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
Enrollment verification
● Foreign driver’s license
● Foreign credit card

A simple Google search will yield many, many banks from which you can choose.

Your cell phone from home will most likely work the United States. While you may keep your number from home, you may also elect to get a new, U.S. phone number. Check out the companies below that all have plans varying in price. At the minimum, the monthly plans should offer unlimited talk and text with the amount of data you receive differing.

New York City residents are able to sign up for IDNYC-a government-issued identification. If you did not want or need a U.S. driver’s license, this option may be the best one for you due to the many other benefits it offers.

Local Libraries
In addition to providing you with free books (!) that you can checkout, the local libraries, New York Public LibraryBrooklyn Public Library, and Queens Public Library, provide many, many, many additional resources and workshops.

The closest branch of these libraries systems is the Brooklyn Heights Brooklyn Public Library branch located right down the street from St. Francis College on 109 Remsen Street.

With New York City being so big, sometimes it can be difficult to navigate your way to find something to do. The official guide to NYC, NYCGo, is your best first-step resource when looking to plan your next adventure within the city’s sprawling limits.

LinkNYC provides fast, free, and public WiFi. Each link station also allows phone calls, provides device charging, and a tablet to access city services, maps, and directions. There are almost 2,000 active links all over the city.  Find a link.

On any given weekday, over five million people ride the subway. The New York City subway has 472 stations serving 27 lines throughout Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. The Staten Island Railway serves Staten Island.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) operates the subway. They also operate the New York City bus, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, and certain bridges and tunnels.

The system that made the font Helvetica famous has one of the easiest transportation maps to read. If you need help understanding the basics, the unofficial NYC Subway Guide offers detailed explanations and guides to get you on your way.