International Student Welcome Guide
This guide was compiled by Research, Innovation and Global Solutions with input from international students and units around campus. It is intended to provide resources and helpful information for new international students in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. It is revised and updated regularly.
Please note that none of the information herein is intended to provide legal, medical, or other professional advice nor endorsement of companies. The views and information provided within this guide do not necessarily represent the opinions or convey the endorsement of the University or the Gillings School.
This website contains a lot of information. Feel free to download the Know It All Document for off-line reference.
Visit UNC's International Student and Scholar Services website for the latest information on what to do prior to arriving to Chapel Hill.
Here are some tips from international students when traveling to the U.S.:
- Book your flight only after the visa has been stamped in your passport.
- Check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection information regarding items that are prohibited or restricted on flights to the U.S. Make sure to follow all guidelines for bringing food into the country.
- Keep all travel documents, including your passport, Form I-20 or DS-2019, admission letter, and proof of financial support, with you during your flight to the U.S. Do not pack your travel documents in checked baggage.
- Make provision for airport pickup on the day of arrival.
- Make provision for temporary housing arrangement while looking for permanent housing.
- Anticipate some degree of adjustment in terms of food, skin changes, and lifestyle.
- Ask for clarification if confused at any step of your transition.
- DO NOT bring items in carry-on luggage that are not permissible on flights, such as raw, not properly preserved and labeled food items and liquid substances.
- DO NOT carry sharp objects.
- DO NOT attempt to help a stranger with luggage during the course of your flight to the U.S. This may include a request for simple assistance such as holding a suitcase or other item.
- DO NOT sign a lease (See Housing tab) unless you are certain of living in the apartment. A signed lease is a binding contract. Some international students have had difficulty with this in the past.
- DO NOT sign a utility or service contract if you do not intend to maintain it at least for a year. For example, most phone contracts run for two years, and if you cancel before two years have elapsed, you will incur penalties. The same may apply to cable and Internet, among other services.
- Be aware of ingredients in foods that you may be allergic to when trying food items. Please read CDC COVID-19 Travel Guidelines
The Office of International Students and Scholars Services offers a variety of information for your arrival to North Carolina via Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU). RDU is the nearest airport to Chapel Hill, about 30 minutes east of Chapel Hill.
Please read the RDU airport COVID-19 Travel Guidelines
If you have not made prior housing arrangements for when you arrive in North Carolina, it is wise to make a reservation in a hotel or motel. You can find affordable hotel and motel options under temporary lodging on the ISSS arrival planning webpage. You will also find transportation options from the airport to Chapel Hill.
There are accommodations available for graduate students who wish to live either on campus or off-campus. Many university students in the U.S. live on or near campus. The vast majority of UNC-Chapel Hill graduate and professional students live off-campus in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, or Durham. Contacting current students to find their favorite apartment complexes, neighborhoods, or roommates can be helpful.
On-campus housing options
Graduate and professional students and students with families are eligible to apply for housing at Baity Hill Graduate & Family Housing.
Apply early! To learn more about housing and availability, directly contact:
Baity Hill at (919) 843-8831 or Baity.Hill@gmail.com
Off-campus housing options and considerations
Students who live off-campus generally find a place less than a mile or two away. Not only is this convenient for getting to and from campus, but many social activities occur on campus. The educational experience is not confined to the classroom, and you will find yourself learning as much from your fellow students as from members of the faculty.
Many local apartment complexes are on the free [meaning no fare needs to be paid] bus lines (Chapel Hill Transit) in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. If possible, it is recommended that you choose a place to live that is near a free bus line. The buses also make less frequent stops at park-and-ride lots, but there is a fee for using this service. (See Transportation).
Please see UNC-Chapel Hill’s web tool to help find Off-Campus Housing. Also check out Facebook Marketplace or these useful Facebook groups to find subleases and roommates in the area: UNC Subleases Roommates, UNC Chapel Hill Apartments, Roommates, Subleases, Housing - North Carolina.*
*Please be aware that some apartments are more flexible with their application process for international students, while others are not. Some apartments require high security deposits due to lack of history in the U.S. versus others which do not require high security deposits.
Things to consider when choosing a place to live off-campus:
- Parking: There is no free parking on-campus from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the week. However, there are pay lots in Chapel Hill on Franklin St., Rosemary St., and on South Campus. As it stands now, you may park for free in most campus lots after 5:00 pm and all day on weekends, with a few exceptions for football and basketball game days and special events (marked by signs).
- Utilities: If the rent does not include utilities, you will have to request that utilities be turned on when you move in. The landlord can provide you with the name and telephone numbers of the gas, electric and telephone companies that service your apartment. If you do not have a good credit history, they may require you to pay a security deposit. The security deposit should be refunded after one year (often, with interest) if your bills are paid promptly throughout the lease period. The gas and electric companies typically provide two payment options. The first requires you to pay for all the services you use in every given month. The other lets you pay an estimated budget amount each month, with any difference being reconciled at the end of the year. Some people find this more convenient, since gas and electricity bills can otherwise vary considerably during the summer and winter months. You still have to pay for all the electricity you use, but it won’t be as big a strain on your budget if you don’t have to pay significantly more during the months you use more of the service.
- Renter’s Insurance: Renter’s insurance is advisable, and most landlords require coverage before moving into your apartment. Insurance can help you recover from property loss due to fire, theft, natural disasters, etc. The landlord is not responsible for your belongings if they are destroyed in a fire or stolen. Most renter’s insurance policies also protect you if someone is injured while in your apartment or if you unintentionally cause significant damage to the apartment. Here is a useful guide from the North Carolina Department of Insurance: Consumer Guide to Renters Insurance.
- Leases/Budget/Utilities: Carolina Student Legal Services is available to answer questions or concerns about renting an apartment/house. Check out the Budget Planning Worksheet (on pgs. 12-13 of the Off-Campus Housing Guide) or an online option for budget calculation.
- Other things to consider when thinking about living off-campus.
Cable: Chapel Hill/ Carrboro
- Deposit: Varies - some apartments bundle cable with rent - ask your landlord
- Spectrum (1201 Raleigh Rd., Chapel Hill, N.C.): (866) 874-2389
- AT&T Internet and TV (Chapel Hill, NC): (855) 293-7676
- Duke Power Co. (2000 Avondale Dr.): (800) 777-9898
- Deposit: Call for information.
- Duke Energy (4412 Hillsborough Rd., Durham, N.C. 27705): (800) 777-9898
- Piedmont Electric (2500 NC-86, Hillsborough, N.C. 27278): (800) 222-3107
- Deposit: Varies. Those with a bad credit score or no credit history may be able to prepay for a year.
- Durham Water and Sewer (Customer Service 1100 Martin Luther King Jr Pkwy, Durham, N.C. 27707): (919) 560-4344
- Deposit: $50. Check with your landlord if service is bundled with rent.
- Orange Water and Sewer (400 Jones Ferry Rd., Carrboro, NC 27510): (919) 968-4421
- Deposit: Service initiation fee.
- PSNC Energy: (877) 776-2427
- Deposit: Varies with house size.
Check with your cable provider for internet options, as you might save money by combining your cable and internet services. You may decide to only purchase internet from these providers and forego cable services - especially if you do not use cable and prefer to use streaming services.
Most students have cell phones and do not have landlines (home phone). However, if you would like a landline in your off-campus housing there are various companies in the area that provide the option: AT&T, Verizon, Vonage, Comcast Cable, and Spectrum. You can contact them directly to get pricing and see if you can combine your cable, internet, and telephone services for a lower price. For popular cell phone companies in the area:
- AT&T: 201 S Estes Dr #200e, Chapel Hill, NC 27604
- Sprint: 1348 Java Ln Suite 102, Burlington, NC 27215
- Verizon: 201 S Estes Dr #400b, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
- T-Mobile: 1490 Fordham Blvd Ste 120, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Helpful tip: The large phone companies have a UNC affiliate discount which can help students get a slightly cheaper monthly plan. Ask when you look for phones! You would likely need to bring your student ID card to set that up if they provide the discount.
Students compiled the list below on places they have found used furniture to furnish their apartments.
NOTE: When buying used furniture and bedding, make sure you inspect the items carefully to avoid bringing home bedbugs, cockroaches, or other pests. Wash used bedding in hot water, if possible, and avoid used mattresses. When accessing items from online sources, it is recommended to bring a friend for safety and follow the recommended safety protocols.
*Hours and operations vary due to COVID-19; visit stores’ website for the most accurate information
Buy Nothing Facebook Group
The Buy Nothing Project was founded in 2013 with the mission to build community by connecting people through hyperlocal gifting, and reducing our impact on the environment. Through Facebook or an App, neighbors gift furniture, clothing, kitchen utensils, etc. It is a great way to build community and access free, donated items and to donate items to other community members.
Carrboro Free Market (Every first Saturday of month, 2 PM to 4 PM, at Carrboro Townhall)
International students can find kitchen items and home stuff (e.g. toaster, blender, lamps, cutlery, bedsheets, cushions) depending on availability. Highly recommended if you are on a budget.
CommunityWorx Thrift Shop (Clothing, housewares, books, furniture)
125 W Main St, Carrboro, N.C. 27510- (919)-967-1272
Durham Rescue Mission Thrift Store
3900 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd, Durham, NC 27707- (919)-401-1935
1115 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514 - (919) 240-7451
4318 Garrett Road, Durham, N.C. 27707 - (919) 493-1182
5267 North Roxboro Road, Durham, N.C. 27712 - (919) 479-1141
Habitat for Humanity ReStore (Durham)
5501 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd, Durham, N.C. 27707 - (919) 403-8668
Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill Craigslist (Furniture, Household)
Raleigh News and Observer classified ads
Select the locations below for available markets/food stores in the towns around the University.
- Food Lion (Carrboro Plaza - 104 NC Hwy 54, Unit A, Carrboro, N.C. 27510): (919) 932-1589
- Food Lion (Willow Creek Shopping Center - 602 Jones Ferry Rd a, Carrboro, N.C. 27510): (919) 942-0916
- Harris Teeter (Carr Mill Mall - 310 N Greensboro St, Carrboro, N.C. 27510): (919) 942-8564
- Weaver Street Market (101 E Weaver St, Carrboro, N.C. 27510): (919) 929-0010
- Carrboro Farmers Market Saturdays Year-Round: 9am-12pm November - March 7am-12 April - October Wednesdays & Seasonally: 3-6pm April - November (301 W Main St, Carrboro, N.C. 27510): (919) 280-3326
- Food Lion (Timberlyne Shopping Center - 1129 Weaver Dairy Rd, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514): (919) 929-0458
- Food Lion (Rams Plaza - 1720 Fordham Blvd, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514): (919) 967-2613
- Harris Teeter (Chapel Hill North - 1800 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514): (919) 968-0110
- Harris Teeter (Meadowmont Village - 116 W Barbee Chapel Rd, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27517): (919) 932-5020
- Harris Teeter (University Mall - 2110 S Estes Dr, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514): (919) 933-5700
- Wal-Mart Superstore (12500 US Hwy 15 501 N, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27517): (919) 357-9039
- Target (143 W Franklin St #120, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27516): (919) 590-4925
- Fresh Market (1200 Raleigh Rd, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27517): (919) 932-7501
- Trader Joe's (1800 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514): (919) 918-7871
- Whole Foods Market (81 S Elliott Rd, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514): (919) 968-1983
- Farmers Market Saturdays 8am-12pm and Tuesdays 3pm-6pm (University Mall - 201 S Estes Dr, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514): (919) 533-9496
- Carolina Campus Community Garden (200 Wilson St Chapel Hill, N.C. 27516): https://ncbg.unc.edu/outreach/cccg/
- Wegman's (1810 Fordham Blvd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514): (919) 864-7400
- Wal-Mart Superstore (5450 New Hope Commons Dr, Durham, N.C. 27707): (919) 489-4412
- Target (8210 Renaissance Pkwy, Durham, N.C. 27713): (919) 425-0001
- Target (4037 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd, Durham, N.C. 27707): (919) 765-0008
- Durham Farmers Market Saturdays from 8am-12pm (April-November) Saturdays from 10am-12pm (December – March) Wednesdays from 3-6 pm (April– mid-October) (501 Foster St, Durham, N.C. 27701): (919) 667-3099
- Mediterranean Deli Bakery and Catering (410 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27516): 919-967-2666
- Li Ming’s Global Mart (Asian, Latino and Indian) (3400 Westgate Dr, Durham, N.C. 27707): (919) 401-5212
- Spice Bazaar (Southern Asian) (4125 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd, Durham, N.C. 27707): (919) 490-3747
- Around The World Market (Indian) (1708 NC-54, Durham, N.C. 27713): (919) 572-5599
- Al Madina Supermarket (Middle Eastern) (1019 Method Rd, Raleigh, N.C. 27606): (919) 755-6220
- Tienda Hispana La Nueva Guadalupana Llc Mini Mart (407 W Rosemary St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516): (919) 968-0133
- Tienda Mexicana La Guadalupana (265 S Elliott Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514): (919) 967-9909
- Leone International Foods (African) (810 Fayetteville St # 108, Durham, NC 27701): (919) 937-9023
- Nora's African Groceries (4837 NC-55, Durham, NC 27713): (919) 680-6618
- Little India (4201 University Dr # 110, Durham, NC 27707): (919) 489-9084
*Visit restaurants’ website for the most accurate information
Chapel Hill and Carrboro: Looking for a specific type of food? Chapel Hill and Carrboro have Asian fusion, traditional southern, progressive American, pit-cooked BBQ, authentic cuisines from the Middle East and the Mediterranean, fresh mesquite and charcoal grilled seafood, contemporary Italian, and so much more. Use this great web resource from VisitChapelHill.org to find food in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
Durham: Food and drink are in Durham's DNA. From family-run barbecue joints and old school soul food to fresh takes on global cuisine and craft beer, the Bull City's rich food and beverage culture cuts through fleeting trends. Eat and drink your way across town, and in the process, discover Durham's community and soul. Search and discover the food and restaurants Durham has to offer.
Raleigh: You're in one of the "Top 10 Tastiest Towns in the South" according to Southern Living, and you'll quickly see why our culinary scene is gaining other national recognition. Farmers' markets provide fresh meat and produce to restaurants that are focused on farm-to-table cooking... Carolina favorites like sweet tea, barbecue and home-style vegetables are staples of our culinary history... and award-winning chefs (we can claim two Iron Chef contenders) are setting trends in unique and creative takes on comfort food. Find a restaurant in Raleigh!
Carolina Cupboard: Carolina Cupboard is an on-campus food pantry that provides food at no cost to students who are facing food insecurity. Please visit them in the basement of Avery Residence Hall (295 Ridge Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27514) Monday and Wednesday (3pm-7pm) and Friday (2pm-5pm), if you are worried about going hungry. Beginning Thursday, May 26th Carolina Cupboard will be offering pre-packaged bags for pick up on Thursdays of each week from 2pm-4pm by appointment.
The Carolina Cupboard may be contacted with questions or concerns about receiving or donating food at: CarolinaCupboard@gmail.com.
CJ's Cupboard/Food Pantry for Gillings Students: Located in 2210 McGavran-Greenberg Hall. CJ's Cupboard is a 24/7 option for folks in the Gillings community who are experiencing food insecurity. Donate or pick up food and supplies any time.
There are many travel options for getting to campus, to destinations within Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and to other areas in the Triangle region. For the best travel experience, plan ahead and know the laws and rules of the road.
Biking and Walking: For information on biking and walking around UNC-Chapel Hill and Chapel Hill, please visit UNC-Chapel Hill’s webpages on Biking and Walking. The page includes resources, maps, and safety tips.
In other countries, it may not be customary to wear a helmet while riding a bike. In North Carolina, children under the age of 15 are required by law to wear a helmet, and it is recommended that all people wear a helmet since a good-fitting helmet is your best means of protection from head and brain injury. More information on bike helmet research and tips on fitting your helmet.
Bike Shops: *Visit stores’ website for the most accurate information
- Bicycle Chain – 210 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27516– (919) 929-0213
- Back Alley Bikes –100 Boyd St, Carrboro, N.C. 27510 – (919) 967-7777
- The Clean Machine – 104 W Main St, Carrboro, N.C. 27510 – (919) 967-5104
- Bullseye Bicycle – 102 Morris St, Durham, N.C. 27701 – (919) 438-3883
- Durham Cycles – 756 9th St, Durham, N.C. 27705 – (919) 251-8103
- ReCYCLEry (not a bike shop but a bike community)- 108 N Graham St. Carrboro, NC, 27510– No phone
- P2P Express is a fare-free, fixed-route bus service for UNC-Chapel Hill students and employees that runs between UNC-Chapel Hill residence halls and Franklin Street. P2P Express serves designated bus stops on campus every 15 minutes. Buses do not run during breaks, on University-recognized holidays, or when residence halls are closed.
- Chapel Hill Transit offers FREE bus transportation throughout the campus, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Bus stops are identified by a small blue street sign, and route information is provided near the driver at the front of each bus, or it can be found online. Some busier bus stops provide real-time information on when the next bus is coming, and this information also can be tracked online using the NextBus Bus Locator (make sure you set your location to Chapel Hill).
- Park and Ride: Additionally, students can access regular and express buses from a number of Park-and-Ride lots. Most of the park-and-ride lots have a daily or annual charge if you park there. For more information regarding transportation and parking options around Chapel Hill, visit the Department of Public Safety on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus.
- Triangle Transit: For regional bus service, Triangle Transit serves Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, Cary, Research Triangle Park, and the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. For more information on routes, schedules, prices, and policies, visit their website. Their “Transit Trip Planner” is especially helpful in determining the best way to get from one place to another, and will provide bus stop times and walking distances to destinations or transfer locations.
- Uber: Uber is another transportation option that is like a taxi, except you pay via your credit card that you provide when signing-up for an Uber account. You sign-up for Uber, set your pick-up location, request a ride, and pay via your phone. Uber can provide you with an estimate of how much your fare will be prior to committing to taking their service to your destination. Want to learn more about Uber before signing-up? Uber 101: An Intro to Uber.
- Lyft: Lyft is similar to Uber where you pay via your credit card when you sign-up via an application on your phone. Once you have entered your information, you can set your pick-up location and request a ride. Lyft can provide you with an estimate of how much your fare will be prior to committing to taking their service to your destination. When your driver arrives, the application will send you a message that your driver has arrived and will have details on what their car looks like. Cross-checking between Uber and Lyft is a good idea because sometimes one is cheaper than the other.
- Taxi: Taxis are another transportation option for traveling about town and to/from the airport. You can search online for various taxi services in the Research Triangle Park area which includes Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham, and Raleigh.
A driver’s license is required for the operation of a motor vehicle in North Carolina. The Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) provides information on how to get a license and registration for your car. Check the website for office locations and phone numbers to get more information. The ISSS webpage on transportation can provide more information on driving and getting a license or ID card.
- The steps to obtaining a driver’s license.
- Study the driver’s handbooks before taking the test.
- To prepare for the driver’s exam, here is a very useful North Carolina DMV Driver’s License Test Study Guide.
- If you do not have a car and do not need a driver’s license, you can still get a N.C. state ID that can be used in lieu of your passport while you’re in the U.S. Check the Division of Motor Vehicles for details.
- Your car must be inspected and your registration renewed each year.
- You must have liability insurance for your car before you can legally drive. Here are some car insurance companies that operate in North Carolina:
- State Farm
- You may choose to go to this website, enter your zip code and compare insurance providers’ rates.
As the world’s leading car-sharing network, Zipcar lets you drive a variety of cars on demand, by the hour or the day, around campuses, cities, and airports worldwide. If you’re affiliated with UNC Chapel Hill you may be eligible for a discount on your Zipcar membership.
Commuter Alternative Program (CAP): UNC's CAP program offers many benefits to employees and students who use the transportation options below, instead of driving alone to campus. CAP registration requires commuters select one option as the primary commute, but an annual Park-and-Ride permit may be purchased in addition to a bus pass. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. Learn about becoming a Chapel Hill Commuter Alternative Program (CAP) member.
Air Travel: The Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) is the nearest airport to Chapel Hill, about 30 minutes east of Chapel Hill. To get there from Chapel Hill by car, take I-40 East to Raleigh and exit 284B or 285. Transit service from Chapel Hill to the airport is extremely difficult, so driving or taking a cab or shuttle service is recommended.
All students enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill are required to have health insurance coverage. The University of North Carolina offers a policy that meets these minimum requirements. Read the details about the student health insurance plan and international student insurance requirements. You can also read about commonly used insurance terms to better understand fees and services.
Campus Health Services: Campus Health Services (CHS) is where students receive comprehensive health care and mental health services. Every student at UNC-Chapel Hill pays a Health Fee each term in tuition and fees. This fee entitles students and post-doctoral fellows to services at Campus Health Services. The Health Fee covers most provider visits. You can review the information on the CHS website for a more comprehensive description of what is covered under the Campus Health Fee. Appointments are available by phone and online.
Accessing Healthcare outside Campus Health: Campus Health should be able to cater to all your primary care needs. However, there can be times that you might have to seek care outside of Campus Health. If you must seek care outside of Campus Health, it is recommended to still have Campus Health as the first point of contact and get a referral to a specialist or service (ask about cost of going to an external health service). If you go to UNC Hospital (external health service), know they offer financial assistance to low-income residents (most students would qualify; the ‘resident’ here simply implies that you have a proof of address in North Carolina).
Financial assistance is important because despite having an insurance, you are still expected to pay a deductible and co-pays which can be a lot, depending on the services. It might be good to understand how American healthcare financing works; it might be very different from yours.
SHAC Medical Clinic: The Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC) is a student-run free clinic. Their mission is to serve the health needs of individuals who are unable to access the health care system. SHAC provides various services free of charge and some specialty services free of charge; check their website to see what services are offered for free. Their present location is at the Carrboro Community Health Center and the UNC Dental Clinic. Visit https://www.med.unc.edu/shac/ for the most accurate information.
Dental Insurance: The UNC System does not currently endorse a dental insurance plan. However, dental care is offered in the Campus Health building by Campus-Smiles, and Campus-Smiles has partnered with a low-cost dental insurance plan. Campus-Smiles accepts all major Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) dental insurance plans.
You can research dental insurance options on your own. Dental insurance generally covers two cleanings per year and then a percentage of the cost of fillings, crowns, X-rays, extractions, and other dental procedures based on the policy benefits.
Most dental insurance policies have a waiting period before you can receive any extensive care such as an extraction or crown. For example: If you need your wisdom teeth pulled, you may have to wait six (6) months after purchasing your dental plan before having the procedure done. This depends on the nature of your coverage, so read through the policy benefits carefully.
Once you have insurance and before you visit the dentist, ask your dentist the following questions:
- Do you file dental insurance claims? If so, how quickly do you file them?
- Are you in-network with my insurance?
- Can you help me understand my financial responsibility for my dental needs? Be clear on your financial responsibility before you have a procedure done. You can ask the dentist to provide you with a quote based on your insurance benefits.
Counseling and Psychological Services: Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is where students receive mental health care. CAPS is a part of Campus Health Services and is also funded by the student Health Fee. First time visits are provided without an appointment and without an out-of-pocket charge. Walk in anytime Monday – Thursday between 9:00 am – 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. On Friday, walk-in between 9:30 am – 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Initial consultation: call 919-966-3658 to be screened by phone. Urgent needs: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm walk-in or 24/7 by phone. CAPS 24/7 by phone: 919-966-3658. Visit https://caps.unc.edu/ for the most accurate information. Check out additional mental health resources below.
Health Promotion: Student Wellness provides health promotion at UNC-Chapel Hill with a goal of enhancing the individual and collective health of the community through programs, services, and resources. Through partnerships with other campus departments, community agencies, student organizations, and peer mentors, Student Wellness works to develop and advocate for a campus and community environment that creates, emphasizes, and supports healthy choices and positive decision-making regarding health, safety, and wellness. Learn more at studentwellness.unc.edu.
Immunizations/Vaccinations: For childhood vaccinations/immunizations needed to enroll in certain daycares or schools: Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC) Medical Clinic is the nation's oldest student-run free clinic. They provide childhood vaccinations free of charge. Health departments also offer vaccinations, some for free and others with a fee. Please call to see if the vaccinations/immunizations your child might need are free or have a fee: Orange County Health Department, Durham County Health Department, Wake County Health Department.
Pharmacies and Drug Stores: UNC-Chapel Hill has two full-service pharmacies that provide prescription medications and over-the-counter health items. Pharmacists are available for counseling about any medications dispensed and can fill prescriptions from any provider. Most insurance plans are accepted. You may also find medicines at other local pharmacy and drug stores.
- Campus Health Services Pharmacy: Campus Health Services basement – (919) 966-6554
- Student Stores Pharmacy (run by Campus Health Services): 3rd floor of UNC Student Stores – (919) 966-8166
- Rams Plaza –1724 Fordham Blvd, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514 – (919) 942-5125
- 15-501 North – 11314 US Hwy 15 501 N, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514 – (919) 929- 5664
- Carr Mill Mall – 200 N Greensboro St, Carrboro, N.C. 27510 – (919) 929-2181
- 1670 M.L.K. Jr Blvd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-(919) 590-4800
- 1500 E Franklin St., Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514 – (919) 918-4392
- 12500 Us 15 501 N, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27517 – (919) 357-9173
- 5450 New Hope Commons Dr., Durham, N.C. 27707– (919) 489-4420
Opening a bank account: You can open a bank account in the United States even if you are not a citizen. For most banks, you will need two forms of government-issued identification, including a valid passport and one of the following documents:
- Student identification with photo
- Valid driver’s license
- International tax identification number
- Credit card with photo
- Social Security card
To open an account, go to a local branch and fill out the necessary paperwork. Most banks require a minimum initial deposit to open the account. This minimum amount will vary by bank. Once you are approved, it may take 5-7 business days to process the account. You can have your account documents mailed to a temporary residence in the U.S., or you can personally pick them up at the branch. Be careful to read the contract before signing, especially regarding fees, penalties and policies regarding transferring money to an international destination. Here are some local banks and credit unions:
Bank of America:
- 851 Willow Dr., Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514
- 104 East Main St., Carrboro, N.C. 27510
- 102 NC-54, Carrboro, NC 27510
- 143 E Rosemary St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
- UNC Students Stores, Floor 2, 207 South Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
- 129 S. Estes Dr., Chapel Hill, NC 27599
- 165 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514
- 841 Willow Dr., Chapel Hill, NC 27514
- 300 W Weaver St, Carrboro, NC 27510
- 310 Pittsboro St., Chapel Hill, N.C. 27516
- 100 Hwy 54 West, Carrboro, N.C. 27510
Credit card access to money: Local banks are electronically linked internationally with the PLUS, NYCE, CASHIER, CIRRUS, and/or other systems. If you have a card that is linked to one of these systems, you can get U.S. currency just by using your credit card or debit bank card. Remember to alert your credit card company to the fact that you will be traveling abroad. Credit card companies may view unexplained charges abroad as suspicious and deny the charge. This is especially important if you wish to use your credit card to make tuition and fee payments.
Credit Score: If you get a credit card, you should learn about building your credit score. You can inquire about getting a credit card at the bank where you have an account. Your credit score is important since it might help you finance things you might need in future (for example: a vehicle). A a lot of good apartment complexes and landlords need a credit score report, but you can find other housing options that do not require a credit score report.
Foreign money exchange: Most major banks and many travel agencies feature a currency exchange desk. While most major airports feature a currency exchange desk, you are likely to get a better rate directly from an ATM machine affiliated with a major bank. ATM cards most likely to work trouble-free internationally are those with a four-digit PIN number. You may be charged a usage fee by both the local bank and your home institution when withdrawing from an ATM that is not your bank (check with your bank to know how much a usage fee will be).
Taxes: The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) seeks to provide free income tax assistance. VITA offers services at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law and several locations in Orange County.
Carolina Student Legal Services, Inc. is staffed by three (3) licensed attorneys and one (1) legal assistant. We are available to provide students with assistance in understanding the factors that should be considered when one seeks legal advice, to determine if a lawyer’s services are or are not necessary, and to provide appropriate representation and/or referral.
Please visit the website for Carolina Student Legal Services, Inc. to learn more about the legal issues they can provide assistance with.
Please remember when sending emails to Student Legal Services (and others) that any information you disclose in your emails is not confidential.
The UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Public Safety is the police presence on campus. Their website provides information about their policies and services, as well as Safe Tips and how to report a crime.
Child Care Services
Child Care Services Association (CCSA) provides information about accredited child care resources and agencies for Durham, Orange, and Wake counties. Information about child care scholarships and financial assistance is available on their website.
- 1829 E. Franklin St., Bldg. 1000, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514 – (919) 967-3272
- 1201 South Briggs Ave., Suite 200, Durham, N.C. 27703 – (919) 403-6950
For families with school-aged children, information on local public schools are available:
- Orange County Schools
- Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
- Durham Public Schools
- Chatham County Schools
- Wake County Schools
Health departments also offer vaccinations, some for free and others with a fee. Please call to see if the vaccinations/immunizations your child might need are free or have a fee: Orange County Health Department, Durham County Health Department, Wake County Health Department.
UNC Spouses and Partners Group: For spouses and partners of international students, this group is here to help members make friends, meet people from around the world, pursue interesting activities, explore Chapel Hill, and develop a sense of belonging to UNC-Chapel Hill.
Beauty Shops: Black/African American Hair Care
Barber Shops: Black/African American Hair Care
It is important for international students to understand the American education system and the roles that are expected of professors and students. Though informality might be misinterpreted as a sign of disrespect, most American students do not intend to communicate rudeness by their casual behavior. American students show their respect in different ways. For example, students show respect by having good attendance and by participating actively in classes. When students ask questions, they show the instructor they are interested in the class. International students should participate actively in discussions; since you may well have different perspectives from U.S. students, other students will benefit from your questions and comments as well. In addition, completing all assignments on time communicates responsibility and interest. Most American professors will interpret these behaviors as signs of respect and will respect their students in return. If you have a question about class material, it is okay to ask the professor in class or wait to speak to the professor after class. As a graduate student, questions and critical thinking are encouraged instead of simple regurgitation (memorizing and repetition) of material.
Information on course exemptions, School of Public Health (SPH) core courses, course registration, course-related forms and procedures, and school-wide forms and policies can be found on the Gillings School website. Plagiarism in academia is a serious issue. The following are some student resources on plagiarism:
- UNC-Chapel Hill Writing Center: The UNC-Chapel Hill Writing Center offers online and on-campus help for students at any point in the writing process. They also offer handouts and links to other writing resources.
- Writing Center Plagiarism Handout: This handout, provided by the UNC-Chapel Hill Writing Center, covers a variety of topics including paraphrasing, determining if something is common knowledge, and other methods of avoiding plagiarism.
- UNC-Chapel Hill University Libraries: UNC-Chapel Hill University Libraries offers a tutorial on avoiding plagiarism and the correct way to cite works using both MLA and APA formats. Students can take a quiz at the end of the tutorial to assess their understanding of the material.
- UNC-Chapel Hill Honor System: UNC-Chapel Hill’s Honor Code, called the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance, lists the responsibilities and rights of students. The chronology of a case and appellate procedures are also outlined on the student information site.
This program is specifically for helping students navigate entry-level biostatistics and epidemiology courses at the Gillings School. More information about the Academic Enrichment Program.
UNC attracts students and scholars from around the world. Our English Language Specialists offer a range of professional development opportunities designed to support successful academic and social communication (mini-courses, writing groups, speaking groups, and workshops). Here are resources for graduate students.
The Writing Center offers a variety of English as a Second Language (ESL) Mini-Courses. If you are a new student who speaks English as a second language, it is highly recommended you consider registering for the Writing Center’s mini-courses. These courses are free, non-credit courses designed to give incoming ESL graduate students the level of language support necessary for written and oral scholarly communication.
Priority registration is reserved for new incoming graduate students. Continuing students are encouraged to register and will be enrolled in the courses as space is available. Questions? Contact Dr. Gigi Taylor, email@example.com.
The librarians at the Health Sciences Library welcome the opportunity to support the research and information needs of all students. Librarians are happy to meet with you for individual research consults for in-depth assistance for course papers, master’s papers, and dissertations; to find data sets or statistics; or to help you learn computer applications like Photoshop or GIS. The library offers classes on citation management, database searching, and more. The library has study rooms, which you can reserve on the webpage above. You can also get access to virtually any book or article ever published through InterLibrary Loan for free. Call, text, or chat online. No question is too small. They are here to help!
The Learning Center at UNC offers a variety of resources to students:
“Through Accessibility Resources & Service, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill seeks to meet the individual needs of applicants and current students with disabilities and medical conditions by coordinating and implementing appropriate accommodations and providing resources and services as they relate to academics, residences, dining, and co and extra-curricular campus activities.”9 9 Text taken directly from: https://accessibility.unc.edu/about-ars
You can find the booklist for your courses online before the semester begins. It is helpful to compare prices for books on different sites. You can buy/rent books at the locations below:
Recreation and Entertainment Resources
The Culture of Health Initiative at the Gillings School is a continuous process that includes finding ways to ensure that people have access to options that make it easier to be healthy. The initiative includes healthy living classes and activities.
On-Campus Recreation Facilities
Full-time undergraduate and graduate students receive an automatic membership through payment of mandatory student fees. The membership is only effective during semesters when the student is enrolled in classes.
The Rams Head Recreation Center (Rec Center) is a state-of-the-art facility featuring:
- Three basketball courts (one with inset soccer goals and dasher boards for roller and floor hockey)
- Indoor track
- Indoor climbing wall
- Locker rooms
- Multipurpose room
- Cardiovascular and weight training equipment
- Student Recreation Center
- Group fitness classes
Fetzer Gym includes the following facility features:
- Two multipurpose gyms (Gym A and B) which are used for basketball, volleyball, badminton, and team handball
- Gymnastics gym (Gym C)
- Indoor climbing wall (Gym C)
- Fencing/multipurpose room
- Wrestling/combatives room
- Six squash courts (American)
- 14 racquetball courts (four of which can be converted for wallyball)
- Sports medicine
- Student and faculty/staff locker rooms
- Basket room (locker and towel service and sport equipment check-out)
Off-Campus Recreation Facilities
While campus facilities may be the most affordable option for students, there are several other local fitness centers. Check these websites for more information about facilities and pricing:
- YMCA (Chapel Hill)
- O2 Fitness (Carrboro)
- Balanced Movement Studio (Carrboro)
- Planet Fitness (Chapel Hill)
- Chapel Hill Aquatics/Swimming
Camping: North Carolina is rich in scenic and outdoor opportunities. From the mountains to the sea, there are a number of beautiful camping locations and State parks with a variety of facilities to accommodate novice campers and day-time picnickers to more experienced backpackers, hikers, and climbers. Many North Carolina State Parks and recreational areas are within an hour’s drive of UNC-Chapel Hill, including: Falls Lake, Jordan Lake, Umstead Park, and Eno River State Park.
Hiking and Biking: Chapel Hill’s Department of Parks and Recreation has a listing of greenways and parks in the town.
- N.C. holds 88 miles of the Appalachian Trail, the nation's longest marked footpath (more than 2,100 miles) and the first national scenic trail.
- Another nice place to walk is in the trails near the North Carolina Botanical Garden.
- Morgan Creek Trail is a 0.85 mile trail that connects directly to the Town-owned Merritt's Pasture open space area.
- In Durham, there are also many trails to walk and bike. One famous trail is the American Tobacco Trail, a 22-mile paved trail which leads to the American Tobacco Complex.
- Duke Forest has trails for walking and running.
- Sarah P. Duke Gardens is located on the Duke University Campus and has several walking trails.
Mountains: In the opposite direction (and a 3-4 hour drive), there are beautiful views of the Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountains, and lovely mountain towns such as Asheville, Boone, Brevard, and Blowing Rock. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a popular drive in the fall when the foliage turns brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow, and you can find many web sites that will predict the peak color change season and the best time to visit. In the winter, there are a number of ski resorts, including the popular Sugar Mountain.
UNC-Chapel Hill has a long tradition of championship-winning sports teams. In addition to the world-famous men’s and women’s basketball teams, the women’s soccer team is consistently one of the highest-ranked teams in the U.S., and the UNC-Chapel Hill football team is rising in both rank and popularity. Students should take advantage of free or low-fare tickets offered to students.
Beyond UNC-Chapel Hill, there are many local and national athletic teams to watch or attend games, including:
- Durham Bulls Baseball Team (Durham, N.C.)
- Carolina Hurricanes National Hockey League Team (Raleigh, N.C.)
- Carolina Panthers National Football League Team (Charlotte, N.C.)
There are several movie theaters in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, including the independent movie theater, the Chelsea, in the Timberlyne Shopping Center in Chapel Hill. To find a theater, visit Moviefone and enter your zip code to browse by location.
In addition to traditional indoor movie theaters, during the summer months, the Southern Village neighborhood offers “Movies on the Green,” which involves watching recent movies in an outdoor venue.
Chapel Hill prides itself on its live music scene, and there are a number of venues where live music can be heard. Popular live music clubs in Chapel Hill/Carrboro include Cat’s Cradle, Local 506, and The Cave. Many other bars in Chapel Hill also have live music and DJ nights throughout the week and weekend.
Larger concert venues in the Triangle include Haw River Ballroom in Graham, Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary, the PNC Arena in Raleigh, and the Walnut Creek Ampitheatre.
Many places offer free outdoor live music from late spring to early fall. These include: UNC School of Music Calendar, the Carolina Performing Arts Center, or the Carrboro Arts Center.
The Triangle has a variety of locations to watch live theater. These include:
- Playmakers Repertory Company (Chapel Hill, N.C.) – The professional theatre in residence at UNC-Chapel Hill.
- Carolina Performing Arts (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
- Durham Performing Arts Center (Durham, N.C.) – The DPAC features entertainment events such as Broadway shows, comedy, and concerts.
- Carolina Theater (Durham, N.C.)
- Durham Arts Council (Durham, N.C.)
- Ackland Art Museum (Chapel Hill, N.C.) – UNC-Chapel Hill’s art museum
- Kidzu Children’s Museum (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
- Morehead Planetarium & Science Center (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
- Nasher Museum of Art (Durham, N.C.) – Duke University’s art museum
- North Carolina Museum of Life and Science (Durham, N.C.)
- African American Cultural Complex (Raleigh, N.C.) – has artifacts and exhibits displaying the outstanding contributions made by African Americans in N.C.
- North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, N.C.)
- North Carolina Museum of History (Raleigh, N.C.)
- North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, N.C.)
- North Carolina Zoo (Asheboro, N.C.)
Local festivals and county fairs are common throughout the year, and each brings an opportunity to learn more about local culture and heritage as well as to sample new foods and find unique arts and crafts. Some of the larger festivals are listed below, but you can find many more by searching local community websites or by visiting ncfestivals.com.
- African American Cultural Festival of Wake & Raleigh County (September, in Raleigh, N.C.)
- Hopscotch Music Festival (September, in Raleigh, N.C.)
- International Festival of Raleigh (October, in Raleigh, N.C.)
- North Carolina State Fair (October, in Raleigh, N.C.)
- The Barbecue Festival (October, in Lexington, N.C.)
- North Carolina Seafood Festival (October, in Morehead City, N.C.)
- World Beer Festival (April, in Raleigh; October, in Durham, N.C.)
- NC Pickle Festival (April, in Mount Olive, NC)
- Cheerwine Festival (May, in Salisbury, NC)
- Azalea Festival (April, in Wilmington, N.C.)
- Bimbe Cultural Arts Festival (May, in Durham, N.C.)
- Festival for the Eno (July, in Durham, N.C.)
- American Dance Festival (July, in Durham, N.C.)
Diversity Resources at Gillings
At the Gillings School, we cultivate a diverse and inclusive environment to better prepare our students for the diverse world that awaits them – a world that seeks culturally competent people to serve as its leaders. This vision is explained further in the Gillings Inclusive Excellence Statement. You may see tags posted on the doors of certain faculty and staff members that read “Safe Zone” or “Mental Health First Aider” among others: What do those mean?
Safe Zone is a program designed to create a network of visible allies to people who identify as part of the LGBTIQA+ campus community. These trainings provide information and resources related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Safe Zone trainees develop: (1) a deeper awareness of personal ideas, stereotypes, and assumptions related to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and asexual (LGBTIQA) individuals, (2) an increased comfort level in addressing concepts and language regarding LGBTIQA communities with the university community and with individuals, (3) an increased awareness of services on campus that support LGBTIQA and allied individuals, and (4) a network of community and campus staff, faculty, and students to support people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions on campus.
Employees who have undergone Mental Health First Aid training have studied risk factors and warning signs of mental health and addiction issues, including anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and other mental health problems. Although these employees are not trained psychologists or psychiatrists, they can offer emotional support and direct those who need help to available resources on campus and beyond.
The Haven Program (Helping Advocates for Violence Ending Now) training is intended to provide students, faculty, or staff with tools and skills to be an ally to someone who has experienced sexual, interpersonal (relationship) violence, or stalking.
Faculty and staff that have a Green Zone tag are members of the Carolina community that have been trained to know more about the issues and concerns faced by military affiliated students and to identify individuals who are available to assist this population.
- International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), is the main administrative office for all international students. They also have a very informative resources web page, along with programs to help with the transition to UNC-Chapel Hill and Chapel Hill.
- International Friendship Program
- UNC Spouse and Partners Group
- Global Grads Initiative is a resource for UNC-Chapel Hill's international graduate students to aid in your academic success and to build community.
- Advice for new international students
- UNC-Chapel Hill International Facebook Page - Be sure to "Like" the page to stay current on events happening on campus and at the Writing Center.
- UNC-Chapel Hill ISSS Events Calendar - More events specific to international students.
Please note: Unless you have written confirmation from the School or University, you will not receive funding and should plan on financing your study in the U.S. as you have indicated on your Graduate Student Financial Certificate Form through the Office of International Student and Scholar Services. For questions about funding, please contact Jenna Keith, MEd, student funding and awards coordinator.
- UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health School financial aid resources
- UNC Gillings School Job Postings
- Graduate School funding
- iie - Funding for U.S. Study
- EducationUSA resources
- International Education Financial Aid (IEFA) - provides financial aid, college scholarship, and grant information for international students wishing to study abroad. Their search feature allows users to find scholarships around the world.
- NAFSA: Association of International Educators - provides information to international students to consider when choosing a school. Their information includes suggested links that you can visit to learn more about international funding opportunities.
- Edupass - offers an international student guide to studying in the USA.
- The Learning Center - Academic Coaches can help with stress reduction and time management
- Mental Health Resources:
- UNC CAPS - international students CAN complete a phone screen (via Zoom) for assessment and support connecting to services from anywhere in the world.
- CAPS Retrain Your Brain Coping Workshop
- Mental Health Apps
UNC Gillings International Student Question and Answer Session
The Gillings School hosted a webinar for incoming international students to help with their transition to the United States. Current Gillings School international students shared their advice to incoming international students. Topics covered in the webinar: housing (2:00); arrival, transportation and more (7:20); academics (12:17); adjusting to the U.S. (28:24); weather (40:00); and resources (45:39).Watch the video
Input from students, faculty, and staff members is always very welcome. Please note that none of the information herein is intended to provide legal, medical, or other professional advice nor endorsement of companies. Please also note that the view and information provided within this guide do not necessarily represent the opinions or convey the endorsement of the University or the Gillings School.
This guide is a complement to:
- Graduate and Professional Student Federation (GPSF) Resources
- International Student and Scholars Services
This webpage is an update of the guides developed previously by Research, Innovation and Global Solutions, the Department of Epidemiology, and the Department of Health Policy and Management.