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Living in West Virginia: Tips and Information

We know the transition to living in the US and starting classes can be challenging. We have gathered this information to help answer questions you may have about important items from transportation to driving to banking.  Of course, you can always visit us in the Student Life House or contact us for more information and assistance.

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Transportation: Getting To and From Campus

Flight Information

The closest major airport is the  Yeager Airport in Charleston, WV. Though small, it has flights departing and arriving at all hours of the day to major hubs in the US (including Washington DC, Chicago and Atlanta). Shuttles to the WVU Tech campus are frequently offered at the beginning and end of the fall and spring semesters.

Beckley has a small airport with one commercial airline (Contour Airlines). They run daily trips to and from the Charlotte, NC airport. It is possible to take an international flight into/out of the Charlotte Douglas airport and then purchase a separate ticket to take you to/from Beckley on Contour. Shuttles to the Beckley airport are provided over break periods. 

Train Information

Amtrak runs the Cardinal Line through the Prince Train Stop with service on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Westbound (towards Chicago) trains depart at 6:43 PM and eastbound (toward Washington, DC and New York) trains depart at 10:02 AM on these days. The train station is about a 15-minute drive from campus, shuttles are provided to and from the station during break periods. Visit the Cardinal Line schedule for complete details.

Transportation: Getting Around Beckley

New River Transit provides bus services Monday through Friday around Beckley and our region, including shopping centers and the town of Fayetteville. The price to ride is $2.50 one way and free to transfer. The purple line goes runs through campus on Kanawha Street, between Church Street and Johnstown Road. To request a bus,  you simply waive your hand and the bus will stop and pick you up (please be on a street corner). 

Uber, Lyft, and taxis are available in the Beckley area. To use Lyft or Uber services, you can download their apps. To use a taxi, you can call them; taxis are cash only.

  • Beckley Green Cab, 304.923.4899
  • Ambassador Taxi, 304.673.3309

Driving & West Virginia Driver's Licenses 

If you plan on driving in the United States, you will want to get a West Virginia Driver's License. You may drive using an international driving permit for 90 days after arrival into the country or for 30 days after arrival using a foreign license. After these time periods, a US license is needed.

To apply for a West Virginia license, you will visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (107 Pinecrest Drive in Beckley) with the below original forms. Make sure you visit the DMV website for more information and to make an appointment.

  • Social Security Card: If do not have a job on-campus or are otherwise ineligible for a social security number, you must show proof that you have applied for a social security card and have been denied. 
    • If you need a denial letter, please do the following:
      • Complete Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card
      • Write a brief cover letter that has your name, local address, and telephone number. State you are requesting a 'denial letter for a driver's license'
      • Take your printed Form SS-5, printed letter, passport, Visa, current I-20, and I-94 to the Beckley Social Security Office
  • Proof of West Virginia Residency: Two original items that list your local address such as a residency letter from WVU Tech, a utility bill, bank statement, or pay stub. 
  • Valid Foreign Passport: With English translation
  • Form I-94:  https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov
  • Visa: Your Visa issued by the United States 
  • INS documents: All original INS documents to verify status and length of authorized stay
  • Proof of Enrollment and I-20: Obtained from DSO. Written verification cannot be more than 20 days old

Note: When you make your first visit to the DMV, you will be completing an application and submitting the above documents for approval. You will more than likely not test on this visit. Once approved, the DMV will contact you by phone to inform you when you can take the written test and driving test. Each time you return to the DMV, you must take all items listed above with an updated DSO letter.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a State ID Card?
    1. A state ID card is used only for identification purposes. Documentation required is the same for both the driver’s license and state ID card. If you want and ID, but do not want to drive, you may want to look at this option.
  2. Will I have to take a written test or driving test?
    1. If it is your first time applying for a driver’s license in the US, you will be required to take both a written test and a driving test (also called a road test). 
  3. Should I register to vote or apply for the Selective Service when applying for a license?
    1. Be sure to answer NO to registering to vote and leave the Selective Service box BLANK or put NA

soccer player

Banking in the U.S.

If you are interested in opening a bank account in the United States, you will need the below items. A U.S. bank account is recommend for all international students and is required if a students has a job on campus.

  • Passport 

  • Driver’s license or State ID of the U.S. (if you have this) 

  • Student Visa

  • I-94 

  • Current I-20 (contact the DSO to receive an updated/current I-20)

  • Letter from the University showing your residency in campus housing or proof of living off campus

  • Money to deposit into the new account (typically at least $100)

There are several banks within walking distance of our campus, including City National Bank and United Bank

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do bank accounts and cards work? 
    When you open a checking account at a bank , you usually get a debit card. A debit card lets you spend money from your checking account without writing a check. When you pay with a debit card, the money comes out of your checking account immediately. There is no bill to pay later. 
  2. What is CVV/CVC?
    Turn your card over and look at the signature box. You should see either the entire 16-digit credit card number or just the last four digits followed by a special 3-digit code. This 3-digit code is your CVV number / Card Security Code. 
  3. Can I get a U.S. credit card?
    Once you open a bank account, you may wish to speak with them about other banking options, including credit cards, online payment methods, and money transfers, and a physical checkbook.

Mobile Phones and Phone Plans

The U.S. offers two types of phone plans: contract plans (usually for at least one year) or pre-paid plans. As an international student who may not be in the country all year, a pre-paid plan is a good option to consider.

Local cell phone stores that will sell you phones and offer both types of plans include: T-Mobile, Boost, AT&T and Cricket. If you wish to use your own cell phone, you can purchase pre-paid SIM cards online or at local retailers.

monty

Living in Beckley

Housing

Most international students are required to live on campus and all international students are welcome to live on campus.  The housing program at WVU Tech provides engaging, safe, and comfortable communities focused on student learning and growth.  Students can learn more on the Housing website

Shopping

Beckley offers a large variety of stores for all of your shopping needs. The Crossroads Mall, Kohl's Department Store, Kroger Grocery, Walmart, Dollar General, and many more shops are available either by driving, taking the bus, or walking.  A weekly Walmart Wednesday shuttle from campus to the local Walmart (groceries, home goods, clothing)  is also available from 9 - 10:30pm weekly. Many local businesses offer discounts to Tech students, learn more on our discount website.

Mail and Package Services

There is one United States Postal Service (USPS) location within walking distance of campus. You can go here or to any USPS office to mail packages or letters. Stamps, boxes, envelopes and tape are available to purchase. 

If you live on campus, go to the housing website for details about receiving mail and packages at https://housing.wvutech.edu/new-residents.

Recreation and Entertainment

Beckley is your ticket to amazing outdoor recreation. We are located near New River Gorge National Park, world-class white water rafting, hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails, and much more. Visit Southern West Virginia has complete information on everything you can do in our region. In Beckley, a variety of entertainment options are near campus: from axe throwing, movie theatres, bowling, and dining out. Visit the Beckley - Raleigh County Visitors Bureau for complete information.

Weather and Clothing

Beckley and Southern West Virginia experience all four seasons!

  • Summer (June – August) brings high temperatures that are usually between 75 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 35 degrees Celsius).
  • Fall (September - November) brings weather that can go from hot to cold, depending the day. Often, the days will be warm with the evenings cold.
  • Winter (December – February) often has very low temperatures ranging from 0 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 17 to 7 degrees Celsius).  Snow can be expected in the winter.
  • Spring (March – May) in Beckley means a slow warm-up. Often, March will be cold with snow, but temperatures do warm up by April.

Since we experience all four seasons, you will need to be prepared with a variety of clothing.  Winter clothing is especially important: a heavy coat, gloves, and a winter hat. In addition, you should think about clothes you may need to be in the outdoors, such as hiking shoes/boots, a raincoat, and a fall/spring jacket.



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