Keeping in touch with family and friends, both at home and in the U.S., will be very important to the success and satisfaction of your time here! There are many ways to stay connected.
Telephone ServicesPhone service via Internet
One cheap, simple, and popular method of keeping in touch with friends and family is through computer and smartphone applications ("apps") that use Wi-Fi/internet connections to make calls. Many of these apps (e.g. WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, etc.) are free but do require that the receiver of the call also have the app, as well as a Wi-Fi connection. If you need to make calls to individuals who may not have internet access, services are also available that can allow you use Wi-Fi to make calls through cell towers. Skype is an online tool that will allow you to make these calls to phones and other users for a low rate per minute or subscription fee. You can also use providers such as Vonage to use a regular telephone with an existing internet connection.
If you will frequently want or need to make calls or use cellular data when you do not have an internet connection, you will likely want to find a cell phone plan that works for you. However, activating a service plan in the U.S. is not always easy. This is especially true if you don’t have a U.S. Social Security Number or will only be here for a short period of time, since many major cell phone plans require a minimum one-year contract and have penalties for early termination. However, increasingly companies are offering contracts without a minimum time commitment and/or "pay-as-you-go plans." If you plan to call internationally, be sure to ask about any additional charges or consider using a pre-paid calling card. More detailed information on Mobile Phone Providers is also available.
A pre-paid calling card will allow you to place your call by dialing a toll-free access number in the U.S. and entering your account information. Rates are usually charged by minute and vary based on the destination of the call. There are many resources online to learn more about the advantages and what to consider when choosing a phone card, such as this Guide to Buying Calling Cards.
Computers & Internet Access
For students and staff, the University IT office can assist you with all your computer and technical needs while on our campuses. This includes obtaining your NetID, using a University email account, accessing wireless internet on campus, campus telephone services, and more. You should activate your NetID as soon as possible, which is often possible even before you arrive, since it will be your key to network access and various information systems. If you need to purchase a computer or related accessories, you may view inventory available through the Computer Sales department.
Internet Access Off-Campus
Access to the Internet is available throughout University of Rochester campuses and can be accessed with your NetID and password. However, if you are living off-campus or in apartment-style graduate housing, you will likely need to pay for access through an Internet Service Provider. The type of plan you choose will depend on your needs and whether you will purchase bundled services, such as phone or cable television. Common service providers in our area include: Frontier and Time Warner.
Television & Cable
Local network television stations are available in the U.S. over the air free of charge. However, you must have a digital converter box in order to receive those signals on your television. There are several manufacturers of this appliance, which can be purchased at many retail stores and usually cost around $50 or sometimes obtained through an internet service 'bundle'. Alternatively, you may also choose to purchase television services through a cable or satellite company. These services offer extended and specialty channels in addition to the standard channels you could access over the airwaves. Companies have a variety of package deals and often offer a special rate for new customers. Before you sign a contract, make sure you understand the terms of agreement, what you expect to receive, and whether your monthly fees will change over time. Area cable television is available through Time Warner, while satellite companies include DirecTV and Dish Network.
The local newspaper is the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. While many outlets are currently posting information online, printed newspapers can be delivered to your home every day, or weekends only, for a subscription fee. Many national and foreign newspapers and magazines are also available for home delivery in this area. You can also get a free issue of the City Newspaper, which is published monthly and available at many local restaurants, stores and public events.