Download and use Skype from http://www.skype.com/. It is free to download and free to call other people on Skype (including video conferencing if you have a webcam). This is especially useful for international students with anxious parents. If you decide to use this option and your family members are computer illiterate, please install the software for them and teach them how to use it before coming here). Skype can also call land lines and mobile phones at fairly cheap rates but may be subject to poor quality signal and dropped calls at times owing to internet traffic.
Verizon (http://www.verizon.com/) is the major telephone network in the area. It can be offered as a bundled package with mobile phones as well as internet (DSL) so it can be fairly cheap if you subscribe to internet/residential line/mobile phone line together. Please be aware that speed of DSL internet connection can be affected by the residential area you stay in as DSL speed is influenced by the distance of your home from the base station.
During the Campus Orientation period, there will be some vendors from some mobile phone companies with plans catered for students. They will set up stalls and displays in the University Centre. Quality and cost is unknown.
Major mobile phone companies include AT&T/Cingular (http://www.att.com/), Vodafone/Verizon Wireless (http://www.verizonwireless.com/). Monthly plans as well as prepaid phone accounts (which can be recharged online) are available. If you do not have a mobile phone, you may wish to check if buying a phone from your home country/state is cheaper than Pittsburgh. Also, if you wish to purchase a mobile phone along with a monthly plan, you may need to have a social security number (which takes a few weeks to obtain if you are an international student). If you are bringing your mobile phone from a different country, make sure to pack a travel adaptor.
You may wish to check if buying a laptop is cheaper in your home country/state than Pittsburgh. Most students typically order laptops from Dell at http://www.dell.com, or from Apple at http://www.apple.com. Both companies offer student discounts. Several laptops can also be purchased from the Carnegie Mellon Computer Store (located in the University Centre Bookstore, http://www.cmu.edu/computing/store/) including Dell as well. The Dell laptops purchased from the University Centre Computer Store may be cheaper due to student pricing but are often limited in how you can customize it. For more details in pricing, you can check the Dell website and look up the prices and specifications of laptops in the Higher Education (Government, Education and Healthcare section) or Home/Home Office use sections. If you are bringing your laptop from a different country, make sure to pack a travel adaptor. Note: A laptop is convenient but not necessary since there are computer clusters on Carnegie Mellon campus and in Mellon Institute. A desktop is cheaper and typically offers more computer power for less electricity and cost (but you may wish to get a thumb drive or jump drive in such a case)
You may need to check if Comcast is available in your residential from their website.
Bundles are also available. Please be aware that speed of DSL internet connection can be affected by the residential area you stay in as DSL speed is influenced by the distance of your home from the base station.
CMU has on-campus wireless access at certain locations.
Computer clusters offer internet access from PC or Macintosh computers from several locations on campus. (http://www.cmu.edu/oldhome/visitors/map/)
Two such clusters are located in Mellon Institute and Cyert Hall. More information is located here (http://www.cmu.edu/computing/clusters/)
This is a CMU bulletin board where you will be able to find things such as apartments (https://lists.andrew.cmu.edu/mailman/admin/cmu.misc.market-apartments) as well as furniture, etc. Note: You may need to subscribe to your list of interest to be able to browse it.
Classified ads for Pittsburgh
TVs can be obtained from stores such as Target. Alternatively, they can be also obtained from Misc.Market
You can use your laptop/desktop computer if it is equipped with a TV tuner card and the relevant accessories (you may need to bring/buy a small portable antenna). The disadvantage is that if your laptop malfunctions, you will have no TV as well.
Physical newspapers such as local newspapers, USA today and The New York Times are available in the third floor of the Mellon Institute (next to the vending machines). However, they are unavailable during school semester holidays.
What you can do before coming to Pittsburgh
- If you have a mobile phone subscription with roaming from your home country, you can choose to cancel your mobile phone subscription a few days after you have arrived in Pittsburgh. This will allow you to stay contactable as well as make settling administrative matters easier.
- Decide on how you will establish your internet/mobile phone/residential land line/television issues so that you will be able to settle in as quickly as possible
- Set up your CMU account and learn how to access misc.market
What to do on arrival to Pittsburgh
- Call your family to let them know that you have arrived in Pittsburgh safely.
- Execute your plan so that communications are established as soon as possible.