This guidebook has been prepared to assist
international students and families in getting acquainted with the
Blacksburg area. Please note that this guidebook serves as a link to
more specific information from various sources. We have listed phone
numbers and web page addresses to help you find the information that you
need. If you see anything that needs correction or updating, let us know.
GENERAL INFORMATION ON
BLACKSBURG [Top of Page]
The town of Blacksburg
is located in Montgomery County.
Town Population: approximately 45,000
Elevation: roughly 610 meters above sea level
Annual Rainfall: 102 cm; Annual Snowfall: 70
Average temperature: 11 deg. C (51 deg. F); 0 deg.
C (32 deg. F) in the winter, with lows of -12 deg. C (10 deg. F); 21
deg. C (69 deg. F) in the summer, with highs of 35 deg. C (95 deg.
Sources of Information on the
Blacksburg Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce
Blacksburg/Christiansburg Visitors Center (103
Professional Park Drive, Blacksburg; 552-2636). Maps, brochures, etc.
Blacksburg Electronic Village (http://www.bev.net)
Blacksburg Home Page (http://www.blacksburg.gov)
IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS
EMERGENCIES (Ambulance, Fire, Police) - 911
Poison Center -
(toll free) 1-800-222-1222
Student Health Services -
Housing options include on-campus
housing (dormitories) and off-campus housing (apartments, rented rooms,
houses). On-campus housing is arranged through Virginia Tech. For off-campus housing, contact the Off-Campus Housing Center (https://www.techoffcampus.com/), Johnston Student Center, 3rd Floor. The off-Campus Housing website
has many helpful links. You can search for rentals and post messages (looking for roommates, subleases).
How do I find housing?
The Off-Campus Housing Center (see above) is very
helpful, and has links to other resources.
Check bulletin boards and search for apartments online.
Check the local Apartment Guide (http://www.apt-guide.com/).
Things to consider when renting an
apartment or room
Read the lease (rental agreement) carefully
before signing. It is a legal, binding contract. A deposit is required
in most cases, and rent must be paid by the due date every month.
If you have questions or concerns about your
lease, contact the Student Legal Services Office, Squires Student Center
What utilities are included in the rent?
What is the location relative to campus and bus
How long are you required to pay rent?
(Typically, leases last one year.) How many days notice must you give
before moving out?
What rules and regulations must you follow?
Carefully inspect the apartment or room before
beginning the lease, because you will be held responsible for damage.
Things to consider concerning
How will you divide the rent, utilities,
household chores, food purchases, cooking, etc.? (Conflicts concerning
payments for telephone service are common.)
What rules of courtesy will you observe?
The Off-Campus Housing Center offers helpful
Furniture & Other Household
If you need furniture, used
furniture and other used household goods can be obtained from various
Thrift Shops : YMCA Thrift Shop (1000 North Main
St.), Humane Society Second Time Around Store (107 Ellett Road),
Goodwill (Market Place, Christiansburg).
Sales in residential neighborhoods and at
churches. Check "Yard Sales" in the newspaper classified ads.
Search online for "furniture" and "used furniture" in Blacksburg.
See "Shopping" below for more
You will need to arrange and pay
for the utilities not included in the rent.
1. Verizon Wireless: https://www.verizonwireless.com/. Best coverage.
2. AT&T: https://www.att.com/.
3. Sprint: http://unlimityourdata.com/.
4. U.S. Cellular: https://www.uscellular.com/.
5. Repbulic Wireless: https://republicwireless.com/. A less expensive option.
6. Prepaid cell phone. For example, Tracfone, Straight Talk, Net10. You can buy at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and other places. Generally less expensive but phone choices are limited.
Land Line Telephone (Optional)
Local land line phone service is provided by Verizon and several other companies. For Verizon residential service, see http://www.verizon.com.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a less expensive alternative. Ooma is bascially free (http://www.ooma.com/).
Electricity in Blacksburg is provided by either AEP/Appalachian Power (1-800-956-4237) or Virginia Tech Electric Service (540-231-6437). Check with your landlord to determine which company services your residence. You will probably have to pay a deposit to establish service.
The Internet Service Provider (ISP) is dependent on location. In some places, you may have a choice, including the following:
1. Verizon: http://verizonspecials.com/high-speed-internet.
2. Comcast XFINITY: http://www.xfinity.com/locations/virginia/blacksburg.html.
3. All Points Broadband: http://www.allpointsbroadband.com/.
A limited number of channels can be received with an outdoor or indoor antenna. The availability of cable or satellite TV is dependent on location. Where available, cable TV is provided by Comcast XFINITY (above) and satellite TV is provided by DIRECTV and DISH.
For residences using gas(for heating and/or appliances), service is provided by Atmos Energy(1-888-286-6700).
Water, Sewer, and Refuse Service
Service is provided by the Town of Blacksburg (http://www.blacksburg.gov/departments/departments-a-k/financial-services/utility-service).
The Roanoke Regional Airport
( http://www.roanokeairport.com; 540-362-1999) is located in Roanoke, approximately 64
km (40 miles) from Blacksburg. Transportation between Blacksburg and the airport is provided by the Smart Way Commuter Bus (
http://www.smartwaybus.com/) for only $4 (exact cash) each way.
Transportation Within Blacksburg
Public transportation within the Town of Blacksburg is provided by the
Blacksburg Transit System (BT). For routes, schedules, and fares, contact BT (http://www.btransit.org;
961-1185). Fares are prepaid for Virginia Tech students. Just show your "Hokie Passport." Transportation to Christiansburg, including
Market Place and New River Valley Mall, is available through the Two Town Trolley, which is part of the BT system.
There are also taxis available through private companies. For example, Hooptie Ride: Tel: 540-449-3748(DRIV),
Transportation Outside Blacksburg
Smart Way Bus ( link) provides transportation between Blacksburg and Roanoke
(stops at airport)
Home Ride of Virginia (http://www.homeride.com/,
953-2266) provides weekend and holiday bus service between Blacksburg and various parts of Virginia. Also,there are taxi cabs available
through private companies listed in the yellow pages.
Greyhound Bus Lines (http://locations.greyhound.com/bus-stations/us/virginia/roanoke/bus-station-330980 )
has a local terminal in Roanoke. For Greyhound fare and scheduleinformation, call 1-800-231-2222. To find a ride or offer rides.
Buying a Car
- Things to Consider
Consider all of the costs,including purchase price, maintenance, registration, license, and
Look at "blue books," which list suggested prices for used cars (
Consider mileage and repair history.
Look at Consumer Reports, a magazine (in the library) that provides information on the
reliability of various used cars.
Test drive the car under various driving conditions.
Have the car inspected by a professional mechanic (other than the car dealer's mechanic) prior
Bargaining is normal when purchasing a car.
Car (Automobile) Insurance
A minimum amount of insurance is required by DMV (see DMV web page). Contact insurance
agents (see "Insurance" in the yellow pages) to help determine the coverage you need. Prices will vary, so shop around. "Liability
insurance" is required. "Collision insurance" is optional but is recommended if your car is valuable.
Vehicle Registration &Driver's License
for information. Contact the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
(DMV), 385 Arbor Drive, Christiansburg (381-7171). You will need
"proof of identity" and "proof of residency" to apply for a license
(see web page for details). You will also need to take a knowledge
exam (based on the Driver's Manual), road skills test, and vision
screening. Driver's Manuals are available from DMV and the Cranwell
See International Support Services http://www.iss.vt.edu/ for helpful information.
The Town or County in
which you live may require purchase of a decal to put on your
windshield. In the Town of Blacksburg, go to the Town Municipal
Building on S. Main Street.
MAILING LETTERS &
[Top of Page]
United States Postal Service
You can buy stamps and mail letters & packages at the following
Post Office locations.
909 University City Blvd.(beside Kroger)
Main Street, downtown Blacksburg
350 Arbor Drive, Market Place, Christiansburg
The Postal Service also has public mailboxes at various places.
Shipping Service Companies
packages, it may be better to use independent delivery services, like
United Parcel Service (UPS), DHL, and Federal Express, available at
Shipping Service Companies. See "Shipping Services" in the yellow
Student Health Services
The Schiffert Health
Center in McComas Hall offers medical care, clinical and pharmacy
services and health education (231-6444;
Lewis Gale Hospital Montgomery ( http://www.mrhospital.com).
3700 South Main Street, Blacksburg. Phone: 951-1111
Carilion New River Valley Medical Center, Radford ( http://www.carilion.com/ ).
Near I-81 Exit 109. Phone: 731-2000.
Carilion Family Medicine,
901 Plantation Dr. (951-0352).
See http://www.bev.net under
"Village Mall, Health Professionals"
Provides immunizations. Comes to the
Cranwell Center on occasion. See http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/LHD/newriver/services.htm.
Aetna Student Health with University https://www.aetnastudenthealth.com/students/student-connection.aspx?GroupID=474968
. You will get subsidy if you are TA/RA.
Study USA-Health Care, http://www.travelinsure.com/what/susahigh.asp.
Cook Counseling Center
The Cook Counseling Center in 240 McComas Hall provides individual (personal), couple, and group counseling for Virginia Tech students who experience personal, academic, and/or relationship difficulties (231-6557;
The Blacksburg/Christiansburg area offers a wide variety of restaurants.
Fast food restaurants (like Wendys,Burger King and McDonalds), serve sandwiches, burgers, fries, etc. for relatively
low cost, and are available on and near campus (Johnson Student Center,
Turner Street). For on-campus dining options, see
Generally, a tip (a cash
gratuity left on the table for the server) is expected at any restaurant
where a waiter or waitress serves you. The acceptable standard is 15%
to 20% of the total bill. For large groups, the restaurant may
automatically add the gratuity to your bill.
Grocery stores sell a wide
variety of foods and other products. The major grocery stores include
Food Lion, Kroger, and Wal-Mart. Most of the grocery stores are on the bus route.
Oasis World Market.
http://oasisworldmarket.com/ , 1411 South Main Street, Blacksburg Square Shopping
Center , Blacksburg (953-3950)
Department stores (like Belk and Kohl's) offer a wide variety of products, including
clothing, appliances, household items, and many other products.
Discount department stores (like Wal-Mart and Target)
offer generally lower prices.
Thrift shops sell used
clothing, furniture, and household items at much lower prices. Thrift
shops include YMCA Thrift Shop (1000 North Main Street), Humane
Society Second Time Around Store (Ellett Road), and Goodwill (Market
American families often sell unneeded items
at "Yard Sales
." Yard sales are more common
during the Spring and Summer, when the weather is warmer. See the
classified ads of the newspaper.
Is it Acceptable to Bargain?
Most prices in the U.S.
are fixed and cannot be changed through bargaining. Generally,
bargaining only takes places when buying a car or house, or used items
from an individual, like at a yard sale.
Sales tax is an extra
charge added to the price of an item (generally 5.3% in Virginia),
though it may be more for some items, like food at a
Coins: penny (1 cent);
nickel (5 cents); dime (10 cents); quarter (25 cents).
Bills: $1; $5; $10; $20;
$50; $100. Most people use $20 bills or less, and some places will not
accept bills larger than $20.
Exchanging, Keeping, and Using Money
See "Banks" and "Credit
Unions" online. Different banks offer different services
and interest rates.
Checking Accounts allow
payment with checks (instead of cash). A checking account also allows
you to keep better track of how much you have and where it goes.
Savings Accounts are used
for keeping larger amounts of money, and earn more interest than
Automatic Teller Machines
(ATMs) allow you to make transactions without going to the bank by
using a special card. There may be charges for this service.
Debit Cards allow payment
(without cash) from a bank account.
Credit Cards (like VISA
and MasterCard) are widely accepted and allow payment without cash.
Credit cards have very high interest on unpaid balances. Significant
credit card debt should be avoided.
For More Information
See "Sources of
Information" above for information on parks, recreation areas, hiking
trails, campgrounds, museums, art galleries, special events, fun
things to do with children, etc.
See the Cranwell Center
See Virginia's home page
( http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/index.shtml) for information on state parks.
Blacksburg Aquatic Center
Indoor swimming pool located beside the Recreation Center
on Patrick Henry Drive. Swimming lessons and splash pool for children
are available. For information, see the Blacksburg website.
Blue Ridge Parkway
A very popular attraction in southwestern Virginia.
The Parkway follows the Appalachian Mountain chain for 355 miles, and
features many kinds of wildlife, magnificent scenic views, and brilliant
fall foliage. For information, go to
Two different trails
lead up to the picturesque 68-foot(21 meter) Cascades waterfall (4
mile/6.4 km round trip hike). Located off US 460 near Pembroke, about 30
minutes west of Blacksburg. Facilities include restrooms and picnic
area. There is a small parking fee. See
Claytor Lake State Park
Situated on a 4,500 acre lake, the park features camping,
hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, and picnic grounds. Located off
I-81, exit 101, near Dublin, about 35 minutes from Blacksburg. There are
fees for parking, swimming and camping. See http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/claytor-lake#general_information.
Hand In Hand Playground
This is a popular place with children, located in the
Municipal Park, off Patrick Henry Drive in Blacksburg. Facilities also
include picnic shelters, skateboard park, ball fields, and restrooms.
This trail extends from Draper
Road in Blacksburg to the New River Valley Mall. The trail is used by
bicyclists, walkers, runners, and skaters. See
This is an 8-acre man-made pond in the Jefferson National
Forest. The area features trails and fishing. Located off US 460, about
15 to 20 minutes west of Blacksburg. Day use only.
PROGRAMS, ACTIVITIES &
SERVICES FOR INTERNATIONALS
[Top of Page]
International Center is an office within the Virginia Tech Department of
Student Affairs. The Center staff provides many services, including
Immigration services to international undergraduate students and to spouses and children of
Information and support for students and families as they adjust to cultural and educational
Social events and cultural opportunities.
Crisis support for students, spouses, & families.
Opportunities for interaction with residents of nearby communities and schools.
Information on community resources.
See their home page
(http://www.international.vt.edu/) for information and
Fridays, Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) Building (307 Washington St SW),
beginning in mid-August. Come relax, have fun, play,
practice English, enjoy conversations with other students and families. For more information, contact Jay.
YMCA International Programs
"Mornings" is a program for all international and
American women. An
opportunity to learn about life in America and make new
friends. Different programs every week. For details and
schedule, call 231-6962. Free child care. Check their Web Page
(http://www.vtymca.org/International.html) for other programs.
See Virginia Tech GobblerConnect (https://gobblerconnect.vt.edu/organizations) for all student
Council of International Student Organizations
Umbrella organization for the
international student organizations at Virginia Tech. Helps organize
various events and activities. See
CHURCHES, BIBLE STUDIES &
ACTIVITIES FOR INTERNATIONALS
[Top of Page]
The following activities are
sponsored by Christian organizations.
International Christian Fellowship (ICF)
Fellowship and Bible study for both Christians and those wanting to learn more about
Meets at Blacksburg Christian Fellowship (BCF) on Sundays, 9:35-10:50 A.M. BCF
is located at 2300 North Main Street.
For more information, contact Jay & Michele.
Web Page: http://www.bcfworld.org/
Most Fridays, Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) Building (307 Washington St, SW)
Social & Recreational Activities. Good for meeting new friends and improving English.
Optional Bible studies. For both Christians and those wanting to
learn more about Christianity. Questions & discussion welcomed. For more information, contact Jay.
International Students, Inc.
International Bible studies, dinners, and other activities.
For more information, contact Sandra Jackson or Bob Jackson.
Web Page: http://isivt.com/
Fred & Mary Kay
Ocassional day and overnight trips, tutoring in conversational English.
For information see www.fredandmarykay.org
Social & Recreational Activities
English language conversation classes and partners
Web Page: http://vtbridgesinternational.wordpress.com/
Chinese Bible Study Group
Bible studies in Mandarin and English at Blacksburg Baptist Church (550 N. Main St.) on Fridays, 7:45-10:00 PM (Worship 7:45-8:15 PM; Bible studies 8:15-9:30 PM; Fellowship time 9:30-10:00 PM).
Various practical helps for arriving and new students.
Special dinners during holidays.
Special guest speakers and presentations.
Korean Campus Crusade for Christ (Student Organization)
Check student organizations in Virginia Tech web page.
Blacksburg Chinese Church
Worship & preaching service in Mandarin at Blacksburg Christian Fellowship chapel, Sundays
11:15-12:30 AM. BCF is located at 2300 N. Main St.
Small house groups and Bible studies are also available.
For information, contact Caisy & Sonya Ho (552-2271), Peter & Alice Lo (552-0935), or Johnny Yu (552-0602).
Blacksburg Christian Fellowship
Web page: http://www.blacksburgchristianfellowship.org/
Home of International Christian Fellowship and Blacksburg Chinese Church
Sundays, worship services at 9:45 AM and 11:15 AM at 2300 North Main Street
Sundays, 9 AM & 11 AM, at Blacksburg High School, 2109 Prices Fork Rd
Internationals from several countries attend Northstar
For information, see northstarfamily.org or call 540-443-0099.
FREE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
HELP [Top of Page]
English Conversation Partner Program
Sponsored by Bridges International.
Web Page: http://vtbridgesinternational.wordpress.com/
International Bible Reading Group
An VT organization that connects native speakers with internationals for the purposes of English language practice, development and comprehension.
See: https://www.facebook.com/ibreadvt/ or https://gobblerconnect.vt.edu/organization/ibread (Use your VT id to login).
YMCA English Language Classes
English as a Second Language (ESL) classes held at various locations. Free classes and
free child care.
See the YMCA website (http://www.vtymca.org/International.html) or call 231-6962 for schedule and locations.
English Conversation Groups, Cranwell International Center
Meets weekly to help improve English skills and make friends.
Contact the Cranwell Center for schedule and details.
Office of Transitional Programs at New River Community College
Free academically-oriented English classes for non-native speakers.
Call(540)674-3600 extension 4110 for more information.
The following are the most popular holidays.
New Year's Day
(January 1 ) - Many people celebrate the
beginning of the year with a party for family and friends.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (2nd Monday in January ) -
Celebrating the birthday of this famous civil rights leader.
Valentine's Day (February 14 ) - A day for friends and lovers to
give cards and gifts to one another.
Presidents' Day (3rd Monday in February ) - A day honoring
presidents of the U.S., especially George Washington and Abraham
Lincoln, who were born in February.
Saint Patrick's Day (March 17 ) - Holiday named
after Saint Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland. Many people
wear green on this day to represent Ireland.
Good Friday (in March or April , based on lunar calendar) - On
this day, Christians remember the death of Jesus Christ.
(Sunday after Good Friday ) - On this
special day, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Memorial Day (last Monday in May ) - A day to honor
Americans who have died, especially those killed in war.
Independence Day (July 4 ) - Also called the Fourth of July,
celebrates the beginning of the United States as a nation.
Labor Day (1st Monday in September ) - Honors working
Columbus Day (2nd Monday in October ) - Honors
Christopher Columbus, credited with discovering the Americas in 1492.
31 ) - A day when people emphasize
scary things, wear costumes, and have parties. Children wear costumes
and collect candy from neighbors. Many Christians have alternative
celebrations to Halloween.
Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in November ) - A day for
families to gather for a big feast (usually including turkey). For
Christians, it is a special day of thanksgiving to God.
25 ) - On this day, Christians
celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Most people celebrate this day by
giving gifts to one another.
International is a Christian
organization that serves international students and scholars.
Our desire is to be
a blessing to you! HIS International provides various services,
activities and opportunities for international students and scholars,
regardless of religion or nationality.
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