How to Make a Doctor’s Appointment?

In my home country, if someone has persistent cough or fever, they can get up and go to one of the hundreds of doctors without as much needing to call ahead or better yet – they can call a doctor home. You need not be rich to avail this service.  You may have to wait for an hour or so but your doctor will see you the same day.

doctor appointment

When it comes to visiting a doctor in US, its a whole other ball game. Sometimes appointments can take days if not weeks.  This article’s objective is to show you various options you have to get medical help in the US.

Before we proceed any further:

  • In case of emergency – call 911
  • Before you head out to any hospital/clinic – call ahead to find out their availability, hours of operation etc.

Now with that out of the way, let’s look at how to go about visiting doctor in US.

 

I. My problem is not too serious but I would feel comfortable seeking advice just to be sure.

For minor problems you can visit the general clinic in one of the pharmacy stores in your area.  Some options include:

  1. Walgreens has healthcare clinic that is open 7 days a week and nights too and they welcome walk-ins.
  2. CVS pharmacy has a minute clinic where you can be seen by a doctor who can assess your symptoms and tell you what you are dealing with, if it is something that can be found prima facie.
  3. Walmart has clinics that are open 7 days of the week.

II. How do I find a doctor?

If you do not want to pursue the route of clinics because your problem is persistent – you can call your existing physician and get an appointment.  If you have never visited a doctor in US and would like to find one, here are few pointers.

  • Yellow pages: This age old resource never gets old.  What is cool about this source is they have an online version too.
  • WebMD: This is an online resource that can give you lot of information about the options available in your area.
  • Insurance company site: It is most likely that your health insurance company website already has tons of best doctors listed who may cover you under your insurance coverage. Examples include: United Healthcare, BlueCross Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente, Humana,   Aetna, Cigna, etc.
  • Referral: Ask your friends/colleagues for their recommendation.  Sometimes best service is availed by word of mouth.  Check in if they accept your insurance before booking appointment.

III. How can I be sure that the Doctor I pick is good/reliable?

You don’t, unless you visit the doctor.  However, you do have some filters to make sure that you don’t end up going to a complete waste of time doctor.  Use following review resources:

Vitals.com: Vitals gives you opportunity to search the doctor you are looking into and see what kind of ratings/reviews they got.

zocdoc.com: This site gives you opportunity to search for doctors under various insurance plans with extensive reviews – all in one place.

Ask others: If you know others who have visited the same doctor – ask for their experience/opinion.

IV. Making an appointment

You searched for a good doctor, you are satisfied with the reviews, what next?

i) Book an appointment online:

via insurance company site, Doctor’s personal site, ZocDoc, Vitals etc.

ii) Call in for an appointment:

find the office hours and call in for an appointment.  You can use yellow pages or google to find the contact information, once you have zeroed down on the doctor.

V. Children related health concerns:

If you are dealing with your kids health concern and if you do not have a doctor available that you visited before, you can find a local children’s hospital here.

VI. My problem is an emergency, what should I do?

For emergencies – always call 911.

If you are able to drive yourself or whoever is in need for medical help visit an emergency room(ER) at your local hospital.  ERs do not need you to have appointment in advance.  You can find the local hospitals here and find out if they have emergency room before you head out to them.

Disclaimer: Information purposes only.  Not an advice. May contain opinions.

 

How to Find a House to Rent?

apt to rent

You may have been lucky to find a place to crash for few days, but now you are on your own.  What options do you have?  Where and how to find a rental place to live?  This article’s objective is to provide information that will simplify the process of finding a rental place in USA.

What kind of rental place are you looking for?

As the saying goes, “you need to know ‘what’ is that you are looking for before you can find it”. Same holds true for rental place. What are your priorities? Are you able to commute to your school or work OR do you need access to public transit? Do you want to be surrounded by people from your home country or do you want to be part of a contemporary community. How important is it that the community has gym? These are but few items that you need to short list before you start searching for rental place. Here is a quick checklist:

  1. What is the price range you are looking for?
  2. Are you looking for pet friendly communities?
  3. Are there any restrictions as to having guests over night?
  4. What kind of parking are you looking for? Covered or open?
  5. What kind of credit history do you need to rent and what are your options?
  6. Are you looking for properties close to public transit?
  7. Do you have any specific locations in the city that you want to live at?
  8. How safe is the locality?

What if I don’t have credit history, yet?

If you are new in US and have not yet established your credit history – you can still rent a place by:

Deposit: Some rental places will lease a place on 30 to 60 days advance rent basis i.e., you pay the rent for 30-60 days in advance.  Once you establish your credit history – you will be able to get into long-term leases.

Direct owner rentals: Owners who are looking to let-out spare room or apartment may rent you without credit check when you establish your identity by showing your documents.

Sub-let: People who have to move to another city or location due to change in their job, family status or any other reason may be willing to rent you their place without much scrutiny (once you prove your identity).

Where to look for rental places?

Now that you have your priority list ready, let’s look at the most popular places to find rental place in the United States.

1. Rent.com: One of the simplest interfaces covering major cities, rent ranges and host of other filters that you can use in order to find the perfect place of your liking.

2. Apartments.com: Best feature of this site is – you can simply type the apartment/community name that you are considering to rent and instantly read reviews submitted by previous renters. This can save a lot of headache.

3. ForRent.com: Whether you are looking for extended stay, off campus housing, senior style living or just a regular rental – this website carries details to all those.

4. Promove.com (where available):  We are a big fan of ProMove.  Unfortunately, this service is not available in all cities.  See if Promove is available in your city .  To use promove, you walk into their office, tell your preferences and they search a rental place for you.  It is free for you to use.  We got sweet deals on two occasions when we used Promove in Atlanta area.

4. Craigslist.com:  sound as it may, there are some genuine ads on craigslist, especially, related to rentals, sub-lets, sale etc.

5. Country based classified sites: You may already know a site that specializes in serving people from your country living in USA.  For example: for Indians – there is www.sulekha.com which has extensive classifieds section.

6. Take a walk: sometimes easiest way to find a rental place in the location of your liking is to take a walk in the community during the weekend.  If you find balloons outside any property – it means – they have some vacant places for rent/sale.  You would be surprised just how easy is to find a place to rent in this old fashion way.

What if you want to find rental place before you move to US?

If you have to find a rental place before you move into US (or searching for another city before moving) – you can do so in following ways:

1. Ask your colleague/school:  Reach out to your employer or school to help you connect with individuals who can help you find a temporary place for few weeks or a temporary lease.

2. Seek refuge of social community:  Be it facebook, twitter, yahoo groups – you can find someone living or with lot of information about the city you are about to move – ask them for help.

3. Maps, ratings and internet: Make use of internet to find out the community you want to live in, read reviews and see how far it is from your school/employer by making use of maps.google.com.

4. Extended stay:  Zero down on 3-4 properties that you potentially like to rent.  Make a zip code search to find an extended stay (www.homestead.com, www.extendedstayamerica.com,  www.crosslandstudios.com, etc.) close to your rental properties.  Extended stays have a small kitchen and are cheaper compared to regular hotel stays.  You can rent the room for week or more.

Move into the extended stay and then visit the properties you have narrowed on.  What this will help you do is you can check the properties that you have zeroed on in person and make an informed decision. When possible, do NOT sign leases or pay upfront for any rental property before you actually see it personally.

By making use of the information above, we hope you will find a rental place of your liking. All the best in your search.

New York : a quick guide to state attractions

The State of New York is strong and resilient. Even after having its namesake city subjected to devastating attacks on September 11, 2001, and the state itself being traumatized by Superstorm Sandy, New York has remarkably bounced back and reclaimed its position as one of the top tourist destinations in the world.

New York State is a study in contrasts – just as it is the home of arts and culture (museums, book and magazine publishing, and theaters), it is also a center for banking and finance, a manufacturing hub, an agricultural stalwart, a principal producer of fine wines, and a nucleus for conventions and tourism.

One Card. One Price. Endless Fun!

Top 5 Tourist Spots in New York State

New York State will never run out of interesting and endearing places to offer travelers, from the most casual tourists to the dedicated and footloose adventurers.  Here are 5 of the most desirable to visit places in New York state:

  • Museums – in New York city alone, you can already luxuriate in the socio-cultural, anthropological, historical, and creative wealth found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Historical Society and Library, the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, among many other gorgeous repositories of the imprints of civilization from different periods and cultures.
  • The Statue of Liberty – this formidable lady in New York Harbor is a globally recognized symbol of freedom from tyranny, of reaching out to hope, and establishing a new life in a new land that’s full of promise. Click on the given link for more information on how to get to tour Lady Liberty’s crown.
  • Niagara Falls State Park – get an adrenaline rush watching and listening to the three waterfalls that are shared by both New York State and Ontario, a Canadian province. Explore the hiking trails, take part in the special tours provided by the state park, dine at the Top of the Falls Restaurant, or have fun with your fellow tourists at the Aquarium of Niagara.
  • Westpoint (US Military Academy) – for history and military buffs, a visit to Westpoint should not be missed. Gain a good understanding of what it takes to be a part of one of the world’s highly prestigious military academies through educational videos. Take in the panorama of the Hudson Highlands and march through American history through Westpoint’s guided tours.
  • Adirondack Park – “go fish” will no longer be the name of a card game, once you visit this park in Northern New York. You can actually fish, as well as go hiking, whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, and camping in this awesomely expansive wilderness park.

 

Top 3 Cities to Live in New York State

When many people hear the words “New York,” they usually think of New York City (NYC), also known by its nickname, The Big Apple. NYC has been immortalized by Frank Sinatra as a city that “never sleeps,” and it’s an accurate depiction of its liveliness, come day or night. But while NYC is really that dynamic, that doesn’t necessarily make it a high scorer in terms of livability.

In fact, the top 3 cities to live in, in the state of New York in terms of a stable housing market, low crime rates, high income per capita, and plenty of local amenities are (click on the links to get more detailed data):

  • Larchmont – A picturesque village in Westchester County with a livability score of 85%, Larchmont has a population of 5,864.
  • Bronxville – This is an affluent suburb in Eastcheser with a  livability score of 85% and is located 15 miles north of Manhattan.
  • Halesite – A hamlet in Long Island with a livability score of 84%, Halesite is home to less than 3,000 people and named after Nathan Hale, a spy in the Continental Army.

Top 3 Foods to Try in New York State

Does New York State have traditional food? Or is its cuisine, like that of some other states, simply a mix or fusion of immigrant influences from all over? The answer is “yes” to both. The state of NY does have its own traditional food, but its modern cuisine also reflects the influx of different cultures brought about by a high number of immigrants. Here are top 3 foods to try when in New York:

  • Apple Muffin – this was made into the official State Muffin of New York through the efforts of children in an elementary school in Syracuse, New York. This muffin pays homage to the apple, New York’ state’s official fruit. It is made up of New York State Empire apples, cloves, raisins, flour, eggs, cream cheese, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, melted butter, lemon, and vanilla. Simply delicious!
  • Buffalo Wings – no, this has nothing to do with the American bison or buffalos that used to roam wildly in most parts of the country. The name is actually from the city of Buffalo in NY. These are deep fried chicken wings that are lathered with a spicy sauce and served with a dressing of blue cheese.
  • Spiedie – this is a submarine sandwich that originated in Greater Binghamton in New York’s Southern Tier. The contents of the sub are marinated meat cubes (lamb, pork, venison, turkey, chicken, beef, veal). The sub is then skewered on a spiedie rod, then grilled. The marinade can consist of vinegar, olive oil, fresh mint, and various spices.

Top 2 Party Places in New York City

Tourists who love the nightlife will greatly enjoy NYC because it has some of the best clubs and bars in the state and perhaps even in the entire US. These are the top 2 party places that we recommend:

  • Bootie NYC – go for loud, go for crowd, go for wowed! This is one of the most well-loved and heavily patronized dance clubs ever. No dress code, cheap drinks, friendly service, and mashup music means there are many things to enjoy at Bootie.
  • Amor Y Amargo – in Spanish, Amor means love and Amargo means bitter. Put them together, and you get something like a love for bitters. When your idea of a great time is drinking as many different “bitters” that either you or the bartenders can think of (drinker’s choice and dealer’s choice, respectively), then this bar is for you.

Top 2 Shopping Malls in New York State

Remember the über -fashionable Carrie in Sex and the City? Loved the way she and her friends looked as they went about their lives in New York?  The top 2 shopping malls in New York State can easily help you assemble a wardrobe that’s to die for, among other things that you can buy, with the widest range of prices.

  • Manhattan Mall – what makes this mall that’s half a block away from the Empire State Building among the perennial favorites of locals and tourists alike is its strong base of retail shops, including JC Penney, their anchor tenant.  Trendy and upscale goods that are reasonably priced are sure attractions.
  • Roosevelt Field – this is the 2nd largest high-end mall in NY. It has 222 stores and can accommodate the tastes of shoppers of various persuasions, from the tech crowd to the fashionistas, and everyone else in-between.

Photo by:  natalie_31

California: a quick guide to state attractions

CALIFORNIA…… Just the mere mention of it already calls to mind a vibrant part of the United States that is renowned for its multi-cultural ambiance, and its miles and miles of enticing beaches and forests, perfect for beach bums and nature lovers alike.

The state of California is one of the most popular travel destinations in the US, not just because of its excellent tourist delights, but also because it is one of the more progressive-thinking places in North America.

For non-residents, it is of course the historical landmarks, the social and cultural dipping pots, and the tourist spots – both natural and manmade – that continue to attract and motivate people from all over the world to visit again and again.

 Top 5 Tourist Spots in California State

Got favorite movie dialogues running through your head? Feel like hiking in some wooded parks? Eager to be one of thousands of sun-worshippers at the beach? Looking forward to having your picture taken with a Disney Princess? California lets you do all that, and not surprisingly, even more!

Here are top 5 tourist spots in California:

  • Disneyland – Your trip to California would be incomplete if you don’t drop by “the Happiest Place on Earth.” Pamper your inner child or gift your child companion with an unforgettable journey to Disneyland Park in Anaheim, in downtown Los Angeles. Hobnob with Disney or fairy tale characters in a magical world where really do wishes come true (or not, but then again, that’s more than compensated for by the numerous attractions such a theme park, shopping and dining complexes, and 8 Lands with their own special themes, among other pleasures).
  • Universal Studios – Starstruck? Great, because Hollywood, the movie capital of the world, is the best place to “ooh and aah” over memories of great performances and outstanding movie scenes that many remember for a long, long time either because of their realism, or their grasp of imagery. Take a Universal Studios tour and immerse yourself in some of the best moments ever to come out of Hollywood.
  • Alcatraz – When you’ve got a taste for the offbeat, try an Alcatraz Island tour. The former federal prison in San Francisco Bay that operated for 30 years until its shutdown in 1963 is now a US National Historic Landmark. Choose from the Day and Night Tours of the now-abandoned prison facility and let your imagination run free about what life must have been like for the notorious once housed there. Compare that with the gifts of nature that abound on “The Rock” and be glad that you’re a law-abiding citizen.
  • Yosemite National Park – Prepare to be overwhelmed by the grandeur of creation when you take a Yosemite tour in central eastern California. Imagine 308,205 hectares of breathtaking vistas of exposed granite and a profusion of streams, lakes, waterfalls, and towering sequoia trees to deepen your love of nature.
  • Golden Gate Bridge – This is one of the busiest landmarks in California for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic (on the railings).  Tour the Bridge, enjoy the great views, and vicariously experience the extent of human emotions – from hopeful, romantic love to suicidal depression – that have been portrayed in various works of art including photographs, movies, books, music, and documentaries.

Top 3 Cities to Live in California State

At 163,695 sq miles, California is the 3rd largest American state, and the one with the most number of residents. According to Area Vibes, the most livable cities in California based on criteria such as high income per capita, low crime rates, stable housing market, and plenty of local amenities are:

  • Los Altos – This city at the southern end of the San Francisco Peninsula has a livability score of 87%. As of 2010, it has a population of 28,976.
  • Monte Sereno – This city is located in Santa Clara County and has a livability score of 86%. The name is Spanish for “serene hill” which accurately depicts this charming metropolis.
  • Rancho Santa Margarita – This is one of the most affluent cities in Orange County with a livability score of 86%.

Top 3 Foods to Try in California

Fusion cuisine is a hallmark of California dining, owing to its multi-racial and multi-cultural atmosphere.  When in California, you can feast on these delectables:

  • Cioppino –  this seafood stew with distinct Italian culinary overtones was created in San Francisco by immigrants who later became fishermen on the Bay. Immigrant Sicilians later on improvised and added tomatoes to the seafood medley, which is the version usually served today.
  •  Fish Taco – this Mexi-Cali fusion features fried or grilled fish that is sprinkled with lime juice to taste, and partnered with some avocado.
  • Shrimp Louie – depending on availability of the catch and your inclination, this features cooked shrimp or crab with Louie dressing (chili sauce, mayonnaise, peppers) over a mix of California salad standards such as sliced hard boiled eggs, asparagus, lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, and cucumber.

Top 2 Party Places in San Francisco, CAclub-1-1147773-m

After eating, many tourists would like to party hard, but since California is so big, it’s not easy to pinpoint which would be the best place to enjoy some drinking or dining. So, here are two great spots randomly chosen from the best bars and clubs in San Francisco:

  • Smuggler’s Cove at Gough Street, San Francisco – this extremely famous Tiki bar features a pirate ship theme, ginormous drinks, and a sizable crowd during most days of the week. Wait to be accommodated, and thank your stars when you get in.
  • Dirty Trix Saloon at Clement Street, San Francisco – if you’ve never been in a “dive” bar, get baptized at this fun bar that features stand-up comedy acts and is well-patronized by locals. Like all other dives, Dirty Trix serves real cheap drinks, an incentive that’s enough to make you visit if getting all-boozed up is in your agenda.

Top 2 Shopping Malls in California

Shopping is a favorite tourist activity, so, to wind up our California tourist recommendations, here are two must-visit malls in the state:

  • Westfield – this is a mall with a global presence, that is fortunately also present in the city of San Francisco. Aside from the well-known brand names on sale in its shops, this mall also has tie-ins with trendy hotels and numerous seasonal events that make it very attractive to visit.
  • Gump’s – this mall has got nearly everything covered, from dining and entertainment, to home furnishings, jewelry, bed and bath, apparel and accessories, office supplies and materials, décor, and gift galleries.  It’s the perfect place to go to if you want to buy presents to bring home.


Photo by: hdkam1(Yosemite valley)

Photo by: Ale_Paiva (club)

Immigrants Guide to Etiquette

Dinner table and office etiquette helps you to be respected by those people around you. If you are a foreigner, you need to know how you are supposed to conduct yourself in the midst of your workmates, family and friends. Understanding these etiquette rules will make people respect you and feel free to interact with you.

At the dinner table, you are expected to be courteous at all times. Bad habits like talking with food in your mouth are looked down upon. It is also considered very rude if you season your food before tasting it. If you have any dietary restrictions, it is always polite if you let your host know beforehand. Simple things like holding food on the fork and waving it as you talk can appear very rude.

Photo by: Tinneketin

1170314_dinner_invitation_2It is also pleasant if you eat your food in small and manageable bites. Do not make any sounds while eating at the dinner table. Burping and loud eating noises are completely unacceptable. You need to eat slowly so that you do not finish when the other guests are not even half way done. Eating after everyone else has cleared their plate can also appear impolite.

When it comes to the office, you must maintain proper manners if you want to make a good lasting impression. Refrain from chewing gum in front of your workmates and in the presence of clients. You also need to wear the right attire to the office. Your footwear should not appear too casual. If you have any piercings and tattoos, choose office wear which covers them appropriately. What you wear will somehow reflect the level of respect you have for your job.

 Cleanliness is important so make sure you always look neat and use the right deodorant to prevent body odors. Your work area should remain neat and clean at all times. Everyone in the office needs to be respected. This includes the cleaners as well as your fellow co-workers.

When in a meeting, avoid interrupting people when they are speaking. Make sure you always attend office meetings in good time and apologize for being late. It is also respectful to excuse yourself if you will not be able to attend a meeting.

If you interrupt anyone who is concentrating on their job, it is respectful to apologize. It is also important for you to show gratitude if someone extends a helping hand. Learn to say sorry, please and thank you and you will get along with others at your workplace. Avoid the fancy ringtones in the office environment. Do not be very loud when communicating to people in the office.

These etiquette rules must also be applied in the office kitchen. It is important to clean up after yourself. If you use any facility in the kitchen, make sure you leave it clean and tidy. The same case applies to the washrooms and other areas within the office. You need to treat your office like your second home since it’s a place you will be spending the most part of your days.

 

Quick glance at the common rules

Things that may be ok in your home country but not in USA

Below list is for informational purposes only and is NOT a comprehensive list.  All information here is an opinion only, not a professional advice.

You will be surprised to find out that many things that go unnoticed in your home country may be considered offenses in USA.  Below is the list of things that may be viewed as offense subjecting you to fines and/or prison time and in some cases deportation.

stop

Swearing in public:

Use of abusive, indecent, profane or vulgar language in public place, or use of language in way that disturbs the peace.  Also check out: what to say and what NOT to say where we covered some specific words that cannot be used.

Nudity:

You may be surprised to know that there are strict rules on what parts of your body you can and cannot expose in public places or in premises that can be easily seen from public space (that is, you cannot walk nude in your apartment with windows wide open if it can be seen from outside).  Females cannot expose nipples, buttocks or genital area.  Males cannot expose their buttocks or genital area.  So for female a swimsuit maybe perfectly ok to wear even in public (if you are so willing) but just a thong is not.  Same way, for men an underwear only maybe ok (why would you?) in most public places as long as it covers your buttocks and genitalia.  Again, each State has it’s own law – for example – in New York it is ok for a women to go topless in public places (non-commercial purposes) (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/16/nyregion/a-police-roll-call-reminder-women-may-go-topless.html?hp&_r=3&), but that is an exception rather than a rule.

What is ok in one State or situation may not be ok in other State or situation, so it is always better to be safe than sorry.  Find out what is appropriate attire in the place you are or going to and wear accordingly.

Public urination: 

It is NOT ok to urinate in any public space, this even includes secluded areas, sidewalks, highways, or any place other than ‘rest rooms’.  It may be ok in your country to find a secluded bushy area to take a leak, not in USA.  You may get away with it but if caught can cost you a fine or prison time for ‘public indecency’.

Driving without a license and/or insurance:

Driving without a driving license and/or insurance is illegal which may prompt fines, prison time and or deportation. Not only that, you will invite trouble for those who let you drive their vehicle knowing that you don’t have license and or insurance.

Litter:

On most highways, if you throw any litter out, you could be subject to fine of up-to $1200 (or more in some States); wait until the next gas station to throw in the trash bin.  Also, it is not ok to litter in any public space.

Pet excrement:

You have to clean up your pet’s excrement.  If you don’t and you are caught – you may get a hefty fine.

Gambling:

You have seen the LasVegas and Atlantic City grandeur of gambling on TV or movies and thought that it is cool, but you may be surprised to know that gambling, to this day, is illegal in most places (except in State permitted licensed locations).  Online gambling is illegal too if the State you are living in says so.

Contact lenses:

In some States (Indiana for example) dispensing contact lenses to a person without prescription is an offense too.  So if you take up any job at a drug store, make sure you check for prescription, as required.

Prostitution:

As in most countries, it is illegal in US too, that is, both performing and patronizing the prostitution.  Currently only Nevada State allows ‘legal’ prostitution but it is confined to specific counties (8 at the time of writing) which does NOT include Las Vegas.  So beware.

Fights:

Do not get into fights, period.  Except in cases of self-defense (where retreat is not an option), if you initiate violence (in any form), you may get into lot of trouble including but not limited to – fines, jail and or deportation.

Pot is not cool: 

Ganja, weed, marijuana, pot or whatever name you call it, it is illegal in almost all States in US to smoke marijuana.  Due to the no-tolerance rules in most states, you could get deported if caught under the influence of or in possession of any illegal substances including marijuana.  The quantity of possession is of little consequence in the zero tolerance states. Medical marijuana is legal in some States with doctor’s prescription and only if possessed within the limits allowed.  There is list of 18 states and their limits for medical marijuana here: http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000881

At the time of this writing, Colorado and Washington are the two states where you could possess marijuana for personal (recreational) purposes without medical reasons.  Of course, there are limits on how much you can possess.

Remember that any form of ‘illegal’ drug use or possession can get you in prison and/or deported.

Again, these are just few rules of the many other rules that you need to know to ensure you don’t get into any trouble.