Essential Information for New International Students


Bus Pass

The bus company that runs in this area is called County Connection. You can buy a bus pass at DVC Book Center. To find prices and schedules, please go to

Telephone Cards

Calling internationally can be very expensive especially if you call from your cell phone. The best option is to buy a phone card. The best store to find phone cards is 7-11 ( Seven eleven is a convenience store located 17 Golf Club Road near Citibank. They sell phone cards for as little as $5.

Driver’s License

DMV, Department of Motor Vehicle, is the entity that issues California driver’s licenses. You can start the application process 15 business days after the beginning of the classes. We need to register you in SEVIS before you apply for a driver’s license. If you are going to stay in California for a long time, you have to get a CA license. You can only drive with your international driver license for 10 days. To get a license, you need your passport and your I-20. The nearest DMV office is located at 2070 Diamond Boulevard, Concord CA 94520 Phone: 1-800-777-0133. Their website is The offices are usually closed on Fridays so check the schedule on the website before you go there.

The process of getting a driver license is:

  • Fill out an application form at DMV
  • Pay a fee
  • Do a vision test
  • Study the book, which can be picked up for free at the DMV office
  • Take the written test
  • When you pass the written test, you will receive a permit. You can only drive if the person next to you is at least 25 years old and has a CA driver’s license
  • Schedule your road test (same as behind-the-wheel test)
  • The examiner will immediately tell you if you passed the test or not
  • You can only drive alone when you have your license

To go to the DMV office from DVC, you have two options. You can take the bus# 20 at DVC, exit at the corner of Willow Pass Road and Diamond Blvd and walk about ½ mile. The other route is to take the bus #20 at DVC towards the Concord BART station and then transfer to the bus # 19, which will drop you off in front of the DMV office.

return to top

Social Security Number

For identification purposes you will use your passport, Form I-20 and Form I-94. You do not need a Social Security number to conduct business with a bank, register for school or apply for educational tests. You cannot get a Social Security number for the sole purpose of obtaining a driver license (refer to

For banks, landlords, and other organizations who ask for a Social Security number, IEC may issue a letter that confirms your enrollment in our program.

Persons holding an F-1 student visa cannot get employment while taking an ESL program. However, when the students transfer to Diablo Valley College they are allowed to pursue on-campus employment. Students will need a job offer letter to be able to apply for a social security number.

Cell Phones

If you want to buy a cell phone and need to do some research before you go to a store, visit this website: It is a common practice for cell phone companies to ask you for a deposit of $500 to $800 because newcomers have no credit history. Always ask the salesperson for their contact information in case you have questions after purchasing a new phone.

IEC is not associated with any of the businesses mentioned here.


Pleasant Hill is a pretty safe city but you should always be aware of your surroundings. When you leave your house make sure your door is locked and windows are closed as well. In case of emergency, dial 911. For non-emergency calls, dial the Pleasant Hill Police at 925 288-4600.

Internet Safety

Facebook is a social network and is widely known and used in the United States. Do not disclose all your personal information. Learn how to adjust settings to keep your information as private as possible. Also, Craigslist ( is a website used for buying and selling goods as well as social network. Be careful if you do any type of business with strangers.

Buying a car

Whether you buy a car from a private party or from a dealer, it is always a good idea to find out if you are paying a fair price. In the US, we use a book called Kelley Blue Book. This book will help you look up the car manufacturer, model and year and give you a fair market price. You can also visit their website at

return to top

Find us on Facebook
Photo Gallery
Photo Gallery
IEC Blog
Watch our Video