Life in Tucson

Basic Needs

The University of Arizona has a Basic Needs page with helpful information. This includes the Campus Pantry and the Campus Closet.


Public transportation

  • Sun Link Tucson Streetcar. This is Tucson's bran new transportation alternative. It covers the central parts of town with special routes connecting the business centres, Downtown Tucson, and the University of Arizona.
  • Sun Tran Bus: The city public bus system has routes to most parts of the city. You can pick up a current bus schedule in C202. Inside you will find information about prices and bus passes. It is easy to get from the university to the four shopping Malls on the bus. When you are reading the schedule, be sure that you look at the right time. There are different schedules during the week and weekends and holidays.
  • UA Bus Pass: UA students are elgiible for a discount on Sun Tran bus passes.
  • Taxis: In Tucson these are somewhat expensive, but if you share the taxi with others and aren't going far, it is good form of alternative transportation. There are several taxi companies in Tucson.
  • Arizona Shuttle: To Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. There are a number of shuttle services to Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. There is a pick-up station at Park and 6th. Make reservations in advance and allow about 3-4 hours before your flight time.


Bicycle Route Maps of Tucson
University Bicycle Route Maps

  • Bicycle Registration is free, and it is a very good idea to register your bicycle with Parking and Transportation to help identify your bike if it is stolen.
  • Bicycles are a good way to travel around the campus and to apartments nearby. Riders should know the regulations for bicycle riding and should ride carefully.
  • Bicycle Helmets: All bicycle riders should wear helmets to protect themselves in case of an accident.
  • Bicycle Locks: Hundreds of bicycles are stolen on the UA campus each year. Many of these thefts could have been prevented by the following:
    • Park in the areas set aside for bicycle parking. These areas are situated in well-traveled areas.
    • Remember where you parked your bike. If it is left alone too long, someone will think it is abandoned and take it.
    • Lock your bike correctly with a locking system specifically designed for bikes. U-locks are the safest way to lock your bicycle. Lock both tire and frame to the parking post.

Remember, no lock can guarantee that your bike will not be stolen.

Owning a Car

Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division

If you buy a car, you must register it. For further information about car registration, contact: Department of Motor Vehicles 3565 S Broadmont. Check the new resident page of the Motor Vehicle Division.

Parking on campus: Students and visiting scholars operating an automobile or motorcycle on campus, must register this vehicle with Parking and Transportation Services, and display an appropriate permit in its proper location at all times. In order to park in the university parking lots, you MUST purchase a parking permit from Parking and Transportation.

Driver's license: If you drive a car in Arizona, you must have a valid driver's license. You can download a copy of the Driver's License Manual from the internet. You may apply for a driver's license and take the driver's test at any Motor Vehicle Division office. Take your passport, your I-20, your I-94 and your Cat Card.

If you need an ID card to show that you are 21 and you don't drive a car, you may go to any driver's license office and ask for an Arizona ID card. You must show your passport and I-94, I-20 and passport.

Automobile insurance: If you own an automobile, Arizona law requires that you have adequate car insurance.  There is a great deal of difference in the rates charged by different insurance companies. Compare costs before you buy insurance. You must carry proof of appropriate insurance in the car at all times.

Accident Information

Call the police if you are involved in an accident where someone is injured or there is a substantial amount property damage. You should also call the police if the other person refuses to give you the necessary information or if they leave the accident site without stopping.

WARNING !! These are some driving rules that may be different from your country or that may carry severe penalties.



Tucson has dozens of religious centers: Protestant, Catholic, Islamic, and many other religions and denominations. There are a variety of religious clubs and organizations on campus.

Work on Campus

Work on Campus & Social Security Numbers for CESL students

Income Tax Students who are employed on campus may be required to pay taxes.  CESL is not permitted to advise on tax issues.  If you require assistance with completing your tax documents you should contact a tax professional or immigration attorney with experience in tax law.



The new student union on campus offers a wide variety of food. In addition, within walking distance of CESL there are many other places to eat. There are a number of ethnic restaurants where CESL students can find food very similar to home. There are Arabic, Asian, Mexican, and Italian restaurants very near. Be sure to check the Wildcat for coupons to save money. Tucson has hundreds of restaurants with cuisines from all over the world.


It is customary in restaurants where your order is taken by a wait person at your table to tip 15-20% of your total food check. This is not necessary where you pick up your food in a deli, cafeteria or fast-food restaurant. Do not tip gas station attendants, persons who carry packages in stores, or restroom attendants in stores. However, it is customary to tip the stylist who cuts, shampoos and styles your hair; the barber; a valet parker who parks your car; the bellboy in the hotel who carries your bags; the red cap at the airport or train station; and taxi drivers.


In the U.S. you must be 21 years old to drink alcohol. You must show ID to drink alcohol in bars and restaurants. Alcohol is not allowed in university residences on campus. Never drive if you have been drinking.  If you have been drinking, call a taxi to take you home. Do not drink and drive


It is customary in the U.S. to write dates with the month first, then day and year.  For example, August 5, 1994 would be written as 08/05/1994.

Do not send cash through the mail. You may send either a personal check or a US money order. You may also buy cashier's checks at your bank. In addition to the US Postal Service, packages and large cartons can be shipped by Federal Express, Railway Express, the Greyhound Package Service or the United Parcel Service.


  • SUPERMARKETS OR GROCERY STORES: These stores sell fresh, frozen and canned food, including fish, poultry, meat, dairy products, staples such as flour, sugar, salt and spices as well as toiletries (shampoo and toothpaste) and paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, sanitary napkins, paper plates and paper cups). Most supermarkets also have inside the store a bakery and a pharmacy. Many supermarkets now offer other services such as a bank, post office and movie rentals inside the supermarket. Self-service is the rule in grocery stores, which means that you take a cart or basket, select the items you wish and present them for payment at a cashier's counter. Large supermarkets in Tucson are Basha's Trader Joe's, Frys, Safeway and Albertson's. The nearest large grocery stores are Safeway at Campbell and Broadway and Fry's at Grant and 1st Ave. Also at Campbell and Broadway is the GrantStone Asian Market. You can take the bus to either store.
  • SALES TAX: Nearly every item you buy in the U.S. will have a sales tax added to its price. This tax is added almost everywhere in the U.S., but varies from place to place. In some communities certain goods are not taxed. In Tucson you do not pay sales tax on unprepared food bought in grocery stores, but you do pay tax on meals in restaurants. Sales taxes go to the city, county and state governments.
  • PRICES: Prices in stores are fixed. The customer does not bargain with the sales clerk. An exception to this is on purchases made directly from a private individual or when buying large, expensive items such as cars or houses.
  • CONVENIENCE STORES: Other stores, such as the Circle K and Seven Eleven, also sell food and groceries. They are called convenience stores because they are small and the service is fast. Food bought in these stores is sometimes more expensive than in the large supermarkets.
  • DRUGSTORES: These stores are licensed to sell prescription pharmaceutical products. Doctors' prescriptions can be filled at a drugstore or at the Student Health Service on campus. Drugstores also sell a large selection of cosmetics, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, periodicals, household medicines, greeting cards and other items. Large chain drugstores in Tucson are Walgreen's and CVS.
  • DEPARTMENT STORES: They sell a variety of things: shoes, clothing, appliances, furniture, dishes, pots and pans, linen, towels and toys. In Tucson, most department stores are located in the Malls: Sears, Dillards and Macy's.
  • MALLS: They are large shopping centers that include a large number and variety of department stores and smaller specialty shops. There are four malls in Tucson: Park Place on Broadway & Wilmot,  Tucson Mall at Oracle & Limberlost, La Encantada at Skyline and Campbell, and Foothills Mall at Ina and La Cholla. All four malls are accessible by public bus. Check the schedule for routes and times.

Less Expensive Shopping

On 4th Avenue there are a variety of second-hand, vintage and thrift stores. 4th Avenue south of 6th Street is an interesting street. Plan a Saturday walk there to browse through many craft and gift shops.