|The information provided on this page
will help you prepare for your trip to Lawrence. Depending on how
well-versed you are with international travel you may not have to read
all sections. If you have specific travel questions, please contact
me, Ulla Bunz, at firstname.lastname@example.org
and I will try to help. If you have other conference questions, please
contact Jeremy Hunsinger at email@example.com.
Weather and Clothes
(Not) getting a visa
Getting through customs
Duty Free tips
Renting (and driving) a car
Shuttling to Lawrence
Surviving Jet Lag
Getting around in Lawrence
Also check the US Customs
Homesite for specific information.
Weather and Clothes
The weather is usually still pretty warm in Lawrence the middle
of September. Lawrence is located in the east of the State.
Things you know about Kansas because you read the Wizard of Oz apply only
to the western part. Lawrence is green and has hills. It is
humid here. Temperatures here are measured in Fahrenheit. To
convert from Celsius it works best to avoid the complicated calculations
and remember a few basic rules:
Temperature averages for September are around 80 F during the day, and
60 F during the night. I suggest you check USA
Today for a four day forecast the day before you leave. They
give temperatures both in F and C. It doesn't rain a lot here during this
time of year.
each 18 F equal 10 C
59 F equal 15 C
68 F equal 20 C
77 F equal 25 C
86 F equal 30 C (observe the ten-digits going 5, 6, 7, 8, and the single-digits
going 9, 8, 7, 6)
Clothes are fairly casual in the US. Even when lecturing
not all professors wear suits. Dress pants and a nice shirt, or a
pants and blouse or a skirt will do just fine, unless you feel too casual
that way. If you decide to wear khaki pants or jeans, you'll fit
right into Campus. Most students wear khaki shorts and, for the girls,
tank tops, or even sports clothes to class. Cotton is definitely
a plus. Silk and linen are not recommended because you will sweat
outside, and freeze inside. Bring a sweater or a light
jacket with you whenever you plan on spending more than 5 minutes inside
any building. Air-conditioning is running in full force. From
experience I can tell you, after the first refreshing chill you will get
quite cold, and many people even get sick.
I recommend that you get some US currency before coming here.
Most major banks have US Dollars in stock, smaller branches usually only
need a few days warning. Check the current exchange rate here.
and Mastercard are accepted almost anywhere here, and you actually
get the best exchange rate that way, but it won't help you with leaving
tips, or to get a coke from the machine. Traveler Checks are
accepted at banks and at major stores, but I don't recommend them for daily
use. You can also bring your country's cash and change it
Here are a few tips that may help you calculate how much money you
Every advertised price in the US excludes tax. Taxes wary
depending on what you buy, but to make it simple, just add 10% for yourself.
This becomes important when you buy more expensive items.
Tipping is big in the US. Not to tip means being very rude.
Tip a cab driver about 15%, a waiter 10-20% (depending on
quality of restaurant and quality of service) but never less than
$1. If you go to a restaurant and different people show you to your
table, bring water, and take your order, just leave one tip for the person
who brought the food. You don't have to tip people who give you directions,
or sales clerks in stores. Don't forget to tip the bartender
if you go to a bar or club. The same rules apply than with a waiter.
You can take the Campus busses to get around a restricted area (including
downtown) in Lawrence. Each trip is $1.
Most lunches are between $5-8, most dinners between $5-12.
There are some really good restaurants that are a bit more pricey.
A good dinner including drinks for two can run $80. There are also
lots of cheap-eats, such as fast-food restaurants (a whole meal for $2-4),
or bagel shops (plain bagel $0.65). There are two European style
bakeries, but don't count on getting cheap rolls or anything like that
there. You will be provided with a more detailed restaurant, cafe,
and bar guide when you come to Lawrence.
The prices for drinks vary greatly, depending on specials.
A beer can be anywhere between $1-4.
University of Kansas souvenirs are fairly pricey. T-shirts can be
around $20. Other clothes are reasonable. I. e., Levis
501 cost $30-35 per pair.
(Not) getting a visa
I am not familiar with regulations for countries of the former east
block. However, citizens of Europe, Australia, New Zealand and other
western countries do not need to apply for a visa in advance.
Just make sure your passport is valid preferably a month longer than your
intended stay. Your visa will be issued as a stamp when you go through
customs. If you are unsure whether you need a visa or not, check
your local consulate.
Getting through customs starts when you pack, continues on the airplane,
and for (depending on how busy the airport is) 20-90 minutes after you
get off the airplane.
On the airplane, you will be issued a (most likely) white card, called
I-94. Be honest when completing it. Half of it will remain
in your passport after passing customs. Do not lose the I-94.
It is your permission to leave the US again, and if you don't have it,
you may be deported, and that's nasty business. The I-94 will ask
if you have perishable items, such as fruits, meats, vegetables, but also
seeds (including sunflower) or nuts. Do not bring any of these
things. If you brought an apple for the flight, eat it, or leave
it on the plane. As with most countries on international travel,
the US is trying to protect itself from viruses, parasites etc. If
they find perishable goods even though you checked no, again, it means
nasty business. You can, however, bring cookies, chocolate, or anything
that is sealed or in cans. Also on the I-94, you will be asked for
the purpose of your visit. Check "personal," because if you
check "business" you will need a special visa, and may be asked to show
letters of employment from US corporations.
Most of you will arrive through Los Angeles and Chicago, some maybe
through Atlanta. As you get off the airplane, you first get through
the visa customs, where you show your passport and the I-94. Then,
you go to pick up your luggage. You go through luggage customs.
You will be asked to show your documents again, possibly to two different
people. then you need to check back in. Again, you will need
your documents. Only then you are released into the greater airport.
you can store your documents. Depending on time of day, checks
are more or less thorough. In general I have found Atlanta
to be most annoying because you get asked the same questions so many times.
They also tend to pick people out of the "green" lane and check their luggage,
sometimes just by X-ray. Do not worry if that happens to you.
It doesn't mean you've done something wrong. Unfortunately, Chicago
has the reputation of targeting black women for more in-depth checks.
I don't know why.
Duty Free tips
For most travelers, international travel spells D u t y F r e
e. I don't remember much about LA, but the Duty Free shops in Chicago
and Atlanta are sparse and not very well stocked. I recommend to
buy the items you want when you leave your own country. Just
lug them around for a few days, and bring them back through customs on
the way back. Should be no problem. Depending on country, the
regulations on what you can bring are different, but the clerks in the
stores often can help out. You can also find information on this
US Customs site.
Renting (and driving)
Renting a car is fairly easy here. When you arrive at
MCI (the Kansas City airport), there will be phones to call the renting
agencies, and free vans right outside to bring you to your agency.
I recommend, however, to make an advance reservation. Prices
are not fixed, and the earlier you reserve, the cheaper it will be.
Here are links to the sites of some of the rental agencies at the airport:
You can also rent a car in Lawrence. Here are the links: Alamo,
If you want to wait till you're here, there are a few more local
places that may be cheaper, but don't have web sites: Rent-a-Wreck (785)
832-0800, Ford (785) 843-3500
To rent a car you will need a driver's license and a credit card.
Most major companies such as Hertz and Budget also prefer that you are
at least 25 years of age. The rental car agencies will be able to
describe the way to Lawrence. There are two options, I-70 (includes $1.25
toll) and I-435 that turns into K 10. There's no real difference
time- or convenience wise.
Even though a large part of today's US used to be British, a fact most
Americans don't like to be reminded of, people here drive on the right
side. The rules are pretty much the same as anywhere else I've
been, and since this is not LA at rush hour, people drive quite well here,
to too crazy or wild. You need not be worried. Highways have
wide lanes, the speed limit is 70 miles per hour (about 110 km), and within
Lawrence the speed limit is usually 30 mph (about 50 km), except for Iowa
Street, where it is 45 mph (about 70 km). I recommend that you adhere
to these speed limits, even if everybody else gets pulled over. Police
radar controls everywhere at all times of day and night. Lawrence
has plenty of stop signs to help you drive slowly. Orientation is
simple. See getting around Lawrence.
Most cars here are automatics. P is for park, R for reverse,
and D for drive. Don't concern yourself with N, or D2 etc.
You won't need them.
You do not need an international driver's license. You
can drive on your own country's for 90 days. And actually, I did
that for 5 months. I just made sure I never was pulled over.
Check cultural observations for some peculiar
driving tips and rules.
Shuttling to Lawrence
If you decide to take the shuttle to Lawrence, you have two options.
You can make reservations by fax or phone for both companies. They
pick you up at your terminal, and on the return at your hotel.
Superior Airport Shuttle
One way: $24, Return: $45
Lawrence Bus Co.
One way: $25, Return: $50
Surviving Jet Lag
First of all, don't worry about fashion while flying. Wear comfortable,
loose clothes, avoid white or light colors. Pack your toothbrush
in your carry on. don't worry about bringing water or snacks, you
will get lots of stuff. Do bring, however, a book. Most of
the time, flying is like waiting at the doctor's office, boring, and uncomfortable.
The time difference between Europe and Kansas is 7 hours.
If it is 10 a.m. (in the morning) in Kansas, it is 17.00 (five in the afternoon,
or 5 p.m.) in Paris, Berlin, or Stockholm. The time difference between
London and Kansas is 6 hours. The time difference between
Australia and Kansas depends on the time zone you are coming from, but
between Sydney and Kansas it is 15 hours. Attention here,
there is a day change! If it is 6 p.m. on a Tuesday in Lawrence,
it is 9 a.m. on a Wednesday in Sydney.
Coming from Europe, most of you will arrive in the late afternoon
or early evening. To battle jet lag, stay up as long as your usual
bedtime the first day, even if it's hard. Don't read, but go out
and do something if necessary, such as taking a walk downtown. Then,
sleep until seven or eight the next morning. The second day, take
a nap of no more than 1.5 hours in the afternoon, around 3 or 4
when you get really tired. Get up, and do something active.
After that, it shouldn't be so bad anymore.
Coming from Australia, I personally was so happy to get out
of the airport/airplane that I really didn't care anymore what time it
was. Somehow, the time difference is so big that it doesn't matter
anymore. I was a bit tired in the evenings at first, but not too
bad, much less than when traveling from Europe. Try to sleep as
much as possible on the plane, because most likely you will get to
Los Angeles early in the morning, and to Lawrence some time in the afternoon.
If you fly United Airlines/Air NewZealand, they do show three movies between
Auckland and LA, but they show them in a loop. If you miss one, you
can catch up with it half a day later.
Lawrence is a typical US city in that it was built, and did not grow
out of itself. That makes finding your way really easy, because everything
(except for Campus) works in squares, or blocks. In addition, in
Lawrence orientation is especially easy because the streets are numbered
north to south. Everything takes place between 6th Street and 31st.
Street. Most of what will concern you will take place between
9th Street and 23rd Street. Campus is approximately on 15th Street.
You can't miss it, just go uphill. East west all the major streets
have names of US States until you get to west Lawrence. Most important
to remember is Mass Street (short for Massachusetts Street), which is downtown.
Also important is Iowa Street, because it is the largest north/south connector.
If you took I-70 from the airport, you will come in on Iowa. If you
took I-435 and K 10, you will come in on 23rd Street.
The University of Kansas is located in the middle of Lawrence on Mount
Oread. You can walk there from downtown (about 20 minutes), or take
a Campus bus (each trip $1). The busses also go to some other areas,
but they don't cover the entire city. Taxi cabs are relatively cheap.
At night, call 864-SAFE, the so called safe-ride that exists so you don't
have to drive drunk. It's really cheap, sometimes even for free.
You cannot drive on Campus. The parking lots are often full, and
for most of them you need parking permits. So, the closest you can
park is often a 15-20 minute walk anyway, huffing and puffing up Mt. Oread
with the 30,000 KU students.
Here are a few online guides on Lawrence: Lawrence.com,
the Marketplace, Lawrence
Cyber Village, and the Lawrence
Ask your hotel for driving directions or check MapQuest.
Peculiar driving tips: If you come to a red traffic light, but you
want to turn right you can do so, even if the traffic light is still
red. Really. I promise. If you want to turn left,
you may do so even if there is a straight line. Some of the traffic
lights hang in the middle of the intersection, so be careful not
to advance all the way to them, you'd be in the middle of the road.
The yellow light is fairly long here. People don't use indicators
(blinkers) a lot here, so be prepared for people turning even if they don't
show it. If you can, avoid driving on Mass Street. It is always packed.
Eating and drinking: If you go to a restaurant, you will be given
ice water for free. Then they ask what you want to drink.
Soft drinks and ice tea are made by filling the class with ice cubes, and
then filling up the remaining space with the drink. Usually you get
free refills. Appetizers are starters, and main courses are Entrees.
Women: Women are treated equally here. There is, however,
the US habit of calling a group of people "you guys" even if the group
consists entirely of women. Don't be offended by that.
Conversation: Americans are usually extremely fascinated by everything
that is not American. They'll talk to you, and everyone will ask
the same three questions. Everyone will also tell you that they are
really Irish, Italian, British, German, etc. That doesn't mean they
were born there, but that their heritage is from these countries.
Often, these "Italians" don't speak a word Italian, or have ever been to
the country. After you get over that, Americans in general
are very friendly people. Don't be shy to ask anyone a question.
People are usually very patient, even if you make a mistake in English.
They may, however, speak louder, as if you wear deaf. It is better
to ask them to repeat something slowly than to pretend to have understood.
Don't be mad if Americans think Lyon is a country in Africa, or ask if
you have cell phones where you come from. You probably didn't know
where Kansas was before you came here either...
What's in a word (name)? Most people here are on a first name
basis 30 seconds after they meet. Calling someone Mr. or Mrs. can
even be rude, other than in most countries where it is considered respectful
behavior. If you are not sure, don't avoid saying the person's name,
because that also is rude. Simply ask what you should call them.
That's all I can think of right now! I hope it helps. If
you have specific travel or culture questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.