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Getting Started

Arrival in Woods Hole and at WHOI

We welcome you most cordially to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). When you arrive in Woods Hole, your sponsor (or someone she or he delegates) will transport you to your temporary or long-term housing and will make sure that you have transportation to and from WHOI, that you have local currency until you can get to a bank, and that you know where to obtain food. Direct bus service is also available between Logan Airport and Woods Hole. (For a bus schedule see Peter Pan Bus Lines). Within your first few days, your sponsor will give you a general tour of WHOI (see maps of the Village and Quissett campus) and information on the shuttle bus that links the two campuses.

Check in/ Orientation

Once you arrive at WHOI, you must contact the Foreign National Advisor within 3 days to check-in. The Foreign National Office is part of the Human Resources Office and is located in Nobska House on the Village Campus. The telephone number is: (508) 289-2203.

Please bring the following documents with you when you check-in with the Foreign National Advisor:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • I-94 Card ("Departure Record" or white card stapled to passport when you enter the U.S.)
  • If you enter on a J-1 visa, the Form DS-2019 and other documentation which establishes your immigration status; Form DS-2019 is issued by your previous school, if you are a transferring scholar.

For more information on orientation for new employees click here

Important Note for J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Visa Holders

The Foreign National Office is required to report, in the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), that an exchange visitor has begun his or her program participation as scheduled within 30 days of the program start date on the form DS-2019. An exchange visitor, who fails to check in with the Foreign National Advisor, shall be terminated from the Exchange Visitor Program and their visa will be considered invalidated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Payroll Information

The Foreign National Information Form must be completed and returned to the Payroll Office before you can receive any form of payment. All applicable questions must be answered on both sides of the form. A copy of both sides of your I-94 Form "Arrival and Departure Record", (a small white card inside your passport), copy of your U.S. VISA from your passport, and 1-20 or DS-2019 must be attached to this form.

If you are receiving payment from WHOI, you will also need to obtain a Social Security number as soon as possible. See Legal and Visa Information section

Related Links

» WHOI orientation
For new employees

» WHOI Foreign National Office
For new arrivals

» Housing in and around WHOI
A listing of studios, apartments, and houses for rent in the Falmouth area

» US Citizen and Immigration Service
US government web site

» WHOI shutlle
Shuttle between Woods Hole Village and Quissett Campus

» Peter Pan Bus Lines
Travel from Woods Hole to Boston and beyond


Finding suitable housing for yourself and your family will be your first concern.

Individuals must make their own rental arrangements, preferably in person, with the owner or owner's agent. On-campus rental housing may be available, except during the summer. You may contact the Housing Office at Ext. 2389 to check on available WHOI housing or check the "listings" on the web.

Housing costs: Housing costs vary widely depending on location, amenities included, and condition and size of dwelling. Rents usually do not include heat, hot water, or utilities. Some apartments are furnished, but almost none are air-conditioned. Most landlords require one or two months' rent in advance plus a security deposit.

Because Falmouth and Woods Hole are a summer resort area, housing accommodations vary, depending upon the season, in terms of availability and price. The summer season is the most expensive. Institution housing is available only to our MIT/WHOI students and Summer Student Fellows during the summer season. Some WHOI housing units may be available to guests from mid-September to May 1. They vary in price depending upon the unit. If our housing is unavailable, the Institution's Housing Coordinator can assist you by providing you with listings of accommodations in the community; however, we cannot preselect community housing nor make any rental arrangements for you. These accommodations will vary in price according to your personal preferences, the time of year, and length of your stay. The village of Woods Hole is very small. Suitable housing in the village is in great demand and difficult to find. We urge you to look for housing outside of the village.

There are many ways to find an apartment or house in the Falmouth/Woods Hole area, but the simplest way is to see a realtor or real estate agent. The WHOI Housing Office can provide a listing of realtors. Realty offices maintain lists of apartments and houses and will try to match your needs and budget to an apartment. They will also arrange appointments for you or will show places to you personally. Another good source for real estate listings is in the classified sections of the local newspapers.

Rooms in the Community: Rooms in the community (in a shared house) with or without kitchen privileges are available on a year-round basis ranging. See the listings of WHOI housing for some options.

Leases: A lease is a legal contract between landlord (property owner) and tenant (person renting). Do not sign a lease until you have read it thoroughly and understand all its provisions. Almost all property owners require the tenants to sign a lease for 12 months' rent. Most owners require one month's rent in advance. You should be prepared to pay up to three months' rent before occupying an apartment (first month in advance, last month in advance, and a refundable security deposit). Plan to arrive with sufficient funds (either Travelers Checks or cash) for these initial expenses.

Utilities: The major utilities are telephone, electricity, and heating (oil, gas, or electricity). Average telephone bills vary depending on the plan chosen. Long distance calls are often additional. A small deposit may also be required by the telephone company in addition to the telephone installation charge. Heat, provided by gas, oil, or electricity, may or may not be included in your rent. Avoid electric-generated heat; it is inefficient and very expensive. To keep fuel costs to a minimum, thermostats should be set no higher than 65 ºF (18 ºC) during the day and 60 ºF (15 ºC) at night during winter months. You are responsible for paying monthly bills.

Furniture and Housewares: Many apartments are unfurnished but used furniture is available in Falmouth. The local newspaper carries advertisements for used furniture as well as listings for Yard Sales where people sell used furniture and household items from their homes.

Safety & Security

Falmouth and Woods Hole are not areas of high crime like some large urban areas in the U.S. We do, however, have incidents of lesser crimes, so it is best to be cautious and alert to your surroundings. You should take precautions to protect yourself and your property. Here are some suggestions.

 For Personal Safety

  • Keep your doors locked when you are not at home, and at night when you are home.
  • If someone knocks at your door or rings your doorbell, you should not open the door until you have asked who is there and then decided that you wish to open the door to admit that person.
  • Leave both an outside and inside light on if you will be away from your home after dark.
  • Use caution when crossing streets; in some sections of Falmouth there are areas marked on the road with white lines as crosswalks to indicate a safe area to cross. We experience heavy traffic in the summer, and many of the drivers are tourists unfamiliar with our roads and traffic regulations.
  • Women are advised to be cautious and to avoid walking alone at night, especially in larger towns or cities.

Protecting Valuables

  • Lock the doors to home, car, and office if appropriate.
  • At the library, office or in stores, do not leave your possessions unattended.
  • Bicycles should be secured to a bicycle rack or parking meter with a lock and chain.
  • If you take a vacation away from your home in Woods Hole/Falmouth, leave a light on in your home, and ask a friend to check your home each day and to bring in mail delivered to the house while you are away.

Identification Documents

In many countries the law requires that every person carry an identity card at all times. There is no such requirement in the United States. There is no national identity card. A document for identification is often needed, however, to cash checks or to make purchases with checks or credit cards. Your passport can be offered as proof of identity, but it is a valuable document which should not be carried with you at all times, but should be kept in a safe, secure place. Most Americans use a driver's license as an identity (ID) card. If you will be driving a car while in Falmouth, you should get a driver's license for the state of Massachusetts. The procedures for obtaining a driver's license are explained in the transportation of our web site. WHOI provides an Institution ID card for its employees which has limited usage but may be used to get a local library card.

Community Helpers

Community helpers are volunteers who can assist international visitors with acclimating to life in the Falmouth/Woods Hole area. WHOI sponsors (or their support staff) often introduce the international visitor to the WHOI environment, but life beyond WHOI can be confusing. Community Helpers (some from WHOI, others from the community) will be a friend to new arrivals and their families. These helpers can be a good source of community information, can assist with tours of Woods Hole and Falmouth, with language conversation exchange, with introductions to local cultural events. This program enables the visitor to establish a relationship with someone outside of WHOI's research and educational setting and to see other aspects of American life.