Local Resources FAQ

Group of Students
What is the culture of San Jose?

What is the classroom culture at SJSU?

What can I do if I feel homesick?

How can I prepare for an earthquake?

How can I stay safe in San Jose?

How can I find information about housing in San Jose?

How do I get around San Jose and the Bay Area?

Where can I buy food?

Where can I find a drugstore or a pharmacy?

What restaurants are in downtown San Jose?

Where are the movie theaters?

Where can I buy things for my room or apartment?

Where is the mall?

Where can I buy a mobile phone?

What is banking like in San Jose?

Where can I send a letter or a package?

How much do I tip?

What are the nearby attractions?

What can I find at San Pedro Square?

What's happening in San Jose?

Where can I go hiking, walking or biking?

What are the local news publications?

What are some helpful apps?


What is the culture of San Jose?

San Jose State is "Powering the Silicon Valley." The Silicon Valley is known for the tech industry as well as its innovation. It is home to many global companies as well as thousands of start-ups.

San Jose is a unique city in many ways. Here are some helpful suggestions and observations.

Bring your own bag

Grocery stores, pharmacies and other retailers do not provide plastic carryout bags at checkout. Most places will provide a bag for a charge of at least 10 cents (typically made of 40% post-consumer recycled material).

Get a drivers license or ID card

It's a good idea to get a drivers license if you plan to operate a vehicle, or a California ID card if you do not. Identification is required for many things. Contact the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for both a drivers licenses and identification.


Smoking is not allowed in many places in California, including public places and workplaces. Smoking may also be limited or not allowed in residences. For example, a landlord may decide to have a "No Smoking" policy and this is within his or her rights. Smoking has been on the decline. If you smoke, please observe rules and be considerate of others. Many of us have been enjoying a smoke-free environment for several years. Please check out the SJSU Smoking Policy.


The weather in San Jose is lovely. The sun is shining more than 300 days of the year and there is very little rainfall, compared to nearby cities. The average temperature is 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or 16 degrees Celsius. Occasionally, the temperature will drop and there will be snow on Mt. Hamilton or the Santa Cruz mountains. Consider taking a sweater if you are going north to San Francisco, or to any of the coastal towns and cities. If you venture south into the Coyote Valley, it will be a bit warmer.


Allergies are common in San Jose. You may be unfamiliar with them until you arrive. The weather and wind can sometimes cause irritation in the nose, eyes, and lungs. Medication to relieve these seasonal allergy symptoms can be found at any pharmacy, and may be purchased without a prescription.

Places to Go

Like much of the Bay Area, San Jose is a culturally diverse city with various neighborhoods and things to do. Check out San Jose's Places to Go page to explore the city and its offerings.

Map of Downtown San Jose


What is the classroom culture of SJSU?

Visit Student Conduct and Ethical Development for information about expected conduct at San Jose State. The Student Resources page offers tips on how to be successful in the classroom as well as resources for writing papers and exam taking.


What can I do if I feel homesick?

Adjusting to a new environment can be difficult. You may find yourself overwhelmed, whether you are new to the United States, university life, or San Jose. 

There are a number of things you can do to ease the difficulty you may be having.

Get involved in student activities. Through Student Involvement you can make connections with others, develop skills and prepare for future roles in life.

Visit I-House for friendly interactions between SJSU students from many cultures.

If you live on campus, check out the Residence Hall Association.

Peer Connections can connect you with another SJSU student who has already been through the college transition process and understands the challenges you may be facing. Assistance can be related to academic or personal challenges and your peer mentor can help you to develop strategies to be successful.

Spartan Connect is a program that brings students together with needed resources. Faculty and staff, concerned for the academic and personal success may refer students to this program.

The Student Health Center, through the Wellness and Health Promotion program, is dedicated to student success. There are workshops and online services offered on a variety of health topics.

Spartan Recreation and the Club Sports Program is a good way to stay active and connect with others.


How can I prepare for an earthquake?

If you are new to California, you may not be familiar with earthquakes. We have them here. An earthquake strikes without warning, and the major quake is usually followed by numerous aftershocks.

Knowing what to do can reduce the dangers and may make a difference in how an earthquake will affect you. Please visit Earthquake Safety Tips to learn more about what to do in an earthquake.

Make a plan and put together an emergency kit. Visit San Jose's Emergency Preparedness page for more information.


How can I stay safe in San Jose?

Dial 911 in the event of a police, fire or medical emergency. Trained personnel are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The University Police Department is committed to providing a safe and secure learning environment through professional, progressive and superior police, emergency, transportation and educational services in alliance with the campus community.

  • AlertSJSU is the campus emergency notification system. The University Police Department disseminates emergency information to the campus community. Students are automatically enrolled, but applicants can sign up as well, through MySJSU.
  • RAVE Guardian is an app that can be downloaded for free. It is an opt-in supplement to the emergency notification system and can be used by all San Jose State students, their family members. Students can network with friends and increase overall safety and security. Once you download the app, it will be personalized as Spartan Safeguard. Download it at the App Store or Google Play.
  • Blue light phones are located all around campus. Identify them by the blue light as well as signage. You can use the blue light phone to contact UPD in an emergency situation and also to request any of the services, such as the Evening Guide Program.
  • Take a moment to program your cell phone with the University Police Department direct dial number: (408) 924-2222
  • San Jose State keeps the community informed of safety issues on campus. Review your MySJSU account to ensure that the phone number you have listed can receive an AlertSJSU SMS text message.
  • The UPD Evening Guide Program is available to all students 24 hours a day. A Police Service Assistant or University Police Officer will escort you up to two blocks off campus. Use a Blue Light phone, an elevator phone, or call (408) 924-2000 to request an escort.
  • The Evening Shuttle is a safe alternative to walking alone at night, beyond the zone covered by the Evening Guide Service. The shuttle runs Monday-Friday from 7:00pm to 1:00am, and you can reach the service from a blue light phone, elevator phone, or by calling dispatch at (408) 924-2000.
  • Spartans for Safety


Crossing the Street

San Jose streets have designated crosswalks for pedestrians. Crossing the street outside of the designated area, or against the red light, is not only unsafe, but may result in a ticket and fine. Remember to use designated intersections.

Seat Belts

All passengers must be properly restrained by a seat belt in a moving vehicle and you may be fined to riding or driving without wearing a seat belt. Visit Click It or Ticket for more information.

Hands-Free Phone Use

You may not use an electronic wireless communications device to talk, write, send or read a text-based communication, unless the electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation, and it is used in that manner while driving.


You must be 21 years of age or older to drink in California. If you are over 21, you may not provide alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age. If you live on campus, please consult the current Student Housing License Agreement for policies specific to residents.

If you are over age 21, alcohol may be carried in a vehicle only if it is sealed and unopened. Otherwise, it must be kept in the trunk of the vehicle.

If you are over 21, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. In addition to being unsafe, there are a range of that may result from driving under the influence of alcohol (and drugs). As well as court actions, such as fines and jail time, the DMV may revoke your license.

Homeless Population

SJSU is located in downtown San Jose which is an urban environment. You will encounter a variety of people on the street. As with other cities, there are services available to assist the homeless population. However, people have the right to be on the street if they choose. You have the right to engage or decline interactions with people you encounter.


How can I find information about housing in San Jose?


How do I get around San Jose and the Bay Area?

VTA-The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority

Get around San Jose using your Eco Pass. SJSU students and employees can have unlimited free rides on all VTA Buses and Light Rail for the duration of the Eco Pass sticker. The Eco Pass free if you paid the Student Association Fee.

You may also want to get a Clipper Card. You can load value on your Clipper Card at most Walgreen's and it's valid for use on most Bay Area transit systems.

The DASH is a frequent and free shuttle that circles the downtown area and also goes to San Jose Diridon Station. The DASH stops in two places on 4th Street for the campus.

VTA Schedules


Take Caltrain north to the Bay Area's Peninsula region and San Francisco. Buy your ticket at the station before boarding the train. Not all trains stop at every station, so check out the zone fare system and schedule. You can use your Clipper Card to pre-pay trips in packages, including an 8 trip pass, or a monthly pass. Visit Caltrain for more information. VTA will get you to the San Jose Diridon Station. 

Caltrain Schedules

Bay Area Bike Share

Run errands, or travel short distances by picking up a bike in several Bay Area cities. Choose from an annual, 24 hour, or 3 day membership and enjoy 0-30 minute bike rides. Stations are located all around downtown San Jose and other cities in the Bay Area. Visit Bay Area Bike Share for more information.


Zipcar is a convenient way to have use of a car for a short period of time. With an annual membership, and low hourly and daily rates, you can have 24/7 access to cars right on our campus.

Bike Enclosures at SJSU

Visit Transportation Solutions, located in the Student Union, for an access key to the six on-campus bike enclosures. You will need your SJSU Tower Card ID and a $10.00 refundable deposit. While you still need to secure your bike, the enclosure adds an additional level of security.


Where can I buy food?

In addition to the food on campus, provided by Spartan Shops, there are many nearby stores where you can purchase food.

The Market by Safeway

100 S. 2nd St., San Jose
(408) 292-4010

Grocery Outlet

272 E. Santa Clara, San Jose
(408) 292-2132

Trader Joe's

635 Coleman Ave., San Jose
(408) 298-9731


1130 Branham Ln., San Jose
(408) 833-1152

Downtown San Jose Farmers' Market

Open Fridays, March-November at San Pedro Square


(Sells larger quantity items at discounted prices, also carries home goods)
2201 Senter Rd., San Jose
(408) 275-0199

Whole Foods Market

1146 Blossom Hill Rd., San Jose
(408) 266-3700

777 The Alameda, San Jose
(408) 207-1126


Where can I find a drugstore or pharmacy?


5 S 1st St.
(408) 283-0835

780 E Santa Clara St.
(408) 287-0600


821 The Alameda
(408) 291-4553


What restaurants are in downtown San Jose?

San Jose has many wonderful restaurants. Listed below are some that are near campus and moderately priced.


Johnny Rockets

150 S. 1st St.


275 E. San Fernando St.
(408) 998-9778

Peggy Sue's

29 N. San Pedro St.
(408) 298-6750

183 Park Ave.
(408) 294-0252



414 E. William St.(408) 298-3788


Back A Yard

80 N. Market St.
(408) 294-8626


Bo Town

409 S. 2nd St.
(408) 295-2125

China Chen

400 S. 3rd St.
(408) 294-2525


Pita Pit

151 S 2nd St. Ste 185
(408) 694-3200


577 W. Alma Ave.
(408) 289-1452

Hawaiian Drive Inn

1095 Tully
(408) 292-0788


4th St. Pizza

150 E. Santa Clara
(408) 286-7500

Grande Pizzeria

150 E. San Carlos St.
(408) 292-2840

Old Spaghetti Factory

51 N. San Pedro St.
(408) 288-7488

Pizza My Heart

117 E. San Carlos St.
(408) 280-0707


Tengu Sushi

111 Paseo de San Antonio
(408) 275-9491


K zzang

78 S 1st St
(408) 975-6677


Angelou's Mexican Grill

21 N. 2nd St.
(408) 971-2287


330 S. 3rd St.
(408) 271-9772

La Victoria

140 E. San Carlos St.
(408) 298-5335

Super Taqueria

476 S. 10th St.
(408) 292-3470

Middle Eastern   

Café Pomegranate

221 E. San Fernando
(408) 271-8822


Cheese Steak Shop

76 E. Santa Clara
(408) 999-7600

Ike's Place

75 E. Santa Clara
(408) 294-2802

La Villa

1319 Lincoln Ave. San Jose, CA 95125
(408) 295-7851


475 E. San Carlos St.
(408) 288-5676


80 S. 1st St.
(408) 977-1333


Good Karma Vegan Café

375 S. 1st St.
(408) 294-2694

Vegetarian House

520 E. Santa Clara
(408) 292-3798

Com Ga Na Am

348 E. Santa Clara
(408) 297-3402

Pho 69

321 S. 1st St.
(408) 289-8521

Tofoo Com Chay

388 E. Santa Clara
(408) 286-6335

Coffee Houses


5237 Stevens Creek Blvd.
(408) 248-4500


118 Paseo de San Antonio
(408) 971-4212


101 E. Santa Clara
(408) 286-0577

Where are the movie theaters?

AMC Mercado 20

3111 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara
(408) 919-0282

Camera 3

288 S 2nd St., San Jose
(408) 998-3300

Camera 12

201 S 2nd St., San Jose
(408) 998-3300



Where can I buy things for my room or apartment?

Bed Bath & Beyond

5353 Almaden Expy, San Jose
(408) 264-6456

Cost Plus World Market

555 Coleman Ave., San Jose
(408) 299-0254

Marshall's (also carries clothing)

535 Coleman Ave., San Jose
(408) 275-8919


170 S. Market St., San Jose
(408) 200-7818

Target (also sells clothing, grocery and hardware items)

533 Coleman Ave., San Jose
(408) 356-2022


Where is the mall?

Eastridge Mall

2200 Eastridge Loop, San Jose
(408) 238-3600

Great Mall

477 Great Mall Drive, Milpitas
(408) 945-4022

Santana Row

377 Santana Row, San Jose
(408) 551-4611

Westfield Oakridge

925 Blossom Hill Rd., San Jose
(408) 578-2912

Westfield Valley Fair

2855 Stevens Creek Blvd., Santa Clara
(408) 248-4551


Where can I buy a mobile phone?

Mobile phones can be purchased at many retail locations. You may also choose to buy one directly through a service provider.



111 Paseo De San Antonio
(408) 462-1956


243 Willow St.
(408) 982-3108


2080 Tully Rd.
(408) 223-5030

Verizon Wireless

1150 S. King Rd. #10
(408) 347-8535


Apple Store

Westfield Oakridge
925 Blossom Hill Rd.
(408) 960-0110

Best Buy Mobile

Eastridge Mall
2200 Eastridge Loop
(408) 270-4157

Westfield Oakridge
925 Blossom Hill Rd.
(408) 972-2270


2201 Senter Rd.
(408) 275-0199


Coleman Plaza
533 Coleman Ave.
(408) 356-2022


What is banking like in San Jose?

You may want to open a bank account. A bank account is a good way to manage money, make deposits, transfer funds and obtain a debit card. Carrying a large sum of cash, or keeping large amounts of money at home is considered extremely unsafe. Here in San Jose, there are many different banks for you to choose from. While we do not endorse any bank, here is a list of some nearby branches.

US Bank

US Bank will turn your Tower Card into a Visa debit card if you sign up for a US Bank Student Checking Account. This is called the Tower Maxx Card and is a convenient option for students. The nearest branch is in Willow Glen.

Federal County Credit Union

852 N. 1st St., San Jose

Bank of America

99 South Fourth St., San Jose

Wells Fargo

121 Park Center Plaza, San Jose


55 West Santa Clara St., San Jose

Bank of the West

50 West San Fernando St., San Jose


10 Almaden Blvd., San Jose


Checking Accounts

A checking account is a payment account that you can use to pay bills or make purchases. You have easy access to your money via checks, a debit card, or online. Opening a checking account will require a personal visit to the bank. Bring your Tower Card, state ID and funds you wish to deposit. Some bank accounts charge monthly fees, so ask the banker about a "student" account that may offer lower fees, or waive the fees entirely.


Checks are rarely used anymore, except when paying rent for your apartment. This may be the only form of payment that a landlord will accept. Funds must be available in your account to cover the amount of your check or it will "bounce." Having insufficient funds to cover a check can be very costly because the bank will charge a fee, refuse to honor the check and will return it to the depositor.

Debit Cards

Debit cards are very convenient and are used more often than cash by many people. They are widely accepted and can be used for small and large purchases. Debit cards are used in conjunction with a PIN number which is personal and should not be shared with anyone. Remember, the fund in your account must cover all of your purchases or you will find your account overdrawn. Knowing your balance and spending accordingly, will help you avoid "overdraft" fees.


Your debit card allows you to get cash, make deposits, transfer funds or check your balances at any time from an ATM (automated teller machine). Money withdrawn from an ATM will be taken out of your account immediately. If you are using an ATM that belongs to a different bank, you will usually be charged a fee for the transaction. The following banks have ATMs on campus and many other are located in businesses nearby.

  • Bank of America
  • Wells Fargo
  • Bank of the West
  • Chase


Where do I go to send a letter or a package?

United States Postal Service (USPS)

200 S. 3rd St.
(408) 998-0231

201 S. 2nd St.

Fed Ex Office

93 E. San Carlos St.
(408) 295-4336

The UPS Store

88 S. 3rd St.
(408) 293-9803


How much do I tip?

Tipping, also called a gratuity, can sometimes cause confusion for visitors. In many countries, tips are either built into the bill, or are not expected. In the United States, employees in many industries rely on tips to enhance their wages, so tipping is necessary. Tipping is expected when dining out in a restaurant. However, it is not required for take-out food or for restaurants where you order food at a counter, such as a coffee shop. In some places, you may see a "tip jar" on the counter and this means that tips are certainly welcome, but not required.


15% of the bill (before tax) for satisfactory service

20% of the bill (before tax) for great service

10% of the bill (before tax) for less than satisfactory service


If you go to a restaurant with a group of six or more, you can expect an automatic gratuity of 15%-18% to be added to the bill. Always check your bill to see if it has been added, and if so, you do not need to add an additional tip.


$1-$2 per drink

Food Delivery

$2-$5 (depending on the size of the order)


15%-20% of the bill


$2 for short trips, 15%-20% for a longer trip (including luggage)


What are the nearby attractions?

Visit the City of San Jose's Places to Go, to find information about the many neighborhoods in San Jose, sites of interest to visit and the more popular Northern California cities and attractions within reach.


What can I find at San Pedro Square?

San Pedro Square is located in the oldest district of the city and is located nearby San Jose State. You will find a combination of new and old at San Pedro Square, with many offerings, including dining, entertainment and shopping.


What's happening in San Jose?

Visit Things to Do for information about local attractions, arts and entertainment.


Where can I go hiking, walking or biking?

Enjoy the weather and landscape of the San Jose area. Visit the San Jose Trail Network.


What are the local news publications?

Spartan Daily

San Jose Mercury News

Metro Newspaper


What are some apps or websites to help me get familiar with the area?


Around Me