Woods Hole Scientific Community
Other scientific institutions located in Woods Hole are the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Sea Education Association, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Woods Hole Research Center, and the United States Geological Survey.
The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is an international center for research, education, and training in biology. It’s aspiration is to have a disproportionate impact on the advancement of the biological sciences towards improving the human condition. The oldest private marine laboratory in the Western Hemisphere, the MBL currently supports a year-round staff of more than 275 scientists and support staff working in such fields as cell and developmental biology, ecology, microbiology, molecular evolution, global infectious disease, neurobiology, aquaculture, and sensory physiology. Each summer, an additional 1400 scientists and advanced students from around the world come to the MBL to collaborate, study and conduct research, often using the diverse and abundant marine organisms found in local waters for their research models. The laboratory's educational program, which consists of six major summer courses and approximately one dozen special topics courses throughout the year, plays a significant role in training the world's experimental biologists.
The Sea Education Association (SEA) provides undergraduate students with an opportunity to participate in an academic study-abroad program called the SEA Semester. The onshore/at sea program combines intensive research in the areas of oceanography, maritime studies, and nautical science with hands-on experience aboard a traditional sailing ship. Piloting, celestial navigation, and practical seamanship are learned together with oceanographic sampling techniques and marine laboratory procedures. Critical thinking, problem-solving, team-building and leadership skills are emphasized throughout the program.
The Woods Hole Research Center addresses the great issues of environment through scientific research and education and through applications of science in public affairs. The Center maintains continuing research projects in the tropical forests of Brazil and Central Africa, in the boreal forest of Siberia - the largest forested region on earth - and in the forests of our own New England. The Policy Program works in the international arena to foster agreement on ways to safeguard the health of the planet. The Education Program involves training the coming leaders of environmental science in Brazil and Russia and post-doctoral research by American scholars.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is the federal agency with stewardship responsibility for the living marine resources in the United States. The Woods Hole branch of NMFS accommodates both the Woods Hole Laboratory Research Divisions and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center Directorate. The Center provides overall management and direction for the five laboratories located in the Northeast Region. The Woods Hole Laboratory conducts research on fisheries resources and on marine mammals and other protected resources in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. The laboratory is the world’s oldest facility specifically dedicated to marine fisheries research and currently houses a public and research aquarium that is open to visitors year round. It is also home port for two research vessels, the R/V Albatross IV and R/V Delaware II.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is an independent agency the collects, monitors, analyzes and provides scientific understanding about natural resource conditions, issues and problems. Located on WHOI’s Quissett Campus is the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program. The Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Geology Team is one of three marine teams that conduct research within this Program. USGS earth scientists explore and study many aspects of the underwater areas between shorelines and the deep ocean, off the U.S. East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and in parts of the Caribbean and Great Lakes. Research specific to the Woods Hole team focuses on four general themes: environmental quality and preservation, natural hazards and public safety, natural resources and public information. This team also provides several specialized technologies to assist oceanographic research. The USGS in Woods Hole works with more than 30 research institutions, agencies, and universities within the Woods Hole scientific community, the nation and the world.
Geography & Climate
Geography: The village of Woods Hole in which WHOI is located is a part of the town of Falmouth, which is located on the southwest corner of Cape Cod within Barnstable County. Most WHOI employees live in the town of Falmouth. Maps of Cape Cod and Falmouth/Woods Hole can be found at this website www.capecodtravelguide.com/cape-cod-maps.php. Falmouth is bordered on two sides by large bodies of water, Buzzards Bay to the west, Vineyard and Nantucket sounds to the south, and bordered on the north and east by the towns of Bourne, Sandwich and Mashpee. These communities, including Falmouth, make up the area known as the Upper Cape.
The town of Falmouth contains eight villages: Falmouth Center, East Falmouth, West Falmouth, North Falmouth, Hatchville, Teaticket, Waquoit and Woods Hole. Each village has its own post office and four have elementary schools. Falmouth is a well developed but rural coastal town with a winter population of about 31,905. The resort appeal of the area pushes the summer population to over 93,000. Falmouth contains about 49 square miles, including 1740 acres of freshwater ponds and about 1500 acres of sheltered salt water bays and harbors. Twelve of the town's 68 miles of seashore are sandy beaches where the mean tidal range is two to four feet.
Like much of Cape Cod, Falmouth owes its geologic character to glaciers which melted away some 12,000 years ago. They left behind a backbone of moraine--low-lying hills of glacial debris--running from Woods Hole to North Falmouth, generally along the route of the main highway (Route 28). To the south and east, sloping toward Nantucket Sound, is outwash plain, formed of sand and silt carried seaward by rivers from the melting glaciers. As it built up, the outwash plain was furrowed by these rivers into what is now the series of long, narrow salt ponds along the south shore of the town. Throughout Cape Cod, the landscape is dotted with small ponds or "kettle holes"-- depressions caused by isolated blocks of glacial ice that eventually melted away. The coastline has been changed since glacial times by rising sea level and the ongoing action of waves and coastal currents.
Climate: Falmouth's climate is influenced by the temperate climate of southern New England, made more moderate by the surrounding ocean which prevents extremes of heat and cold. New England winters are quite cold (December - March) with daytime temperatures often dropping below 32ºF (0ºC). Winter and spring snowfalls are often mixed with rain and deep accumulations are unusual. During cold weather you will hear reports about the "wind chill factor." The wind chill is the temperature of still air that would have the same effect on exposed skin as a given combination of wind speed and air temperature. The lower the air temperature and the stronger the wind, the lower the wind chill factor. Wind chill factors below 10ºF (-12º'C) are relatively rare, but they do occur. To be comfortably dressed in the winter (November to March) you will need warm outer clothing and boots. Unless you own these items, it is usually easier and more economical to purchase winter clothing after you arrive here. For a list of retail stores in the Falmouth area see the section on shopping. Good quality used clothing is available at lower prices especially at exchange shops (operated by churches or hospitals), and used clothing stores.
In summer the average temperature of both land and sea is 65ºF to 75ºF, and there are usually three to five days of fog each summer month along the shore. Lightweight clothing is appropriate for the warm, humid summers. Except for the rare tropical hurricane in late summer, the most severe storm is the Northeaster which brings heavy rain and high winds and tides in any season.
Managing Your Money
Banks and Banking Services: It is a good idea to have a bank draft forwarded from your own country, in advance if possible, to a local bank in order to cover initial expenses. Your money would then be payable upon proper identification. Be sure to bring your passport to the bank and, for wiring funds (which tends to be expensive), be sure to use your name exactly as it appears on your passport. If you bring a check with you and deposit it at a local bank, it can take two to four weeks to have access to that money.
Falmouth has several banks, but the only local bank with a branch in Woods Hole is Bank of America. You may wire funds in U.S. dollars to Bank of America, Woods Hole Branch.
Opening an Account: Most banks offer many different types of personal account services for checking and savings. To open any kind of bank account, go to the bank of your choice and tell the receptionist that you would like to open an account. You will be directed to a person who can assist you in deciding what kind of account to open and how to complete the paperwork. For short-term visitors, a checking account (called a "current account" in many countries) will be the best kind of account to open. Most banks will request either your passport or your social security number before you are permitted to open an account. Some banks will require both. For a list of banks in Falmouth see our useful links section.
Automated teller machines (ATM) provide 24 hour access to your funds. Ask the person at the bank for an explanation of the service. The Woods Hole branch of Bank of America is open all year round but with limited winter schedule. An ATM is available all year round.
If you receive a biweekly or monthly check from WHOI, you may choose to have WHOI direct deposit the check into a bank account in your name, saving you a trip to the bank to deposit the check into your account.
This can be arranged through your department administrator or Human Resources
Credit Cards: It is very useful to obtain a major credit card such as Visa or Mastercard before you arrive. Some employees may obtain a WHOI Corporate VISA Card for business purposes (information is available through the WHOI Controller's Office). Many stores honor credit cards and most car rental companies will only rent a car to you if you have a major credit card. In order to apply for a major credit card while in the U.S., you will need a credit history from your home country.
Numerous public agencies and private organizations serve the health and social service needs of Falmouth's citizens. Neither an inclusive list nor full descriptions of services can be presented here, but the local newspaper, The Falmouth Enterprise published on Tuesdays and Fridays, lists counselling services, support groups, clubs, relief agencies, walk-in clinics, libraries, places of worship, as well as information on recycling, garbage collection and hours for the town landfill. The information offered below is geared for the newcomer to our town who may not be familiar with public or private services.
Health Care & Medical Expenses
Medical Care and Health Services: There is no national medical care program or national insurance program in the United States. This means that medical costs in the U.S are very high and that they must be paid by the individual incurring them. Individuals can buy health and accident insurance which will pay some of their medical expenses. Insurance through your own country may provide some coverage for you and your family while in the U.S. This should be considered and clarified before you encounter a medical emergency in the U.S. You may qualify to participate in one of WHOI's health insurance programs (see below).
General Medical Care: It is common for families in the U.S. to select a doctor or dentist in the community whom they visit when they need examinations or medical care. You may wish to ask someone you have met here to recommend a doctor or dentist, or you may consult the yellow pages of the telephone directory under "Physicians" or "Dentists", or you may contact the Falmouth Hospital (with whom most of the town's physicians are affiliated) to see which doctors have openings for new patients. Your insurance provider may also have a list of physicians from which to choose, as dictated by the terms of their health program. Internists or family practice physicians are most commonly chosen for the general medical care of adults, and pediatricians for the care of children.
The Falmouth Hospital is a private community hospital serving Falmouth, Mashpee, Bourne and Sandwich. The hospital's medical staff has almost 150 physicians and surgeons including specialists in most areas. Patient care is provided by more than 500 nurses and about 600 other technical and service workers. The hospital's emergency room, staffed by physicians under private contract, is used by many residents and vacationers for their primary health care.
Emergency Care: In case of emergencies, there is a special number to call, 911, which will bring an ambulance, firemen, or policemen to your location very quickly. An operator will ask you to describe the nature of the emergency and state your location so she can get the necessary help for you.
If you are at work at WHOI, there are several emergency medical technicians on staff who will come to your aid when a call is placed to 2911.
Home Care: The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Upper Cape Cod is a nonprofit health agency that provides health care to residents of Falmouth, Mashpee, Bourne, and Sandwich. Its professional staff of more than 60 makes over 30,000 home visits each year. Referrals to the VNA are made by family, physicians, hospitals, and other agencies. Services are provided in accordance with physician's orders.
Pre-Natal, Maternity Care, and Family Planning: In the U.S. a woman usually goes to a doctor (obstetrician) or to a clinic for regular check-ups during her pregnancy, and has the doctor deliver the baby in a hospital. Most health insurance plans cover such pre-natal care and the medical and hospital costs associated with delivering a baby. As part of a town-financed health program, a VNA nurse specializing in maternal and child care will contact all families of newborn infants to offer support and guidance. Most new mothers receive at least one or two home visits from the VNA nurse.
Family planning information (including information about contraception or birth control) is available through your family physician or through family planning information centers listed in the telephone directory's yellow pages. These centers offer counselling, referral services, and pregnancy testing.
Health Insurance at WHOI: International arrivals who are full-time salaried WHOI employees can enroll in WHOI's medical insurance plan and pay the employee's share of the premium. Guest Investigators and Guest Students, however, are not WHOI employees and are generally unable to enroll in the WHOI insurance plan. Such coverage should be maintained through your current employer or university.
If you choose to continue your out-of-country medical
coverage, you may have to pay for medical service you receive
in the U.S. at the time of the service and then be reimbursed
by your country's medical service or insurance carrier. You should
check with your national medical service or insurance carrier
regarding their claims procedures before you arrive in the U.S.
in order to protect yourself and family in the event of an illness
or accident in this country. For more information on WHOI medical
coverage, contact your Benefits Specialist in the HR department
or view the benefits
information at the HR site
If you are coming to the U.S. as a J-1 Exchange Visitor, you will be required to have health insurance for you and your family. The United States Department of State (DOS), who administers the Exchange Visitor Program, has set standards for minimum health coverage. Contact Beth Andrews for more information.
Selected Patient Information Resources in Asian Languages (SPIRAL): SPIRAL, a resource from Tufts University’s Health Sciences Library, has detailed health information in seven Asian languages, specifically Chinese, Hmong, Khmer, Korean, Laotian, Thai and Vietnamese. It is a unique multi-language health information site because it is for both physicians and patients. Segmented by language and by subject, a user - either a patient, doctor or other caregiver -- can search for documents in an Asian language on topics such as asthma, diabetes, nutrition, substance abuse, SARS and HIV/AIDS. A native speaker of an Asian language would go to the main web site, select his/her language, and then search for the information that was needed. Material is also provided in English so that an English-speaking physician or caregiver can see what patients are reading.
Religion does not play the dominant role in the United States that it does in some other countries, for example, in Muslim countries or in countries where Catholicism is the official religion. There is no official religion or established church that is supported by the government. The doctrine of "separation of church and state" is widely respected, and religion is generally considered a private matter.
Foreign students and scholars who are Christian or Jewish and who want to join a church or synagogue here can simply look up appropriate addresses and phone numbers in the yellow pages of the telephone directory or refer to the listings in this Guide. Those representing other faiths may seek out other foreign nationals who share their beliefs and ask how they go about practicing their religion in the Cape Cod area.
If you wish to see what happens in an American church you can simply attend a service or go with an acquaintance who attends a particular church or synagogue. The Falmouth Enterprise publishes a directory every Friday of the observances and current activities of the various religious groups in the greater Falmouth area.
LISTINGS OF LOCAL PLACES OF WORSHIP
This is only a brief list; a more complete list may be found in the Friday edition of the Falmouth Enterprise.
In a summer resort town such as Falmouth, the beaches are a major part of recreational programs provided for the local citizens and summer visitors. There are town or WHOI beaches within walking distance of each campus. The Quissett campus has recreational facilities at the rear of the Clark Laboratory: a baseball field, volleyball court, tennis court, and portable basketball hoops.
Some of the town's major outdoor recreation areas are:
For a listing of places of interest on Cape Cod, Marthas Vineyard, Nantucket and the Boston see below. Places of interest include museums, parks, aquaria, zoos and whale watching.
Passes to many local and Boston-area museums are
available at the Falmouth Public Library (located off Palmer Ave on Carlson Lane). Most admit
two to four people without charge, but some have a small charge
or 1/2 price admission. It is recommended that you call the library
in advance to make a reservation for the pass(es) you want to
use (457-2555). You will need your WHOI ID card to get
services from the Library.
Cape Cod Area Museums
Urban Area Museums (amounts listed are admission prices WITH library pass)
Other Items of Local Interest
Other Cape Parks, Museums and Things-to-Do
Information about other Cape Towns
Each of the Cape towns has a Chamber of Commerce where information specifically about that town is available. Telephone numbers are listed in the telephone directory business pages under the town's name (e.g. Hyannis Chamber of Commerce). For extensive information about towns' facilities and events, see www.capecodusa.com.
Visiting the Islands
Woods Hole/Falmouth is accessible by bus and car with major connections through Boston, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island. The Peter Pan Bus Line services Woods Hole and Falmouth from downtown Boston and Boston's Logan International Airport, and from Providence's T. F. Green Airport. Bus schedules are available at the Woods Hole Steamship Authority terminal and at the bus depot in Falmouth as well as by calling the bus company at 1-888-751-8800. The Plymouth & Brockton street railway company offers connections between Boston and Provincetown via the Sagamore bridge. Local public transportation is limited. For around town, taxi cab service is available. Summer shuttles operate between the end of June and early September. One of these is the Breeze, which travels between Hyannis and Woods Hole (via Falmouth). Between towns on Cape Cod there is a limited bus service on SeaLine Transit.
In warmer weather, a bicycle is a feasible means of transport for getting around Falmouth and Woods Hole. The International Committee owns a limited number of bicycles which can be loaned to new employees on a short-term basis until they secure a more permanent form of transportation (call your international committee member to request a bicycle loan).
Cars--Owning and Operating, Getting a Driver's License
The following information regarding regulations, fees and procedures may have changed since written. For up-to-date information, please visit the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) web site.
Massachusetts Driver's License
A valid driver's license is required to drive a car in the United States. The International Convention on Road Traffic of 1949 allows for individuals on nonimmigrant visas, whose home countries are signatories of the convention, to drive for up to one year from their date of first entry with a driver's license which has been issued by their home country. Call the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Boston at 617-351-9000 to find out if your home country is a signatory of the convention. After one year from first entry, all nonimmigrant visa holders are required to obtain a Massachusetts driver's license in order to drive legally in Massachusetts. When you buy a car, you must get a Massachusetts driver's license. Please note that a driver's license is widely used as a form of identification for writing checks, entering bars, etc., and may be convenient to have. If your driver's license is not in English, a translation should be attached. It is also recommended that you have an international driver's license.
Massachusetts Identification Cards
It is also possible to obtain an identification card similar to a driver's license, but not valid for driving. To obtain this plastic identification card, take your passport or birth certificate to the Registry of Motor Vehicles AND two other forms of identification, such as your WHOI ID card, checkbook, cancelled check, bank book, credit card with photo on it, credit card receipt, cancelled rent check, or phone bill. The Registry also recommends bringing either mortgage or lease papers to prove Massachusetts residency. You must complete an application. There is a fee. The Registry of Motor Vehicles will take your picture and issue you a Massachusetts Identification Card. THIS IS NOT A DRIVER'S LICENSE. For more information call the Registry at 800-858-3926 or search their web site: http://www.state.ma.us/rmv/.
Buying a Car
Owning a car in Massachusetts is expensive. Often, car-related expenses far exceed the price you actually pay for the car. When you buy a car, you will have to purchase car insurance, register your car with the State of Massachusetts and have your car inspected. Before buying a used car you should have a mechanic examine the car. Massachusetts does not have a "Buyer's Right to Return Law" which allows the buyer of a used car to return it for a full refund under certain conditions. A useful web site when searching for a used car is: http://www.edmunds.com.
Renting a Car
Instead of buying a car, you may prefer to rent a car. You can look in the yellow pages of the telephone book under "Automobile Renting and Leasing". There are several locations in the Falmouth area. You will need a driver's license and a major credit car. Prices vary between companies. Some companies have a daily fee and other companies have both a daily fee and an additional charge for each mile driven. Always check insurance charges prior to renting a car.
Seatbelts are required by Massachusetts law, and children under the age of 5 must be secured in a car by an approved child car-seat. The Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance plan (available through WHOI) provides car seats at reduced costs to its subscribers. The Visiting Nurse Association may have infant and toddler car seats available for short-term use; and such car seats can often be purchased inexpensively at yard sales or borrowed from other families whose children have grown. After a child turns 5 years of age (or weighs over 40 lbs.), he or she must be secured by a standard car seat belt.
WHOI Shuttle Bus:
A shuttle bus operates at no charge between the two WHOI campuses (the Village campus and the Quissett campus which are 2 miles apart) on Monday-Friday 3 times per hour (between 7:40 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.). The shuttle leaves Clark lab at the Quissett campus at 10 minutes after the hour, on the half hour, and at 10 minutes before the hour (e.g., 9:50, 10:10, 10:30); the shuttle leaves the Village from the Dyer's Dock/Water Street parking lot opposite the Redfield building on the hour, 20 minutes after the hour, and 20 minutes before the hour (e.g., 10:00, 10:20, 10:40).
Police & Law Inforcement
Local Police: Police have different roles in different countries. The main role of the Falmouth Police Department is to perform certain social services for Falmouth residents. Also, a common police activity is giving parking tickets to people who have parked their cars in illegal places or have parked "overtime" in metered parking places. Police also expect residents to ask their help with such matters as lost or stolen property, noisy neighbors, and "suspicious activity" they witness in their neighborhoods.
However, the main responsibility of police officers is to enforce Falmouth ordinances (local laws). Some of the ordinances that are most strictly enforced involve liquor and driving.
The local police do not work for the U.S. government or any of its branches (such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS)). They do not spy or investigate for the U.S. government or any foreign government.
If a person is convicted of violating a law, that person's name and the nature of the violation will be recorded in the police department. This is called a police record. A person will have a police record for committing minor violations as well as criminal violations. A person's police record can be made available to certain government authorities if they request it.
A copy of the ordinances and laws that govern Falmouth residents is available at the Falmouth Public Library.
Federal Law Enforcement Agencies: The federal agency responsible for enforcing immigration laws is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). No other agency shares responsibility for acting in cases where aliens might have violated the terms of their immigration status. Federal regulation requires non-immigrants to answer any questions asked of them by USCIS officers, no matter what the subject.
Another federal agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has responsibilities that may sometimes lead to the questioning of foreign students and scholars. Foreign students and scholars are not required to answer any questions from the FBI unless the agent has obtained a court order (called a subpoena) mandating a reply. If an FBI agent wants to ask you questions and does not have a subpoena, you may refuse. Doing so will not affect your immigration status. If you are contacted by the FBI and are uncertain how to respond, consult your advisor, sponsor or the WHOI Human Resources Office for assistance.
Holidays in the United States: State & National Holidays
The following table lists most U.S. holidays including legal holidays (when State and U.S. government offices as well as schools are closed) and business holidays (when many businesses except some drugstores, service stations, and food stores) are closed. Some holidays on the list are not celebrated throughout the United States and not all are celebrated by everyone. Some holidays are only for members of certain religions; others are for particular groups, such as lovers or children.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution policy instructs that those observed holidays falling on Saturdays will be celebrated on the preceding Friday and those falling on Sunday will be celebrated on the following Monday.
(Adapted in part from Wernick, A., 1992.The International Student Handbook. A Legal Guide to Studying, Working and Living in the United States. American Immigration Law Foundation.)
Food: Falmouth has three large grocery stores which carry all types of food products, including produce, meats, bakery items. We have a few small bakeries and produce stores, but generally, most people use the all-inclusive markets. These markets are Stop and Shop on Jones Road, Shaws in the Falmouth Mall, and Windfall Market on Scranton Avenue.
Clothing: A large mall with many clothing, shoe, and other types of stores is located in Hyannis, about 22 miles away. Two smaller malls are located in Falmouth and Mashpee (Mashpee Commons), a neighboring town. For clothing size conversions: