Living in Memphis

Practical Hints for Living in Memphis

General Tips

You should always carry some form of I.D. (your University I.D. is best on campus) and know your phone number and complete address. You will often be asked to present this information.

English Slang

English slang can take time to learn. Americans use slang frequently in everyday life. It's ok to ask people the meaning of the slang expression (and you may find that Americans cannot define slang terms easily!)

  • BE CAUTIOUS- ALWAYS - of using derogatory words referring to a person's race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, and age. Even if you hear words in movies or songs that you think are cool, be sure to check their meaning. Rhodes is serious about diversity and inclusion and will not tolerate harrassing or biased language.
  • Here is the College's complete Committment to Diversity: "A diverse learning community is a necessary element of a residential liberal arts education. We, the members of the Rhodes College community, are committed to creating a community where diversity is valued and welcomed. To that end, Rhodes College does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender identity or expression, color, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and national or ethnic origin, and will not tolerate harassment or discrimination on those bases. We are committed to providing an open learning environment. Freedom of thought, a healthy exchange of ideas, and an appreciation of diverse perspectives are fundamental characteristics of a community of scholars. To promote such an academic and social environment we expect integrity and honesty in our relationships with each other and openness to learning about and experiencing cultural diversity. We believe that these qualities are crucial to fostering social and intellectual maturity. Intellectual maturity also requires individual struggle with unfamiliar ideas. We recognize that our views and convictions will be challenged, and we expect this challenge to take place in a climate of tolerance and mutual respect."

Time zones in the USA

We cross 4 time zones, so be aware of the time differences when calling other parts of the country, especially the East and West coasts. 9am in Memphis is only 6am in California!

Tornado Siren

Every week, Memphis tests their tornado sirens on a regularly scheduled basis. The siren is tested every Wednesday at 3:30pm. You will hear these tests, but don't be alarmed. However, when a tornado warning has been issued by the Weather Service, the tornado sirens will sound, indicating that you should take cover immediately because a tornado has been seen in the area.

Things to do in Memphis are not hard to find if you know where to look

  • The Memphis Flyer is a free community newspaper distributed every Wednesday which contains information on many events taking place in Memphis. Available around Memphis.
  • The Commercial Appeal, the main Memphis newspaper, prints a weekend entertainment guide every Friday called Playbook. Playbook has restaurant listings every 3 months and contains a restaurant review every Friday. The paper can be bought around Memphis. Subscriptions are also available.


If you are going to a nice restaurant on Friday or Saturday night, you will probably want to make a reservation at the restaurant for a specific time so that when you arrive you will not have to wait in line. If you don't have a reservation, you may have to wait a long time for a table (call the restaurant to see if they suggest making a reservation).  For a list of Memphis-area restaurants, check out the Memphis Dining website.

Take-out boxes ("doggie bags") are used, even at "nice" restaurants, when you want to take the rest of your food home with you. This is perfectly acceptable and normal in the U.S. You can't use a "doggie bag" at a buffet.

Buffet restaurants

Buffet restaurants let you pay a set price and then you get to eat as much as you want. Don't share meals when you go to a buffet.

International Foods

Look online for restaurants or grocery stores selling the variety of food you love to eat - there's a chance that Memphis has it!

Department stores

Sears, Wal-Mart, Target, and K-Mart carry lots of different merchandise from clothing to furniture to food at very reasonable prices.


Memphis has lots of movie theaters which show new movies, but we want to especially mention Malco's Studio on the Square in Overton Square, Midtown, which shows foreign and alternative movies.

Living Off-Campus - Utilities

To have your apartment utilities (electricity, gas and water) turned on, you must call the Memphis Light, Gas & Water (MLGW) Customer Service line at 544-6549. MLGW does require a Social Security number; however, you should be able to establish service initially by showing your passport, I-20, I-94, and Rhodes I.D. card and then supplying your Social Security number to MLGW as soon as you receive it. You will receive one monthly bill covering usage of electricity, water, gas, sewer, and garbage/recycling pick-up.

*This Information is used with permission from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center Office of International Affairs*