Welcome to Oklahoma City!

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Hello and welcome to Oklahoma City - I hope you will feel at home here. Oklahoma City may not be the most glamorous city, but it is a friendly city and a very nice place to live.  I created this page to help my foreign friends adjust to life in Oklahoma, and the United States.   I hope you will love it like I do! 

Here are the topics you'll find on this page: 




Things to Do




Oklahoma City is a big city - when measuring by area, that is.  Oklahoma City covers 621 square miles.  However, I know that miles mean nothing to most 
of my international friends!  This is more area than Houston, Atlanta, or New York City.   We are fortunate to have a well-designed road system which
makes driving across the whole city a 20- minute trip.  Unless you are caught in the evening traffic rush or road construction, of course! 

According to Wikipedia, OKC ranks 8th largest in the nation by land area, and 30th in the nation for the number of residents.  According to the 2010 
census, the population of Oklahoma City was 580,000 people.  

You will often hear people speak of "the Metro area" when talking about Oklahoma City.  This is an abbreviation for Metropolitan Area and describes OKC
plus the surrounding counties.  This includes Edmond, Moore, and Norman and many other surrounding towns.  The metro area contains 1.2 million people. 
That makes it the largest metropolitan area in the state of Oklahoma.

I encourage you to read more about your new home town on Wikipedia.  I would also encourage you to read more about the founding of the city during 
the Land Run of 1889. It was founded in an incredibly unique way.  On the day the city was founded it grew to a population of over 10,000 people 
within hours - amazing!  

More State Info

The original residents of the USA were the American Indians.  There are still
many Native Americans in the United States today, and quite a lot of them 
live in Oklahoma.  We are proud of our Indian heritage here.  I'm Cherokee! 

The name Oklahoma has meaning that is based in our Native American 
roots also.  It is derived from the Choctaw Indian words okla (red) and 
humma (people) - so the name means red people. "Red" is a color often
used to describe the color of an American Indian's skin, although it looks
brown to me.  

In America, in addition to our American flag, each state also has its own
flag.  The Oklahoma State Flag (shown at right) features the Osage tribe's
warrior's shield.  Across the shield are an olive branch and a peace pipe 
with seven eagle feathers hanging from the shield - these symbolize peace. 


This is our state flag.  

The state bird is the Sissor-tailed Flycatcher.  It is a beautiful bird. 


Fun Facts

The capitol building at 23rd and Lincoln is the only capitol in the nation with a working oil well on its grounds.

OKC has been ranked as the Most Affordable American City by Forbes Magazine and the city with the Lowest Unemployment Rate in the Nation 
by US Census Bureau.

Major employers in the area include oil & gas companies, Tinker Air Force Base, and The University of Oklahoma. 

Oklahoma City is 1,285 feet above sea level; has an average annual rainfall of 32 inches per year; and an average of more than 300 days of sunshine per year. 



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The streets in Oklahoma City are arranged in a grid system that makes it very easy to find your way around.  I have created a map below to help
you understand the way the address system works. 



In downtown OKC, somewhere near Reno Ave and Lincoln
Blvd is the "zero point" of the grid.  Street numbers begin 
counting from 1 in both directions.  House numbers 
count upward in groups of 100 per city block. 

I have drawn a diagram below to help explain this better.
Once you learn the logic behind the address system,
you can know where many addresses are located without
need of a map or GPS - you will impress your friends with
this cool trick!!


Getting Around 

OK, I'll be honest - the public transportation system in OKC leaves a lot 
to be desired.  Many of you came from cities where you did not need a 
car because public transportation was so convenient.  That is not the case
in OKC.  The truth is, it is very hard to live here if you cannot drive. 

But that doesn't mean it is hopeless!  You will learn the bus system, you
will make friends who have cars, and you will find lots of things near OCU
that is within easy walking distance.  View the bus information at GoMetro.

The city has a plan in place to add 6 miles of new sidewalks to the city 
starting immediately.  More sidewalks will be planned for the future as well.  
There are also plans for a streetcar system downtown. It will extend to
NW 11th & Classen which is less than 2 miles from OCU.  This would
make downtown and Bricktown more accessible for students who walk
or ride a bike.


Here are numbers for a few taxi companies around town:

Thunder Cab   (405) 600-6161 
Yellow Cab     (405) 232-6161 
Metro Taxi      (405) 619-7977


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There are lots of options for food in Oklahoma City.  We have many different kinds of restaurants, 
and quite a few grocery stores that carry International foods.  The food is not going to be exactly 
like what you had at home - that's just a fact of life.  

I encourage you to use your time in America to experience as many different styles of food as possible.  
You can take a culinary trip around the world while staying right here in OKC.  You may never again 
have such a great opportunity to try food from all over the world - enjoy it! 



There is at least one grocery store near OCU that carries a good selection of International foods:  


Another grocery store near OCU is the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, 
which is smaller than a Wal-Mart Super Center, but offers very good prices. 
It is north of NW 23rd St, just west of N Penn Ave.  




There are so many fun an interesting restaurants in town. I will list some restaurant review sites, and will give a list of some of the types of 
food you should try. 
  • Mexican (most American's favorite food!)
  • Chinese
  • Indian
  • Mediterranean/Middle Eastern
  • Thai
  • Ethopian
  • Cajun / Creole



Urban Spoon often has pictures of the food and menus which can 
be a big help when you're not sure what kind of food a place will have. 

Restaurant reviews by "The Food Dude"



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Things to Do


OKC Visitors Bureau- This site has a LOT of information about things 
to do in and around Oklahoma City.  

Metro Family Magazine - This site is geared toward families with kids
but I think it has a lot of great ideas for fun things to do in the city.

Travel OK - Links and information about the attractions of our area.

Bricktown is a popular historic entertainment area which boasts many
attractions and restaurants in a small area that is convenient for walking.
Here are two sites for it:  Welcome to BricktownBricktown OKC

A fun neighborhood called the Paseo Arts District, host a fun event 
the first of every month.  You can tour the art galleries and enjoy free 
food - every student's favorite kind of food!  This happens the first Friday 
each month from 6pm to 10pm and on Saturday from 12pm to 6pm.



There is an area of OKC named "The Adventure District" which contains
the Zoo, the hands on Science Museum, a racetrack, and more.  

Chesapeake Arena - This is a large stadium in Bricktown which hosts
most of the major events in OKC.  Also the home of the OKC Thunder

Each week the newspaper lists upcoming activities here

A nice cheap night out can be found at Oklahoma Shakespeare in the 
theater events. 

The Myriad Botanical Gardens host free concerts, movies, and other events.

Here's one more link to some of the area events. 


Making Friends

There are many people in Oklahoma City who feel a special love for
International Students.  We want to make you feel welcome and to
help your experience here be the best it can be.  You can get connected
with some of these people in the following ways: 

OCU Baptist Collegiate Ministry - Located right beside the campus at 
23rd & Kentucky, this is a great place for International students.  Each
week during the school year they host a free lunch on Tuesday.
Please come!  They also have English practice sessions and field trips
throughout the year.  They host a weekly Conversation Cafe at 
Cuppies & Joe on Tuesday nights.  It is a great place to make American 
friends!  You can find out more about them at one of the free Tuesday lunches 
at the BCM building.   

NW Baptist Church - This is a large in the area which is the home church for 
many Internationals.  It also has a Mandarin Church and Korean Church as
part of the larger congregation.  They also have home groups and special events.  

Heritage Baptist Church - This church has a very active International 
ministry focused on helping International students with their English, 
and including them in special field trips and other fun events.  



If your idea of making friends includes the furry kind, be sure to visit my friends at the OKC Humane Society.


OKC Riversport near Bricktown has many exciting things to do.  They
offer water sports (kayaks and canoes) and walking/biking trails.  You 
can rent the boats and bikes if you do not have your own. 

For even more fun try the SandRidge Sky Trail - the tallest adventure 
course of its kind.  Or try the Sky Slide, the tallest slide in America.  
There is also a zip line which will make you feel like you are flying!  

Rocktown rock climbing gym offers classes to teach you the basics
of rock climbing.  Bring a friend - rock climbing is done in pairs.  


Must-See Local Activities

There are a few things that you will only find in a few parts of the world,
and OKC happens to be one of them.  You should experience those 
things while you have the chance!  

Rodeo - Rodeos are a lot of fun, and they are something that most of my
International friends have never seen.  Your best chance of seeing one in
this area is at Lazy E arena.  It is a long drive, but worth the trip! 

Pow Wow - A Pow Wow is a Native American dance gathering which
usually includes arts and crafts sales too.  It is an amazing experience.
The biggest pow wow in the state, Red Earth, is held in OKC every June.
You can also find a calendar of dances here.

Monster Trucks - The Monster Truck jam comes to OKC every February.
It's crazy cars doing crazy things, you should probably just look at the
site because I can't explain it!  



Further Out

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
I simply cannot recommend this place highly enough as a great 
spot for a weekend trip.  There are many animals here that you
may never get a chance to see otherwise - and you can see them
up close!  Like buffalo, longhorn cattle, elk, and prairie dogs.

It is about a 2 hour drive from OKC to the visitor center inside the 
park.  You could easily spend a whole day here, and you should.

The park is full of hiking trails, picnic spots, and beautiful drives.
You should also check out the cute little town of Medicine Park
which is just outside of the park.  You will love this trip!!  


These are pictures I have taken in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge


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There are a few dangers in the area that should not frighten you, you just need to be aware of them. By the time you get to the end of this section 
you may want to pack your suitcase and return to your home country.  Please don't be discouraged!  It is better to be prepared for something that 
will probably never happen than to be surprised by something which could have been avoided.  


Tornado Safety 

Tornados can be serious business in Oklahoma, so it pays to 
learn how best to prepare for them. Tornado season is from March
through May.  

We have some very talented weather forecasters who are usually 
able to predict the path of storms very accurately.  If you know 
where you are on a map and have access to a weather broadcast, 
you can find out exactly where the storm will go so that you can 
prepare for it. 

Please be aware - every Saturday at noon (if the weather is nice) the city 
tests the tornado sirens.  Please don't be scared of this!  But if you hear those
sirens at any other time than Saturday at noon, you should take precautions.


Be aware of some of the online weather resources for information.  
Sometimes the power goes out when a storm approaches
so it is good to know how to find information on a smart phone. 

News Channel 4's live weather coverage can be found by searching 
for, "KFOR Live Streaming".  Find Channel 9's coverage by 
searching for, "News9 Live Stream".  
Factoid:  Tornado Alley refers to a strip of land going north to south 
that covers the northern region of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, 
Nebraska, Iowa, the eastern edge of Colorado, southwest tip of 
South Dakota and the southern edge of Minnesota. Tornadoes 
in this area typically occur in the late spring.
Preparation sites:  FEMA -> http://www.ready.gov/tornadoes 
Red Cross -> http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/tornado 
OKC -> http://www.okc.gov/prepare 
Please be aware that the tornado sirens sound each time a new warning
has been issued.  There is no "all clear" signal.  Take shelter on the lowest
level of your home in an interior room.  


Flash Floods

Another weather danger we sometimes see are flash floods.  This happens
when we get a very heavy rain. People can sometimes be hurt by driving 
into deep or flowing water.  According to Wikipedia, it only takes 2 feet of
fast flowing water to sweep an SUV off the road.

Avoid driving in flash flood conditions.  Do not drive into flowing water.  

If you are on foot, do not take cover in a culvert.  
A culvert is a large drain that allows water to flow under a road.  


Spiders & Snakes

There are two types of spiders in Oklahoma which are poisonous. 
These are Brown Recluse (also called Fiddleback) and Black Widow.
Here is a link to more information about these and other spiders you
may see in Oklahoma. 

Here is a great article about spider bites from The Oklahoman.

Snakes generally only live in the rural areas, not in Oklahoma City.
However, you should know that there are some dangerous
snakes in Oklahoma .  This is a web site with more information
about these snakes:  http://www.noble.org/ag/wildlife/snakes/ 

Don't worry!  You won't likely see these critters in the city.
I just want you to know they exist so that you will be prepared. 


General Safety

Oklahoma City is a relatively safe city, but as an any city, there are
certain precautions that everyone should take.  Safety Tips:  
  • Avoid walking on dark streets at night.  Choose a well-lit 
    path even if it means a longer walk. 
  • Be alert, be aware of where you are and who is around you.  
    Just paying attention can help avoid any incidents.  
  • Never accept a ride from a stranger.
  • Respect your intuition.  Intuition is that feeling you get but 
    you don't know why. If it signals danger, trust it and act on it.  

If you feel concerned while on campus, the Oklahoma City University 
Police Department has an escort service they provide to students 
day or night. Just call them at 405-208-5001. 


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