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60

From a social standpoint, I wouldn't expect it to be a problem unless you make it a problem. The USA is incredibly diverse; people end up here from all sorts of places for all kinds of reasons, including people from countries that are ostensibly 'enemies' of the US. On top of that, as a Russian, you have the added advantage of not being visibly distinctive ...


38

My girlfriend who is Russian did a J-1 last year. Nothing special happened, she had great time there. Most Americans don't care whether you come from Russia or Peru. And if you don't talk politics with people you'll have no issue whatsoever(like everywhere). There was a lot of noise in the US media regarding Russia and Georgia when Russian troops invaded ...


23

To vastly overgeneralize, most people consider posted speed limits in the United States to be too slow. All things being equal (good weather etc), it's expected that you drive about 10 mph over the speed limit, and police generally ignore people who do. In a few states, notably Texas, this is enshrined in law, and you can exceed the speed limit and ...


19

I think Death Valley is not more dangerous than other landscapes with some precautions, so some advices with addition from the offical link Drive carefully. The monotonous landscape can easily lull you into being unresponsive and the lack of visual cues means that you are in danger to drive much too fast without recognizing it. This leads to sudden crashes ...


19

It is possible to encounter prejudice, racism, and xenophobia in the US, but these things are not as common as they used to be, or as harsh and overt. They would tend to be directed toward specific groups who have historically been oppressed in the US. The realistic concerns for travelers would mainly be: A traveler of African descent might encounter ...


18

The area you will cover is a bit broad but there are generally rules that you can follow: If you see the No Overnight Parking sign that has an obvious meaning. There are plenty of roadside motels and camping grounds where you can park overnight and sleep. The municipalities may institute their own rules for overnight parking and sleeping in cars so when ...


18

California has some rigorous laws against vagrancy and homelessness and depending upon local ordinances or just plain bad luck you could be in for a nightmare. If you have to do it, try to be outside the city limits. Based upon what you wrote, you will most likely have a license plate that identifies a rent-a-car. That will flag up as unusual for anybody ...


18

As far as I can see, Vehicle Code of California states, that you should in fact keep right. V C Section 21654 Slow Moving Vehicles Slow-Moving Vehicles (a) Notwithstanding the prima facie speed limits, any vehicle proceeding upon a highway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at such time shall be ...


17

You should definitively go to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View and especially check out the Stackoverflow plaque in the Computer History Museum Wall. See also the Meta SO thread about it.


16

You will definitely want to visit Weird Stuff, which is an enormous warehouse of all kinds of discarded technology located in Sunnyvale. It's a bit out there, but very worth it. If you're interested in doing any archival research, you might also want to schedule an appointment with Stanford's Silicon Valley Archives.


16

The answer is most definitely NO. The fuel prices could be different from station to station some time from block to block and gas stations across the street from each other may have different prices for the same grade of fuel. Reasons for this may vary from local rents and taxes to the ownership of a particular gas station. Case in point close to me ...


14

Don't sleep in your car in cities and suburbs in California. Most have local laws covering this, and I wouldn't consider it safe, especially in a new-looking car. Consider getting out of the cities (which can be very unfriendly places) to smaller towns and more countryside. There can often be free camping spots in parks. One resource for free camping is ...


14

I live in Louisiana, in the heart of the south (ostensibly the heart of bigotry in the US), and I have two Russian friends. They have never had any problems dealing with other people beyond that of any other foreigner. Sometimes people will not be able to understand you because of your accent, but that is true of any foreign travel. To be quite honest; ...


13

I am not sure of that comment on air-conditioning, as when i have been in Vegas looking at trips like this all the rental companies said i would need to use air-conditioning in and around Death Valley! You definitely want a well maintained car, so use a reputable hire company, and you should let your contacts know your route and expected time of arrival at ...


12

(Sorry for the late answer) I've spent about 3 months over the course of a few trips (2 months on my first trip), and I had a list of places I wanted to see. Not all of them are 'attractions' or the usual, but nevertheless something as a geek that's been looking at the things going on in Silicon Valley from a far most of my life I wanted to see: Computer ...


12

Death Valley is one of my favorite National Parks, but I always take a few extra precautions when driving through there. Stop at the first Target or supermarket you see and buy a case (24 bottles) of water for each person. It only costs a few dollars and may save your life. You'll end up drinking it once you've left the park anyway. If you have a choice ...


12

No and no. Each location sets its own price for different prices of gasoline (and diesel and kerosene, where they are available). This is true both of independent stations and those branded with a national chain (e.g. Exxon, Shell, Chevron, 7-11, Sunoco, and so on). Most gas stations in the U.S. are independent franchise operations— most people, including ...


12

Regarding ID: they do not need id. Source: TSA Blog Regarding written consent: It is definitely a good idea but is not a strict requirement any more than if you were driving. Nobody would ask unless one of the kids tries to make a huge scene, yelling "you're not my parent", etc. International travel would be a different matter.


11

Earthquakes are notoriously hard to predict, for the US they are working on this an early warning system which predicted the recent earthquake. Giving about ten seconds warning. Which I think may be less than you were looking for ... In general if you're in an earthquake zone there's always a (remote) chance of a sudden quake. There are minor earthquakes ...


11

Recreation.gov lists camping and RV sites at U.S. national parks, forests and other federal land. The nightly fee shown is per site, and you're allowed up to the maximum number of people shown for that site. (I've stayed at quite a few of these campgrounds.) When you actually go to book your campsite, the web site will tell you the maximum number of people ...


10

In general, the US is a safe place to travel as long as you are sensible and careful, and this goes for anyone, even US natives. If you're going to a big city like LA, there will be good and bad neighborhoods and a mix of friendly and unfriendly people, and a mix of open-minded and xenophobes and everything in between. My main advice is to avoid making ...


9

Generally speaking there is no Fast and Slow lanes on most highways in California or any other state for that matter unless specifically indicated by the lane speed limit, if you're referring to driving in the left lane on a multi-lane highway it doesn't necessarily mean that you will or should be driving faster than the one on the right. There is a law in ...


9

Page 5, section 8 of this California Board of Equalization newsletter has the answer: Items Sold to Residents of a Foreign Country or Another State We have received complaints from foreign buyers that they were incorrectly advised by retailers that they could receive a refund of the sales tax on items they purchased and picked up in ...


8

The two main ways to get there via boat are via Island Packers who leave out of Ventura, or Truth Aquatics who leave out of Santa Barbara. If you're scuba diving, Truth is great, but for most trips, Island Packers is cheaper and has a better schedule. You can also fly to Santa Rosa island, which has a small dirt runway, accessible from the Camarillo airport. ...


8

If you are not planning to stay in California permanently, you can continue to use your New Jersey license. http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#two500 If you are a visitor in California over 18 and have a valid driver license from your home state or country, you may drive in this state without getting a California driver license as long as your home ...


8

If you love arcade games, you should get a bundle of quarters and go to the Musée Mécanique (Linking to yelp because their official site has auto playing music :S).


8

I wouldn't read too much into it. First and foremost, Solvang is a big tourist trap. This "Danish" town prominently features, for example, a store famous for its collection of German cuckoo clocks and a museum of mostly British motorcycles. You'll no doubt find Delft plates for sale there for the same reason you find T-shirt shops; it's a cheap souvenir, and ...


8

According to the answers to Is earthquake prediction possible? on Earthsciense.SE, no technology currently exists to predict earthquakes with enough accuracy and advance warning to be very useful, nor are we anywhere close to being able to develop it. There is an experimental system called ShakeAlert being developed at UC Berkeley that was able to give a ...


7

I was a night auditor (see a night in the life of a night auditor) at two different hotels on the Central Coast of California (specifically, San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach) in the mid-1990s. While some things (mostly the technology) has changed, most things are about the same. It would really help to know where you will be traveling, because California is ...


7

I'm surprised noone mentioned the book Geek Silicon Valley It's been a long while since I read it, and it's 5 years out of date (which is a pretty long time in valley terms), but it has a lot of the sort of thing you're looking for. I agree with other answers, by the way - the Musee Mecanique, the Computer History Museum, and Weird Stuff are all good ...



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