FAQ

Here is a list of questions that previous students have asked about the Silicon Valley campus.

Q: How can I apply to ETC’s Silicon Valley campus?

A: First, you need to be accepted into the ETC program. More information about applying is available here. You need to spend your first semester at the main campus in Pittsburgh. Once there, you can apply to spend a semester at the SV campus. Some students have spent as many as three semesters out here.

Q: Where is ETC-SV located?

A: We’re located at the Electronic Arts campus in Redwood Shores, CA. A map is here.

Q: Can we use our CMU ID for free transportation in SV?

A: No. You can’t use your ID in SV for that. The ETC-SV campus students are not charged the activities fee or the bus fee, just tuition and the technology fee.

Q: How do I get around?

A: If you don’t have a car, consider using public transportation. Below is information on getting around the Bay Area, as well as the EA shuttle schedule to/from the Caltrain station and San Francisco, in case you are considering living in SF and commuting in to work (approximately 45 minutes).

Caltrain_Shuttle_Sept 2012

Transportation around SF Bay Area.docx


Q: Are there free shuttles to the Electronic Arts campus?

A: Yes, there are daily shuttles during the commute hours from the San Carlos Caltrain station. Check the schedule here: http://www.caltrain.com/schedules/Shuttles/Electronic_Arts_Shuttle.html
There is also a public bus 260 that stops nearby operated by SamTrans between Belmont and San Carlos http://www.samtrans.com/schedulesandmaps/timetables/260.html
The EA campus is about a 25-minute walk from San Carlos Caltrain.

EA also operates an internal shuttle to and from San Francisco Civic Center. More information on the schedule can be requested.

Q: How can I use the public bus and train?

A: The bay area is served by many different transit agencies, depending on which county you are going to.

Instead of using cash, buy the clipper card for easy and cheaper access to Caltrain and all the transit systems in the Bay area. Online or at any Walgreens. The clipper card is the only way of buying a monthly pass for the caltrain.
https://www.clippercard.com/ClipperWeb/index.do

Try using Google Transit or Trip Planner to plan your trip ahead of time via public transit.

Q: How do I get out of the airport to EA?

A: The Bay area is served by 3 airports: SFO, SJC and OAK. You can use Super shuttle (http://www.supershuttle.com) or take the BART/Caltrain or public bus.

  • From SFO by BART:
    (On weekdays before 8pm) take the BART from SFO to San Bruno, cross the platform, transfer to another train to Millbrae, and then cross the bridge to take the Caltrain to San Carlos, the nearest stop to EA.
    (On weekdays after 8pm and on weekends) take the BART from SFO to Millbrae, and then cross the bridge to take the Caltrain to San Carlos, the nearest stop to EA. See http://www.bart.gov/ for schedules
  • From SFO by Bus:

Route KX by SamTrans goes from SFO to San Carlos, the nearest station to EA, and beyond http://www.samtrans.com/schedulesandmaps/timetables/KX.html

Here is a list of popular places to look for flights online:

southwest.com
virginamerica.com
hipmunk.com
kayak.com

Q: Does ETC support us on the relocation?

A: Yes. You will receive a partial credit against the overall amount of your tuition. The amount helps to offset the costs of relocating to a different campus.

Q: Do they have a gym in SV?

A: Yes. You will have an EA badge to access EA buildings. EA’s gym facilities are available to CMU students for a small fee.

Q: Do they have game room?

A: Yes. (We are at EA!)

Q: How can we use the library?

A: EA has their own internal library, which you can use. Games for PS2,3 / DS / Game Boy / PC games / XBox / Wii… etc. are available in addition to movies. It’s like a free small Blockbuster.

Q: How about other resources? Such as art history / music / computer software reference books?

A: San Mateo / Redwood City has a local library. The libraries have over 30 locations near EA. You can borrow from the location wherever they have the books or CDs / DVD that you want, and you can drop it off at any location that is convenient for you.

Q: What are the popular local banks over there?

A: Here’s a list:

Bank of America (most number of ATMs around here)

Bank of the West

Citibank

Union Bank of California

US Bank

Wells Fargo

Chase

Q: Where in Redwood City/San Mateo can we apply for a California state ID? Or CA driver’s license?

A: The state ID is useful for identification purposes so international students do not have to carry their passport all the time. You can apply for a state ID and driver’s license at the DMV – Redwood City Office or nearby your place. Please see this website.

http://www.dmv.org/ca-california/drivers-license.php

Q: Is there any forum in CMU West where students buy and sell things? I want to buy a car, or probably second hand furniture.

A: We would recommend Craig’s list http://www.craigslist.com. It is a large community with the same purpose as what you are looking for.

Q: What if I need to do shop work?

A: The best local resources for shop access are:

  • The Crucible, a non-profit educational facility in Oakland that has classes and shop hours. Metalworking, woodworking and FIRE!
  • TechShop, a 15,000 square-foot membership-based workshop with every type of prototyping and fabrication equipment you can imagine. In Menlo Park (about 10 minutes away) and San Francisco.
  • The Sawdust Shop, 4,000 sq. ft. DIY woodworking shop in Sunnyvale.


Q: Where do we go for lunch and coffee?

A: EA has 2 cafeterias which serve breakfast and lunch daily at affordable prices (average price per meal: $7). There is also a Starbucks on site which is slightly cheaper for employees. Coffee machines, snack and drink vending machines, and tea is available at every floor in the pantry.

There are also a few restaurants just across the street on 270 Redwood Shores Parkway: Mango Bay, Chinese, Bagels, Jamba Juice, Amici’s Pizza etc. There is an In-n-Out burger joint just down the road.

Q: Where’s the nearest place to shop near EA?

A: There’s a supermarket, Nob Hill, just across the street on 270 Redwood Shores Parkway.
There’s a bigger shopping complex at Hillsdale which has Macy’s, Nordstorm, JCPenny, etc. at 60 31st Avenue, San Mateo, CA.
There’s also Best Buy and various other malls in the area.

Q: Where’s the nearest cinema?
A: The nearest cinema is at Cinemark, Redwood City, at 825 Middlefield Road, Redwood City, CA

Q: Which neighborhoods are near and safe to live in?

  • San Mateo
  • Foster City
  • Hillsdale
  • Belmont
  • San Carlos
  • Redwood Shores
    The Archstone is fairly nice, but rent is expensive and so are utilities (over $130/month just for w/s/g).  It’s very convenient to EA but not to anything else, so it’s recommended that you have access to a car if you live here.  Also, even though it’s only two miles from the freeway it takes at least ten minutes to get past all the stop signs, so estimate extra time for going anywhere.
  • Redwood City: generally cheaper area but also more sketchy than the others
  • Menlo Park/Atherton: expensive area
  • Palo Alto (near Stanford University)
  • East Palo Alto: generally unsafe area, try to avoid it


Note: For someone looking for a studio/1 bedroom it is not uncommon to pay $1K+/month EXCLUDING utilities. If you share a room, it ranges from $600+ depending on how many people, where, etc., but it is very rare to find something within the $300/range (unless it’s your friend or relative’s home), as you could in Pittsburgh.

Q: What apartments are nearby?
A: Archstone is the closest apartment complex to EA and you can walk there. It is a safe, nice neighborhood and the distance is roughly about from the South Side bars to the ETC, if you walk across the Hot Metal Bridge. However, you pay for it – it is really expensive. Such is the housing situation in the Bay Area; there is more demand than supply. Especially for short term leases, the cost can be almost as much as an extended-stay hotel. If you haven’t looked already, try searching on:

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/
https://www.padmapper.com/

Here is a breakdown of apartments where people generally live in the area:

Archstone Redwood Shores

  • Walking distance to EA (approximately 1 mile), grocery store and shops
  • Downside: Suburban area, no nightlife, bit of a trek to get to the Caltrain station for weekend adventures in San Francisco
  • You will need to contact the local utilities companies to set up your own electricity, cable, and internet.
  • You will need to take care of your own furniture rental – http://www.bfr.com/ or http://www.cort.com/ – both offer student discounts!
  • Rental pricing is subject to housing availability, rates available online: approximately $1,700 – $2,000/month (Unfurnished 1 Bedroom/1 Bathroom)

Indian Creek Garden Apartments

  • Walking distance to EA (approximately 1.5 miles)
  • Downside: Suburban area, no nightlife, bit of a trek to get to the Caltrain station for weekend adventures in San Francisco
  • Bit further from EA, but tends to have better rates/availablity than Archstone
  • 1 bedroom/1bathroom – Approximately $1,700 – $2,000
  • Partnership with Brooks furniture: http://www.bfr.com/
  • Approximately $400/month for furniture rental

Hillsdale Garden Apartments

  • NOT within walking distance to EA, but close to Caltrain, can use free EA Shuttle to get to/from work every day!
  • Makes it easy to go to San Francisco on the weekends, and is walking distance to a mall!
  • Unfurnished Studio – Approximately $1,400 – $1,500
  • Unfurnished 1 bedroom/1bathroom – Approximately $1,600 – $1,700
  • You will need to contact the local utilities companies to set up your own electricity, cable, and internet.
  • You will need to take care of your own furniture rental – http://www.bfr.com/ or http://www.cort.com/ – both offer student discounts!
  • Includes gas and electric
  • Water & Garbage = Approximately $90/month

BE CAREFUL!!  There are many scams out there!!!

* Locations to consider looking (based on proximity to Caltrain shuttle):

  • San Carlos
  • San Mateo

Q: Does the SV campus have field trips?

A: Yes! We have at least one field trip and we choose where we want to go as a group too! Past semesters in SV have gone sailing, to the safari, hiking etc. We also go on various company visits as part of the elective class.

Q: What elective classes are offered in ETC-SV?

1) Current Issues in Digital Media and Game Design (by Jiyoung)
2) Entrepreneurship in Entertainment Technology (by Carl)

Q: I’m planning on shipping some of my stuff out there. Is it alright if I ship to the SV campus?  If so, is it alright if it gets there before school starts?

A: You can use Jiyoung’s name. Here’s an example. However, you can’t pick it up until the semester starts.

   Name: Jiyoung Lee (Attention: Your name) (<-Important)

   Company: Carnegie Mellon University (<-Important)

   Address: 209 Redwood Shores Parkway, Redwood City, CA 94065

   Phone number: Your phone number

I wouldn’t recommend sending really important stuff. The box will be sitting in the ETC-SV area until the semester starts and several people might be walking by during the holidays.  It might be safer to send them to your friend if you have any friend in this area.

Q: I want to learn more about the area!

A: It’s helpful, if you haven’t done so already, to get a general idea of the map of the bay area. SF is highlighted for your convenience; go south to find where Redwood City is in relation. Here is a breakdown of the Bay Area: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_Bay_Area

Q: Can you tell me more about neighborhoods in SF?

A: San Francisco (a.k.a., “The City”) – The neighborhoods can get long and very specific. In general, “the Marina” is North of the City; anything with “Market” in it (SoMa or NoMa) refers to ‘Market Street’ that cuts across Downtown financial district. “The Mission” is south of the City and therefore known to be the sunnier part of SF. ‘Dolores Park’ (an actual park) is a common favorite gathering/meeting place. ‘Fisherman’s Wharf’ is the tourist area that is Northwest of the City.

Read more here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neighborhoods_in_San_Francisco

Q: What is the difference between Redwood Shores and Redwood City?

A: Redwood Shores vs. Redwood City – Redwood Shores is part of Redwood City but in between Belmont and San Carlos. If you have a car, Belmont, San Carlos, and Foster City are all relatively close, within the vicinity of Electronic Arts. The Electronic Arts campus in Redwood Shores, CA. A map is here.

Q: What are the bridges in the bay area and do I need to worry about toll?

A: The most common bridges you’ll hear/use is “Bay Bridge” (connects East bay to SF), “Golden Gate” (the red one on all the postcards, connecting SF to Marin which is North of the City, “San Mateo” (since that is closest to EA), and “Dumbarton” (which connects the southern part of the East Bay to the Pennisula.)

Here is a list: http://bata.mtc.ca.gov/bridges/index.htm

Bridge Toll can vary depending on the time of travel and which bridge (some bridges have a tiered pricing system based on time of commute.)

Q: What if I get hungry?

A: Yelp.com is your best friend if you don’t know where to go eat. Like Craigslist, they originated from the Bay Area so the information is pretty comprehensive. Grubhub.com is another option, if you already use that in Pittsburgh.

Q: What supermarkets are around?

A: Common markets include –

  • Safeway
  • Raley’s (pronounced “Ray-lee’s”)
  • Nob Hill Foods (close to EA)
  • Whole Foods
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Fresh & Easy
  • Sprouts

Q: What is the weather like?

A: Northern CA is colder than Southern CA in terms of general weather. People usually think “CA=sunny” and while this may be the case, Northern CA can get quite windy, rainy, foggy, and cold. It doesn’t generally snow in the heart of the Bay Area although sometimes you see frost. For instance, in December it’s currently 50 degrees F (it is 43 degrees F in Pittsburgh.) The general advice is to dress in layers, with at least one warm coat. It is also worth noting that humans are adaptable creatures; this means that 60 degrees in CA may start to feel like how 40 degrees used to feel in Pittsburgh in no time at all. Pack accordingly. And, if you miss snow, don’t worry! Tahoe is but hours away.

Q: Where are the hospitals that we could go to?

A: Find Doctors in Bay area
http://www.bcbs.com/healthtravel/finder.html

Medical Insurance Plans Contracted by Carnegie Mellon :
http://www.studentaffairs.cmu.edu/HealthServices/insurance/medical/index.html

Also There is a place right across the street in the Nob Hill shopping center- part of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation:
http://www.pamf.org/redwoodshores/