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Advice for Navigating Cedar Rapids and Surrounding Areas

Okay, so you've arrived in the United States, and made your way to Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Thus far you've probably been doing all of your transportation by airplane, tour bus, or taxi-cab.  And you've probably noticed that while this may be a convenient way to get around, it's certainly not a very cost-effective way of transportation.

The City of Cedar Rapids is a fairly large place, with lots of things to do and see.  The problem is, how to get there, especially if you lack your own mode of transportation.  And don't think for a minute that a bicycle will cover you, unless you can figure out a way to ride across town in subzero temperatures, with 2 feet of snow on the ground!  After all, this IS Iowa, the land of ever-changing weather, so some form of covered transport is almost a must.

Unfortunately, while Kirkwood is a large college, the city really has not grown to the point where many of the shopping centers and food places are within walking distance of the campus.  Finding a place to buy clothes or groceries, or just to go shopping in general, can often involve a trip across several miles of city streets and busy roads.  And with some of the crazy drivers out there today, that can be a hazardous proposition if you plan on walking or biking to your destination!

Carpool With a Friend

There are a couple ways you can go about getting yourself around the city in a safe, efficient manner.  The first, and most cost-effective way, is to find someone who would be willing to drive you to and from where you need to go.  Often times this could be a friend who you hang out with anyways, so you would be able to carpool to social events and entertainment venues together.  While this option still leaves you reliant on someone else's schedule, it still allows more freedom than taking a bus, and is much cheaper than calling for a taxi.

Five Seasons Bus Transportation

Another way to get around Cedar Rapids is to use the Five Seasons Transportation bus system.  The city has a great number of routes that run to just about every corner of the city.  Though you may have to switch buses once or twice, taking the bus can get you nearly to the doorstop of your destination.  Of course, this option does have a couple drawbacks:  First off you are totally reliant on the bus schedule to get a ride, and if you miss your bus you may be out of luck for several hours.  Also, the bus system does not operate after normal working hours, so finding a ride to the mall on Friday night just isn't going to happen if you want to take the bus.
To check out bus fares, and see the maps and times of routes in Cedar Rapids, click here.

Getting a Driver's License

Finally, you can get your own drivers license and vehicle.  If you are over 18 years of age, in Iowa you must simply go to the Cedar Rapids Driver's License Station directly across from Lindale Mall:
K-Mart Plaza
152 Collins Road NE
Cedar Rapids, IA  52402
In order to receive your license you will be required to prove your identity (so bring some form of an ID, birth certificate social security card are recommended), also be sure to bring any of your immigration papers as they will have to verify that you are here legally before issuing you a license.  Once there, you will be required to pass a written exam as well as a driving test with one of the DOT officers.  Both are rather easy if you have read the DOT Handbook (available for free at the Licensing Station) and if you know how to drive a car safely.