Tipping is an important part of the service industry in the United States. You are generally expected to tip people who do a service for you (waiters, hairdressers, bartenders, taxi drivers, etc.).
Restaurants: 15-20% of the entire bill
Bartenders: $1-2 per drink if you order separately or 15-20% of the entire bill
Taxi drivers: 15% of the fare
Hairdressers: 15-20% of the cost
Pizza delivery: 10% of the entire bill
Take-out food: No obligation
Tip jar at coffee shop: No obligation
Many countries operate on a cash-only basis. Not so in the United States, where credit cards and debit cards are very popular options for payment even at McDonalds. As a long-term international student, visitor or scholar, you will probably want to open a bank account in the United States to take full advantage of the services offered.
On the UMCP campus, Capital One Bank operates a branch in the basement of the Stamp Student Union. You do not need a social security number, but bring your immigration documents (passport, I-20 or DS-2019, etc), as well as your university ID. Another on-campus option is SECU, State Employees Credit Union. If you'd like other banking options, check out the Graduate Student Life Handbook website for more local banks.
Please plan ahead! You should budget at least $1000 for your first week here to cover such expenses as hotels, taxis and general setting-up costs. Try to bring the majority of your money as credit cards or traveler's checks. Do NOT carry large amounts of cash with you. Traveler's checks can be replaced; cash is gone forever.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in the Washington, DC area is generally higher than other parts of the United States, and is higher than most students anticipate. For short-term housing, hotels in the Washington, DC metro area are more expensive than hotels in other areas of the U.S. Apartments and setting-up costs can take more of your budget than planned, so it might be to your benefit to add at least 10% to your expected budget to get started here. Spend time on the University of Maryland Off-Campus Housing Services website to get an idea of what is typical to spend on rent, utilities, transportation, etc.