Tips for International Students
You have made an important and exciting decision to study in the U.S and as you begin your planning to start your studies, there are some very important safety tips that will keep you safe.
Despite what you may have heard or have seen, the U.S. is not a dangerous country, in fact it is safe. No matter where you travel be it the U.S. or abroad there are common threads of safety that you can string along in all your travels.
We are very fortunate that the majority of U.S. educational institutions have coordinated safety plans in place to protect you. Once you arrive on your campus you should check-in with the international student office. This office will provide you with orientation session(s) that will give you specific information that will enhance your educational, cultural, social and safety experience while studying in the U.S.
Safety Tips for Students
First, let me say regardless of where you travel you should always be “alert,” always observing your surroundings indiscreetly determining who is in front and behind of you. Law enforcement states that many crimes could be avoided if people would just be “alert.”
You should avoid walking alone at night because most crimes that are committed are crimes of opportunity. Most campuses have campus police and are safe. However, when you leave the campus at night you should walk in groups or pairs. Many campuses have escort services connected with the campus police. Make sure when you arrive you ask if your campus have a campus safety escort service. If so, you should not hesitate to use it when you have to leave the library or lab late at night.
One of the most popular crimes on and off campus is larceny, which is the “crime of theft.” Never, ever leave your personal belongings (i.e. purse, personal computer, books, cell phone, etc.) unattended and walk away. It only takes seconds for someone to steal these while you walked to the rest room or to a vending machine. This rule also applies to automobiles—you should never leave wallets, purses, or computers visibly on your seat while you leave your car to get gas or go into a store. Even if your door is locked, people can break your car window and grab your valuables.
Many campuses have different housing choices. Whether you live in a campus dormitory or off-campus, always lock your door and windows while you are away and at home. Never open the door for strangers—it is apart of the American culture to talk through doors without opening them if we don’t know the person. If you didn’t invite the person, don’t open the door unless it is a law enforcement official. You will be able to tell when you look out of your window or through the door’s “peep” hole. Even then, have the officer show you his or her official badge.
Always protect your personal information like social security numbers, and credit card numbers. You are aware that identity theft is a world-wide problem. Identity theft comes in many forms. One major form is “scams.” You may receive e-mails from phony companies asking for your personal information. Always remember that your bank and credit card company will always communicate to you in an honest, legitimate way. Remember, they already have your credit card and bank information, and they will never ask you for your password (except when you log on to your online banking site or telebank system). Secondly, if someone comes up to you and asks you if you want to learn how you can make some money, say “no,” and quickly walk away.
Keep copies of your passports, visa, I-94 and other important documents.
Remember you have a lot of belongings to keep track of and it’s easy to leave something behind during your travel. So, take your time and don’t feel rushed. You do not want to accidentally leave your important documents at the airport, in the taxi or at one of the many places you will visit when you arrive.
My final tip is for you is to remember that you are ultimately responsible for yourself. If safety information is not addressed as detailed as you prefer, don’t hesitate to contact your international student office or the campus police directly. Your university is there to serve and help you. Many students have questions but are afraid to ask because they feel they are a burden. Remember, your university is in business to serve their students, and it is their pleasure and obligation to provide you with the information and resources you need to have a pleasant and successful study experience in the U.S.
Editorial provided by Linda Seatts, Director of the Office of International Students and Scholars at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.