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One of the biggest and most important concerns for students preparing to start college is the issue of safety. This is especially true of international students, who may not be familiar with the culture and safety issues of the country in which they are planning to study.
If you are an international student preparing to study in the US, here are some tips to keep in mind in order to keep you as safe as possible during your studies.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
It is important to start thinking about safety before you even arrive in the US. Make sure you do your research before you start packing your bags.
The first step you should take is to research the safety statistics of your school. US schools are required by federal law to disclose campus crime statistics, so you should be able to find this information on your school’s website.
Next, you’ll want to look into any precautionary steps that your school takes. Colleges are highly concerned with the safety of their students, and most offer services such as late-night escort services and designated safe spots on campus to call for help during an emergency. Colleges also employ an on-campus police system that are able to respond much quicker than the police can.
In addition to researching your school’s safety precautions, you’ll want to look in to the surrounding area. Is your school located in an urban, suburban, or rural setting? Find out what kind of security the surrounding area has. Know what your accommodations will be and how to get there before you leave.
Safety is a major factor when it comes to transportation. Before you leave, familiarize yourself with the types of transportation available where you will be living, and learn about the safest ways to get around.
Your safety should be your number one priority immediately after you arrive in the US. Although your college campus is likely to feel like the safest place in the world to you, bear in mind that most campuses are completely open to the public, so you need to be alert and aware at all times.
KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR VALUABLES
Remember that burglaries and petty theft are the most common crimes that students face on campus, so you should always make sure to keep your personal items secure. If you’ve set up a place to study in the library and have to leave for a few minutes, either take your things with you or ask someone you trust to keep an eye on them for you. This may seem like a pain, but remember that it only takes a few seconds for someone to make off with your laptop.
This is particularly important after dark. It is generally a good idea not to walk around by yourself at night. During orientation, your school will most likely give you information on any security services they offer, including campus police and any kind late-night escort service or shuttle. You will want to program those numbers into your phone immediately, so you always have them on hand if you need them. Make sure you utilize these services, especially if you need to walk home alone after dark. Nothing is worth jeopardizing your safety.
Whether you live on or off campus, always stay alert. If you are walking alone, remain aware of who is behind or ahead of you. Keep your doors and windows locked at all times, and do not open the door for strangers. It is common in American culture to speak to someone through a closed door if you do not know who they are. Most doors come equipped with a peep hole, which will allow you to see who is on the other side without them seeing you.
Although college campuses in the US are generally extremely safe, you should always be aware of your surroundings and never jeopardize your safety.