A part of student life in the US is being conscious of your surroundings and aware of some safety issues that may or may not have been a part of your daily-life back home. While universities make sure that students are safe, it is up to the individual to be cognizant of various things during your stay here. It's not as unsafe as you think it is (we blame the media) but at the same time, there are shady areas in all cities, so we are not going to say it is TOTALLY SAFE here in the US. So, if you have questions like is USA safe for Indian students, how to stay safe in the USA, etc. read on right till the end!
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Why is Safety Important as an International Student?
Before we answer the question - Is US safe for Indian students and international students, let us discuss why there is so much fuss about it. Safety is an important parameter that directly impacts a student's stay in a new country.
- A safe environment at the university encourages students to utilise their time in the most productive manner. Safety at educational institutions is thus linked to improved outcomes and better academic performance. In an unsafe and threatening place students are at an immense risk of poor attendance, course failure, etc. For international students this is even more problematic because of the high costs they have paid to be there.
- Other than the impact on academics, safety is particularly important for international students for their emotional and mental well-being. Staying away from your family and your country can be hard. Therefore, it is even more important that students feel happy and safe in their new environment.
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Student Safety: Is USA Safe for Indian Students & Other International Students?
The United States has been attracting foreign students to its soils since time immemorial. Quality education, world-class facilities, are among several reasons why international students still choose the US despite the growth of other options.
The United States is known to have the world’s largest student population of over 1,000,000 students. This accounts for nearly 5% of the total student population in the US enrolled in higher level education.
- However, of late many students have started asking the question: Is USA safe for Indian students or for that matter any international student? The recent disturbing news coming from the US about mass shootings, gun violence, etc., has made a lot of international students worry about their safety. Safety issues that concern most of the international in the US include racism, theft, illegal drugs, threat of physical violence, sexual assault, etc.
- Despite what you hear in the media, the US is not a dangerous country. The majority of the places and people are quite accepting of outsiders, especially students. Also, most campuses in US universities are generally safe as well. The universities make adequate arrangements for emergencies and prevention of campus safety threats. So, to answer your question, is it safe for Indian students in USA, it definitely is!
However, it is important that one still must remain careful and follow some basic safety tips at all times.
Safety Tips for International Students Studying In USA
If someone asks us, is US safe for international students, our answer is generally YES. With a blend of cultures and regional diversity, students from all over the world find it easy to integrate into the campus life. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any safety threats. Just like any other country, the US has a fair share of its own “antisocial” elements.
These safety tips below will help you, as an international student stay safe at all times:
General Safety Tips
- Know your surroundings: Know what are the safe areas in your city, the places that are not well-lit, places that even locals call "shady". Avoid the places that you're asked to avoid.
- Keep Your Personal Information Safe: Keep your personal details safe including bank account number, credit card number, etc. These can be easily misused. We would also advise you to be careful in giving out your name and address details to strangers.
- Document Safety: Be very careful with where you keep your documents. The documents and other things to take in the US including your passport, identification, visa papers, and immigration forms should always be kept at a safe place.
- Avoid Ill-Advised Adventures: Don't be too adventurous and explore places that don't need any exploration. Before heading out for exploration, make sure you do proper research into the place.
- Don’t attract Unwanted Attention: Most of you will buy expensive phones/tablets and headphones. Don't flash them/go head banging in the night. It attracts unwanted attention.
- Use University Services: Know what services your university offers. Make full use of them. Generally, most of these services are funded from your tuition fee. So, you're paying for all of the services. Might as well make use of it. Enquire about these from the international student office at your university.
- Be Careful, When Being Generous: Depending on where you live, you will run into homeless people and you will be approached for spare change. If you don’t have any, politely refuse and walk away. If you're the really helping type, keep change in your pocket and hand it over. DO NOT open your wallet or your purse to get your change and risk losing everything.
- Security Code: Most universities let you engrave a security code on your bicycles and other belongings. Get it done for their records and easy identification.
- Keep an eye on Your Belongings: Do not leave your belongings unattended in libraries/sports arenas/study spaces, etc.
- Careful With Cash: In case you withdraw money from the ATM, exit only after counting your money there, if need be. Do not count cash on the streets.
- Respect People’s Privacy: Whenever you are interacting with new people, avoid asking too many personal questions. Respect people’s privacy at all times by not indulging in conversations that make them uncomfortable.
- Respect the Local Culture & Practices: Always be respectful of the local culture and practices. You might notice that things in the US are different than in your home country and the beliefs may vary from your own. Make sure you respect these customs and beliefs.
- Learn Your City Routes: Understand the city routes of the city you are living in. If you are using public transport such as regional trains, buses, and subways, a knowledge of the latest maps for directions is a must.
- Travel in Groups: When you are travelling out of campus, especially at night, you should walk in groups or pairs. That doesn't mean you can march into a dark alley that is known to be unsafe and expect nothing is going to happen to you. No, avoid those places anyway, even if you're in a group.
- Stay Mindful of Your Belongings: Do not leave valuables in your vehicle in plain sight. For instance – handbags, GPS, phones, detachable radio/other electronics. Even some spare change may lure a thief. (Unplug and) Lock them/take your belongings with you.
- Parking: Be sure to park your car in a well-lit area.
- Stay Connected: Whenever you are going out, make sure you inform your family and friends.
- Most Important: in the event of a sticky situation, if you’re asked for your phone, hand it over and walk away. You’ll lose your contacts and will have to spend some more money for a new one, but that’s about it. Do not argue if you’re in such a situation and risk the worst.
What To Do in Case of an Emergency?
Now, even after taking precautions, you might find yourself in a bad situation. What must you do in such situations?
- If you are in the university campus, you can head straight to the international student office or campus police in case you get into trouble. Do not hesitate in asking for help. It is your university’s responsibility to make you feel comfortable and safe. The university is there to ensure that you get all the help and information you need to have a pleasant and successful study experience in the U.S.
- In case you are outside your university campus, call the toll free number 911. The number can be used for any kind of emergency - medical, police, accident, etc. Another important tip is to always report a crime even if it is petty.
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We hope this article answers your question: Is US safe for Indian students and international students? The media portrays a whole lot of things that aren't exactly true, which you'll learn when you get here. It's not as bad as you think it is, but it also isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Remember that you are ultimately responsible for your own safety! For information on studying abroad in USA as an international student, do get in touch with our Yocket Counsellors!