Is It Safe to Attend College in the U.S.?

It is a valid question and legitimate concern for anyone studying in America: is it safe to attend college in the USA?

Is It Safe to Attend College in the U.S.?

Statistics on U.S. Safety

Before you decide whether or not the U.S. is safe, ask yourself a question: what is my definition of safe? For some, safe means free from petty theft, such as pickpocketing. For others, it means being able to walk alone at night. For others still, it means safer (statistically) than their own country. Decide which statistics matter to you and your family, and then research these statistics.

Fear of having your laptop stolen at a coffee shop is different than fearing for your safety while walking home at night. What’s your definition of “safe?” Decide this before deciding on a college in the USA.

The U.S. Department of Education has excellent statistics on campus safety. In its reports, it presents safety through different categories:

  • General safety. These statistics consider the reported thefts, assaults, arson, and other crimes for the last three years.
  • Women’s safety. These statistics consider all violence against women in the last three years, including domestic violence, stalking, date-related violence, and sexual assault.
  • Party safety. These statistics consider the drug and alcohol incidents on a campus over the last five years.
  • Anti-discrimination. These statistics consider the number of hate crimes (crimes against a person because of their race, religion, etc.) over the last three years.

Another great resource is Safewise, which takes the FBI’s crime statistics and creates easy-to-read articles and reports.

College Town vs. City

Cities are, by nature, more dangerous than small towns. If you think a city might not be the best fit, consider attending a university that is located in a college town.

The U.S. has many “college towns.” These are towns that have a high population of citizens attending or working for the local college or university. In essence, the college is the life of the town.

College towns are often charming, quiet, and safe. In California, Davis and Chico are excellent examples of college towns. They have an exciting nightlife for students, but they also have many coffee shops, libraries, and a general “small town feel” that is comfortable and welcoming. The towns are safe, affordable, and an excellent place to experience university life.

UC Davis, a university in a quiet Northern California town, is known for its safety and high quality of life.

Valuable Statistics on College Safety

Some of these statistics from sexitubercular might also help you make your decision.

  • Colleges labeled as “safe” often stay safe year after year: for example, 7 of the top 30 college towns on Safewise’s 5088343529 remained on the list again the next year.
  • 70% of Safewise’s top 50 safest college towns had zero reported murders in 2016.
  • 19 of the safest cities had 25 or fewer violent crimes.
  • 88% of the safest cities had fewer than 100 violent crimes.
  • All of the cities on the list had a lower violent crime rate than the national average.

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Are you considering hosting an international student? Being a host family is an incredibly rewarding experience that will enrich your life. Before hosting, here are a few things you should know or do to make the process as smooth as possible.

What to Know Before Hosting an International Student

#1: Set ground rules

Students cannot follow house rules if they are not sure what the house rules are. As the host family, it is your responsibility to make sure that they understand what is expected of them (and what is expected of you). Communication will ensure that all parties are aware of the “dos” and “don’ts” of the household.

Don’t be afraid to share general house rules with your student. They will appreciate the guidance and clarity.

#2: Expect their lower level of English to impede communication (at first)

It is possible that your student will have a low level of English when he or she arrives. Language choice is essential when speaking to English learners, and if you are unfamiliar with how to speak to language learners, then you may end up choosing sentence structures and vocabulary that are too difficult for the learner to understand.

It’s difficult to learn a new language! Be patient as your student’s language skills improve.

As an example, take a look at that last (long) sentence:

Language choice is essential when speaking to English learners, and if you are unfamiliar with how to speak to language learners, then you may end up choosing sentence structures and vocabulary that are too difficult for the learner to understand.

Here, we have a complex sentence with concepts that build upon one another. We also have some difficult vocabulary (essential, unfamiliar) and one key phrase: end up. End up is a phrasal verb, which is a construction that consists of a verb (end) and a preposition (up). The student may know the words end and up, but together, end up is a phrase that does not reflect the meanings of those two separate words. How can a language learner know that end up means “to find oneself in a situation with an outcome that is different than originally intended or planned”?  A better expression would be in the end, which a student is more likely to know and understand.

#3: Realize that they might require some “hand-holding” (and be homesick)

For many students, this is their first time away from home. To have this experience in another country is of course intimidating, so they will need you for emotional support. Check in on them often: ask them how their day was, ask them if there is anything they need help with, and make sure that they understand that you are here to help them. Extending these offers will make them comfortable with leaning on you when they get homesick (and they will get homesick).

Your student will undoubtedly go through periods of homesickness. Recognize this behavior and lend an ear when they need to talk about their friends and family.

#4: Show interest in their culture

They are in the USA to study and to learn about American culture, so it is of course your responsibility to help them learn about the country’s culture and customs. (It’s fun to do so, too! This is the best part of being a host.) As a sign of respect (and of course out of genuine interest and curiosity), be sure to also show interest in their culture. Ask them about their daily life at home, their eating and shopping habits, and what they do for fun. Not only will you learn about their culture, but you will also gain an understanding of their perspective on American life and how different (or similar) their experience in the USA is to some of the experiences back home.

A great way to share cultures is in the kitchen. Cook together and share recipes!

#5: Expect comparisons (and don’t take them personally)

It is natural to compare two things. Expect your host student to occasionally mention how something is done differently at home (perhaps, in his or her perspective, done better in their home country). Realize that this is nothing to take personally, and that in the same situation, you would act similarly.

Gift-giving is one thing that is different from culture to culture. If your student is with you during the holidays, let them know what to expect from your family's traditions.

#6: Remember that everything is new for them (and overwhelming)

Something as simple as creating an online account for a bank account can be overwhelming when the process is in another language. Remember that they may get flustered over simple processes, and be there to help them whenever you can. Each little obstacle they overcome (buying books, navigating public transportation, signing up for classes, buying groceries) is a small victory.

Your student is embarking on what is probably the biggest adventure of his or her young life, while also facing one of the largest challenges in life: college. Help them throughout these exciting but difficult times!

#7: Help them reach their goals

What is your student here to accomplish? In addition to doing well in school, he or she may have other goals. Encourage them to reach them! Be sure to encourage them to exercise, live healthily, and to have an active social life. Students are often unaware of the many social clubs in college: it is a good idea to encourage them to get involved in order to make new friends and have an enriching experience while living abroad.

Learning a little more about each student’s goals will also help you get to know your student better. Take an interest in their hobbies, hopes, and dreams.

If you are interested in hosting an international student, (929) 530-9181. With AA Homestays, students choose you based on your profile. This level of choice ensures that you will host students who are pleased with you, your home, and the experience being a part of your family.

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Each culture has aspects that seem normal to its citizens, but very strange to visitors. How many of these strange idiosyncrasies* of American culture have you experienced or observed?

*idiosyncrasies = a distinctive or peculiar characteristic of a place or thing.

10 Strange Things About American Culture

#1: Tipping (for everything)

Grabbing a coffee? Ordering food to go? Drinking a beer at a bar? Getting a haircut? Americans tip for all of these things (and more).

When should you tip, and how much should you tip? It can be confusing! As a general rule, tip 15% for service (20% for great service) at a restaurant and $1 per beverage at a bar. For salon services, most Americans tip 15%. This chart from CNN Money is a great resource for tipping.

Strange Things About American Culture
Do you know what to tip when you order a coffee, get a haircut, or order at a restaurant?

#2: Constant advertisements for medicines and lawyers

It’s not uncommon to see advertisements throughout the day for different medicines: according to 5629427788, pharmaceutical companies spent 23 billion dollars on advertising in 2016. Crazy! In fact, pharmaceutical companies in the United States spend more on marketing than they do on research and development: read this 732-616-9007 for details.

Strange Things About American Culture
Only in the USA do you see so many commercials for brandname medicines.

Another odd industry that advertises? Law! You will often see billboards with the photo and number of a law office (or see commercials of lawyers asking you to contact them if you’ve experienced specific injuries or taken certain medications). To many foreigners, this is a strange practice.

#3: Consumer choices

Going to the grocery store is an odd experience in the United States for many. There are so many choices! Take a walk down the cereal aisle and see the hundreds of options consumers have: it’s overwhelming. Would you expect anything less from the country that brought you Amazon.com?

Strange Things About American Culture
Choices, choices, choices . . .

#4: Flags everywhere

The U.S. flag seems to be everywhere. Most countries do not display their flag so prominently: to look around and see them on nearly every street corner can be strange for many visitors.

Strange Things About American Culture
The country’s flag seems to be everywhere in the USA.

In addition to flags, the “Americana” theme is everywhere. This is decor that is red, white, and blue. Some people even decorate their house in the Americana theme. It’s quite strange to a foreigner!

#5: Salespeople asking “How are you?”

When you enter a store, the salesperson will probably say something like “How are you today?” or “How’s your day going?” Most students have a difficult time responding to this question. Are they supposed to respond and tell them about their day? Or are they supposed to ask the salesperson how their day is going in return? You can, but typically people just say “Hello” or “Good, thanks” and then continue browsing. We agree: it’s an odd way to greet a stranger!

Strange Things About American Culture
It might be awkward to speak with a salesperson, but at least they are very friendly and helpful!

#6: To-go coffee and foods

Everything can be taken to-go in the United States. Many drink their coffee while going to work; in fact, in a lot of coffee shops, you have to tell them that your coffee is “for here” if you want it in a real (non-disposable) cup!

Since food portions are so large, it’s common to only eat half of a restaurant meal. For this reason, many Americans ask to have their food boxed and “taken to go.” This will be their meal tomorrow (or their late-night snack, if they’re still hungry)!

Strange Things About American Culture
We should also mention another strange thing about U.S. culture: the obsession with pumpkin spice flavored foods and coffees.

#7: Air conditioning

Air conditioning in the U.S. is . . . cold. Employees who work in offices often have to dress like it’s the winter, even in August! There is a huge debate about this in the U.S. at the moment: while many employees have complained for years about the ridiculously cold air conditioning in their offices, a woman who was running for office in New York actually made it a part of her campaign. (She lost, but it’s still a good cause to fight for!)

This strange aspect of U.S. culture probably won’t change any time soon. A 409-757-0684 admits that “office buildings are kept too cold. The ASHRAE standards recommend that indoor temperatures stay between 73 and 79 degrees in summer. But symposium of office buildings in 2009 revealed that indoor air temperatures often fall below this range, and are in fact colder than the temperature settings for winter.” Still, office thermostats remain set way lower than what most people are comfortable with. 

Strange Things About American Culture
Wearing a sweater to work . . . in the middle of summer? Only in the USA . . .

#8: Smiling at/talking to strangers

Depending on where you are originally from, you might find it strange that Americans smile at strangers or begin conversations with them. Americans really are friendly and they love to speak with strangers! Don’t be surprised if an American compliments you on your clothing, asks you about a book you are reading, or approaches you with another question. Small talk is a part of U.S. culture.

Strange Things About American Culture
Americans are very friendly and will strike up a conversation with almost anyone. Be prepared to answer questions about your home country and why you are here studying: they will be curious to hear your story!

#9: Drive-thrus

Drive-thrus were invented in the U.S., so they are a very American concept! Before the drive-thru, there was the drive-in: Americans drove their car to a restaurant, parked, and ordered food from their car. Then, a waiter or waitress brought the food to their car, and customers ate in their car. Most foreigners agree that it’s an odd way to dine! A fascinating article from History.com describes the drive-in as “an expression of great American passions that go hand in hand: speed, efficiency and, sometimes, laziness.” The drive-thru is the same expression of some of the more weird aspects of American culture.

Strange Things About American Culture
These days, you can get most things using a drive-thru: it’s also becoming popular to use delivery services such as UberEats to order food.

#10: Security guards at bars

If you go to a bar, you will have to show your ID and prove that you are 21 or older. And you will probably have to show your ID to a security guard: most bars have a paid security guard who controls the bar. It’s odd to most people from abroad to have a person that is paid to make sure that everyone behaves.

Strange Things About American Culture
The U.S. rules and regulations surrounding alcohol seem very strange to most visitors.

The United States is indeed a strange country. The best part of living in a homestay? You can ask your host family questions about each of these strange aspects of U.S. culture. It’s fascinating to speak with locals and ask their opinion on some of these things: often, they haven’t noticed that these parts of their culture are actually considered by foreigners to be strange! This is one of the many advantages of staying in a homestay: read about some more advantages of choosing a homestay in our 7815804317.

 

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If you are planning to move to the United States to study, you are probably a little worried about what to pack. macabresque has provided a checklist of things to bring to the United States (and some other tips for how to prepare for your time abroad). How many of these things have you packed (or done) to prepare for your exciting new adventure in the USA?

What to Bring When Moving to the USA for University 

#1: Medicines

What medicines do you normally use? Before you leave your home country, go to your doctor or pharmacy and be sure to purchase a large supply of medicines. The United States will probably have these medicines (or something similar), but stocking up will ensure that you have time to visit a U.S. doctor and get a prescription before you are out of medication. You might also save yourself some money: even with insurance, prescription drugs in the USA can be expensive. They can also be difficult to get: in some countries, you can go to a pharmacist and simply ask for the pills you need, but most of these same pills require a prescription from your doctor when you try to buy them in the USA. Save yourself both money and hassle by bringing them from home.

What to Bring When Moving to the USA for University
Save time (and possibly money) by bringing medicines from your home country.

#2: Important documents

Don’t forget to bring all of the documents you will potentially need. These could include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Your passport
  • Another form of identification, such as your driver’s license or student ID card
  • Your student or travel visa (and receipt of payment)
  • Your academic transcripts (translated into English, if possible)
  • Your diploma from high school (translated into English, if possible)
  • Your official TOEFL or IELTS scores (if you’ve taken these tests)

Make copies of these forms. Additionally, take photos of these documents and email them to yourself: that way, you have a digital copy of all of these papers and forms of identification.

What to Bring When Moving to the USA for University
Tip: keep photos of the front and back of all documents.

#3: Chargers/adapters

Before leaving for the USA, research the types of adapters you will need for your electronic devices. Also be sure to check the voltage so that you can safely plug your electronics into U.S. plugs.

What to Bring When Moving to the USA for University
Tip: check the voltage for hair dryers, electric razors, and anything else that needs to be charged. Be sure they are compatible with U.S. settings. If not, buy new ones when you arrive.

#4: Something from home

It will be completely normal for you to feel homesick while you are in the United States. Help yourself through this time by bringing something from home (such as photos, a stuffed animal, or some memento of your friends, family, and hometown). This will help you to remember all of the people who love you and miss you: these wonderful people support you in this exciting time and want you to be happy!

What to Bring When Moving to the USA for University
We promise your host family won’t judge you if you bring a teddy bear from home. (In fact, they might just love you even more!)

#5: Passwords (update and link to other email accounts)

Update all of your passwords and be sure that you know them all. We know this is a hassle, but trust us! Here’s why:

Social media accounts and email accounts often check your location when you log in. If one day you are in your home country and the next day you are in San Francisco, this is a red flag for the computer system. You might be asked to verify your account . . . if you can’t remember your password, you might be asked to receive a text message verification. The problem with this process is that you are now in another country, and you probably have a U.S. phone number. If your phone number from home can’t receive text messages in the United States, then you will not be able to log in. So frustrating!

A way to help with this process is to update your passwords and know them all. In many cases, this will make the verification process a lot easier.

What to Bring When Moving to the USA for University
Be sure all passwords are up to date before traveling. Be prepared for security notices when you try to login once you arrive in the USA.

#6: Bank cards

Don’t forget to notify your bank that you will be traveling: if you don’t, they might freeze your account when you try to use your card in the United States.

Also be sure that your cards will not expire while are you in the USA (receiving a new card can be difficult when you are away from your home country). Check the expiration dates on your bank and credit cards and order new ones before you leave. Give yourself enough time (at least a month!) to have the bank or credit card company process your request and issue you new cards.

As with your important documents, take a photo of your bank cards (front and back) and email them to yourself.

What to Bring When Moving to the USA for University
Give yourself plenty of time to order new bank cards if they expire during your time in the USA.

What are some other things you should bring when you move to the United States to study? Let us know on the (304) 827-2447!

Homestay Or Residential Apartment? The Advantages of Choosing a Homestay

When moving to the United States, students have many decisions to make. Where will they study? What will they study? And where will they live while attending school? The decision between living in a homestay or residential apartment is one of the most difficult choices for many students, and weighing the pros and cons can be difficult if students aren’t fully aware of the benefits of a homestay. Here are some of the many advantages of choosing a homestay over a residential apartment.

Homestay Or Residential Apartment? The Advantages of Choosing a Homestay

Advantage #1: Improve your English skills faster

The quickest way to improve your English skills is by communicating with native speakers. In a homestay, you have the opportunity to do this more than if you live alone or with roommates (roommates might not be as interested in developing a friendship, while host families are dedicated to developing relationships with their students). Host students consistently say that their English skills improve quicker than if they had lived in a residential apartment; host families also often notice how much their students’ skills and confidence improve.

Homestay Or Residential Apartment? The Advantages of Choosing a Homestay
The best way to improve your English is to practice with locals. Your host family will help you improve your English skills and confidence . . . and you will learn a lot of English expressions and regional slang that isn’t taught in the classroom!

Advantage #2: Have a built-in support system

Moving to another country is always stressful. In a homestay, students have a built-in support system to help them with any issues they may face: illnesses, the normal stresses of life, and any other challenges are all easier to overcome when you have this support. Imagine experiencing these stresses alone . . . then imagine facing them with the support of a host family. Which would you prefer?

Homestay Or Residential Apartment? The Advantages of Choosing a Homestay
Your host family will always be there to help you. This especially helps when you feel homesick.

Advantage #3: Eat local foods!

When it comes to food, locals know it all: the best local coffee shop, the best grocery stores and specialty markets, and the best restaurants. Your host family is a local connection to your new neighborhood and city; you wouldn’t have this special “insider information” in a residential apartment!

Homestay Or Residential Apartment? The Advantages of Choosing a Homestay
Where are the best restaurants in town? Don’t ask the internet: ask your host family! Locals always know best.

Advantage #4: Observe culture and customs

One of the most exciting aspects of living in another country is observing the local culture and customs. In a residential accommodation, you observe from afar: you watch the locals practice these customs, but probably don’t fully practice them yourself. In a homestay, however, you are a part of the family’s everyday life. This allows you to immerse yourself into the culture and customs while learning more about the everyday life and culture of Americans.

Homestay Or Residential Apartment? The Advantages of Choosing a Homestay
Americans might be the only people who dress their pets for Halloween. We promise you’ll laugh if you’re here on October 31st! (You might also get to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters! This is just one example of the many holidays you experience closely when you live in a homestay.

Advantage #5: Get advice from locals

Where is the best shop to buy a friend a birthday present? Where is a nearby location where you can experience nature? What are some interesting things happening this weekend? Your host family will know!

Homestay Or Residential Apartment? The Advantages of Choosing a Homestay
Where’s the cafe with the best pastries? Or the nicest gift shop? Your host family will point you in the right direction.

Advantage #6: Value for your stay

Homestays are often significantly less expensive than residential apartments. In addition to the many personal benefits you receive from developing a relationship with your host family, you also benefit financially from this choice.

Homestay Or Residential Apartment? The Advantages of Choosing a Homestay
Check out local rents in your area to see how much you will save by staying with a host family. It’s hard to believe that a homestay is so rewarding and also so affordable.

Advantage #7: Make friendships and memories

It goes without saying that one of the most important aspects of a homestay is the relationship you build with your host family. Each day, you make new memories and share new experiences together. These experiences are priceless.

Homestay Or Residential Apartment? The Advantages of Choosing a Homestay
Are you ready to make some memories? Your host family is waiting!

Advantage #8: Live in a safe and secure home

Sleep soundly in a homestay: in a host family’s home, you will feel safer than if you lived in a residential apartment shared by many other people. AA Homestays host families have clean homes in safe neighborhoods: this makes your experience more relaxing. (It also allows you more opportunities to study in a quiet environment!)

Homestay Or Residential Apartment? The Advantages of Choosing a Homestay
Sleep soundly in a safe homestay. There is no price tag for this peace of mind.

Advantage #9: Enjoy a private (furnished) room

It’s a fact: buying furniture is expensive! In a residential apartment, you would have to purchase all of your furnishings . . . this includes small items (like cooking utensils for the kitchen and towels for the bathroom) that contribute to a very large bill.

Homestays provide private rooms that are fully furnished. This is yet another way that you save money while staying with a host family. It also saves you time, since it is time consuming to shop for (and assemble) furnishings.

Homestay Or Residential Apartment? The Advantages of Choosing a Homestay
It’s expensive to furnish a room or apartment. Save money by staying in a furnished room from a local host family!

Are you interested in a homestay? AA Homestays provides safe and secure homestays with warm and welcoming host families. Browse our listings and find the family and home that are right for you.