General Information








 

Office of International Programs

The Office of International Programs is responsible for providing assistance to all international students studying at the university, as well as the university's Study Abroad Programs. Services include:

  1. Orientation program for all new international students.
  2. Assistance with F-1 & J-1 visa matters.
  3. Advice and counseling on personal and academic concerns.
  4. Publication of international student and study abroad newsletters several times a year.
  5. Assistance to students who wish to study abroad.

The office is open from 8:30 a.m. - noon and 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please stop by and visit us. We look forward to helping you get the most out of your academic experience with the university.

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Emergencies

Call 911 directly to report life-threatening emergencies!

Campus Security at The University of Puget Sound is staffed 24 hours/day and can be reached by dialing 253.879.3311 (or from on campus, dial extension x3311). Campus Security is located at 3206 N. 15th and can assist you with crime prevention information, keys (lost keys, issuance of keys), parking, and after hours admits. Security also provides an escort service on campus and to some areas off campus. Please report all campus emergencies to Security Services.

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Financial Information

Banking

Banks provide many services, including checking and savings accounts, 24-hour automatic teller machines (ATM), foreign currency exchange, traveler's checks, money orders and safe-deposit boxes for valuables. Please see Appendix IV or the local Yellow Pages for information about local banks.

There is a Wells Fargo ATM located in the Wheelock Student Center (WSC, or commonly referred to as "the SUB") that accepts debit (ATM) cards (Exchange, Accel, Plus) and credit cards (MasterCard, VISA and American Express).

You may cash personal checks or checks written by your immediate family for up to $50.00 per day at the bookstore, located in the basement of Wheelock Student Center. This privilege will be lost should two checks be returned unpaid by your bank.

Credit Cards

Credit cards, such as MasterCard, VISA and American Express, are accepted almost everywhere in the U.S. While it is tempting to charge all your purchases to your credit card, please be aware that it is very easy to run up large bills that may be difficult to pay on time. The interest rate you will be charged on any unpaid balance is usually quite high.

If your credit cards are stolen, you must report this immediately to the credit card companies and to the local police. If you do not, you will be held responsible for any subsequent charges made to those cards. Never give out your credit card information to someone over the phone unless you initiate the call.

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Tax Information

Sales Tax

In the State of Washington, you will find sales tax added to the marked price of all goods, except food purchases at supermarkets and grocery stores. The sales tax rate varies by county. In Tacoma and Seattle, the sales tax is about 9.3%.

Washington law (RCW 82.08.0273) provides an exemption from the retail sales tax to residents of certain states, provinces and territories for purchase of tangible personal property which will be used outside Washington State. However, the exemption does not extend to temporary residents, such as U.S. or foreign college students.

Social Security & Income Tax

All wages are subject of federal income tax.

If you work, you may be required to pay certain taxes.

If you are interested in working, please contact the International Student Advisor in the Office of International Programs.

Before you can work, you must have a Social Security number (SSN). SEVIS regulations require that you must first have an offer of employment before you are eligible to apply for a Social Security card. You may then fill out an application and take it in person, with your immigration documents and passport, and authorization from International Programs to the local Social Security Administration (SSA) office. You are required to have a letter of authorization from the International Student Advisor before you go to the SSA office.

Once you are approved for a SSN, you will be issued a Social Security card. If your Social Security card is lost or stolen, report it immediately to the Social Security Administration and to International Programs.

All employed U.S. citizens must pay Social Security taxes. However, international students engaging in authorized employment may be exempt from paying Social Security taxes. If you are working on campus, you must contact the Payroll Office in order to claim your exemption from paying Social Security taxes.

Washington state does not have a state icome tax. International students who work are subject to federal (U.S.) income tax. Federal income taxes are generally automatically withheld from your paychecks. If your country has a tax treaty which exempts you from paying income taxes, you must file the proper paperwork with the Payroll Office before you start working, and each calendar year thereafter, in order to exempt yourself from withholding.

In the U.S., taxes are filed in April for wages earned in the preceding calendar year. International students who have U.S. source income must file taxes. Forms are available online.

Further information can be found in two publications titled, "Social Security Coverage for Foreign Students and Exchange Visitors" and "U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens." You can also visit their website at www.irs.gov.

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Communications

Telephone

Each residence hall room is supplied with a telephone. Through AT&T, the university has arranged special discounted long distance calling service for students. Phone calls from campus phones are made using individually assigned, confidential ID numbers. There is no complicated application process or fee. Calling rates are lower than rates charged by other long distance companies and much cheaper than collect calls. Call the University Mail/Telephone Coordinator at (253) 756-3227 if you have questions.

Post Office

The campus mail room is located in the basement of Wheelock Student Center. Students can buy stamps, mail packages, send faxes (for a charge) and express mail through the mail room.

Puget Sound students are assigned a campus mailbox in the campus mail room. Mail from campus offices will be sent to the campus mailbox. Students are encouraged to check their mailbox regularly (e.g. every week) for personal and campus mail.

The closest U.S. Post Office to campus is the Proctor Station, located at 3801 N. 27th (about a 15-minute walk from campus). The post office business hours are: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Saturday. Additional information about service is available online at www.usps.com.

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Health & Safety

Counseling, Health & Wellness Services

The purpose of Counseling, Health & Wellness Services is to complement the university’s academic mission by helping students achieve success - personally, socially, emotionally and, in turn, academically - during their college years and beyond. The services provided include individual confidential counseling, group counseling, workshops, training programs and wilderness personal growth outings (backpacking, rock climbing, sea kayaking, etc., over winter and spring breaks).

The Counseling, Health & Wellness Services provides general medical care to university students.  The center is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon & 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Students are seen by appointment.  In general, most services provided at the center are free. For those services which are fee-based, you can use the LewerMark Health Insurance. Claim forms are available in the International Programs Office.

Health Insurance

Medical costs are expensive in the U.S. Therefore, you are required to purchase the university’s insurance plan for international students. You will be billed through Student Financial Services at the beginning of fall and spring semesters for this coverage.

Safety and Security in the U.S.

America is often portrayed by foreign media as a very violent and frightening place. While violent events do occur, they are a rare occurrence in the average person, and most people will never even see anything violent, much less become a victim of a violent crime.

The common American expression says it all; "better safe than sorry." This is the rule for travel anywhere, be it here or in your home country. Use common sense while traveling and don't do things you wouldn't do back home:

  • Lock your dorm room or house every time you leave, even if only for a moment.
  • Don't walk alone at night.
  • Keep people informed of your itinerary when you go somewhere, even if just overnight.
  • Register with your country's local consulate office.
  • Keep a low profile - don't draw attention to yourself with jewelry, expensive clothes, etc.
  • Take precautions - don't give out your phone number or address to people unknown to you.
  • Avoid situations where you might lose all control due to over-consumption of alcohol.
  • In public buses, sit towards the front of the bus, near the driver.
  • Watch out for pickpockets and scam artists. You may think you are smarter and quicker than they are - and that's probably true - but they are experienced in scamming tourists, so watch your belongings! Your wallet can disappear before you even realize who has bumped into you.

Traveling

We hope that each and every one of you will have at least one opportunity to travel around and see the sites of the U.S. We also want you to be safe.

  • Use a money belt for anything you wouldn't want to lose. Sleep with it, even in hostels or hotels. And never leave luggage unattended, even for a moment.
  • When taking the train, choose compartments with people in them.
  • Note the location of emergency equipment on any sort of vehicle.
  • Keep your wallet in a side pocket/keep your purse closed. When in large crowds, carry your backpack in front of you. If you put it down, even for a moment, put your foot through the strap.
  • Beware of scams and keep an eye open for potential problems.
  • Make use of lockers or safes in hostels/hotels.
  • Maintain visual contact with your luggage at all time.
  • Do not hitchhike! While hitchhiking (soliciting rides from strangers alongside the road) may be relatively safe in other countries, in America it is very dangerous, and even illegal in some areas.

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Cultural Adjustment

Cultural Adjustment is not a single event, rather it is a cycle of personal readjustment you experience when you encounter challenges to your own cultural beliefs, values and behaviors. Individuals who enter a different culture, no matter where they come from, often experience a cycle of emotions. They are:

  1. Initial euphoria is the excitement you feel during the first few weeks of living in a different country. You often feel that this new way of life is not similar to yours, and you are charmed by any cultural differences you experience.

  2. Irritation and hostility. After a while, these differences turn into annoyances, and "cultural adjustment" sets in. You may feel homesick, wanting to spend all your time with people of your own culture, speaking your own language. Other symptoms include extreme tiredness, boredom, confusion, and a tendency to stereotype host nationals and talk negatively about them.

  3. Gradual adjustment. As time passes, your attitudes will change as you become more accustomed to the new culture. You will feel less isolated and more comfortable.

  4. Adaptation or Biculturalism. Finally, you will arrive at the stage where you feel comfortable in both cultures, even to the point of wanting to continue some host country customs when you return home!

How to Handle Cultural Adjustment

Make a genuine effort to learn as much as possible about the U.S. and its people, preferably before you leave home. Your expectations should be realistic - ask yourself what you can accomplish, given the amount of time you will be in U.S.

Be adaptable! Don’t wait for people to seek you out, but rather, make the first move yourself. Don’t worry about speaking the language perfectly - the fact that you are making a genuine effort to communicate with people is always appreciated, and you make friends quicker this way.

If you have any problem, don’t wait until they become overwhelming. Seek out a friend or counselor or International Programs staff in a timely manner so that you can most effectively address the issues you are facing. Please remember that stress can often bring headaches, stomachaches and other physical problems, so be sure to tell the doctor or counselor if you are experiencing any stress.

Don’t isolate yourself. If you are experiencing the symptoms of cultural adjustment, please call our office or drop by for a visit whenever you feel you need to. You can help us learn more about you and your culture as we help you enjoy your time at the university.

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