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International Scholar Services Welcome Handbook

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International Scholar Services

The University of Texas at San Antonio


Table of Contents

General Information…………………………………………………………………………………………3 Important Phone Numbers & Websites………………………………………………………………….….3 The UTSA Card………………………………………………………………………………………….……4 Social Security Number……………………………………………………………………………….……..4 Banking……………………………………………………………………………………………………....5 Transportation………………………………………………………………………………………………6 Housing……………………………………………………………………………………………………....8 Dining………………………………………………………………………………………………………..8 Utilities and Other Services….……………………………………………………………………………....8 Childcare…………………………………………………………………………………………………....10 Public Schools……………………………………………………………………………………………....10 Coping with Culture Shock……………………………………………………………………….…..….....11 American Cultural Notes …………………………………………………………………………………..13

The University of Texas at San Antonio – 1.210 Main Building, One UTSA Circle – San Antonio, TX 78249 Phone: (210) 458-7201 – Fax: (210) 458-7222 – international.utsa.edu/scholar


International Scholar Services International Scholar Services assists and supports academic departments across UTSA in successfully attaining and maintaining the appropriate immigration status for the employment of their international faculty, scholars and staff. It also serves as a source of guidance on immigration matters related to employment. The core responsibility of Scholar Services involves the review, preparation and submission of documents required by federal regulations to obtain the appropriate nonimmigrant/immigrant status of the foreign nationals. UTSA provides initial welcoming and settlement assistance to international scholars to aid their integration into the campus and local community. Working with other offices and academic departments, Scholar Services serves as a clearinghouse of information and data to facilitate joint program activities between international faculty, scholars and staff and UTSA faculty and international scholars.

After Hours Emergency Phone Number: 210-458-4242; tell UTSA Police Dispatch that you need Office of International Programs Staff assistance.

In the event you experience an immigration emergency after office hours and you or the officers at the United States Custom and Border Protection need to contact us, we have established an emergency phone number. Please note that this number is only for immigration emergencies for our faculty, researchers and staff and should not be used for any other purposes.

Important Phone Numbers & Websites Emergency Off-campus phone: 911 On-campus phone: 4-911

UTSA Police 210-458-4242 http://alerts.utsa.edu

San Antonio Police Department 210-207-7894 http://sanantonio.gov.sapd

The University of Texas at San Antonio http://utsa.edu

Campus Directory http://utsa.edu/directory

International Gateway 210-458-7202 http://international.utsa.edu

San Antonio Visitors Bureau http://visitsanantonio.com

U.S. Department of State http://travel.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) http://uscis.gov

U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) http://irs.gov

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The UTSA Card The UTSA Card is the official ID for students, faculty and staff at UTSA. Your hiring department will assist you with obtaining the paperwork needed to receive your UTSA Card. While the primary function of the card is as campus identification, it also allows you • Access to some laboratories and buildings • Use of John Peace Library, computer labs and other academic resources • Enter sporting events and other campus activities • Use of UTSA’s Rec Center • Create a meal plan • Allows you some discounts through the faculty/staff discount program at local businesses. The UTSACard office is located in MS 1.01.52 or FS 1.506 (downtown). The office is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You must bring an existing photo ID, such as your passport or a driver’s license. You also need to bring your Banner ID. If you lose your UTSACard, it is important that you cancel the card immediately. Call 210-458-4639 to deactivate the card. Report the lost card to the UTSA Police. To replace your card, you must return to the UTSACard office. The replacement cost is $5.

Obtaining a Social Security Number The Social Security Number keeps track of your earnings and withholdings in the United States. A Social Security Number is needed for a variety of things, such as opening a bank account. If you are working at UTSA, you will need to obtain a Social Security Number. You must be in the United States in order to apply for your Social Security Number. This number is given to you in the form of a card after you have made the appropriate request to the U.S. Social Security Administration. The local office is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. You will need to take the following documentation with you to the office in order to obtain a Social Security Number: • A copy of your passport • A copy of your visa • A copy of your I-94 card (front and back) • If you are a J-1 visa holder, a copy of your DS-2019 (front and back) • A copy of your offer letter of employment You must wait at least five working days after entering the United States before you apply for a Social Security card. The waiting period allows the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services sufficient time to enter your travel data into their computer system. The Social Security Administration is required to match your data with your arrival information entered by the USCIS. Applying for your Social Security Number too soon could result in further delay. Make sure you provide a correct local address when applying. It takes approximately two weeks to receive your Social Security Number after your have applied. However, in certain cases and for different circumstances, the process can take longer. Please do not call the Social Security Administration to inquire about your application’s status until six weeks have passed. More information and a step-by-step guide to applying for a Social Security Number can be found at http://utsa. edu/hr/Employment/SSN.html. 4


Banking San Antonio is home to many banks, credit unions and financial institutions. We recommend that you consult the Yellow Pages of the local phone book to locate the bank that you would like to work with. The new accounts department at the bank will help you open an account. There are different kinds of bank accounts to choose from. The three most common: 1. Savings accounts This type of account allows your money to earn interest over time. Some savings accounts charge a fee for frequent withdrawals and letting your balance drop below a designated amount. This type of account is best if you need to deposit money for safekeeping over an extended period of time. 2. Checking accounts This type of account is designated to hold your money, but it also allows you to access it whenever needed through checks and check cards. Some of these accounts earn interest and some have restrictions on the number of checks you can write. Most have minimum balances and penalties for going below the minimum balance. 3. Certificates of Deposit These are saving certificates that earn a higher rate of interest than savings and checking accounts. They also require you to keep money in the Certificate of Deposit for a specific length of time (usually six months to a year). Most banks will provide the following basic services as well as several other special services. Before opening an account, ask the banks about these additional services: • Bank statements (electronic or printed) • ATMs • Cancelled checks • Wiring services for money • Currency exchange • Traveler’s checks • Loans • Checking reserves • Credit references • Safety deposit boxes • Money orders • Cashier’s checks • Draft • Notary public • Check cashing • Night deposit

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Transportation Driving Owning an automobile can be very convenient, but it can also be expensive. In addition to the initial cost of purchasing the car, there are insurance costs, general maintenance, gasoline, licensing and parking costs. To drive a car in Texas you must have a valid Texas driver’s license. An international driver’s license is only valid for one year. For identity purposes, a driver’s license is a major form of identification in the United States. For example, you may be asked to show your driver’s license to write a check or use a credit card. You can obtain a picture ID card from the Department of Public Safety (DPS). It is similar to a driver’s license, but it does not allow you to drive. San Antonio is a major U.S. city. As a result, you may want to obtain a driver’s license in order to drive a car in Texas and the United States. In this case, the driver’s license will act as an identification document and as a license for you to operate a motor vehicle. In order to obtain a driver’s license, please visit the Texas Department of Public Safety’s website: www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense. Or contact the agency: Department of Public Safety (DPS) License and Voter Registration 1258 Babcock Road San Antonio, TX 78201

Driver’s License Office 210-737-1911

Be advised: Wait times can be long at the DPS offices. Be prepared to wait at least an hour. If you decide to purchase a car, make sure that the Certificate of Ownership and Title is transferred into your name from the previous owner. Make sure that the car is registered within 10 days after your purchase. Contact the Bexar County Tax Assessor Collector’s Office for additional information. Safety inspection laws require that the automobile be inspected at least once a year at a DPS-approved Official State Inspection Station. These include some gas stations and automobile repair shops. There is a fee for the inspection. License plates are required on the front and back of your vehicle for identification purposes. Contact the Bexar County Tax Assessor Collector’s Office for additional information or visit www.bexar.org/tax. Automobile insurance is required if you own a vehicle. By state law, you must have liability insurance before you drive a car. Insurance can be obtained from many companies. Refer to the Yellow Pages of the phone book for a complete listing of local agencies. All rates in Texas are about the same for the same risk classification and types of coverage. There are three types of automobile insurance: 1. Accidental Pays for damage to your automobile when you have an accident 6


2. Comprehensive Insures against many kinds of damage to your car (weather, such as hail or a tree limb falling on your car in a storm, vandalism, and so forth) 3. Liability Pays for injury, loss of life and damage to other cars or property. You must, at minimum, have liability insurance coverage.

Taxis Refer to the Yellow Pages for a complete listing. This is the most expensive means of transportation.

VIA Metropolitan Transit San Antonio has an extensive public transit system, which is mainly by bus. You can find out more at http://www.viainfo.net.

Rental cars In order to rent a car, you must have a valid driver’s license and a credit card. Most rental agencies in the United States require the person renting the car be more than 25 years old. For a complete listing of local rental companies, please refer to the Yellow Pages.

Bicycles and Skateboards Bikes and skateboards are a popular, inexpensive and convenient type of transportation at UTSA. There are bike racks available across campus. For extra protection, you should invest in a good bike lock and have your bike registered and engraved with the UTSA Police Department. Bike riders are required to observe the same traffic rules on the road as car drivers. The Texas Driver’s Handbook can be found at txdps.state.tx.us.

Airport http://www.sanantonio.gov/SAT.aspx For long-distance travel, flying is the fastest and most efficient means of transportation in the United States. In order to book a flight, you can either work with a travel agent or do it yourself online. For a complete listing of travel agents, please refer to the local Yellow Pages. The San Antonio International Airport (SAT) has flights to many international cities, and also connects to Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston airports with multiple flights daily. Nonstop destinations include: • Atlanta, GA • New York, NY– JFK and Newark • Houston, TX – Hobby and Bush Intercontinental • Cancun, Toluca, Monterrey, and Mexico City, Mexico • Phoenix, AZ • Chicago, IL – Midway and O’Hare • Los Angeles, CA • Dallas, TX – Love and DFW • Minneapolis, MN • Denver, CO • Washington, DC– Dulles 7


Housing San Antonio offers a variety of housing options. You should consider location, budget, preferences and safety. Many scholars chose to live near campus for an easy commute. UTSA Student Affairs offers a website to help students select off-campus housing. It is a good place for scholars to refer to for nearby apartment complexes as well. http://utsa.edu/studentlife/offcampus_housing.html

Dining Eating on Campus UTSA offers a variety of dining options throughout campus. We encourage you to visit utsa.campusdish. com to see the many restaurants and eating locations on campus.

Eating Out There are many restaurants in San Antonio, a city known worldwide for its food. Refer to the restaurant guide in the Yellow Pages of the phone book for further assistance. You can find almost any type of cultural cuisine in San Antonio. “Fast food” refers to the quickly cooked meals found at drive-through restaurants like McDonalds. It is served quickly, but it is not always nutritionally balanced. In restaurants where you are seated and served a meal, it is customary to leave a tip (15 to 20% of the total bill) for the server.

Cooking for Yourself It is generally less expensive to prepare food at home. Supermarkets and grocery stores sell all types of food—both fresh and canned—health supplies, cosmetics, cooking utensils, and other products. HEB and Wal-Mart are two of the biggest grocery stores in San Antonio, but there are smaller stores, including ones that specialize in international and ethnic foods. Look in the phone book or online under grocers-retail.

Utilities and Other Services If you live in a house or an off-campus apartment, you may have to arrange for the following services:

Gas, Electric, and Trash Pick–up Services City Public Service, also known as CPS:  (210) 353–2222  CPS is the energy company that you need to call to turn on your electric and gas service in San Antonio. They also provide trash pick-up services.

Water Services San Antonio Water System, also known as SAWS: 210-704–SAWS. SAWS provides water and sewer services.

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Laundry Many apartments and houses in San Antonio provide a washing machine and dryer. Some laundry tips: Most washing machines have three temperatures • Hot — for whites and very dirty clothes • Cold — for delicate clothing and clothing that has dye that may wash out in warmer water temperatures • Warm — for everything else! Drying machines have three temperatures: • Normal — for regular clothes and towels • Permanent Press — to reduce the wrinkles in clothes • Low — for delicate clothes

 Postal Service The United States Postal Service (USPS) will deliver mail to your home. You can update your address information at http://www.usps.gov.

Internet, Cable and Telephone Services In the United States, these services are often sold as a group by providers. You may receive a better rate by “bundling” these services. • AT&T • Time Warner Cable • Qwest/Century Link • Grande Communications: This company has very limited service in the San Antonio area. Check their website to confirm you are in their service area. Call  210-320-4600.

Local and Long–distance Telephone Services and Internet Access Options Visit these websites for more information on how to establish a home telephone for local and long–distance calling as well as Internet and wireless services. You can compare prices at www.phonedog.com and www.abtolls.com. • • •

AT&T : Visit their website for information on how to establish your home phone for local and long–distance calling. Verizon:   1–800–483–4000. Verizon offers multilingual customer service in Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, and Vietnamese. Grande Communications: This company has very limited service in the San Antonio area. Check their website to confirm you are in their service area. Call 210-320-4600.

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International Calling It may be cheaper to use Skype or a calling card purchased online or at a local store. A calling card will allow you to use any phone to make an international call. CallingCard.com will allow you to compare rates and purchase online. Many San Antonio stores sell international calling cards, including Wal–Mart, Dollar General and Target.

Cable Only DirecTV: This service requires a Dish and receivers. Check out their website for special offers. Other providers listed above also will sell cable services separately, if you choose not to use Internet or telephone service.

Childcare San Antonio has a variety of childcare services. It is up to the parent to decide what kind of childcare service they feel is appropriate. There are a variety of options, including nurseries, preschools, in-home care and child care centers, in the United States. The UTSA Child Development Center is available for students, faculty and staff. Be aware there is a required application and a wait list. Please note: International Scholar Services and UTSA cannot make recommendations regarding particular caregivers. Deciding which caregiver to use should be made after careful investigation and evaluation by the families. However, it is the sole responsibility of the families to screen and select the caregiver.

Public Schools In the U.S., it is required that all children between the ages of 5 and 18 attend school. There are many school districts in San Antonio; where you live will determine where your children attend school. Public schools are free; they are supported by tax dollars from district residents. Ask your Realtor or rental agent which school district your home is in and the phone number and address for the school. You will need to visit the school in person to register your children. There are several school districts (ISD) in the San Antonio area: Alamo Heights ISD Floresville ISD

Medina Valley ISD

Schertz-Cibolo-Universal ISD

Boerne ISD

Fort Sam Houston ISD

North East ISD

Somerset ISD

Comal ISD

Harlandale ISD

Northside ISD

South San Antonio ISD

East Central ISD

Judson ISD

Randolph Field ISD Southwest ISD

Edgewood ISD

Lackland ISD

San Antonio ISD

You will need to bring your child’s birth certificate, passport, I-94, your passport, immunization records for your child and proof of residence, such as a signed lease agreement or utility bill. You may consider sending your children to a private school. These schools charge additional tuition. There are schools for specific religious denominations (Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Islamic), topics (charter schools) or teaching types (Montessori). Parents are encouraged to consider all options and select the one that works best for the family. 10


Coping with Culture Shock Culture shock describes the feeling of disorientation or confusion that sometimes happens when a person leaves a familiar place and moves to an unfamiliar one. You will have to adapt to the new situation, and this can take time. Culture shock is a physical and psychological reaction that comes from changes to your everyday routine. Almost everyone who moves to another country will experience some culture shock. It is a natural process and nothing to be ashamed of. The stages are Pre-departure Anxiety: This happens in your home country, before you leave. You will experience a gradual increase in your emotional excitement. The Honeymoon: The first reaction to a new culture is often euphoric. The differences in scenery, food, language or dialect are very exciting. Initial Culture Shock: This is where excitement turns into frustration. It is difficult to communicate. You can’t find your favorite foods. You miss family and friends. Surface Adjustment: You have settled into a new routine. You are registered for classes and you’ve started meeting people, some with similar interests. Deep Culture Shock: There may be unresolved differences between American culture and your home culture. Physical symptoms •

Fear of physical contact with the host national

Health and safety are over-stressed

Absentmindedness

Crave food from home

Use alcohol or drugs to cope

Work declines in quality

Unsuccessful performance of daily tasks

Fatigue

Psychological symptoms •

Anxiety and irritability

Frustration and disorientation

Rejection of others from host country

Hostility toward host country

Excessive fear of being robbed, cheated or injured

Fear of physical contact with the host national

Health and safety are over-stressed

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Absentmindedness

Crave food from home

Use alcohol or drugs to cope

Work declines in quality

Unsuccessful performance of daily tasks

Fatigue

Misinterpretation of others’ gestures and body language

Self-doubt

Aggressive attitude

Mood swings

Feeling of helplessness

Feeling of being rejected

Adaption and Adjustment: This requires the ability to know yourself well and know the ways of the culture and its expectations for you. You might be challenged to learn new concepts and ideas. Keep an open mind and it will help you adapt in this new culture. What can I do about culture shock? Do not isolate yourself. You are not alone. Go out with friends or co-workers. Do things socially beyond research and work. Use UTSA’s Employee Assistance Program if you feel overwhelmed.

Culture Shock Survival Tips •

Avoid isolation. Talk to others.

Keep in touch with home. Use e-mail, texting and social networking sites to stay in touch with family and friends at home.

Keep your sense of humor.

Withhold judgment on something until you understand it.

Do not be afraid to ask questions if you do not understand something.

Do things you enjoy doing to relax: Paint, read, exercise, play music.

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American Cultural Notes • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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Time management is an important skill to learn! Independent thinking is valued in U.S. culture. Presenting ideas clearly and in a well-thought-out manner is valued. Americans can be competitive. Treat everyone equally. Informality is normal. Friendship is based on similar interests and doing things in common. Americans are very informal in dress and social interactions. American students wear jeans and T-shirts and carry backpacks. At work, people tend to call each other by their first names; it is a sign of mutual respect, open dialogue and intellectual exchange. Use titles for professors and those in authority until asked otherwise (Professor/Doctor/Mr./Mrs./ Ms.). Americans place a high value on time. They do not like to wait. It is considered rude to be late; if you will be late to a social engagement, call or text to let others know and give an explanation. Americans value hard work. Americans view themselves as individuals with freedom and responsibility to manage their own lives. Americans are not always comfortable being obligated or dependent on others. Americans value personal space. We tend to stand about two or three feet apart when talking to each other. We might move back if we feel another person is too close. Americans tend to make eye contact when speaking. This is seen as showing you are truthful and trustworthy. Americans are very direct. We do not guard our emotional responses, as some other cultures do. Watch how Americans say something: You can learn how we feel about a subject by the tone of our voice, our facial expressions, or our hand gestures. If you are invited to someone’s home for a party or dinner, it is appropriate to let the host know if you will attend. This is called RSVP (please respond). You do not have to bring a gift, but flowers or other small items are appropriate if you want to gift your host/hostess. It is appropriate to let your host know if you have certain foods you cannot eat. Americans like to look and smell good and be “germ-free.” Some Americans might react negatively to those who do not bathe frequently, use deodorant, or regularly wash their clothing.

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New International Faculty Welcome Handbook