UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT SERVICES
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS ............................................................................................ 2
IN TR O D U C TIO N ....................................................................................................... 3
ACADEMICS & STUDENT LIFE............................................................................. 4
IM M IG RA TIO N ....................................................................................................... 25
FINDING YOUR WAY AROUND GAINESVILLE.......................................... 35
H O U SIN G .................................................................................................................. 36
HEALTH & SAFETY HEALTH.............................................................................. 49
H EA L T H .................................................................................................................... 49
SA FE T Y ..................................................................................................................... 63
TRANSPORTATION & TRAVEL.......................................................................... 75
MONEY MANAGEMENT............................................................................. 81
SH O PPIN G ............................................ ................................................... ....... 88
GETTING ALONG WITH AMERICANS.............................................................. 94
ENTERTAINMENT & RECREATION................................................................ 106
APPENDIX A: ADDRESSES AND PHONE NUMBERS.................................... 113
APPENDIX B: HANDBOOK ABBREVIATIONS............................................... 115
APPENDIX C: MORE SUPPORT SERVICES 116
On behalf of the University of Florida, the staff at the UFIC/ISS and the Gainesville
community, I wish to extend to you our warmest welcome to the United States and to
This information handbook is designed to help you achieve your academic goals and to live
comfortably in our community. This is a reference book of readily available information to
which many persons including foreign students have contributed. We have not attempted to
answer every possible question about life on campus and in the United States in this
handbook. We hope however that after reading this handbook you will have a general
overview of what to expect being an international student at the University of Florida. If
you need any further advice, assistance, or information, please telephone the University of
Florida International Center of which ISS is a division, at 392-5323 ext. 600 or "drop in" at
170 Hub. Our office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 a m-5.00 p m. The UFIC
is here to help you!
I would like to thank all the UFIC staff who helped prepare this handbook. I would also like
to acknowledge the University of Iowa for their kind permission to use some sections from
their Handbook, as well as all other contributors.
University of Florida International Center
ACADEMICS & STUDENT LIFE
The American Academic System
By the time they attend college, most American students have completed twelve years of
formal education: six years of elementary school, two years of junior high school, and four
years of senior high school. Undergraduate college programs generally require four to five
years of study, while master programs involve two further years of study, and doctoral
programs three or more years beyond the master's level. The American academic system, as
a whole, is intended to provide a broad education for as many people as possible. While
many institutions of higher education require exams for admission evaluation, there is no
screening examination that directs a student into an academic or vocational area at an early
age. A high proportion of the population completes secondary school and many students
attempt some kind of post-secondary education at the undergraduate level. Within the
American society there is a conflict between those who advocate earlier and greater
specialization in a field and those who believe in a broader "humanistic" or "Liberal Arts"
education. Because of these differences in philosophies, emphasis on requirements may vary
from university to university, or from department to department within the same school. The
American educational system does produce specialists, people who study a limited range of
topics in great depth. Specialization comes later in the U.S. system than it does in most other
countries. It is not until the third year of undergraduate work that a student concentrates on
the study of his "major" field. There is further specialization in graduate work, especially as
students undertake research for their thesis or dissertation.
UF Computer and Software Requirement
The following is the official UF policy on the student computer requirement, taken from the
UF Student Guide:
Access to and on-going use of a computer will be required for all students to
complete their degree programs successfully. Effective with the Summer B 1999
term, the University of Florida expects each entering student to acquire computer
hardware and software appropriate to his or her degree program. Competency in the
basic use of a computer is a requirement for graduation. Class assignments may
require use of a computer, academic advising and registration can be done by
computer, and official university correspondence is often sent via e-mail.
While the university offers limited access to computers through its computer
labs, most students will be expected to purchase or lease a computer that is capable of
dial-up or network connection to the Internet, graphical access to the World Wide
Web, and productivity functions such as word processing and spreadsheet calculation.
Costs of meeting this requirement will be included in financial aid considerations.
Interpretation of the policy
For the Freshman and Sophomore years, these functions can be provided by most
currently available standard computers. A student computer configuration should
include an office software suite and printer. Appropriate networking and Internet
software is available to students at no additional cost from the University. Sample
minimum computer configurations, current as of Spring 1999, are provided on the
website. Individual colleges may have additional requirements or recommendations
for lower division, upper division, graduate and professional students.
Further information about the UF computer policy can be found at the following website:
Leadership and Extracurricular Activities
While American academic institutions encourage the learning of facts, most also advocate the
student's personal growth. A variety of activities attract student participation on American
campuses, and these extracurricular activities are believed to develop "leadership" qualities in
students, which will enrich their lives after they graduate from school.
Information regarding minimum test scores and requirements for admission to the University
of Florida may be found in the "Admission" sections of the undergraduate and graduate
catalogues, or at the Admissions Office, located in S201 Criser Hall. Many universities
require students to take nationally administered examinations, which permit the school to
evaluate the student's skills in relation to other students across the country. Some universities
require a minimum score on these examinations before they will accept an applicant.
International students must also take these examinations before they are considered for
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) measures a student's mastery of the
English language. Most universities require international students to take this examination
before admission to graduate or undergraduate schools. Many schools also require
international students to take the Test of Spoken English (TSE).
Undergraduate admission may depend upon one's score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test
(SAT) or the American College Testing Program (ACT). These tests measure verbal and
math skills of high school students. High scores on the College Board Achievement Tests
(also known as "advanced placement tests" or "APT") in English composition, mathematics,
social sciences, and sciences may give an entering student advanced placement in the
University. Some schools will approve credits for university-level courses if the student's
score is high on these examinations.
The most common test for graduate school admission is the Graduate Record Examination
(GRE). This test measures proficiency in English, mathematics, and logic. Professional
schools also require entrance examinations. Students who wish to earn a Master's degree in
Business Administration (MBA) must complete the Graduate Management Admissions Test
(GMAT). Students applying to law school generally take the Law School Admissions Test
(LSAT). Medical school applicants take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).
The Educational Testing Service (ETS) in Princeton, New Jersey administers the majority of
these examinations. Students may write directly to the ETS for registration forms and
information. Their address is: Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ, 08541-6151.
Several offices on campus stock registration pamphlets for these tests as well: the Office for
Instructional Resources in 1012 Turlington Hall; the Registrar's Office in S222 Criser Hall;
the Graduate School in Grinter Hall; the UFIC in 170 Hub, and the English Language Institu-
te in 313 Norman Hall.
Evaluation of Performance in School
The quantity of academic work a student does at the University is measured in "credits." The
number of credits a course is worth usually depends on the number of hours per week that it
meets. A "three-credit course," for example, will meet three hours weekly for one semester.
It might meet for three fifty-minute sessions, as undergraduate classes normally do, or for one
three-hour session, the more common pattern in graduate classes. At the end of the semester,
the student who has achieved a passing grade in the course has earned "three credits" or
"three credit hours." A student must earn a specified number of credits in order to graduate.
This number varies for undergraduates and graduates, as well as among departments. Further
information about specific requirements for various degrees may be found in the catalogues
or through the departments.
The Grading System
The quality of a student's academic work is measured by means of "grades." There are seven
grades which are considered "passing" grades for undergraduates at the University of Florida:
A, B+, B, C+, C, D+, and D. For undergraduates, the grade which designates "failing" is
"E" (or "F" in some schools). For graduate students, "passing" grades are more stringent: A,
B+, B, C+ and C (although graduate students must maintain a "B" overall grade point
average). Grades lower than a C may be considered failing grades in graduate school. The
official explanation of grades at the University of Florida may be found in the University
catalogues. Each grade carries a designated number of "points" per credit. These point
designations and computations may be found in the catalogue under the headings "Grades"
Students may also choose to be evaluated for some classes which have an optional
"satisfactory" ("S") and "unsatisfactory" ("U") grading basis. An explanation of this option
may be found in the catalogue under the category "Grades." Students considering this option
should consult with an advisor to understand how a course taken under this type of
evaluation will affect their competitive standing with other students.
Students are expected to complete their own work, without any dependence on other
students or sources. One of the worst violations a student can commit while studying at an
academic institution is to engage in academic dishonesty. Students should never look at
other students' papers during an examination. To "cheat" on an examination by getting
answers from other students or from materials illicitly brought to the test can result in a
failing grade for the examination and in disciplinary action. Severe penalties, including
expulsion from the University, may result if the student is found guilty of academic
dishonesty. The University catalogue contains "Academic Honesty Guidelines" which explain
officially what constitutes "cheating," "plagiarism," bribery," "conspiracy," or other forms of
academic dishonesty. Because these offenses are so serious in the academic environment, all
students should read these guidelines to make themselves aware of the seriousness of this
University of Florida Teaching Methods
The most common method of instruction at the University is the classroom lecture. The
lectures are often supplemented by "discussion sections," which are led by professors or
teaching assistants, by reading assignments in textbooks or library books, and by periodic
written assignments. Early in the morning a professor may teach a class that is videotaped
and replayed on television for classes held later that day.
In classes that are too large to permit questions and discussion, a "discussion section" is often
arranged for students to pose questions to the instructor leading the section. It is very
important for students to contribute to the discussion in the classrooms, as this is one aspect
in which students are evaluated for grades. In some countries it is "disrespectful" for the
student to question or challenge the teacher. In this country, by contrast, questioning or
challenging the teacher is viewed as a good sign of interest, attention, and independent
thinking. In many classes, your grade will be determined in part by your contribution to class
discussion. If you sit in "respectful" silence, the professor may assume that you are not
interested in what is being said in the class, or that you do not understand any of the
Many courses have co-requisite laboratory courses, where the theory learned in a classroom
is applied to practical problems. This means you must take the discussion course and the
laboratory course. For further information please, check with the department offering the
If for some reason you do not have the opportunity to raise questions in class, you can visit
privately with your professors during their office hours. These are designated times when the
professor will be available in his/her office to answer questions. Professors usually announce
their office hours during the first few meetings of the course. Some professors will make
appointments with students who have a conflict with their office hours.
In many courses students are required to write a "term paper" (also called simply a "paper").
A term paper is written based on study or research the student himself/herself has done in the
library or laboratory. Teachers normally assign term papers during the early part of the
course. Students are expected to work on the paper during the semester and submit it near
the end of the semester when it is due. The grade the student receives on the term paper may
constitute a significant portion of his/her grade for the course. It is wise to complete term
papers in advance of their due date so there is time to ask another person to review the paper
and suggest revisions. Many students consult with their professors before writing their
papers. The library and bookstores have books that explain the format of term papers,
including the use of footnotes and bibliographies. In particular, Kate Turabian's book,
Manual for Writers of Theses and Dissertation and the Chicago Manual of Style are well-
known guides to term paper format. Questions about term paper assignments should be
discussed with the professor. Professors prefer typewritten papers to handwritten papers.
The Student Activities Center at the J. Wayne Reitz Union has computers which students
may use free of charge. Most students type their papers on the computer, using the school's
word processing system.
Both in the preparation of the term papers and in doing assignments for classes, students are
likely to use the library quite often. It is important, therefore, to learn how the library system
works at the University of Florida. There are several libraries on campus, all of which are
listed in the campus phone book. In each place, the librarians can answer questions about the
library's organization, location of specific materials, reference materials, the LUIS computer
system that locates books by subject, author, or title, and other features. You will need your
University of Florida Gator 1 identification card in order to check out materials.
Students will take many examinations while they are in school. Nearly every class has a "final
examination" at the end of the semester. Most have a "mid-term examination" near the
middle of the semester. There may also be additional "tests" or "quizzes" given with greater
frequency, perhaps even weekly. All these tests are designed to assure that students are
doing the work that is assigned to them, and to measure how much they are learning. There
are two general types of tests, objective and subjective, and these may be administered in a
variety of forms.
An objective examination tests the student's knowledge of particular facts. Foreign students
sometimes have difficulty with objective examinations, not because they do not know the
material on which the test is based, but because their knowledge of English sometimes is not
sophisticated enough to enable them to distinguish subtle differences in meaning. There are
five different kinds of questions commonly found on objective examinations. Multiple choice
questions require the student to choose from a series of answers, selecting the one (or more)
that is most appropriate. True and false questions demand that the student read a statement
and indicate whether it is true or false. Matching questions involve pairing the words,
statements, or phrases from two columns. Identification questions ask the student to identify
and briefly explain the significance of a name, term, or phrase. Fill-in-the-blank questions
require the student to write information in an incomplete statement in order to make it
complete and correct.
Subjective examinations, or "essay questions"
These test items require the student to write an essay in response to a question or statement.
This kind of examination tests a student's ability to organize and relate his/her knowledge of a
particular subject. You are usually expected to write a long "discussion-style" answer to an
essay question. Because the time allotted for each essay question may be short, you must be
able to put your thoughts quickly down on the paper. Help with essay writing can be
arranged through the Writing Center in 2109 Turlington Hall.
Keys to Academic Success
Expect to Adjust to a New Environment.
A period of adjustment to a new educational system is often necessary before students are
able to perform to the best of their abilities. International students sometimes earn lower
grades during their first semester in school in the U.S. than they are used to do in their home
countries. Then, as they become accustomed to the system, their English and their grades
improve. They should not expect to do outstanding academic work during their first
semester here, since they are exposed to so many new things.
Select Courses Wisely.
Especially during the first semester, students should not take more courses than necessary.
As all international students must be registered full-time, it is important to choose a
combination of more-demanding and less-demanding courses rather than only "difficult" ones
which require unusually heavy amounts of work. It is also recommended never to take more
than two computer courses at one time, as the time and facility limitations often frustrate
students who take an overload of computer courses. When arranging their course schedules,
students should consult not only with their academic advisors, but also with experienced
students who are familiar with available courses and teachers. International students may be
tempted to register for more courses than necessary in order to earn their degree more
quickly. The usual result from taking too many courses may be discouragement, and poor
academic performance. Students should be familiar with pass/fail options, as well as the
procedure for dropping courses, which may be found in the catalogue. The advisors at the
different departments, as well as at the ISS, work to help students in difficult academic
positions such as these. You have to see an advisor at the ISS before you can drop a course
or withdraw. Any time you are experiencing academic difficulties, or are having trouble
selecting courses, consult with an advisor at the ISS immediately.
Ask for Help Immediately.
If you find that the course load you are taking becomes overwhelming, you should speak to
your advisor, professor, or a counselor at the ISS immediately. If a problem is identified
early, the chances are greater for a positive resolution of the situation. Students may be
directed to tutoring services, assisted in "dropping" a course, or advised in other ways to
remedy the situation.
Work Hard from the Beginning.
It is not possible, in the American system of higher education, to wait until the latter part of
the semester to begin studying. If you do not begin studying on the first day of classes, you
are likely to find yourself behind and may experience academic difficulty.
Talk to Professors.
Professors expect students to ask questions in class or immediately following the class. They
When students have problems or need advice, they should make an appointment to visit the
professor during his/her office hours. If a student is not doing well in class and does not go
to see the professor to discuss the situation, the professor is likely to assume that the student
is not really interested in the course. Professors may, in fact, have a negative or indifferent
evaluation of a student who never raises questions or challenges in class, or who does not
visit the professor outside of the class to discuss academic issues.
Understand the Assumptions behind the Educational System.
From past experience in your own educational system, you may have developed certain
assumptions about the nature and purpose of education, and about the way your field of
interest should be studied. For example, students may have been taught that it is important to
be able to memorize large quantities of information that are provided by professors, authors,
or other experts. In the American educational system, international students may find that
being able to memorize material is less important than being able to analyze and synthesize
material from many sources (to read several things and to reconstruct a theory or a system in
one's own way) as they develop their own ideas and viewpoints. It is important to realize the
differences that exist between the U.S. and other educational systems. New students will
need to adjust their thinking if they are going to succeed academically. Whether or not the
student personally accepts the values of the educational system here, he/she will find it easier
to act in accordance with them while he/she is here.
Know How to Study.
The study habits that were appropriate for the educational system in your home country may
not be appropriate for the educational system here. Students may need to approach their
studies in a different way while studying here. The Reading and Writing Center offers classes
in study skills. Workshops are offered around campus in many different subjects. Please
refer to the section on Academic Assistance, which follows, for more information about the
Reading and Writing Center and other tutoring services.
Organize your time.
Students have a large amount of work to do and a limited amount of time in which to do it.
Schedules permit the student to maximize the efficiency of their performance by planning
different sections of the day or week in which to accomplish their tasks. Specific time
periods should be devoted to sleeping, eating, enjoying personal activities, attending classes,
and studying. Adjust your schedule to allow adequate study time. Reading the course syllabi
for each of your courses at the beginning of the semester will enable you to set completion
dates for assignments at different times during the semester. The important point is to
organize one's time so that all assignments and demands can be accommodated.
It may not be possible to memorize all the reading materials for the entire semester, or even
to study them in depth. In general, students are expected to familiarize themselves with the
main points from each reading and to be able to relate what different writers have said
regarding the same issue. Learn to draw the main points from a large number of readings.
Here are some suggestions: Skim: contents, the titles of chapters, the headings of various
sections of chapters, the "topic sentences" which begin most paragraphs, and the summary
paragraphs or sections. This gives the reader an outline of what the author is saying.
Read: Review the material more carefully this time, noting the main points, conclusions, and
contentions. Write notes about these main points, following the outline of the reading itself.
Question: Rather than passively accepting what the writer has written, ask yourself, "Why is
the writer saying this?" "What is the evidence for that?" "Does that agree with what this
same writer said earlier, or with what another writer on the same subject said.
Review. Skim the reading again. Look at your notes again. Try to retain in your mind the
main points of the readings. If the student finds that he/she is reading slowly or that his/her
vocabulary is inadequate, the Reading and Writing Center and other support services are
available. Feel free to consult with the ISS concerning this type of problem.
Derive as much as Possible from Classes.
Since attendance and participation in classes are such important parts of the academic system
here, it is worthwhile to gain as much as possible from your classes. Be prepared for class.
Read in advance. If you have read the assignments that relate to a class, you will understand
the material in the class better. In class, questions relating to the readings may arise. Take
notes. Write down the main points which the professor makes. Many professors will use
phrases that will help the student to identify the points they believe are important and that
students should therefore listen attentively. After the class, review the notes. Complete the
information that you might have left out in class. Mark items that are still unclear.
Reviewing the notes after class helps students to remember the material. Ask for help if
Remain current in your studies. If a student falls behind on reading or assignments, he/she
will have difficulty preparing adequately for tests. Schedule time to review. Before the test,
review notes from lectures and readings. Anticipate what the professor will ask on the test
by recalling the points that were emphasized during the lecture.
Rest well before the test. Most people perform better on tests if they sleep adequately the
night before the exam. "Cramming" for the examination, that is, attempting to study all the
material on the night before the examination, usually results in exhaustion during the
examination and poor performance. Read test instructions carefully. Know what questions
are being asked in the test, and answer only what is being asked. Many students miss points
because they do not properly answer the question that was asked. Schedule time
accordingly. Notice how much time is available during the test period, how many points are
awarded for each question, and evaluate the time involved in answering the different types of
questions. too much time on only one or a few questions.
The Academic Environment at the University of Florida
The academic environment at the University of Florida can be overwhelming to new students,
and may discourage them from seeking resources that can help them. This section will
introduce students to some of the resources on campus.
The Undergraduate and the Graduate Record, which are the university catalogues for
undergraduate and graduate students, contain official regulations and information about the
University. In the University catalogues you can find admissions information, graduation
requirements, lists of registered student organizations, academic information, information
about student life, and much more than is covered in this handbook. You can find these
catalogues in The Registrar's Office, in S222 Criser Hall.
University Telephone Directory: All registered students can receive a free copy of the
University telephone directory, which is printed annually. The telephone directory contains
campus department listings, faculty and staff listings, student listings, student support
services, NEXUS tapes information, campus building and college abbreviations, the academic
calendar, listings of the University libraries, recreation and entertainment facilities, and
campus dining facilities. Telephone books are available in S222 Criser Hall.
UF Student Guide: This booklet explains the student conduct code, academic facilities, and
support services on campus. It is available through the Office of Student Services in P202
Guidelines for Writing Theses and Dissertations: This publication, available from the
Graduate School Editorial Office in 168 Grinter Hall, specifies the Graduate School's format
and grammar expectations for theses and dissertations submitted by graduate candidates.
Undergraduate students must satisfy general education requirements, as well as the
requirements of their upper division colleges before they receive their bachelor's degree.
During the first two years of study (freshmen and sophomore), students choose required and
elective courses. Because the upper division colleges require their applicants to have
successfully completed certain prerequisites before admittance, students should plan their
schedules very carefully. Academic counselors located in the Academic Advisement Center
on Fletcher Road will explain general education requirements to students. These counselors
normally handle questions of students classified as "1UF" and "2UF," (freshmen and
sophomores who have not declared a major) as well as students who remain in the College of
Liberal Arts and Sciences. Counselors in the Academic Advisement Center and advisors in
the upper division majors should be consulted when students plan course schedules for their
first two years. Please refer to the following section entitled "Undergraduate Student
Academic Regulations--80-Hour Rule" for more information about why it is important to
choose courses very carefully. Upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) should visit their
department's undergraduate advisor when planning their course schedule. The course
selection guide, which is printed each semester, lists these advisors. A semester or two
before graduating, all students should request a graduation check from their College, to
ensure they have completed all necessary major, College, and University graduation.
Graduate Students should consult with their graduate advisor about course work. These
requirements differ with the degree sought, and may be found in the Graduate Record
catalogue. The Graduate School, located on the second floor of Grinter Hall, can answer
questions concerning graduation requirements, thesis/dissertation completion, oral and
written examinations, and supervisory committee selection
Undergraduate Student Academic Regulations
The regulations listed here are not the only regulations with which students must comply, but
are also the most commonly misunderstood rules that pose serious consequences for students
if not followed. The University catalogues list other regulations of special concern to
students and are the official academic regulations of the University.
C.L.A.S.T.: The College Level Academic Skills Test (C.L.A.S.T.) is an achievement test
which measures the reading, writing, and computational skills of students at the sophomore
level of school. The Board of Regents requires students of the Florida State University
System to pass this examination before they have completed 60 semester hours of class.
Students who do not take the exam are not permitted to enroll at the University until they
have passed it successfully. The Registrar's Office, located in S222 Criser Hall, and the
Office of Instructional Resources, located at 1012 Turlington Hall, have applications for the
exam. Students who need assistance in preparing for the test can ask about preparation
courses offered by the Reading and Writing Center, located in Turlington Hall, or can
purchase books which prepare students for the exam from the Campus Shop and Bookstore.
80-Hour Rule: By the time they complete 80 semester hours of classes, undergraduate
students must apply for admission and be accepted by one of the upper division colleges.
Students who are not accepted by an upper division college by this time will not be permitted
to enroll further at the University of Florida. This ceiling of 80 hours requires students to
plan the course work for their first two years carefully. All colleges require applicants to
have completed prerequisites before admission to the college, so the student may plan to
register for these courses as early as the first semester. Waiting until the third semester may
be too late, as students may be forced to enroll in more than 80 hours of classes before they
have completed the requirements necessary for admission into the college. In order to avoid
dilemmas such as these, students should consult with academic advisors in the program in
which they hope to enroll as well as with the counselors in the Academic Advisement Center
or the ISS.
Residency Requirement: University regulations require that an undergraduate student
remain classified in the same college for a particular amount of time before graduating from
that college. This requirement ensures that students do not switch from one college to
another arbitrarily. This requirement and others are discussed in the section entitled,
"Student Academic Regulations" in the undergraduate catalogue.
Applyingfor Graduation: It is the student's responsibility to apply for graduation on time
and to request that a "graduation check" be done in the semesters prior to graduation. The
University maintains deadlines for graduation applications. Consult the section entitled,
"Academic Regulations" in the University catalogue for more information about graduation
Maintaining "Satisfactory" Progress: The University considers "satisfactory progress" for
undergraduates to be a minimum 2.0 overall grade point average (or "GPA"). A student who
falls below this average may find himself/herself on academic warning, probation, or
suspension. While this problem is a serious one for American and international students
alike, it presents many complications for international students, who are issued their visa on
the condition that they will progress satisfactorily towards an academic degree. If you find
yourself in academic trouble, it is especially important for international students to seek help
immediately. The counselors at the ISS will try to resolve difficult situations such as these.
There may be many reasons for poor academic performance, such as language problems,
cultural adjustment or medical problems. More detailed information about satisfactory
progress and grade point averages is discussed in the "Academic Regulations" section of the
university catalogue. Students must take responsibility themselves for seeing that these
requirements are met. If you find that you are having trouble interpreting the catalogue or
other regulations, ask the counselors in the ISS or your academic advisor for help.
Graduate Student Academic Regulations
"Satisfactory Progress": Graduate students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average in their
graduate course work. A more detailed discussion about acceptable grades for classes,
course levels, and study loads may be found in the graduate catalogue in the section entitled,
"General Regulations." Students should also consult with their departments about the
department's definition of satisfactory performance.
Applying for Graduation: Graduate students must satisfy requirements for the department
as well as for the Graduate School. In addition, students must apply for graduation by the
date specified in the catalogue. For more details concerning graduation requirements and
degree awards, consult the graduate catalogue. Other regulations vary between departments
and between degrees sought. Consult the graduate advisors, the Graduate School and the
Graduate Record catalogue for specifics.
The University of Florida uses a petition procedure to evaluate whether particular situations
may be worthy of exception to University rules. For example, someone with very unusual
and legitimate circumstances may petition to have money refunded for courses dropped, to be
permitted back into the University when they have been suspended, etc. Petitions are not
always granted, but they are an option. If you feel you need to petition, speak with a
counselor at the ISS. They can help you present your case at the Petitions Committee.
Academic Assistance & Tutoring
Several academic counseling centers at the University provide assistance in special areas of
study. Some students may need special tutoring to strengthen their weaker academic areas.
Listed below are a few sources of academic assistance:
Professors and Departments: The immediate sources of help for students are the professors
and graduate assistants for the particular course. Professors hold office hours during the
week, during which times they are available. In addition, graduate assistants and graders hold
office hours to help students with problems or questions. If these sources are not adequate,
the professor may know of other students who will tutor. Please contact the ISS for further
information regarding academic assistance.
The Reading and Writing Center: The Reading and Writing Center, located in 2109
Turlington Hall (392-0791), offers noncredit mini-courses, independent study sessions, and
some credit courses in reading and writing. The Center is part of the Office of Instructional
Resources. The Center aims to help students with communication skills. Summer and Fall
courses are offered for freshman. Conversation skills courses are offered every semester for
international students. The teachers are trained to assist students who speak English as their
second language. They have experience in helping you improve your test-taking skills (for
the C.L.A.S.T., G.R.E., and other similar tests), writing papers, theses, and dissertations, and
spelling are only a few of the areas in which the Center offers help. For more information,
contact the Center.
Linguistics Department: The Linguistics Department in 112 Anderson Hall (392-0639)
normally offers a course in English as a Second Language for students who need help with
their spoken and written English. For more information about the course, contact the
Broward Hall Teaching Center: This Center, located in the basement of Broward Hall
(392-2010), provides help for students in several subject areas, including physical, biological,
and social sciences, humanities, other disciplines. The tutoring is geared towards
undergraduates and graduate students. Tutoring schedules allocate different times for
different subjects. This schedule is available at the Teaching Center.
Math Anxiety Group, Counseling Center: The Counseling Center, located in P301 Peabody
(392-1575) organizes group support sessions for students who have problems with
mathematics. The group meets weekly during the semester. Students interested in joining
the group should call the Counseling Center.
International Students Support Services
A student's academic performance can be affected by circumstances that lie outside of school.
Difficulties with cultural adjustment, family or friends, or other pressures can influence a
student's concentration, time and attention to studies. When concerns such as these arise, it
is important for the student to acknowledge that the condition exists, and to seek help if the
condition persists. More often than not, an ignored problem does not improve, it gets worse.
Support services on campus are there to help students through difficult periods that everyone
has. Seeking help is an acceptable practice in the United States. In fact, it is expected of
students to seek help if they need assistance since they pay tuition not only for courses but for
services on campus as well, so taking advantage of services is making use of your educational
investment. The University catalogue also explains these services in the "Student Affairs"
section. The Office for Student Services publishes the "Student Lifesaver," a card which lists
telephone numbers for these support services. If you do not know where to begin, call the
UFIC (392-5323) or the Student Services Office (392-1261) for direction. These offices can
put you on the right track. Students must use their own initiative to seek help themselves.
The University is just too large for the various offices to seek out students who need help.
See the sections on Health & Safety and the Appendices for more information regarding
The International Student Services (ISS): The ISS is a department within the University of
Florida International Center which is part of the UF Office of Academic Affairs. ISS assists
students with immigration questions, admissions, academic counseling, personal counseling,
emergency assistance, and referral to other support services. The office is open between 8.00
a.m. and 5.00 p.m., Monday through Friday. It is located in 170 Hub (392-5323).
The Office for Student Services: Located in P202 Peabody (392-1261), the Office of
Student Services assists students with academic withdrawals* judicial affairs, disabled student
affairs, minority student affairs, women affairs, fraternity and sorority issues, and many other
areas of concern. (*Please notice that international students always have to go to the ISS
before they can drop or withdraw from classes.). BACCHUS (Boost Alcohol Consciousness
and Health of University Students), the Campus Alcohol Information Center, PLUS
(Physically Limited University Students), and SOTA (Students Over Traditional Age) may be
reached through this office. The Office for Student Services is an excellent clearinghouse for
all types of campus information. If the staff themselves cannot answer a student's question,
they will know the right person to contact on campus.
The University Counseling Center: The Counseling Center in P301 Peabody (392-1573)
assists students and their spouses with personal, career, and academic concerns. The
psychologists and peer counselors counsel people individually, offer group workshops and
programs, and teach courses. Some topics which may be of interest to students include
assertiveness workshops, test anxiety and math confidence groups.
Other Sources of Counseling: The Campus Ministers Cooperative is a consortium of
different religious leaders in Gainesville. Membership in this cooperative is voluntary.
Members of the cooperative may be found in the front pages of the campus telephone book.
Information about churches may be found in the "Yellow Pages" of the Southern Bell
telephone book under the heading "churches" or "synagogues." Many faiths are represented
in Gainesville; if you are not able to find the faith of your choice in either telephone book, ask
at the ISS.
The NEXUS Tape Information Service: This is a selection of tapes about matters
pertaining to the University and student life. The Counseling Center sponsors the
"CounseLine" telephone tape program, part of the NEXUS tape information system, to help
students with specific concerns such as, "How to deal with the loneliness," "Vocational
Decision Making," and "Friendship Building." The CounseLine tapes are listed in the front
pages of the campus telephone directory. In order to hear a tape, a student should (1) dial
392-1683, the NEXUS number, (2) ask for the appropriate tape number, and (3) listen to the
tape. A complete listing of NEXUS tapes may be found in the blue pages of the University
telephone directory. Operators answer the phones between 7 a.m. and 12 midnight, Monday-
Sunday. The caller remains anonymous, so it is easier to inquire about topics that may be
sensitive or embarrassing if discussed face-to-face with another person.
Like all countries in the world, the United States has laws and regulations governing
foreigners who are temporarily within its boundaries. It is always a good idea to consult with
the ISS about questions regarding your immigration status. Below is a summary of the
essential things for which a foreign student or scholar is responsible:
Passport: It is your responsibility to keep your passport valid. Your passport is renewed
through your embassy or consulate in the U.S. The UFIC has the address and phone number
of the nearest consulate or embassy. It is a good idea to keep a copy of your passport in a
place separate from your passport in case the passport becomes lost or stolen. You may
leave a copy with us in your file, if you wish. Your embassy or consulate will be able to issue
a replacement passport more promptly if you can provide them with a copy of the original. If
you passport is lost or stolen, file a report with the Campus Police and the Gainesville Police,
and send your copy of the police reports when you file for a replacement passport. For
passport renewal, your embassy/consulate may need a letter verifying that you are a full-time
student. You may request such a letter from the UFIC. It takes 3 working days for letters to
be prepared. Scholars should get a letter from their department verifying that they are
associated with that department pursuing the stated program objective from their IAP-66.
Visa: The visa is permission granted by the U.S. to request entry into the U.S. It is the
multi-colored stamp or label affixed into your passport that you obtained in the American
Embassy or Consulate abroad. It may have been issued for single or multiple entries into the
U.S., and may be used prior to the date that it expires. An American visa has a visa number,
the visa type, the visa issuance date, the number of entries, and the visa expiration date. The
visa in your passport does not have to remain valid while you are in the U.S. Please see the
sections on the 1-94 and 1-20 or IAP-66 regarding your valid stay in the U.S. Please see the
section on travel. It is your 1-20 or IAP 66 and I 94, which must remain valid while you, are
in the U.S. American visas cannot be renewed inside the U.S. The 1-20 or IAP-66 and 1-94
can be renewed in the U.S. The 1-20 or IAP-66 and 1-94 are not the visa; they are your visa
1-94 Form (Departure Record): The 1-94 shows that you have been lawfully admitted to the
U.S. The 1-94 arrival/departure number is also known as the "admission" number. The 1-94
is the small white card that is usually stapled into passport on the page next to your American
visa, given at the port of entry in to the U.S. This is given to every foreign person who enters
the U.S. The 1-94 contains an 11-digit number call the Arrival/Departure number. Its
computerized number that INS assigns to you to keep track of your arrival and departure
from the U.S. The 1-94 should not be confused with your American visa. Read the section
on visas again if you are confused. The 1-94 has an immigration stamp on it in red ink, which
shows the port of entry by which you enter the U.S., the date you entered, the visa status
with which you entered and the expiration date of your stay. It is a good idea to make a copy
of both sides of the 1-94 form, and keep the copy in a safe place (separate from your
passport). The 1-94 is surrendered each time you leave the U.S., and a new one is given to
you each time you re-enter the U.S. F-l students receive the same number each time on their
1-94, and are identified by this number during their entire stay in the U.S. J-1 students and
scholars also receive a number each time they re-enter the U.S. Although, J-1 exchange
visitor not necessarily receive the previously mentioned D/S condition.
Expiration Date of the 1-94: If you are a F-l student, and you entered the U.S. with an I-
20 form, it is very probable that you were given an 1-94 at the port of entry with the
expiration date of "D/S". D/S is an abbreviation that INS uses to indicate "duration of
status." This means that you are admitted until the completion date indicated on your 1-20 in
item #5. Because the actual date an F-l student will complete his or her degree may vary, or
the student may continue on for a higher degree, the INS does not give an actual expiration
date on the 1-94. Whenever you are asked to fill in forms and list the expiration date of your
1-94 and you are an F-l student, the correct answer would be "D/S." You may want to add
in parentheses the completion date from your 1-20. That is the date within which the
University has determined you should be able to complete your studies for the current degree
you are pursuing. If you have not completed your studies by that date, you should contact
the UFIC office for advice. If you are a J-1 student or research scholar, your 1-94 will have
an expiration date written on it. That is the date by which you must make your departure
from the U.S. However, the IAP-66 contains the actual ending date of your J-1 program.
This is the date in item #3 of the IAP-66. If you have not completed the degree for which
you are currently studying by this date, consult with the ISS office. Note: The INS gives
you a 30-day grace period from the ending date of the IAP-66 in which to make your
departure from the U.S. You may not work or receive compensation during this grace
Renewal of IAP-66 for Exchange Visitors (J-1 Students and Scholars): You are
responsible for keeping track of the expiration date of your IAP-66 if you have J-1 visa
status. The expiration date of the IAP-66 is in item #3, where it reads." This form covers the
period from dd/mm/yy to dd/mm/yy." That ending date is the expiration of the IAP-66 form,
not the expiration date on the 1-94, which reflects a 30-day grace period which has been
added to your stay. If you plan to extend your stay, you must file in advance of the IAP-66
expiration date, not the 1-94 expiration date. If you need to file for an extension of your IAP-
66, consult immediately with the UFIC office for further instructions. If your IAP-66 was
issued by a program sponsor other than the University of Florida, you will have to contact
your sponsor to issue you a new IAP-66 form. You may then bring the new IAP-66 form to
the UFIC for assistance in filling your extension. Filing an extension of the IAP-66 and 1-94
does not renew your J-1 visa in your passport. The J-1 visa stamp in your passport does not
have to be kept valid while you are in the U.S., as long as you maintain the validity of your
IAP-66. If you travel outside of the U.S. with an expired J-1 visa, you must renew it in your
home country prior to re-entry to the U.S. The UFIC will be able to give you more
information regarding this, or see the section on traveling abroad.
F-1 Student: This visa permits an individual to enter the U.S. for full-time study at an
authorized institution in the U.S. To obtain an F-l visa, it is necessary to present an 1-20
Form (Certificate of Eligibility) to an American Embassy or Consulate abroad.
F-2 Spouse/Dependent: This visa is held by spouses and dependents of F-l students. To
obtain an F-2 visa, the spouse presents an 1-20 form in the name of the F-l student to an
American Embassy or Consulate abroad, along with evidence of financial support. F-2
dependents are NEVER allowed to be employed or receive assistantships.
J-1 Exchange Visitor (Student or Scholar): An exchange visa permits an individual to enter
the U.S. for study, teaching, research or training. The individual presents an IAP-66 form to
an American Embassy or Consulate abroad to obtain a J-1 visa. S/he is obligated to engage
in the activities specified on the IAP-66 form while in the U.S.
J-2 Spouse/Dependent: This visa is held by spouses and dependents of J-1 visa holders. To
obtain a J-2 visa, the spouse presents a Form IAP-66 in the name of the J-1 student to an
American Embassy or Consulate abroad, along with evidence of financial support.
Full-Time Student Status
You must pursue a full-time course of study during the academic year. The academic year at
UF is based on the trimester system, Fall, Winter and Summer terms. With few exceptions,
F-l students must be full-time students each semester except the summer semester until they
receive their degrees. "Full-time study" for undergraduate students means a minimum of
twelve credit hours each semester. For graduate students, full-time study may be less than 12
hours per term depending upon the departmental requirements (check with your department).
The University is required to report to the INS when an F-l student is enrolled less than full-
time. It is, therefore, extremely important for F-l students to maintain full-time enrollment.
If there are extenuating circumstances that prevent you from meeting the above requirements,
please see one of the advisors at the ISS office before dropping below the prescribed number
Vacation Periods: No student can take a vacation semester unless it is during the Summer
vacation. You can take the summer vacation off if you were a full time student the previous
semester and will be full time student during the semester that follows the Summer semester
Extension of F-1 Stay: If you have not completed your degree by the date on your 1-20 ID
(page 3/4), but have otherwise been in status, you must file for an extension of your 1-20.
This procedure is called a "Notification Extension". To apply for this, you must have been
maintaining your full-time F-l status. If you are not sure if you need to have your 1-20
extended or not, bring your 1-20 with you to the ISS office. If you know you need to extend
your 1-20, you must follow these steps: Complete an 1-538 form (section A, items #1-6, and
your signature and date). Obtain a letter from your faculty advisor (or department
coordinator), on department letterhead stationery, addressed to the University of Florida
International Center, International Studies Services and including: your new completion
date, how many years your program takes, a statement that you have been making
satisfactory academic progress towards your degree, the amount and source of your funding
during the extension period, any pertinent information explaining any delays in your
graduation or other compelling circumstances (such as change of major). Apply at the ISS
office for a new 1-20 to be issued. This takes at least 3 working days. If you have been
making normal academic progress towards your degree, and you are in valid F-l status, you
are eligible to apply for the Notification Extension. Please bring the above-mentioned
documents to the front desk and they will prepare your new 1-20. If you have not been in
valid F-l status, you will need to apply for F-l Reinstatement: Check at the ISS information
regarding the Reinstatement procedures.
Transfer students are those students transferring from another university within the U.S. F-l
or J-1 visa holders require a University of Florida 1-20 or IAP-66 to attend this school. You
must report to the ISS to do the transfer process during the first 15 days of classes. The ISS
submits the documents to INS, to let them know that you are now attending the University of
Florida. [If you are an student who previously attended a U.S. institution and intend to
transfer to another U.S. institution after a temporary absence from the U.S, you must
have an 1-20 or IAP-66 from the University of Florida to attend this school.] You must
have a valid F-l or J-l visa in your passport (if the visa is valid, but it is for the previous
school you attended, you are not required to change it for the University of Florida). Do not
re-enter the U.S. on the 1-20 or IAP-66 issued by your old school. Do not re-enter the U.S.
on a tourist visa! J-1 transfer students may not receive UF assistantships or work on campus
until INS completes the transfer procedure.
Vacation Travel Outside the United States for F-1 and J-1 Holders
If you plan to travel outside the U.S., you should always consult with the ISS first. Always
bring your passport and page 3/4 of your 1-20 (student carbon copy), or page 3 of your
IAP-66 (pink copy) with you when making inquiries at the ISS office about traveling
outside the U.S. Your passport and your visa must be valid beyond the date on which you
plan to re-enter the U.S. If your visa has expired, and you plan to travel outside the U.S., or,
if you have changed your visa status while in the U.S., you will need to obtain a new visa at
an American Embassy or Consulate abroad or in your home country before you may re-enter
the U.S. It is not possible to revalidate your visa while you are in the U.S. The exception
is travel to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands for 30 days or less. For such trips you
will need only your valid passport, your 1-94, and your 1-20 or IAP-66 endorsed by the UFIC
designated school official or responsible officer. If going to Canada, you must contact the
Canadian consulate in New York, NY, to determine whether you need a visa to enter to
Canada. (1251 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020-1175, (212) 768-2400)
Please give the ISS at least a week to review documents before any trip abroad. A
minimum of 3 working days is required for the ISS to prepare your documents. During
vacation periods, it is especially important to apply for travel documents very early, since
most other students are planning to travel also. You should allow enough time to renew your
visa in the American Embassy or Consulate in your home country. Never leave your
passport, 1-20 or IAP-66 form, or 1-94 (or any immigration-related documents) in your
luggage! Always carry these items on your person when departing the U.S., and upon re-
entry. Immigration inspectors have been known to refuse entry into the country if you are
not in possession of any one of these documents. Luggage can be lost, sometimes for days,
sometimes forever, and you may be severely inconvenienced if you have to miss your plane
because you are held up by immigration.
Canadian Citizens: Students or research scholars who hold Canadian citizenship do not
require passports to enter the U.S. from Canada, although it is strongly recommended.
Canadian citizens who enter the U.S. to attend the University of Florida must have either an
1-20 or IAP-66 issued by the University of Florida, and must present either document at the
point of entry into the U.S. The inspecting officer will issue you an 1-94 as an F-l or J-1.
Please, do not come into the U.S. as a visitor if you are planning to be a student. If you
travel to Canada for a vacation during your studies, you must come to the ISS at least 3 days
in advance of your trip, and have your 1-20 or IAP-66 signed on the back for re-entry. If you
travel to a country other than Canada, you will have to follow the general procedures
outlined in the preceding section on vacation travel.
F-1 On-Campus: F-l students may work at the University without having to obtain
permission from INS. You may work on campus up to 20 hours per week as long as the job
does not interfere with your ability to continue as a full-time student. You must go to S107
Criser Hall to the Student Employment Office, to obtain an on-campus work permit. You
may work up to 40 hours per week on campus during the Summer semester if you are not
registered. When you are a registered student you are limited to 20 hours per week on-
F-1 Off-Campus: In order to work off-campus F-l students must obtain permission from
both the ISS and INS. Off-campus part-time employment is VERY RARELY granted. Off-
campus employment, if approved, is limited to 20 hours per week while you are registered,
and during the vacation semester you may work up to 40 hours per week if you are not
registered. Permission will not be granted during a student's first year in the U.S. For further
information please consult with the ISS.
F-1 Practical Training: Practical training permission allows student to obtain employment
experience in their field of study to increase their academic experience. You will become
eligible for practical training after the first year in F-l status. F-l students may be granted
permission by INS to undertake full-time employment, "practical training," under 2 sets of
circumstances: Optional Practical Training: To be carried out before or after completion of
the degree and available for a maximum of 12 months (no extensions allowed.). Full
informative packages are available at the ISS front office. Please be advised that you need to
submit your request 90-120 days before to the date you intend to start working. Practical
Training is only endorsed by ISS with your Academic Advisor's consent. Practical Training is
given to F-l students for twelve months.
Curricular Practical Training. Before completion of the degree requirements and only if it
is stated in the student's degree requirements that an internship or practicum is needed to
finish the degree (guidelines also available at the ISS front office.) There has to be a course
available to register for the internship, co-op or practicum. Curricular Practical training is
granted per "semester" and can not exceed twelve months as a total. If it exceeds this time, it
counts against Optional Practical Training. Before making CPT or OPT practical training
request, you must stop by ISS to pick up a complete information package which will tell you
the exact steps to take and will provide you with the right forms to be filled.
F-2 Spouses/Dependents: F-2's are not allowed to be employed, nor have assistantships.
An F-2 dependent who is admitted to the university as a graduate student cannot accept any
offer of assistantship until change of visa status is approved by INS from F-2 to F-l (Please
note that change of visa status can take from three to four months in processing at INS).
You can, however, attend the university as a student paying for your own classes.
J-1 On-Campus: A J-1 student may work at the University on-campus by obtaining
permission from the ISS You may work up to 20 hours per week as long as the work does
not interfere with your ability to continue as a full-time student. If your IAP-66 was issued
by anyone other than the University of Florida, you will need permission from your program
sponsor. Please come to the ISS for further information. Under no circumstances will you
be allowed to work more than 20 hours per week while you are a registered student. During
vacation breaks, like summer semester or holidays you may work up to 40 hours per week on
campus if you are not registered. J-1 Exchange Students will not receive work permission
from the ISS as funding for the Exchange Programs must be shown in advance.
J-1 Off-Campus: You must have the permission of your program sponsor for any off-
campus employment. If the University of Florida issued your IAP-66, you must come to the
ISS to find out if you are eligible. If your program sponsor is not the University of Florida,
you must contact your sponsor in regards to permission to work off campus. Off-campus
work permission is RARELY GIVEN for J-1 students as proof of funding must be shown in
J-1 Academic Training: A J-1 student who has earned a degree may request permission
from his/her sponsor to engage in academic training. J-1 academic training is for up to 18
months, and for PhD graduates up to 36 months of post-doctoral academic training. If the
University is your program sponsor, our office may grant you J-1 academic training. You
will need a letter from your faculty advisor recommending you for the academic training.
Instructions for filing for J-1 academic training are available from the ISS office. If the
University is not your sponsor, you will have to contact your program sponsor for
instructions for filing for J-1 academic training. Be advised that some sponsors prohibit
academic training after completion of your studies because you are expected to return home
immediately after completion of your degree requirements. In such cases, you may not be
granted academic training.
J-2 Employment: The holder of a J-2 visa must apply to INS for permission to accept
employment. You may get instructions and forms for filing for J-2 employment permission at
the ISS office. Approval is conditional, provided employment is not for support of the
principal J-1 visa holder. A J-2 dependent with INS work permission may accept an
assistantship as a graduate student.
J-1 research scholars or visiting professors are issued IAP-66's expressly to achieve the
program objective as stated on the IAP-66 form in item #4. Employment is limited to the
University department in which the exchange visitor is doing research or other exchange
activities. J-1 scholars are prohibited from engaging in any other employment, whether on or
off-campus. You cannot change departments within the university. A J-1 scholar who
wishes to engage in a brief consultation or lecture at another university must first consult with
the ISS to obtain proper permit. J-2 spouses and J-2 dependents old enough to work (such
as high school students) can get at the ISS office the instructions and forms to for J-2 work
permission. Questions regarding scholar or scholar dependents employment should be
directed to the ISS office.
FINDING YOUR WAY AROUND GAINESVILLE
Gainesville's original settlers planned the town in a grid pattern that makes it relatively easy to
find one's way around the city. The center of the grid is the intersection of University
Avenue and Main Street. Streets run parallel to Main Street in a north-south direction.
Avenues run parallel to University Avenue in an east-west direction. An easy way to
remember east-west routes is to remember the word "APRIL," since the letters in that word
(except "I") represent a route which runs in an east-west direction. Avenues,"A"; Place, "P";
Roads, "R"; Lanes,"L". Routes running north-south are streets, ways, drives, and terraces
The city is divided into four quadrants: northwest, northeast, southwest, and southeast.
Since the University is south of University Avenue and west of Main Street, it is located in
the southwest section of Gainesville. Although the University of Florida extends beyond
Gainesville, the main campus may be found between the boundaries of West University
Avenue, SW 13th Street, Archer Road, and SW 34th Street. Streets and avenues are usually
numbered. The lower the number, the closer the street is to the center of the grid. House
numbers indicate the street and avenue on which the house can be found. For example,
"1608 NW 2nd Avenue" would be found two blocks north of University Avenue (on 2nd
Avenue), between 16th and 17th streets. When writing down an address, be certain to
indicate whether it is NW, NE, SW, or SE and to include its designation, whether street,
avenue, place, terrace, etc. Otherwise, there would be 4 different quadrants in which that
address could be located, and it would be difficult to find the address. Most bookstores,
gasoline stations, and rental car agencies sell maps of Gainesville and the state of Florida.
The ISS can give you a city bus schedule which has a small map of the city, and which shows
the bus routes.
The Housing Situation in Gainesville
Students and faculty are responsible for securing their own housing arrangements at the
University of Florida. The ISS staff can offer advice about choosing living accommodations,
but does not accept responsibility for housing arrangements. Gainesville offers many more
housing facilities than there are people; this situation relieves pressure on international
students and faculty who are also looking for a place to live. New students and scholars
should consider location, budget, preferences, habits, and safety when choosing living
accommodations and the area in which they will live. Many international students and
scholars choose to live in one of the neighborhoods around campus, because they do not own
automobiles or have to deal with parking problems on campus. Because utility costs are part
of the monthly expenses, these should be estimated and considered when deciding how much
you are willing to pay for rent each month. Students live both on campus (in dwellings
owned and operated by the University of Florida) and off campus (in dwellings owned by
private companies and individuals). Most new international students and scholars live off
campus in accommodations that are near school, and walk or ride their bicycles or take the
bus to campus. The University has a severe parking problem. There are not enough parking
spaces for the number of students, staff, and faculty who need to park their cars. Most new
international students live off campus at first, because housing on campus is normally not
available when they arrive. Sometimes arrangements can be made for freshmen and for
students with families, but only if the student has contacted the housing office and has made
arrangements prior to beginning school by contacting the University Housing Office (392-
2173) at Museum Road and SW 13th Street. There is no University housing for scholars,
who must, therefore find their own off campus housing. The information contained in this
section will assist scholars in locating accommodations.
The UF Housing Office prints an Off Campus Housing Package, which contains a list of the
different apartment areas in Gainesville. The list compares prices, locations, and policies on
children and pets and other information on renting apartments in Gainesville. You may
obtain this list from the Housing Office. Bulletin boards located in the UF Housing Office
and the ISS also have vacancies posted, where persons looking for roommates may advertise.
Sometimes people know that they would like to live in a particular apartment area. These
people can call the office of that apartment complex to ask whether present residents need
roommates or vacant apartments are available.
Rental agencies: Gator Rental Finders (1702 W. University Avenue, 336-9349) and other
such rental agencies offer roommate-finding services for a fee. People are a valuable
resource for finding a place to live; often friends of friends need roommates or know about
someone needing a roommate. This is an advantage because the friend is a reference for the
Nationality Clubs: The ISS staff can give you telephone numbers of Nationality Club
members who can assist you. Do not hesitate to contact any friends of nationals from your
country who are here already. Students can also ask about roommates in their departments.
Real estate agencies: These agencies list houses which are vacant. They may charge a fee
for their services. Real estate agents are listed in the "Yellow Pages" of the telephone book
under the section entitled "Real Estate." An alternative method to find a place to live is to
walk along the streets near campus to look for "For Rent" signs posted outside of houses.
These sources should yield some housing options for new international students' families and
Classified Ads: You can learn about off campus housing vacancies in the "classified
advertising" sections in the back of the city newspaper, the Gainesville Sun, and in the
classified advertising section of the school newspaper, The Independent Florida Alligator,
which provide listings of off campus rental units. The following abbreviations are used in
classified advertisements. If you do not understand what an advertisement means, you should
ask the landlord to explain it. "BR" means bedroom; "bath" means bathroom; "A/C" means
air conditioning; "furn" means furnished; "unfurn" means unfurnished.
Types of Dwellings: On Campus Housing
The University of Florida maintains living areas for single and married students. These
include dormitory rooms, co-ops, and apartments. There is a waiting list for any on campus
housing, and it may take six weeks to a year before you receive the housing for which you
have applied. If you are interested in living on campus, you should go to the Housing Office
immediately and complete an application. You need to pay an application fee
Residence Halls: Residence halls, also called "dormitories," or "dorms," are buildings which
contain many student rooms. Students share a room with one or more students or live in a
room alone. Students on a floor or on a section of a floor share a bathroom that has several
showers and toilets. Coin-operated laundry machines for washing and drying clothes are
available in the building. Some residence halls also have cafeterias. Residence halls are in
great demand by students because they are located right on campus. A typical residence hall
room is furnished with beds, chairs, desks, and a closet. The student supplies his/her own
sheets and towels. Residence halls afford excellent opportunities to interact with American
students. Residence hall life is normally filled with activities, such as weekend movies, ping
pong tournaments, and parties which are organized by the housing area student government.
Students do not have much privacy in dorms.. International students should consider that
most residence hall occupants are 18 or 19-year old Americans who might not be as serious
about their studies as international students usually are.
On Campus Co-ops: "Co-ops" or "cooperative living organizations" are similar to residence
halls, but are less expensive. Students share cleaning and maintenance chores, which reduces
the cost of the room. These rooms may not be air-conditioned. The University of Florida
maintains three Co-op buildings; Reid Hall, Buckman Hall, and North Hall. The student
applies for a room in the Housing Office and in the Co-ops. The residents of the Co-op vote
to admit the new members.
Family Student Housing: There are five University-owned "villages" which serve married
students with families. These are Corry Village, Diamond Village, Maguire Village,
University Village South, and Tanglewood Village. With the exception of Tanglewood,
which is located two miles out of campus on SW 13th Street, the housing villages are located
on the perimeters of the campus. A campus bus drives to all the villages on weekdays.
Family apartments are available with 1 or 2 bedrooms. Each apartment is equipped with a
refrigerator, a stove, and kitchen cabinets.
Furnished vs. Unfurnished Dwellings: Living areas are available both with and without
furniture, and new students and faculty must decide which choice they prefer. Dwellings with
furniture usually cost more. Items that may be in furnished apartments include a bed, bureau,
desk, table, and chairs. You are expected to purchase your own linens and utensils.
Unfurnished dwellings do not include furniture, although the apartments will contain a stove,
refrigerator, kitchen cabinets, and perhaps a dishwasher. These accommodations are usually
less expensive. You then purchase any furniture that you may need, move it into the
apartment, and when you leave, you can sell it. It is also possible to rent furniture on a
monthly basis from furniture leasing companies. Look in the "Yellow Pages" of the phone
book under the category "Furniture Renting and Leasing."
Rooms: A room may be located in a rooming house or in a private home. Some rooms may
be "suites" in an apartment complex where the student lives in one room and shares a
bathroom, kitchen, and living room with occupants of three or four other rooms in the suite.
"Kitchen privileges," or access to a kitchen and utensils may or may not be included in the
cost of renting a room in a house. Students interested in renting a room should ask whether
the room is furnished, whether the rent includes kitchen privileges, and the normal monthly
cost of utilities.
"Efficiency Apartments:" Also called "studio apartments," efficiencies" are usually one
large room which includes a kitchen area and bathroom. They are designed for one person or
perhaps two people. Most efficiencies are furnished. The occupant is expected to pay for
electricity and water. Efficiency apartments are sometimes found in houses.
Apartments: Gainesville has hundreds of apartment houses. Apartments consist of living
room, kitchen, bedrooms, and one or more bathrooms. They are larger than efficiencies.
Apartments may be furnished or unfurnished; furnished apartments cost more. You pay the
utilities, unless other arrangements are specified. A few apartments offer maid service for an
Houses: Sometimes several students who want to live together choose to live in a house.
While a few furnished houses are available, most rental houses are equipped only with stoves,
refrigerators, and kitchen cabinets. The landlord is responsible for making repairs and caring
for the yard unless the lease specifies otherwise. The occupant or "tenant" is responsible for
keeping the house clean and paying for water, electricity, heating, and pest control bills unless
other arrangements have been made with the landlord.
Mobile Homes: Mobile homes, also called "trailers," can be rented (usually furnished) or
purchased on the same basis as a house. These dwellings are usually located in "mobile home
parks" with other mobile homes. The owner of the trailer must pay "lot rent" to the owner of
the land on which the trailer is located. The tenant may or may not be asked to assume this
Off Campus Co-ops: An off-campus Co-op is similar to an on-campus Co-op in that
everyone shares cleaning and maintenance duties. Off campus Co-ops are owned by non-
profit organizations and are operated by the renters. Students joining a Co-op get a bed and
other furniture in a room with one or two people, as well as meals. There is usually a waiting
list for Co-ops, because they are inexpensive (and social places to live) as compared to other
housing arrangements. There are two off campus Co-ops in Gainesville: Georgia Seagle
Hall, 1002 West University Avenue (338-0045), and Collegiate Living Organization (CLO),
117 NW 15th Street (372-9322, 372-9328).
Fraternities and Sororities: Student members of fraternities and sororities are called
"Greeks" because the names of their organizations are comprised of Greek letters (such as
Sigma Nu). They live in off-campus private houses that they refer to as their "House."
Fraternities have all-male membership, and sororities are for women only. They may refer to
each other as "Brothers" and "Sisters." The members of a fraternity or a sorority, who are
undergraduates, usually live together in the fraternity's or sorority's house, eat together, and
participate in activities together. Fraternities and sororities can be expensive to join. These
organizations are very selective in choosing new members, usually accepting students from
the same social, economic, and ethnic background as the rest of the members. Fraternity and
sorority life is an integral part of the University of Florida campus, and their activities include
fund raising activities, parties, and athletic competitions. International students who are
interested in joining a fraternity or sorority should contact the fraternity or sorority of their
choice for further information.
What To Keep In Mind When Looking For Accommodations
You are not obliged to rent an apartment if you look at it! When looking for
accommodations, the prospective tenant should remember that he/she is a customer searching
for the right choice for him/her. If you are not satisfied with one dwelling and want to look
at others, this is perfectly acceptable. You may tell the landlord that you wish to look around
more. You should not feel pressured to accept a dwelling that you do not like. You should
always inspect the apartment that you will rent before signing the lease. Get everything in
writing before you sign a lease! All expenses of repair, painting, etc. should be written into
the lease agreement before you sign it.
Security Deposits and First and Last Months' Rent: A landlord will probably ask you for
money before you move into an apartment. This may be in the form of a security deposit and
first and last months' rent, and can amount to more than $1,000 dollars. A "security deposit"
is an amount of money that is supposed to guarantee that the tenant will care for the
dwelling. If the tenant does not care for the property or clean it before leaving, the landlord
has a legal right to keep the security deposit. Otherwise, the landlord must return the
security deposit within a month after the tenant leaves. You should have the agreement
about the security deposit in writing included in the lease. Landlords will often ask for the
sum of the first and last months' rent before the tenant moves into the apartment. This is to
protect the landlord in case the tenant leaves early without paying the rent for the agreed
upon lease term. Each landlord has particular requirements for deposits. You should ask the
landlord about his particular requirements.
Signing a lease: In most cases, the landlord will require the tenant to sign a lease. A lease is
a written agreement between a tenant and a landlord that describes the responsibilities of each
party. This is a binding legal document that commits the student to a specific period of
residency in the unit. Most landlords in Gainesville want the tenant to sign a one-year lease.
This presents a problem if the student leaves for the summer, because you must find someone
to assume responsibility for the lease. If you know that you will not be in Gainesville for the
entire year, you should not sign a year's lease. Shorter leases are available, or you can
"sublease" from someone who has a present lease.
Utilities: Unless someone is already living in the dwelling, the new tenant must start utility
services, such as telephone, electricity, and gas. The tenant may need to assume the cost of
water, garbage and pest control (a service where a company exterminates insects on a
monthly basis), and may want to pay for cable television connection. Prospective tenants
should ask the landlord about which services the landlord will provide and which services the
tenant must arrange. This is important because utilities require deposits that may be
expensive. For more information about utilities, please refer to the "Establishing Utilities
Services" section of this handbook.
Duration of the Lease: A prospective tenant should not sign a lease for a time period longer
than he anticipates needing the housing. Some landlords will agree to leases of 6-, 9-, or 12-
month duration with the option of renewing each additional month. The renter should ask
whether he/she can "break" the lease (terminate occupancy early) if he/she gives a one or two
month notice to the landlord. If not, the renter will be required to pay rent until the end of
the period covered by the lease even if he/she moves out and lives elsewhere. Many
unpleasant disputes arise between landlords who want to keep their property rented and
student renters who, after signing a lease, decide for some reason that they wish to live
elsewhere. The lease should specify whether "subleasing" is permitted. "Subleasing" is a
lease arrangement whereby another person replaces the initial tenant with responsibility for
Restrictions: The lease may contain restrictions, such as not permitting animals or children in
the dwelling. Ask the landlord about his/her particular requirements. If you do not obey the
restrictions on the lease, the landlord can ask you to leave.
Student Legal Services: The University of Florida offers a legal service for students which is
called Student Legal Services. Attorneys are hired by the University to advise students in
legal matters. If you have any questions about leases, contact their office which is located in
Room 369 in the J. Wayne Reitz Union. Their phone number is 392-2196.
Choosing a Roommate: New students should consider budget, preferences, habits and
safety when choosing living arrangements. Many international students choose to live with a
roommate (or roommates) because they wish to save on monthly expenses. Because utility
costs are part of the monthly expenses, these should be estimated and considered when
deciding how much you and your roommate are willing to pay for rent each month. Finding
the right roommate can help to make your experience here more pleasant. Here are some
considerations when looking for a roommate: Does that person smoke? If you smoke, will
this bother the other person? Because some names are used by both men and women, it is
important to ask whether that person male or female? Will the roommate have any pets? Is
the person quiet? Does he/she study a lot? Does he/she play the stereo loudly? Does he/she
invite friends over regularly? Is the person a neat or messy housekeeper? Will you share
expenses for food, or will each person buy his/her own food? Will you share expenses for
utilities such as telephone, electricity, cable television, and gas? Whose name will be on the
contract? Will anyone else be spending the night regularly? Is the person religious? Does
the person talk about religion a lot or keep religious beliefs to himself/herself? Is the person
independent? Does he/she want to share time and interests, or does he/she prefer to be left
alone? These questions are important to ask, as are any other issues that may be important to
you. Students may experience pressures during the school year from both academic and
personal life. An unpleasant "roommate situation" would increase this pressure. Students
may have many social pressures during the year that may be augmented by a bad roommate
experience at home. Some students choose a living situation for only one semester until they
are more familiar with Gainesville and have made some friends with whom they can live.
This is possible, as a few landlords rent apartments for a semester. Ask the ISS for help if
you feel you need extra assistance.
Establishing Utility Services
The City of Gainesville provides water, gas and electricity, and trash pick-up service, for a
charge. "Gainesville Regional Utilities," or "GRU," is the name of the public agency that
handles electricity, gas, water, and trash pick-up utility services for the city. Students should
go to the Gainesville Regional Utilities office located at 301 S.E. 4th Avenue (334-3434),
during normal working hours, and complete an application for services. A picture I.D. is
required. People beginning service with GRU must pay a $150 security deposit for electricity
and a $50 deposit for water. There is no security deposit for refuse pick-up. GRU will
charge service charges for connecting water and electricity. This charge is $10 each, and $20
if service is begun that day. GRU will bill the customer monthly. For gas service, customers
pay a $30 deposit and $25 service charge to begin service. They must complete an
application and make an appointment for service to be started. Propane gas and other bottled
gas or fuel oil is provided by other companies, which may be found in the "Yellow Pages" of
the telephone book under the specific headings. Tenants should ask landlords which
company serves their particular house or apartment.
Southern Bell, and American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) Company provide local
and long-distance telephone service in Gainesville. Examples of other long distance phone
service companies are MCI and Sprint. Customers must arrange for telephone service as well
as purchase of a telephone. In order to receive telephone service, a customer must contact,
Southern Bell office,(780-2355). Customers are billed monthly for local and long distance
service. Students who expect to make many long distance calls should also consider service
with other long distance companies, such as: U.S. Sprint (1-800-366-4700); MCI (1-800-
TALK-MCI); and AT&T (1-800-222-0300). Gainesville has three local television stations
(Channel 20, Channel 51, and Channel 5) which can be watched without cable services.
Cable television provides many more channels to watch, but the customer must pay monthly
to receive the service.
Cox Cable: Located at 6020 NW 43 street t (377-2123), Cox Cable Co. can install the cable
so that the customer can view extra channels. The customer must provide his own television.
In order to establish service, the customer must call to make an appointment to discuss when
you wish to begin service. Cox Cable bills customers monthly.
Pest Control: Florida residents often find insects troublesome. Cockroaches, ants, and fleas
are commonly known as "pests." Several companies in the area will spray monthly to
exterminate these insects. Tenants should ask whether the landlord provides pest control, or
whether they need to arrange for this service themselves. The companies that offer this
service may be found in the "Yellow Pages" of the telephone book. (NOTE: All prices
quoted for utility and other deposits, and other requirements are subject to change. You
should call each company to verify the information provided in this handbook.)
Some international students and scholars who come to the United States have never had the
need to do their own shopping, cooking, and housecleaning. If these activities are new to
you, you will need to understand that in the United States it is completely acceptable for
persons who are not servants or women to shop for groceries, cook, wash dishes and clothes,
clean house, and to take care of children. Most Americans, and American landlords, believe
it is important for living quarters to be kept reasonably clean. This concern for cleanliness is
evident in the supermarket, where many cleaning products are sold. (Caution: Read labels of
cleaning supplies carefully, noting precautions for use of these products. All Cleaning
supplies should be kept out of the reach of children.)
Kitchen Stoves and Ovens: Kitchen stoves may be either electric or gas. It is important to
keep the burners and oven of an electric range clean so that they may operate safely and
efficiently. Tenants should clean electric stove burners after each use to prevent food from
hardening on them. The electric oven should also be cleaned periodically with an oven-
cleaning product unless it is a "self-cleaning" oven, for which you should follow directions
carefully. If a gas oven does not light automatically, you should always light the match first,
and then slowly turn on the gas and light the pilot light. If the gas burners do not light
automatically when turned on, the pilot light beneath them may have gone out. Carefully re
light the pilot light in this case. It is dangerous for the pilot light to be out for long periods of
time because dangerous levels of gas may escape. Call the utility department if you suspect a
problem. If you smell a strong odor of gas, do not light a match or other flame. Call the
utility company or fire department or the emergency number (911) immediately! Leave your
dwelling immediately, and evacuate all persons inside, while waiting for assistance to arrive.
(CAUTION: If a grease fire starts, throw baking soda on it. Do not use water! The best
thing to use is an "ABC multi-purpose extinguisher" on this type of fire; these may be
purchased in hardware or building supply stores such as Home Depot or Lowes.)
Refrigerators: Refrigerators should be defrosted periodically, when ice or frost around the
freezing unit becomes thick. To defrost a refrigerator, one should turn it off, empty it, and
allow the water from the melting frost to drip into a pan or the tray beneath the freezer. This
may take overnight, but can be done more rapidly if one puts a pan of hot water in the
freezer. When the ice has melted, one should empty the tray of water into the sink. It is not
a good idea to use sharp instruments to chip off the ice as they may damage the freezer and
your eyes. A solution of baking soda and water can be used to clean the inside of the
refrigerator. Some refrigerators automatically defrost themselves. The cooling grills on the
back of a refrigerator should be vacuumed periodically to remove dust build-up, to enable the
unit to refrigerate more efficiently. A refrigerator that works inefficiently will cost you more
on your electric utility bill.
Disposal of Garbage: Because insects are such a problem in Florida, it is important for
tenants to empty the trash in their house daily. The city will usually collect garbage at the
curbs by houses or at the dumpster sites in apartment complexes. The landlord will inform
the tenant about the way to dispose of garbage. Unless the dwelling has a garbage disposal in
the sink, one should not put anything down the drain. If there is a garbage disposal in the
sink, ask the landlord about what may be put into it. The city also has a recycling program
called "Big Blue," and you can use the blue boxes provided to recycle your glass, tin cans,
and newspaper. There are recycling centers in the city that may even pay you if you bring
your recyclable items to them. You can look in the city phone book "Yellow Pages" under
Cleaning Kitchens: American kitchens are more enclosed than kitchens in other countries.
Grease and oil collect on cabinet and refrigerator tops and walls, especially if occupants fry
foods often. These areas should be cleaned often in order to avoid unpleasant odors and fire
Cleaning Bathroom: Sinks, showers, and tubs may be cleaned with one of the cleaning
supplies listed at the end of this section. If a sink does not drain properly, ask the landlord or
manager to look at it. Because some products damage drains, a plunger is recommended for
them. Toilet bowls should be cleaned with a special cleaning solution designed for them. A
plunger may also be used for toilets that do not flush properly. Do not put paper items other
than toilet paper in the toilet.
Cleaning Floors: Different types of floors will require different kinds of care. A landlord
can recommend the way he/she prefers to have the floors cleaned. In apartments, the
managers often maintain vacuum cleaners for tenant use. You can also buy vacuum cleaners
at department stores. Upon leaving a dwelling, the occupant is usually expected to shampoo
the carpet. The landlord can inform the tenant about proper cleaning procedures.
Cleaning Products: Grocery stores stock several products for cleaning. It is important to
read labels carefully in order to understand proper uses and dangers of the products. Here
are a few commonly used products: For ovens: Easy-Off, Oven-Off (self-cleaning ovens do
not require any cleaner). For pots and pans: Scrubbing pads made of plastic should be used
on teflon pans which are specially coated. Non-teflon pans can be cleaned with steel wool
products such as Brillo pads or SOS pads, or with plastic pads such as Scotch-Brite. For
washing dishes: If dishes are washed by hand, detergents such as Ivory Liquid, Joy, Dove,
and Palmolive may be used. Dishwashers require special soap powder or liquid such as
Cascade. -For sinks and tubs: Powder cleansers such as Bon-Ami, Comet or Ajax may be
used, but these may scratch the surface of sinks and tubs. Other cleaners such as Mr. Clean,
Tub and Tile Cleaner, Bathroom Bubbles, and Formula 409 can also clean surfaces and rid
them of mildew. For toilet bowls: Products such as Vanish and Sani-Flush can be used
with special brushes for the inside of bowls. For floors: Mr. Clean, Spic N Span, and other
such products can be used with a mop to clean dirty floors. Waxes such as Future can shine
floors. For washing clothes: Tide, Cheer, All, and other products in powder or liquid form
will clean most clothes, although Woolite should be used to hand wash delicate items. Some
products will bleach or soften clothes; read the directions carefully before using bleach, as it
may ruin clothes! For windows and mirrors: Windex, ammonia and water, or vinegar. For
dusting: Use a normal feather duster or towel, or one can use products such as Pledge or
Endust to help collect dust. Many cleaning products may be found in "generic" form in
stores. "Generic" products are not marked with a particular brand name, but they perform
the same function as their commercial counterparts, and are usually less expensive. Natural
cleaning products can also be used, such as baking soda, and vinegar. These are less caustic
than strong chemical cleaners, and can be as efficient. Simple products such as chlorine
bleach or ammonia can be used in place of expensive cleaners. (Warning: Keep all cleaning
products out of reach of children and do not mix products!)
HEALTH & SAFETY HEALTH
Many illnesses surface because of a change in environment or an increase of stress. New
students who arrive in the United States witness changes in time zone, environment, and diet
that may initially cause sleep or digestive problems. Being kind to yourself, and allowing
yourself adequate sleep and leisure time will avoid many trips to the Infirmary! As the school
year progresses and finals approach, many students drop their normal eating, sleeping, and
recreation patterns. While a modification may be in order during stressful times, complete
dismissal of these routines may in fact increase stress, decrease performance, or cause illness.
The best way to stay healthy is to stay balanced! This permits you to perform your mental
and physical best.
University Health Requirements
In addition to academic requirements, the University imposes some health requirements on its
entering students. The requirements include (1) purchase of comprehensive health insurance;
(2) vaccination for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and PDD (tuberculosis); (3)
completion of the standardized UF health questionnaire. These requirements are intended to
protect the student population and enable the Infirmary to administer health care to each
student in the most effective way possible. Failure to comply with these regulations will
result in cancellation of the student's registration, so it is very important that all students take
responsibility for satisfying these requirements.
University Health Insurance Requirement: The University requires all international
students to have health insurance which (1)has an aggregate cap equal or greater than
$200,000 ( this means that each illness or accident will be covered up to $200,000); 2 )
covers for repatriation equal or greater than $7000; 3) has medical evacuation equal or
greater than $10.000; 4) the insurance must be acceptable in all medical facilities; 5) pre-
existing conditions must be covered after six months enrollment; 6) deductible $50 per
occurrence if treatment is not rendered at the University of Florida Student Infirmary; 7) the
insurance must be offered by insurers licensed to write health insurance by the Florida
Department of Insurance approval. The student and visiting scholar on J visas are also
required to cover their family with health insurance, as health care costs are very high and can
in some cases financially destroy a person. More details about health insurance will be
discussed in the "Health Insurance" section of this chapter. Health insurance brochures are
available at the ISS.
University Vaccination Requirement: All students entering the University are required to
show proof of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccinations, and PDD (tuberculosis)
vaccination or chest x-ray for tuberculosis, before attending classes. The Infirmary will
administer these vaccinations to students who need them for a fee of approximately $40.
Students should bring their immunization records (translated into English) with them when
they come to the United States, so that they can show proof of all immunizations.
U.F. Student Health Questionnaire: The Infirmary issues a health questionnaire which
inquires about the student's and his/her family's health history. The ISS issues copies of the
questionnaire during new student check-in. Spouses who pay a fee $80 per semester to use
the Infirmary should also complete a health history questionnaire.
What is a Health Emergency? In health emergencies, someone is suffering from serious
bleeding, pain, or is in danger of death.. An emergency differs from other cases in its
seriousness and urgency. For example, a person does not normally go to the Emergency
Room when he/she suffers from a sore throat or feels slightly ill. Going to the Emergency
Room in such cases may result in very expensive charges that the student may be required to
pay him/herself If you are covered by student health insurance, you are encouraged to go to
the Infirmary or call the Infirmary. If this is not possible, please go to the nearest medical
How to Telephone an Ambulance: If someone is not available to take the injured person to
the hospital or the person cannot drive him/herself, an ambulance may be called. The all-
purpose emergency telephone number is just three digits: 911. Because this number handles
health, crime, and fire emergencies, the caller should tell the operator that this is a medical
emergency and an ambulance is needed. Children should learn how to dial this emergency
number and relate the necessary information in case they must call for help by themselves.
Once the 911 operator has connected you with the ambulance service, the caller should:
explain the nature of the illness (bleeding, convulsions, etc.); give the street and apartment
address of the victim and his/her telephone number; give your own name; ask what you can
do to help the victim while the ambulance is on its way. (The paramedics may issue
instructions over the telephone while the ambulance is on its way in some urgent situations.
Do not hang up until you are instructed to do so.)
Emergency Telephone Numbers
Alachua General Hospital (Shands Hospital) .............. .......................... 372-4321
Crisis and Suicide Intervention Center: 376-4444
Emergency Numbers--City of Gainesville/Alachua County: ................................... 911
Florida Poison Information Center: ................................ 371-0000
North Florida Regional Hospital (emergencies only by physician referral):.......... 333-4000
Poison Information: ....................... 1 800-282-3171
Rape & Crime Victim Advocate Program: ........................................ 377-7273
Sexual Assault Recovery Service: ........................................................ 392-1171
S h an d s H o sp ital: .................................................................................................3 9 5 -0 1 1 1
SPARC (Sexual and Physical Abuse Resource Center):................................... 377-8255
Suicide Prevention: 376-4444
U .F Infirm aryevention ................ ............................................................................... 392-116 1
UF. nfrmrInfirmary........................................................................392-1161 .. .. .. .. .. ... .. .. ... .. 921 6
It is a good idea to keep these numbers beside your telephone, along with your name, your
address, and your telephone number, in case of an emergency. If your spouse or children do
not speak English very well, you should have this information written down for them. In an
emergency it is easy to forget one's address, or to forget English if it is not your native
Why Purchase Health Insurance? Besides the fact that the University requires it, American
health care is private, and therefore extremely expensive. If a person is not able to pay for
him/herself and has not purchased insurance, many hospitals and physicians will refuse to
treat them. For this reason, Americans purchase health insurance, which covers the bulk of
their medical expenses. The University of Florida requires ALL international students and
visiting scholars and their families to register for comprehensive health insurance. Students
who fail to comply with this rule will not be able to register for classes.
Legal Aspects of Health Insurance: An insurance policy is a contract between the policy
holder and the insurance company. Like leases or other legal documents, every word has
special meaning. Not understanding these words and sentences may result in expensive
medical bills and confrontations with the insurance company or medical provider.
International students and visiting scholars should ask someone at ISS or call the insurance
company to clarify the contract with them. These are some words that are commonly found
in insurance contracts:
Benefits: The money the insurance company pays the health care facility if you become ill or
Claim: The form and procedure you use when you request money from the insurance
company. Sometimes the health care facility will bill the insurance company directly. Other
times, you must pay the health care costs yourself first and the insurance company must
reimburse you later. When you request reimbursement, you are "filing a claim".
Coverage: These are conditions for which the insurance company will pay. Some insurance
policies provide coverage for maternity, dental, or psychiatric care; others do not. The
University requires international students to purchase a policy with "broad coverage," that is,
a policy which covers students in different health care situations at different health care
Deductible: The portion of medical costs that you pay yourself. If the contract indicates
"$100 deductible," this means you pay the first $100, and the insurance company pays the
rest. Most insurance policies require clients to pay a portion of the expenses; this decreases
the cost of the insurance policy.
Dependents: Your spouse and children. If you are here with your family, your insurance
policy should offer coverage of your dependents.
Exclusions: Cases for which the insurance company will not pay.
Policy: The insurance contract.
Premium: The price you pay for your insurance policy.
Rider: Additional benefits, such as maternity, dental, or health maintenance provisions, for
which you pay extra money. These "riders" are added to your basic insurance contract.
How to Use Your Insurance: After you sign your insurance contract, the insurance
company will issue you an insurance card, which you should keep in your wallet at all times
with other identification cards. If you do not receive a card from the insurance company,
please call them to ask for one. You must show this card when you visit the physician or
hospital. When you visit the health care facility, ask the person who takes your card whether
he/she will send the bill to the insurance company directly, or whether you must file a claim
yourself. If you go to the Infirmary and have the insurance chosen by the Student
Government, you need only show your card or inform them of this insurance; then you will
then never have to pay the bill, as it is at once sent to the insurance company. If you are
treated for something for which you have to pay a portion, the insurance company will then
inform you of this fact. You should save all bills associated with your visits hospital,
laboratory, and pharmacy charges and include these when you file your claim. Make copies
of all these bills, as well as of your claim form, so that you have a record of your expenses
and correspondence with the insurance company. It is important to read the insurance policy
carefully so that you understand what the insurance company will and will not cover.
Policyholders normally must ask the insurance company to send them the company's
standardized claim form.
Maternity Insurance: Some students plan to have children while they stay in the United
States. Maternity insurance must be purchased BEFORE a child is conceived, or the
insurance company will not insure the mother. Costs involved in delivering a normal baby
can reach $4,000 or more, so families who plan to have additional children while in the
United States should think about protecting themselves with appropriate maternity insurance.
UF Student Health Service (the Infirmary):
The Student Health Service, also known as the "Infirmary," is located on campus between the
Florida Gym and the Space Sciences Research Building (SSRB). The Infirmary is open for
regular patient service between 8:00 a. m. and 8:00 p. m., Monday through Friday, during the
Fall and Spring Semester. Saturday and Sunday during the Fall and Spring Semester the
hours are 12:00 p. m. to 4:00 p. m. During the Summer Semester and in between semesters
the hours are 8:00 a m to 4:30 p m weekdays, and no weekend hours. Emergency staff are
on call after normal business hours. Scholars are able to use the Infirmary. Please come to
ISS for further information.
Eligibility: All students who are registered for classes must pay a mandatory health fee as
part of their tuition. This fee is not the same as the health insurance fee. It is a charge which
helps pay for the operating costs of the Infirmary. Payment of this health fee permits the
student to see a medical expert at the Infirmary for free. The specialty clinics, pharmacy, and
laboratory services are not free; students are assessed a minimal charge to use them. If a
student is not registered for school for one term, he/she may still pay a fee and receive
Infirmary privileges. This "semester off' program also applies to student spouses. A student
who has graduated from the University is no longer eligible for this "semester off' program.
Student spouses may pay a fee to receive Infirmary privileges. Children may not receive care
from the Infirmary, as the Infirmary does not have the staff or facilities for pediatrics.
"Pediatrics" is the name for the specialization of children's medicine. Shands Teaching
Hospital, other local hospitals, and private physicians (found in the "Yellow Pages" of the
telephone book under the heading "Physicians, Pediatrics") can provide pediatric care to
children. Students are encouraged to use the Infirmary whenever possible, because hospital
care elsewhere is very expensive. In order to receive reimbursement from the Student
Government health insurance plan, a student must receive a referral from the Infirmary before
he/she visits another hospital.
Infirmary Services: The Infirmary is staffed with physicians, physician assistants, nurses,
psychologists, and counselors who assist students in various areas. Students who need help
are advised to make appointments ahead of time by calling 392-1161 during normal business
hours. The staff is able to assist students on a walk-in basis in cases of sudden illness or
emergency, but the waiting line is often long. The Infirmary has several clinics, including an
allergy injection clinic, kidney clinic, blood pressure clinic, wart clinic, orthopedic clinic,
dermatology clinic, plastic surgery clinic, allergy clinic, and a women's clinic, among other
services. Some of these require referrals and additional fees. Associated with the Infirmary
are a mental health section, a sexual assault recovery section, and a sports injury clinic. A
laboratory and pharmacy are located at the Infirmary; these services charge fees which are
normally lower than other places. The Infirmary also has hospital beds and facilities for
inpatient care. It is not equipped to handle surgery or maternity cases. All visits to the
Infirmary are confidential; that is, the information pertaining to these visits will not be
released to third parties unless the patient authorizes the release in writing.
How to Use the Infirmary: In order to make an appointment, students should call 392-1161
between 8:00am and 5.00p.m. If a student wishes to use a specialty clinic, he/she must first
consult a physician, physician assistant, or nurse, who will make a referral to the appropriate
clinic. Students must present a valid fee card and picture I.D, which proves they have paid
the health fee for that semester. During his/her first visit, the student will be given an
Infirmary I.D. card, which must be presented for future visits. The NEXUS tape information
system has tapes that explain various Infirmary services. These tapes are listed in the
University telephone directory under the heading "NEXUS" in the "How's Your Health?"
section. Call 392-1683 to ask for the tape number of your choice.
Information for Disabled Students: The University of Florida offers many services to
disabled students. A Dean in the Office for Student Services (392-1261), P202 Peabody
Hall, is responsible for assisting disabled students. Call or visit the office to meet with the
Dean if you are a disabled student. The Dean can inform you of the forms of assistance on
campus. A few are listed below.
Handi-Van Transportation: The Student Traffic Court sponsors a van which transports
permanently and temporarily disabled students around campus. Students can purchase
semester boarding passes at a small fee. The van runs between 7:00 a. m. and 7:30 p. m.,
Monday Friday, and adjusts its schedule to the needs of the students using the van. Call the
Student Traffic Court for schedule information.
Textbook Recording Project: Blind students can arrange to have their reading assignments
recited on tape. For more information about this service, contact the Office for Student
Services (392-1261) or the Textbook Recording Project Office in Norman Hall.
Speech and Hearing Clinic: The clinic offers services in speech therapy, hearing aid
orientation, and speech and hearing orientation and is located in Room 442 of the Arts and
P.L.U.S. (Physically Limited University Students): P.L.U.S. is a student organization which
offers support towards disabled students at the University. For more information about
P.L.U.S., contact the Office for Student Services.
How to Choose a Private Physician:
It may be necessary to visit a medical specialist if the Infirmary is not able to handle a
complex medical condition. In such situations, you should receive a written referral from the
Infirmary which directs you to an appropriate medical specialist. In cases not covered by the
Infirmary, such as maternity or pediatric care, you can ask for referrals from the Infirmary,
from friends, or from the Alachua County Medical Society. The Medical Society's telephone
number is 376-0715. The "Yellow Pages" of the telephone directory lists private physicians
alphabetically and by specialty. These listings may be found under the heading, "Physicians &
Surgeon M.D.". When you use a private physician, you must consider how you will arrange
for payment of services. Some physicians bill the insurance company directly; others will bill
you, and you must file a claim to receive reimbursement for expenses. Physicians in the U.S.
are both male and female. If a woman does not feel comfortable about consulting a male
doctor, she should request a referral for a female physician.
Making An Appointment: Most doctors and clinics will require you to make an
appointment before they will agree to see you. Sometimes the waiting time can be weeks
long, so it is important to make an appointment in advance. The medical specialist will be
better able to help you if you have some information about health history. Health records,
including immunizations, allergies, and medical conditions, should be translated into English
before you come to the U.S. or immediately after you arrive in the US. It is important to
arrive for your appointment on time since Americans are very time conscious. Physicians see
many people in one day and may not have time to see you at all if you are very late for your
Local Hospitals, Urgent Care Centers and Clinics
The largest local hospitals that are close to the University are listed below. Other hospitals
specializing in psychiatry, drug and alcohol dependency, and other areas, are also listed in the
telephone book. Alachua General Hospital which now belongs to Shands Hospital (372-
4321), 801 SW 2nd Avenue, is located five blocks east of the university. Alachua General
Hospital offers a full range of services to patients, including medical/surgical services,
obstetrics, pediatrics, and psychiatric care. North Florida Regional Medical Center (333-
4000), State Road 26 (University Ave./Newberry Rd.) at 1-75, is a hospital which offers a
wide range of services, including the Women's Center. Emergency care is only available on a
physician's referral basis. Shands Teaching Hospital (395-0111), SW Archer Road, is the
University of Florida's teaching hospital. It includes facilities for medical and dental care.
Medical students and faculty offer care for patients, using many new techniques in the field.
The UF Student Infirmary normally makes referrals to the Physicians' Clinics at Shands
Hospital. These clinics provide medical assistance in different areas. Doctors who teach at
the U.F. Medical School handle these clinics. Because the waiting list for these clinics is
long, it is important to make an appointment early.
Urgent Care Centers: Urgent Care Centers provide immediate assistance to people with
standard injuries, such as bone fractures, lacerations, and sprains. They are not equipped to
handle serious emergencies such as those involving internal injury. Urgent Care Centers are
less expensive than hospital emergency rooms. They are located throughout Gainesville.
Listings are in the city phone book "Yellow Pages" under "Emergency Minor Medical
Facilities & Services." A few are listed here:
Alachua Urgent Care Center:
Monday Saturday, 8:00 a. m. 8:00 p.m.; 925 NW 43rd Street; ........... 371-1777
Emergency Medical Center:
Monday Saturday, 8:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.; 6121 NW 1 Place; ..................... 331-4357
North Florida Regional Hospital;
Monday Saturday, 8:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.; University Ave at 1-75; .......... 333-4900
The Alachua County Health Department (336-2356), 730 NE Waldo Road, offers clinics in
family planning, foreign travel immunizations, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS testing,
tuberculosis, and other areas. They also administer shots to children who will be entering the
public school system at a cost. The Health Department does not handle emergency cases,
and does not administer to everyone. You must call the Health Department to inquire about
the clinics for which you may be eligible.
Women's Clinics: Several women's clinics in Gainesville offer a variety of services from
family planning counseling to physical examinations. The Infirmary has a women's clinic
Other women's clinics may be found in the "Yellow Pages" of the telephone directory under
the heading "Clinics."
Insurance The cost of having a baby in the United States can be very expensive--
approximately $4,000 for a normal delivery; therefore, it is advisable to purchase maternity
benefits as part of your health insurance policy. It is crucial that you purchase maternity
insurance before you conceive your child, or an insurance company will not cover you.
Length of Time in a Physician's Care: Most physicians and midwives prefer to monitor an
expectant mother throughout her pregnancy, so pregnant women should choose an
obstetrician (a doctor who specializes in delivering babies) early. Care before delivery is
known as "prenatal care;" care after delivery is called "postpartum care." If the Infirmary or a
friend cannot refer you to an obstetrician, consult the "Yellow Pages" of the telephone
directory under the category "Physicians Gynecology & Obstetrics" or ask for a referral
from the Alachua County Medical Association. (376-0715). Childbirth Preparation Classes.
The local hospitals have facilities for delivering babies, and offer "Childbirth Preparation"
classes for expectant mothers. These classes are intended to orient expectant mothers to
changes in their bodies and the childbirth process. Contact the local hospitals to find out
more about their childbirth preparation courses.
The American Concern with Personal Cleanliness
Some visitors to the USA may not be aware of the concern for personal cleanliness which
Americans have. They may not realize that body odor or strong breath is considered
offensive in this culture. This is especially a problem in Florida due to high degree of
humidity. Students who come from countries where high humidity is not a problem may be
unaware of this problem. They may therefore consider extreme efforts towards cleanliness
wasteful or unnecessary. Not being aware of others' concerns, however, could lead to
confrontations or problems with roommates, classmates, or officemates, since they might be
embarrassed to tell you what they are thinking. If you suspect that others are avoiding you
for this reason, you may want to ask a close friend about it or discuss it with one of the
counselors at the ISS
The preoccupation with cleanliness carries over to dental care. The average American visits
a dentist or hygienist (a professional who cleans teeth) usually once or twice per year. By
caring for teeth properly, they should last for a person's lifetime.
Where to Go for Dental Care:
The University of Florida has a Dental School, which offers a less-expensive source of dental
care in the Gainesville community. Patients can make appointments with dental school
professors and students during the school year. Because care is provided at a slightly lower
cost, the waiting list is often long. Patients are encouraged to make appointments early. The
UF Dental School (392-4261), is located in the Shand's Hospital. Private dentists may be
found in the "Yellow Pages" of the telephone book under the heading, "Dentists." If you
have any questions regarding choice of dentists, please contact the ISS.
What is Mental Health? Good mental health relates to good physical health. Maintaining a
positive mental state permits a person to function effectively in normal and stressful
situations. Mental health can be a difficult topic to define specifically, because the definition
varies between cultures. People who normally cope very effectively with situations in their
own countries may find themselves needing assistance from time to time, due to the new
cultural environment. In general the following behaviors may indicate an unhealthy mental
state: prolonged depression; suicide contemplation; physical, verbal or mental abuse; alcohol
abuse, or drug abuse. If you are experiencing any distressing feelings, or know someone else
who is, you should seek help. Many sources of help are available to people who need mental
health counseling, and it is expected that people will take the initiative themselves to seek
help when they need it. Seeking help is acceptable, expected, and confidential. Some
people refuse to seek help because they feel uncomfortable about sharing their personal
concerns with outsiders. If you feel you may need some help in overcoming a situation,
please do not hesitate to ask for it. Consultations with counselors at the ISS or the
Counseling Center at Peabody Hall, and other support offices, are confidential. A counselor
can only offer support, help and concern if you let them know you need them.
Where to Go for Help: The ISS staff is especially aware of the difficulties international
visitors face. No question is foolish, except the one which is not asked! Please feel free to
come in and see one of the counselors. Below is a list of resources that can help students in
different situations. The Office of Student Services also publishes the "Student Lifesaver," an
excellent pamphlet which lists resources for specific areas.
General Mental Health, Depression:
ISS: .....................392-5323 ex 600
NEXUS (refer to Univ. telephone book for tapes) ...............................392-1683
Student M ental Health, Infirmary: ................... ................................... 392-1171
University Counseling Center ............. ......................... .......... 392-1575
Alachua County Crisis Center ........................................ ..........264-6789
Crisis & Suicide Intervention Center: 334-0888
NEXUS Counseline (refer to Univ. phone book) .........................392-1683
Student Mental Health, Infirmary: ....................................... 392-1161
University Counseling Center: ...........................................3..... 92-1575
C corner D drugstore ............ .......... ........ ......... ....................334-3800
Infirm ary ......................................................................... 392-116 1
Shands Emergency Room ............................... 395-0050
Alcoholics' Anonymous: ............................. 372-8091
BACCHUS ...................................... 392-1261
Emergency Numbers--Gainesville/Alachua County ........................911
Sexual Assault Recovery Service, Infirmary ....................... 392-1171
University Police Department............................................... 392-1111
Battery, Physical Abuse
SPARC (Sexual & Physical Abuse Resource Center).................... 377-8255
This list is not intended to be comprehensive. For information about where to go for help,
call the ISS (392-5323), the Office for Student Services (392-1261), or the Information and
Referral Service of United Way (375-4636).
What Everyone Should Know About AIDS (HIV):
The Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS is a serious health threat to persons of
every race, nationality, age group, and sexual preference. It is an illness caused by a virus
which can destroys the immune system of the body. The virus eliminates one's capacity to
fight against other illnesses that invade your body. These illnesses can cause one's death. So
far there is no cure for AIDS. Who you are has nothing to do with whether or not you are in
danger of being infected. AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease. There are very few ways in
which one can become infected with the AIDS virus. It can be transmitted through semen,
vaginal secretions, and blood. As a result, one can become infected by having sexual relation
with an infected person, or by using drugs and sharing the needle or the syringe. Babies of
women who are infected with the AIDS virus can be born with the AIDS virus, because
AIDS can be transmitted through the blood of the mother to the baby during pregnancy or
labor. Receiving infected blood has infected some hemophiliacs and others. Donating blood
at a blood bank or hospital does not put you at risk of being infected with AIDS. The needles
used for blood donation are new and sterile, and once used, they are destroyed. There is no
way you can get AIDS through blood donation. Some persons have been infected with the
AIDS virus by receiving transfusions of blood before 1985, before the AIDS virus was
identified. Today all donated blood from the United States is screened for the AIDS virus.
For more information, contact the Civitan Regional Blood Center, 1221 NW 13th Street,
(334-1000), or the Alachua County Health Department, or the Florida AIDS Hotline (1-800-
FLA-AIDS or 1-800-352-2437), or a counselor at the ISS. The Alachua County Health
Department or the Civitan Regional Blood Center can give a test for the AIDS virus. To
prevent the sexual transmission of AIDS, condoms (prophylactics, "rubbers") in combination
with spermicides (foam or cream used with an ingredient that kills sperm) is the best method
for those who engage in sexual relations with a partner whose sexual history is not known.
Home Security. Some of the best home security practices are also the simplest. Gainesville
has its share of crime, and you should always be conscious of your own personal safety.
Lock all doors and windows when you leave your home or apartment. Burglars or criminals
will try the unlocked dwellings first. Don't make it easy for them by not keeping your doors
looked. You should lock your doors and close your windows at night before going to bed.
If you leave your apartment for even a few minutes, such as going to the laundry room,
always lock your door. If you live alone or have easily accessible windows, you should lock
your windows at night before you go to bed as well, or have protective devices such as
security locks put on your windows to prevent break-ins. Don't assume second story
windows are safe. Burglars can climb! Install "dead-bolt" locks on exterior doors. Simple
"spring-bolt" door locks can be easily opened from the outside by experienced burglars.
Install adequate outdoor lighting by your entry doors. Floodlights or other bright outdoor
lights prevent intruders from gaining entry to your home or apartment. Leave them on at
night whether you are at home or away. If you are a single woman, list your first name initial
only in the phone book. Ask the phone company for other ways to protect yourself from
unwanted callers. Also, list your first initial on your mailbox or door so that it is not obvious
you are female. Even if you have other female roommates, you may all want to conceal your
single female identity. Never leave a spare key outside the entry door, as experienced
burglars also know to look under the doormat and other "secret" places. Never open the
door to a stranger. Ask for identification through the door. If your door has a peephole, use
it to see who is there (If your door does not have a peephole, discuss with your landlord
about getting one installed.). If you do not know the person, do not open the door. Ask
through the door what they want. If a stranger wants to use your phone, ask the number, and
make the call for the person, or call the police or 911 and make a report for the person. Do
not open the door. If strangers present themselves as law enforcement officers, ask for their
name and identification. Call the law enforcement agency to verify that that officer is there
on an official call. If strangers present themselves as repair or delivery persons, call the
company to verify the authenticity of the person before you open the door. You can check
the person's identification through the peephole or window. Have all the locks re keyed
when you move into a new dwelling. You may need to have your landlord's permission first,
as the manager may need to have access for maintenance, and to have a spare key in case you
lock yourself out. Install a protective device on any sliding glass doors if there is none.
Burglars can gain entry through sliding glass doors as well as other doors. Take your keys
out before you get to your door and have them ready to use, so you don't stand before your
door fumbling for your keys. Make sure your valuables are not in plain sight, in view of
passersby. If you have valuables, close your drapes so those items are not in view. Any time
you leave your apartment, close your drapes. Keep the telephone numbers of local
emergency services such as fire and police beside your telephone. Windows should have
additional protective devices to prevent the window locks from being forced open. Hardware
stores carry home security devices. External door hinges should either be changed or altered
with protective screws to prevent a burglar from removing the entire door to gain access to
your dwelling. Garage doors should also be secured. Teach children never to open the door
to strangers. Report suspicious persons or activities in your neighborhood to the police.
Never give out your name, address, or phone number or other personal information to
unknown callers. Never tell a stranger that your neighbor is not at home. Never give out
information that you are alone, or when you will be away from home or on vacation. Teach
children never to give out such information. If you hear or suspect a burglar is in your home
while you are there, avoid a confrontation. If possible, call the police immediately. If you
come home and your dwelling has obviously been entered, do not go inside. The intruder
may still be inside. Go to a neighbor or other location to call the police. If you come home
and your dwelling has been burglarized, do not go inside. Go to a neighbor to use the phone
to call police, and wait at the neighbors until the police arrive. Some of these
recommendations may sound a little extreme. But if you are new to this country, you may
perceive all Americans as friendly, and may not expect criminal activity from a friendly
stranger. We are not advising you to suspect everyone you meet as a criminal, but do try to
exercise good judgement. If you are suspicious of a person or suspect that you are in danger,
do not hesitate to call the university police (392-1111). It is better to let them check out the
situation. You might talk with friends or a counselor at the ISS if you have more concerns
regarding what type of situations to avoid. The university police department has many
brochures on home safety tips, personal safety, and any topic that has to do with safety. You
may stop by and ask to have any brochure you would like, and they can also give you advice
on these subjects.
Personal Safety Tips: Practice the "buddy system", let friends or neighbors know where you
are going, when you plan to return, and what routes you will take, and how you can be
reached at your destination. Travel with a "buddy" to and from your activities. Pay attention
to those walking around you. Walk in an alert and confident manner in parking lots and on
the street. Learn self defense techniques. Travel in well-lit, highly traveled areas. Avoid
taking "short cuts", especially through dense, wooded areas, even during the day. Don't walk
close to bushes, parked cars, alleys, or suspicious-acting people. Don't jog at night or in the
early morning when streets are deserted. Guard your purse, backpack, or wallet. Don't carry
large amounts of cash or other valuable objects. This is especially the case if you are
studying in the library. Even if you leave for a moment, take your things with you. If you
think someone is following you, switch directions or go across the street. If you're still being
followed, go to a public place and ask for help. Trust your instincts. If someone or
something makes you uneasy, get out or away. Have a "fire drill" in your dwelling, so that in
case of an emergency you will know escape routes. Keep your car doors locked, especially
when you are driving. As you approach your car, look around it and in the back seat before
entering. Don't hitchhike. Not only is it dangerous, in some cases it is illegal. Do not pick
up hitchhikers. Do not accept rides from strangers when you are stranded with car trouble.
If your car breaks down, raise the hood, and wait in your locked car for a law enforcement
officer to arrive. If someone stops to help, ask him or her to call for assistance for you.
Don't go with a stranger to call for assistance. Keep valuables out of plain view in your car.
It is best not to keep valuable items in your car at all, even if in your trunk. Burglars can
break into a car or its trunk in minutes. If you ride the bus, use well lit, busy bus stops. Sit
near the driver, and don't doze off or fail to pay attention. If someone harasses you, say
loudly "leave me alone". Watch who gets off the bus with you, if you feel uneasy, go to a
public place to ask for help. If you get an obscene or harassing phone call, hang up as soon as
you realize the nature of the call. Don't try to find out who the caller is, and don't respond.
If the calls keep coming, notify the police, keep a log of the times, what the caller said, a
description of the voice, and any background noise.
Campus Security: The University of Florida campus is a secure place. Doors to residence
halls are kept locked. The Housing Office maintains residence hall security from 10:00 p.m.
to 6:00 a.m. There are emergency "blue" phones located across the campus. These phones
are directly linked to the UPD which is the University Campus Police. All housing staff have
uniforms and identification cards. Residence hall staff are trained for security and crisis
situations. Information desks are set up in residence halls. To enable the University to
maintain campus security, students must do their part. Follow the above personal and home
safety tips. Go to the UPD and get brochures on safety measures. Use good sense, and
report suspicious or criminal activity. It is far better to have the police investigate what may
turn out to be a non-threatening matter, than to allow a crime to be committed or to become
a victim of a crime.
SNAP (Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol) Students who must walk on campus at night
do not have to walk alone. The Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol, or "SNAP", is available
to every student. You call the SNAP Office (392-SNAP or 392-7627) at the University
Police Department in advance of when you need to be escorted. Then, a SNAP officer will
meet you at the time and location you request, and walk with you to your campus
destination. You can ask the University Police Department to verify the identify of the SNAP
officer, so there is no doubt of your safety. This service is free. Call the UPD for more
information. IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY, CALL 911.
Emergency Phone Numbers
U university P police D epartm ent: ............................................. ............................. 3 1111
Alachua County Sheriffs Office: ................................................................. 367-4000
Gainesville Police Department ........ ................................... 334-2400
Alcohol Awareness: Florida has strict laws concerning the use of alcohol, specifically
regarding drinking alcohol while driving, and underage drinking.
Drunk Driving: If you are driving a car, moped, or bicycle, and are under the influence of
alcohol (or any illegal drug), you may be arrested for "driving under the influence" (or DUI).
Penalties are severe, even for the first offense.
Underage Drinking: Florida's laws prohibit the sale of alcohol to anyone under age 21. The
penalties for this are also severe. Possession of alcoholic beverages by a person who is under
age 21 is illegal. Being arrested for the sale or possession of alcoholic beverages by underage
persons can result in a jail sentence and/or a fine and possible suspension of driving
privileges. Misrepresenting your age or using a "fake I.D." is also illegal and punishable by
Open Container Law: It is also against the law to have open containers of alcoholic
beverages while driving, whether or not you are consuming them or are "under the
Traffic Laws: Florida has many traffic regulations that affect not only drivers of
automobiles, but also bicyclists, moped and scooter drivers, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.
Pedestrians:_ Persons on foot must obey pedestrian traffic control devices ("Walk/Don't
Walk" signs, crosswalks, intersection crosswalks, etc.). Don't walk in the street if there is a
sidewalk. Be aware of traffic as you walk and as you wait at an intersection to cross. Never
step in front of a moving vehicle. They may not see you, and if you are not in the pedestrian
crosswalk they may think they do not have to stop for you. In fact, you are required to yield
the right-of-way if you are not in a pedestrian crosswalk. Never cross diagonally across an
Vehicles: Vehicles must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Every driver must exercise
caution to avoid hitting any pedestrian or bicyclist. Drivers should exercise extreme caution
when observing any child or incapacitated person near the roadway. If a bicyclist is in a
crosswalk, the bicyclist has the same protection as a pedestrian, and must obey the pedestrian
rules while in the crosswalk.
Bicyclists: A bicyclist riding on sidewalks or in crosswalks must yield the right-of-way to
pedestrians, and must give an audible signal before passing or overtaking a pedestrian.
Bicyclists are considered vehicles, and must obey all traffic laws as if they were cars. Never
run stop signs, traffic lights, ride against traffic (on the wrong side of the road, not in the flow
of traffic), or ride at night without a light. It is required to use an attached front headlight on
your bicycle if you ride at night, and to have a red rear reflector attached to the bicycle. It is
recommended to wear a protective helmet when riding a bicycle. A bicycle helmet is an
inexpensive safety device that can be easily purchased in stores such as Wal-Mart for
approximately $25. Wearing a helmet may protect you from head injuries or even death if
you are in an accident. It is also recommended to use hand and arm signals to indicate to
drivers your intentions, although you cannot trust drivers to see you. Give a warning to a
vehicle to alert them to your presence if you feel they may hit you. You may not carry
another person on your bicycle, unless you have a permanent and regular seat attached to
carry a child, or a bicycle trailer. If you must ride on the roadway, and cannot keep up with
the speed of the cars, you are required to stay as far as possible to the right of the roadway.
The brakes on your bicycle must be able to stop you within 25 feet from a speed of 10 miles
per hour on a dry, level, clean pavement. You cannot wear a personal stereo headset while
riding your bicycle. You must keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times. It is
highly recommended that you purchase a "U-Lock" or other heavy-duty bicycle lock to
protect your bicycle from being stolen. It is also recommended to have a personal
identification number engraved on your bicycle's frame to identify it.
Mopeds: Mopeds must not drive on the sidewalk or in crosswalks. You must follow the
same traffic rules as cars. If your moped travels less than 30 miles per hour, has less than 50
cc engine power, or less than two brake horsepower, and you are 16 years of age or older,
you do not have to wear a helmet, although it is strongly recommended. You must carry
liability insurance, the same as an automobile, and you must have a permanent tag on your
moped. Do not run a red light or a stop sign. The fines for these offences are very high. To
operate a moped without a light or brakes is illegal. If you were to be arrested and convicted
for operating a moped with a driver's license that is suspended or revoked, for reckless
driving, or for driving under the influence (DUI), you could be sentenced to serve a jail term,
which, consequently, could cause immigration problems.
Mandatory Safety Belt Laws
Florida State law requires the driver and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts. If a front-
seat passenger under 16 years of age is not restrained by a child restraint device or fails to
wear a seat belt, the driver of the car will be charged with violating this law. If a front-seat
passenger 16 years of age or older fails to wear a seat belt, the passenger will be charged with
violating this law. Wear lap belts around your hips, not your stomach. Fasten them snugly.
Wear a shoulder belt only with a lap belt. More than half of the accidents that cause injury or
death happen: 1) at speeds of less than 40 miles per hour (mph), and 2) within 25 miles of
home. All children 5 years old or younger must use a child restraint device when riding in a
motor vehicle. Traffic accidents are the number one killer of young children in this country.
Over 90 percent of deaths and 80 percent of injuries to children in car crashes could be
prevented by using approved child restraints. Infant carriers or children's car seats must be
used for children 3 years old or younger. Children's car seats or safety belts may be used for
4- and 5-year olds. All infant carriers and car seats must be approved by the U.S.
Government. The North Central Florida Safety Council at 3710 NW 51st Street (377-2566),
has an approved list of U.S. Government-approved child safety seats. In a crash, you are far
more likely to be killed if you are not wearing a safety belt. Wearing both the shoulder belt
and the lap belt makes your chances of living through a crash twice as good. In the event of
an accident, safety belts: 1) keep you from being thrown from the vehicle (your risk of death
is five times greater if you are thrown from a vehicle in a crash); 2) keep you from being
thrown against parts of your car, such as the steering wheel or windshield; 3) keep you from
being thrown against passengers in the car, or their being thrown against you in a crash; and
4) keeps you, the driver, behind the wheel, where you can control the car.
Leaving Children Unattended or Unsupervised in Motor Vehicles:
NEVER leave a child younger than 6 years old unattended or unsupervised in a motor
vehicle. It is a violation of Florida traffic laws to leave a child unattended in a car for more
than 15 minutes. However, you should never leave a child alone in a car, or anywhere else
for that matter, for even a second! It is a violation of state law to leave a child unattended for
any period of time if the motor of the vehicle is running or if the health of the child is in
danger. Also, a child left alone in a closed car may suffer heat stroke or even death in
Florida's hot climate. (Animals left in a closed car may also suffer heat stroke or death if left
in a closed car for even minutes.)
False or Altered Driver Licenses:
It is illegal to use a "fake" driver license, or to alter your own driver license. If you use
another person's license as your own, it is a misdemeanor criminal offense. The penalty will
include fines, revocation or suspension of your license, or a jail sentence. It is a felony to
alter your own driver license, for example, to make your date of birth different to make you
of legal drinking age. A felony is a criminal offense for which you will be arrested, in
addition to fines, and revocation or suspension of your license. Additionally, it is a felony to
use a false name to apply for a driver license, or to give false information when applying, or
to obtain a license under fraudulent circumstances. The penalty is immediate arrest, and a
maximum fine of $5,000 and imprisonment up to 5 years, and your driving privileges may be
suspended for one year. If you drive without having a valid driver license, or let someone
drive your car or know of someone who drives without a license, this is also illegal. The
person driving without a license, and possibly the person knowing about it is subject to
If a child is between 5 and 18 years of age, he or she should be placed in school. If a child is
younger than that, the parents may decide to take care of the child at home. There are also
childcare centers for younger children. If the parent needs assistance in caring for the child,
whether school age or younger, on a weekend or an afternoon, then some type of childcare
may be appropriate. It is illegal to leave children unattended for long periods of time. Parents
sometimes take their children to day care centers so they may run errands. There are many
childcare centers in Gainesville. Some places have age limitations. The term babysittingg"
usually refers to childcare in the family or babysitter's home. "Day care" normally refers to a
more formal arrangement where the parents leave their children daily. Child care, day care
and babysitting are expensive.
Child Care Centers
What to Look for in a Child Care Center: Childcare centers are staffed with people who
have different qualifications. Some may have educational certification, while others may not.
Parents may want to research a center thoroughly before sending their children there.
Friends are often excellent sources of information about which childcare centers have the best
reputations. Childcare centers are in the "Yellow Pages" of the city phone book under "Child
Care Center." Baby Gator: The most demanded child care center for the University
community is the Baby Gator Nursery (392-2330, 392-7900), an educational research center
for child development. Baby Gator is located on Village Drive, adjacent to Corry Village and
the Holland Law Center. The Center can accommodate 110 children who are between the
ages of 3 and 5. Baby Gator charges a fee for their care and has a waiting list. Baby Gator
maintains current lists of other recommended child care centers in Gainesville.
School care differs from childcare. School lasts during the day hours; attendance is part of
the child's progression in education, and is required by law. The Alachua County School
system requires that children be at least 5 years of age by September 1 of that school year in
order to begin public school. State law requires that children attend school until they reach
the age of 16. Schools are categorized as "public" or "private." "Public" refers to those
schools funded by taxpayers and the government, and they are free. "Private" refers to those
independent institutions that charge tuition and may have special admissions requirements.
These private schools are sometimes affiliated with churches. Most international students
send their children to public schools.
Public School Registration
In order to register a child for school, a parent must present the following documents to the
Alachua County School Board (955-7300), located at 620 East University Avenue: 1)the
child's passport and visa; 2) the child's immunization record (translated if necessary and
approved by the Alachua County Health Department); and 3) proof of a physical
examination. Proof of diphtheria, polio, and MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella)
immunization is required by the School Board. Parents should call the School Board to see
whether the list of vaccinations has changed when their child is ready to enter school. If
proof of these vaccinations is not available, the Alachua County Health Department, located
at 730 North Waldo Road (955-2415), will re-vaccinate individuals with these required
"shots" at a charge. The immunization records must be translated into English before the
Health Department will verify them. The Health Department does not translate documents or
perform physical examinations. Physical exams must be verified on the Alachua County
School Health form available from the School Board. The Urgent Care Centers (located in
the "Yellow Pages" of the city phone book under the heading "Hospitals") or private
physicians can perform the exam for a charge. The Urgent Care Centers and physicians have
copies of the Health Form in their office. The parent should also make arrangements to meet
with the Bilingual Education Director at the School Board, who will test the child for fluency
in English, and will recommend an appropriate school with adequate facilities.
At independent schools, parents pay for the child's tuition. Each school has its own
philosophy of education and therefore may impose different teaching methods. Each school
determines its own tuition rates and entrance requirements. A list of private schools may be
found in the "Yellow Pages" of the telephone directory under the heading, "Schools --
P. K. Yonge Laboratory School
This a school affiliated with the University of Florida. It teaches children in elementary and
high schools. Parents must place their child's name on a waiting list in order to attend the
school. Because the waiting list is often months or years long, parents should add their
child's name to the list immediately if they are interested in having their children attend the
Transportation To and From School:
The county provides bus service to different areas. The School Board has updated
information about the current routes. Parents of children who do not live on a bus route may
drive their children to school individually or in "car pools" (where different parents take turns
driving each week), walk with their children, or permit their children to walk or ride by
themselves. If parents permit their children to go to school unattended, they should
emphasize the importance of safety to their children. We advise parents to accompany their
children to school.
The county hires traffic police officers to assist students in crossing the street when they walk
to school. Nevertheless, children should be instructed to cross the street only when no cars
are in sight. They should also be warned not to speak to strangers. Other safety precautions,
such as walking together in groups, should be taken. Some parents pin identification cards to
their children's clothes, so the children may be identified if they should become lost. This is
especially important for children who have not mastered the English language. It is also
important to teach children how to call their home telephone number or the 911 emergency
number and inform the person at the end of the line of their name, location, and need.
The School Day
Except for kindergarten, the school day lasts from approximately 8:00 a m to approximately
2:00 p m, with recess and lunch times in between. Starting and ending times for the school
day may vary from school to school because of the school bus schedules. Many parents pack
lunches in lunch boxes or paper bags for their children, although it is also common to
purchase lunches in the school cafeterias, too. For more information, contact the School
TRANSPORTATION & TRAVEL
ON CAMPUS AND AROUND GAINESVILLE
The City of Gainesville operates buses that drive around the city on pre-set routes. The fare
is 50 cents per ride. Buses do no run on Sundays. Before renting a place to live, you should
find out if it is located on a bus line. ISS obtains copies of the bus schedules. It is also
possible to order them from the Gainesville Regional Transit System, at 100 S.E. 10th
Avenue (334-2600). Bus routes around campus stop at the commuter parking lot on North-
South Drive, the fraternities, family housing areas, the health center, and various other points
around campus. Students may purchase bus passes for a semester or year, or can pay 25
cents per ride. For more information about the campus buses, call the Traffic & Parking
Office that is located at 354 North-South Drive (392-2241). Permanently or temporarily
disabled students may use the Handi-Van, a special van equipped with a hydraulic lift which
enables wheelchair-bound persons to board easily. Disabled students should call the Traffic
& Parking Office to summon the driver. Passes for the semester or year must be purchased
from the Traffic & Parking Office to use the van.
Bicycles may be the best form of transportation around campus because they are quick, easy
to ride, and easy to park. Bicycle parking areas surround all school buildings. However,
bicycle riders should be aware of a few essential points when riding their vehicles. 1) The
first rule: LOCK YOUR BICYCLE! Bicycle thieves will take bicycles that are unlocked.
Various types of locks may be purchased in stores. UFIC and the University Police
Department (UPD), located at Museum Road & Newell Drive (392-1409), can show you
literature about the different kinds of locks which are recommended. The UPD will also
engrave student numbers on bicycles, so that the bicycle can be identified if recovered.
2) The second rule regarding bicycles: FOLLOW THE BICYCLE TRAFFIC LAWS.
The UPD is very strict about issuing tickets. The most commonly violated regulations are:
1) failure to stop completely at a stop sign, and 2) riding the wrong way down a one-way
street. These tickets are usually $80, regardless of the violation, no matter if you are driving
a car, riding a bike, or driving a moped! The UPD has brochures on bicycle safety, violations
and fines. You may want to stop by the UPD office get this free information. 3) If
bicyclists do not pay their tickets, their driver licenses will be suspended. Furthermore, if you
a stopped for future violations, and have outstanding tickets, you can be arrested
Mopeds appeal to many students because they are inexpensive, easy to maneuver, and easy to
store. Although it is not necessary to obtain a license to drive most mopeds, it is important
to remember that traffic rules are strictly enforced in Gainesville, and that police officers will
issue tickets to violators. Riders may want to wear helmets when riding their mopeds for
safety. The UPD also has a brochure on moped safety, and traffic laws which apply to
mopeds. There are also some moped laws you should be aware of: 1) moped operators
must have at least a restricted State of Florida driver license, 2) if the moped has an engine
with more than 50 cc's engine displacement, then it is a motorcycle and requires a special
Do you really need a car? It may seem that everyone here needs a car, and that everyone has
one. In fact, many students do not own cars, and it is quite possible to live in a city like
Gainesville without having one. Cars are expensive to buy, repair, and maintain. Traffic and
parking violation tickets can also be very costly. Cars will require continuous expenditures
such as vehicle registration, insurance, and fuel. It is imperative for drivers from other
countries to be familiar with the Florida Vehicle Laws governing driving in Florida. Failure
to do this can result in traffic tickets or serious accidents. Some of the most commonly
violated rules are those which deal with speed limits and parking. Traffic tickets are a
minimum of $52. Parking tickets can range from $5 to $100 depending on the violation. The
state of Florida enforces strict penalties for drivers who operate vehicles under the influence
of alcohol. These include hundreds of dollars in fines, weeks of community service work,
revocation of your driver's license, mandatory attendance at driving school and a possible jail
term! Don't drive drunk! Please see the section on Safety for other advice on drinking and
driving dangers. The UPD also has brochures on the traffic laws, drunk driving penalties,
and other related topics.
Driver's Licenses: Drivers who hold only international driver's licenses, or who move to
Florida and will drive a car or moped, must obtain a Florida state driver's license within 30
days of arriving in Florida. The Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles
has two Gainesville Division of Driver Licenses offices. The Northwest Driver Licenses
office is located at 5830 NW 34th Street (955-2111 for information), just behind the
Highway Patrol Station on Highway 441, and across from the Department of Motor
Vehicles. The office is open Tuesday through Friday, between 7:00am and 6:00pm. Drivers
who receive a driver license for the first time must take a written test, a road test, and a
vision test. Learner's permits are available for those people who have not held a driver
license before. Applicants must bring with them two legal documents containing matching
names and dates of birth. A passport, an 1-94, and a letter certified from UFIC are
acceptable forms of identification. Florida Driver's Handbooks are available from the
Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles offices, and the UPD.
Automobile Registration: The Alachua County Tag office is located at 5801 NW 34th Street
(374-5263), across from the Northwest Driver Licenses office. You must register your
automobile with the Alachua County Tag Office when you purchase it, or once you arrive in
Florida with your car from another state. Upon registering your vehicle, you will receive a
license plate or "tag." The registration charge depends upon the weight of the automobile,
and other factors. Florida Motor Vehicle Regulations are available at the Tag Agency.
Owners must renew their registration annually. Automobile owners must bring a certificate
of title of the vehicle, proof of insurance, and a driver's license to the Tag Agency to apply
for a tag, title and registration. All of these are handled at the Alachua County Tag Agency.
The office is open Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a m and 5:00 p m.
Automobile Insurance: State of Florida law requires all automobile owners to have car
insurance with a minimum of at least Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and property damage.
PIP insurance covers 80% of your medical expenses, or 80% of your passengers' medical
expenses in the event of an accident. Florida has a "no-fault" insurance law in which no
matter who is at fault in an accident, your own medical expenses will be covered (up to 80%;
health insurance usually covers most of the other 20%, less your deductible). Property
damage insurance covers damage to another car, a house, or other personal property, if you
are at fault. Liability insurance protects you from being sued by someone else in the event of
an accident for their injuries or personal property damage up to the limits of your coverage.
Collision insurance, usually for newer cars, compensates for damages to the insured driver's
car in cases of a collision with another car. Comprehensive insurance covers losses caused by
vandalism, fire, broken windshield, theft, or other abuses. Failure to have automobile
insurance is against the law, and leads to fines, possible imprisonment, and having your
driver's license revoked or suspended. Many private companies offer automobile insurance
at different rates. A listing of these agents can be obtained from the "Yellow Pages" of the
telephone book under the heading "Insurance--Automobile." When purchasing car insurance,
it is important to consider that the amount of insurance purchased should depend on the value
of the car. It is wise to compare prices and the extent of coverage with at least two
automobile insurance agents before choosing a policy. Insurance rates vary with the
company; these depend on the value of the car, the age of the drive, and past driving records
of the driver. You should choose the type of insurance coverage that best meets your driving
needs, and meets the state law requirements.
Mandatory Safety Belt Usage Laws: State of Florida law requires the driver and front seat
passengers to wear seat belts. If a front-seat passenger under 16 years of age is not
restrained by a child restraint device or fails to wear a seat belt, the driver of the car will be
charged with violating this law. If a front-seat passenger 16 years of age or older fails to
wear a seat belt, the passenger will be charged with violating this law. In a crash, you are far
more likely to be killed if you are not wearing a safety belt. The section on Safety has more
information regarding safety belt laws.
Buying an Automobile: Because new automobiles are expensive many students purchase
used cars if they decide they need a vehicle. It is wise to be cautious and curious when
buying a used car. Prospective buyers should ask many questions about the condition of the
vehicle. An organization called "Consumer Reports" prints an annual Buyer's Guide for
automobiles, which lists the automobile make, year, and repair record of models. The Public
Library carries copies of this magazine. You should always take the used automobile that
you want to buy to a mechanic before you buy it. For a fee, he will inspect the vehicle for
mechanical problems. This informs the prospective buyer about possible problems they may
encounter before they buy the car. This small investment may save hundreds of dollars in
avoided repair bills. It is important for international visitors to choose a car that they can sell
when they leave. If you buy a car from an individual, insist on a written receipt or bill of sale.
The seller may have to accompany you to the Tag Agency to fill out forms. A used or new
car dealer must give you a receipt or bill of sale. In addition, you need the title to the car,
which proves your ownership. The seller or car dealer must sign the title over to you. Never
buy a car for which the seller does not have the title! Many automobile salesmen will make
promises they cannot keep to car buyers, or will coerce customers to purchase a car. You
are the customer and should choose the item you want. Be sure to have the salesman's
promise in writing. "Buyer beware." It is not a good idea to purchase automobile from an
automobile salesman by yourself. They are very skilled at manipulating customers. Ask a
friend who has previously negotiated for a car to go with you so that he/she can bargain with
the salesman. Unlike prices of goods in stores, the prices of automobiles can be negotiated.
If you have any questions regarding buying a car feel fee to contact the ISS.
Traveling Outside of Gainesville
When you must travel to other parts of the country or state, you can choose several modes of
transportation. These include airplane, rental car, ride sharing, bus, and train. Large airports
located within driving distance of Gainesville include Jacksonville Airport (located off of
Route 1-95) and Orlando Airport (located off the Bee Line Expressway). They are both two
hours away. Passengers must arrive early -- perhaps even an hour early -- to guarantee their
seat on the plane. Airlines sell more tickets than seats, and the last passengers to arrive may
lose their seats if the flight is overbooked.
Rental Cars: Some people prefer to rent an automobile or van when driving a distance.
Rental car agencies are listed in "Yellow Pages" of the telephone book under the category,
"Automobile Renting and Leasing." You must hold a valid driver's license in order to rent an
automobile. Some companies require you to have a major credit card before they will lease a
car to you, or may require a cash deposit.
Ride Sharing: The J. Wayne Reitz Union (JWRU) Ride Board is a board on which people
seeking and offering rides exchange information. It is located on the ground floor of the
Reitz Union. The riders usually contribute to the cost of gas when they share a car. Be
careful before accepting rides with a stranger; be certain you feel comfortable about riding
with the person before you leave. Also give a friend the name of the person you are riding
with, the automobile tag number and description of the car, your destination and expected
arrival time. Call your friend upon your arrival at your destination to let them know you
A Caution about Hitchhiking: "Hitchhiking," or hiking along a road or highway with a sign
posting your destination, is extremely dangerous in this country. Many people have been
robbed, raped, or killed while hitchhiking. People who wish to travel are advised to find
other means of transportation besides hitchhiking. DO NOT HITCHHIKE!
Bus: The Greyhound Bus Station is located at 516 SW 4th Avenue (376-5252). They have
bus service within Florida and around the country.
Train The Amtrack Railroad does not have a station in Gainesville, but does have on in
Waldo, located on Waldo Road (State Road 24). It takes about 20 minutes by car to reach
the station. Amtrack's toll-free number is 1-800-872-7245. The Waldo ticket station's
number is 468-1403.
Most foreign students, like many American students, live on limited budgets. It is important
to manage money wisely in order to insure that it lasts as long as possible. Because it takes
time for newcomers to adjust to the value of the dollar and to estimate daily living expenses,
these students should be cautious about spending money. Here are some hints about
Budget carefully: If you pay all bills at the beginning of the month, you will know how much
remains for other expenses. Set aside the amount of money for rent, utilities, food, and other
Keep accurate records: Keeping track of expenditures by category (for example, for books,
recreation, and food) can pinpoint areas of heavy spending which might help you budget your
money more wisely.
Transportation: An apartment close to campus may save hundreds of dollars annually on car
expenses. Cars are very expensive to maintain and park. You can rent a car for special
occasions. Bicycles and mopeds are the most common forms of transportation around
Gainesville for most students.
Credit: Although credit is a convenience for purchasing large items, it is easy to overextend
oneself financially with it. Some credit card companies charge 18-21% interest per year,
which may total to hundreds of extra dollars annually over the worth of items purchased.
You should evaluate whether you need expensive items before you purchase them on credit.
Buy Used: Weekend garage and yard sales are advertised in newspapers daily, and are good
places to purchase appliances for reasonable prices. You can bargain for a lower price at
Meals: Although dining out is pleasant and convenient, this can double your food bill. By
making bagged lunches at home for school and eating at home you can save money.
Take Advantage of Sales and Coupons: By watching the newspaper for sales of items a
student needs, he/she can save up to 50% on these items. The Paper Mint, a book of
coupons distributed in Gainesville, and manufacturer's coupons can also save money on
items. More information about the Paper Mint can be found in the "
Shopping: See section below, "Some Characteristics of Shopping in the United States."
American currency is based on the decimal system, where 100 cents are equal to one dollar,
$1.00 Currency is issued in the forms of bills and coins. Coins are metal and are either silver
or copper-colored. They come in six different sizes: 1 cent, a penny, is made of copper; 5
cents, a nickel, is silver colored, and larger than a penny; 10 cents, a dime, is the smallest
silver coin; 25 cent, a quarter, is silver-colored and larger than a nickel; 50 cents, a half-
dollar or 50-cent piece, is silver and larger than a quarter, but not common; 100 cents, silver
dollar, comes in two forms: the Susan B. Anthony silver dollar, which is the size of a
quarter, and the older silver dollar, which is the largest coin (both are rarely seen in
circulation). Bills are paper money. All U.S. paper money bills are the same size and the
same green color. Denominations include $1 (commonly called a dollar), $2 (not commonly
in circulation), $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, and larger amounts. Paper money for these larger
amounts is not usually seen in public circulation.
Banks & Banking Services: Because it is not wise or practical for people to carry large
amounts of money with them or keep it in their homes, the money is usually deposited in a
bank. In Gainesville, there are several banks that offer checking and savings account
services, as well as other services such as wire transfers and dollar exchange, which are
important for international students.
Automatic Teller Machines (or ATM's): Most banks in Gainesville have an automated teller
service. This automatic teller is a computerized device through which bank customers can
make deposits or withdrawals at any time of the day, any day of the week. To operate an
automatic teller, you need a particular plastic card that the bank provides. Instructions for
operating the automatic teller are given on the teller itself. Automatic tellers are located at
the banks themselves and at other locations, especially at supermarkets. Some banks are part
of the "HONOR" network of automated tellers, which means that you may use your card in
different cities through Florida. Withdrawals and deposits made with the automatic teller will
be subtracted automatically from the customer's savings or checking account. You may be
charged a fee each time you use your ATM card. Because this may lead to confusion or
mistakes in judging the balance in your account, you should retain your receipts after making
a transaction, and enter all transactions, and any service charges, in your record.
Savings Accounts: Money which is not used for routine living expenses is normally kept in a
savings account. Savings accounts earn relatively low interest rates (between 5 and 6 per
cent). You may usually withdraw any amount from a regular savings account (also called a
"passbook account") whenever it is necessary.
Savings Certificates: Banks also offer "savings certificates," "certificates of deposits" or
"CD's," and "money market certificates," which require specified minimum deposits for
specified minimum time periods. These usually earn higher rates of interest than regular
savings accounts. A savings certificate or money market certificate is a prudent investment if
the customer is certain that they will not need the money until the designated time period
(which may be 90 days, six months, one year, or longer) has elapsed. You may be charged a
penalty fee for withdrawing part or all of your investment before its maturity date.
Checking Accounts: Banks offer different types of checking accounts. Some banks charge a
fee for each check written, while others will not charge per check if the customer maintains a
minimum balance of $500. Select a bank whose checking account policies and services best
meet your needs. You must pay to have personalized checks made, which have your name,
address, and phone number on them. The bank sends a monthly statement of checks that you
have written, so that you have a record of these checks. It is important to be sure that the
record of the amount remaining in the account coincides with the bank's record. The
statement will also reflect amounts subtracted from the account by the bank for service
charges or for the printing of personalized checks. If you use an automatic teller card to
withdraw or deposit cash, these transactions will also appear on the monthly statement. Be
sure to enter the transactions when they are made so that you will have an accurate record of
your account balance. You are penalized for checks that are written for an amount that is
greater than the amount of money you have in your account. Checks such as these are called
"returned checks," "bounced checks, "or "overdrafts," and your bank and the place you wrote
the check will charge you a penalty fee, plus you will have to pay the returned check amount
in cash. Some stores may revoke your check-cashing privileges for writing returned checks.
Writing a check for which you know you do not have funds is called a "bad check", and is
illegal. You can be arrested for writing a bad check.
How to Write a Check: Here are the steps to follow when writing a check. Refer to the
following diagram for illustrations of these instructions:
1. Write the date you are "issuing" the check.
2. Write the name of the person or business to which you are making the payments (the
3. Write the amount of the payment in numerals (150.50), at the far right on the line with
the name of the "payee." Put the first numeral directly after the printed dollar sign, not
leaving any space for another person to alter the amount of the check by writing in an
4. Spell out the number of dollars included in the payment, and write the number of cents in
the form of a fraction, on the next line. (For example, "One Hundred-Fifty and 50/100)
Begin writing on the far left of the line, and fill the entire line with your writing, or draw a
line to fill in any blank space.
5. Sign your name as it is printed on the check.
6. Note the purpose of the payment in the check register. (If you make a deposit to your
account, be sure to also indicate this in your check register.)
Check Number Date:
Pay to the order of:--------------------------------------------------------$150.00
One hundred fifty dollars --------------------------------------- 00/100 dollars
Reminders When Writing a Check:
1. Write the check at the cash register only when you are ready to pay for your purchase.
2. Always record in the check register: the date, the check number, the amount, and the
person or business to whom you are writing the check. Compare this record with the
monthly statement the bank sends you.
3. When depositing a check or cash in the bank, use a deposit slip. Deposit slips are located
at the back of your checkbook, or the bank can give you a blank deposit slip. If you want
to mail a check for deposit, sign your name on the back of the check exactly as it appears
on the front of the check. Add the words "For Deposit Only" on the back of the check,
as well as your account number, so that no one else can cash the check if they find it.
4. If you have a bank card to use at an automatic teller machine, do not print your code
number or your personal identification or access code on your card or in your checkbook.
If your wallet or purse is stolen or lost, someone else can easily use this information to
take money out of your account.
How to Cash a Check Written to You: When someone writes you a check, you must sign
your name on the back of the check exactly as it is written to you, only when you are ready
to cash or deposit the check! This is called "endorsing" the check. You can sign your bank
signature below, if it is different from the first signature. Many banks ask you to write your
bank account number on the back of the check, and may ask you to show proof of
identification. Caution: The bank will normally "hold" the check until it "clears." This
means that the bank will not allow you to use the money until they are certain that the funds
exist. This "hold" can take between one week and one month, which can cause problems for
students who bring all their money in the form of one check. Be certain that you have
enough cash with you to pay for routine expenses while a large check is clearing. Writing a
check is written proof of a purchase, and can be the equivalent of a receipt. (If you may have
to return a purchase, however, you should save the receipt, as many stores will not accept
merchandise for exchange or refund without the receipt.)
Cashing A Sponsor's Check Written to the University: Sometimes students receive sponsor
checks for tuition which are written to the University of Florida. You should bring these
checks to Student Financial services
Cash: Cash is the easiest way to pay for purchases, but because it can be stolen so easily,
most people carry only small amounts of cash with them. People who need cash withdraw it
from the bank. Some supermarkets will also cash checks if you hold a check-cashing card for
that store. At the University, the J. Wayne Reitz Union and the Hub Campus Shop and
Bookstore cash checks for students who have a picture identification and fee card. It is
important to always obtain a receipt for large purchases when you pay in cash. Unlike paying
with checks or credit cards, if you pay with cash, you receive no receipt unless you ask for it.
Traveler's Checks: If someone is traveling outside of Gainesville, their personal checks will
often not be honored by businesses in other cities. Traveler's checks are a safe alternative to
carrying cash. These may be purchased at banks for a small charge, and can be used at
restaurants, stores, and hotels around the world. Traveler's checks can also be replaced if
they are lost. It is important to keep the numbers of your checks in a safe place so that you
may refer to them in case the checks are lost or stolen. The most popular Traveler's check
companies are American Express and Citicorp. The checks require two signatures made at
different times in order for them to be valid. The first signature is made when you purchase
the check; the second signature is made when you wish to use the check. The second
signature, made at the time of purchase, demonstrates that the check belongs to the person
who originally signed the check.
Wire Transfers: Wire transfers are immediate transfers of funds from one bank to another.
Because banks communicate by telephone or telegram, the funds can often be received the
day after a wire transfer is requested. The person who sends a wire transfer must know the
name, address, and number of the bank to which he/she is sending the money. He/she must
indicate the name of the recipient of the money. When the recipient claims the funds, he/she
must show picture identifications, such as a driver's license or a passport, in order to receive
the money. The recipient may pay $20 or more for the cost of the service. Wire transfers
must be made in U.S. currency. Banks may hold wire transfer funds from two days to a
week. ISS has a list of the banks that will do wire transfers, their numbers and addresses, and
the length of time they will hold funds. Some banks will handle wire transfers for persons
who are not customers of the bank.
Some Characteristics of Shopping in the US:
There are several types of stores in Gainesville, such as specialty stores, supermarkets,
department and convenience stores. Since prices and quality vary, it is helpful to become
acquainted with those stores where you can shop most conveniently and economically. Such
information is available from people who live here, from newspaper advertisements in the
Gainesville Sun and The Independent Florida Alligator, and from the "Yellow Pages" of the
city telephone book. The "Yellow Pages" of the Gainesville telephone book can be a
shopper's guide. By looking at the category of items you need, you can immediately see the
stores which carry these items. You can also call the different stores to ask whether they
carry a particular item, and to compare the prices for the same item in other stores. Calling
around ahead of time is the most efficient method to locate what you want for the best price
without having to travel to each store. If you do call a store, be kind enough to ask all of
your questions at the beginning, so the clerk won't have to go back and forth from the phone
to the product to give you the information you need. If you are courteous to the clerk, you
may get helpful information regarding unannounced sales, etc. Newspapers often advertise
sales that the stores are having. A "sale" is when merchandise is sold for a reduced price.
Most stores operate on a "self-service" basis, where the customer uses one of the baskets or
carts provided and selects the merchandise desired. The merchandise is then taken to the
cashier, who totals the amount of the purchase and adds the appropriate sales tax. If the
shopper needs help in making selections, they normally ask a clerk to help them. It is
important to keep the receipt one receives when paying for a purchase. If an item is
unsatisfactory, a person can usually return it if the merchandise is still in brand new condition
and if the customer still retains the sales receipt. The receipt proves that the customer made
the purchase. Newcomers should be aware of some important conditions regarding shopping
in the United States. The first is to NEVER put merchandise in one's pocket or purse. This
action is known as "shoplifting," and is a criminal offense. Most businesses will take all
possible legal actions against shoplifters, even if the item stolen is small and inexpensive.
Being arrested once for shoplifting can result in a court hearing, a fine, and publicity in the
newspapers, not to mention problems with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Another condition is that prices in stores are fixed. One cannot bargain for a lower price.
Most products in supermarkets have electronic devices that read a bar code on the package
and automatically records the price of the item and its appropriate sales tax. At the time of
the printing, Florida's sales tax is 6%.
Paying for Purchases:
A shopper can pay for items in several ways.
Cash or check: The most common methods of purchasing items are by cash or personal
check. (Please refer to these specific areas in the "Money Management" section of the
handbook). It is not a good idea to carry large amounts of cash with you. Most stores
require some form of personal identification if a customer writes a check. Normally
customers use a driver's license and a credit card or a University of Florida fee card. Other
stores have their own check cashing card which shows that the customer's credit has been
approved. Customers must apply for a check-cashing card before writing a check for a
purchase. Some stores permit checks only for the amount of purchase, while others will cash
checks for over the amount of purchase. When purchasing expensive items, many consumers
pay in installments. The customer makes weekly or monthly payments until the item is
purchased. You are normally charged an extra "finance charge" for this privilege.
Lay-Away: Another method of purchasing expensive items is to use a "lay away plan." The
lay away plan does not permit the customer to take the item home until it has been
completely paid for.
Credit Cards: Credit cards allow customers to purchase items by "charging" them, take their
purchases home, and pay for them later, usually within 30 days. Interest is charged to the
customer for this privilege. Some stores issue their own credit cards, such as Sears and JC
Penney's. Other credit cards may be used in several places, such as American Express, VISA,
and Mastercard. Customers should always read the provisions of the credit card carefully.
Purchasing by credit card may seem deceptively easy, but it is a way to put yourself in deep
financial trouble if you do not exercise control. Do not purchase on credit unless you have
the cash to pay for it. Use credit cards as a convenience when you are not carrying enough
cash. Make it a habit to pay off your charges within 30 days of charging your purchases.
Store Sales: All stores have "sales" periodically when regular merchandise is sold at reduced
prices. The purpose of the sale is to stimulate consumer buying and a rapid turnover of
goods, and to clear store shelves for the next season's merchandise. Sales are advertised in
newspapers. Sometimes sale items may not be returned; the consumer should ask what the
specific store policy is about return of sale items. Returning Merchandise-- If a customer
wishes to return an item to the store of purchase for some reason, he/she should return the
item immediately with a sales receipt. The item should be unused. Some items are not
returnable, such as bathing suits and underwear.
Sales Tax: Most states charge a sales tax on "luxury" items. Florida's sales tax is 6%.
Expect to see an entry for tax when you receive a bill for merchandise or for meals in a
Coupons: Many shoppers use discount coupons which can be found in newspapers and other
news magazines when purchasing items. These offer discounts on brand name products, and
are usually valid to use for a specific size and quantity of a product. Most coupons must be
used by a certain expiration date. Some coupons are only valid for use at certain stores while
others can be used at any store where the product is sold. In order to receive a discount, the
customer gives the cashier the coupons when paying for purchases. Some stores offer
"double coupon" discounts on particular days, or if a minimum amount of merchandise is
purchased. The Paper Mint is a book full of coupons which is published several times each
year in Gainesville. Different businesses in Gainesville advertise their services in the Paper
Mint, and include coupons to encourage consumers to patronize their business. The Paper
Mint is delivered to Gainesville residents. Residents who have not received their copy can
write to PM Publications, Inc. 915 NW 56th Terrace, Gainesville, FL 32604, or call 331-
8235, to ask for their copy, or you can stop by and pick one up.
Generic products: Generic brands (or "Brand X") are usually less expensive than brand name
products, so consumers should compare the discount to see whether the brand name is
actually cheaper with the coupon or not.
Shopping centers, also called "malls," are stores clustered together, so that consumers can
visit several places when only making one stop. There are several major shopping centers in
Gainesville, and a number of small shopping centers and plazas.
Oaks Mall: The largest shopping center is the Oaks Mall, located west on Newberry Road,
which houses several large department stores such as Burdines, Belk, Dillards ', J.C.
Penney s, Sears; many small shops; restaurants and a food court; and the Oaks 6 movie
Oaks Mall Plaza: Next to the Oaks Mall is the Oaks Mall Plaza, which has Toys R Us, the
Oaks 4 movie theatre and some other small shops.
Gainesville Shopping Center, located on the corner ofNW 13th Street and NW 23rd Avenue,
contains Kash & Karry grocery store, K-Mart, and a number of small stores.
Albertson's/Walmart Plaza: Just across the street from the Gainesville .\/lhVyig Center are
Albertson Plaza, with Albertson grocery store and small shops, and Wal-Mart Plaza, with
Wal-Mart discount store, Books-A-Million, and other shops, and Sam's, which is a
warehouse discount store..
The Gainesville Mall, located on the corner of NW 6th Avenue and Main Street, contains a
Publix supermarket, a Belk, and many small shops.
Millhopper Shopping Center, located between NW 16th Avenue and NW 43rd Street,
contains Publix, Kash n 'Karry, and several other specialty stores.
Thornebrook Village, located behind Millhopper .\lih'l'ig Center, contains many small
shops which are somewhat expensive.
Butler Plaza, and Winn Dixie Plaza, near the Archer Road SW 34th Street intersection.
Butler Plaza has a Publix grocery, Wal-Mart, Litchfield Cinema, and many other stores.
Winn-Dixie Plaza has Winn-Dixie grocery and other stores.
Royal Park Plaza, located on Newberry Road and SW 40th Street, has Royal Park Cinema
movie theatre, and Scotty's.
West Gate Plaza, located at the corner of SW 34th Street and Newberry Road, has a Publix,
and Sunflower Health Food Store, and many smaller shops.
Newberry Crossing, located at Newberry Road and 76th Boulevard, has a Publix, KMart, su,
Media World and T.J. Max plus other shops.
There are other smaller shopping centers whose addresses may be found in the phone book.
Most restaurants are located in or next to the above shopping areas. None of these shopping
centers are located very close to campus; it is recommended that students use transportation,
as they must travel a distance and carry bags of groceries.
Convenience Stores: Convenience stores are small markets which carry limited stocks of
various items. These include such chains stores as Little Champ, Sprint and Jiffy Stores.
Convenience stores are located nearly everywhere and are therefore convenient; however, the
customer normally pays more money for products for this luxury.
Where to Shop for Different Items:
Listed below are some popular shopping areas for food, clothing, and household items.
Friends can offer advice about their favorite stores. Some are mentioned in the previous
section on Shopping Areas.
Groceries: There are a number of large grocery stores or "supermarkets," in Gainesville.
These include Publix, Winn-Dixie, Kash n' Karry, and Food Lion. Many of these chains
have stores in different locations. The telephone book lists these different locations. Some
supermarkets include specialty food sections which contain ethnic foods. Mother Earth
Market, 521 NW 13th Street (378-5224), located closest to campus, and in the Newberry
Plaza, carries "health" foods and other items at premium prices. Canned and boxed groceries
can often be found at reasonable prices at, Wal-Mart, Target, and K-Mart. These stores
carry household items at discount prices, including some non-perishable groceries. Sam'
carries groceries and household goods in bulk sizes (a membership is required to shop there).
There are a number of ethnic grocery stores as well, listed in the "Yellow Pages" of the
phone. Some ethnic restaurants sell packaged ethnic foods. You can ask friends from your
country where they have found ethnic food for sale.
Liquor: Supermarkets sell alcoholic beverages, as do convenience stores and liquor stores.
Customers must be at least 21 years of age to purchase alcohol; sales clerks will ask you to
show identification to prove that you are 21 years old before they will sell liquor to you.
Stores will not sell liquor after 2:00 a.m., or before 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. It is illegal to drink
alcohol in public places, including parks. It is also illegal to drink alcohol or even have an
open container of an alcoholic beverage in a vehicle. These regulations are known as "open
container" laws. The penalties for driving while intoxicated are extremely severe in Florida:
offenders pay several hundred dollars in fines, are required to donate weeks of their time to
community service projects, must register for a driving course, must relinquish their driver's
license for a period of time, and may serve time in jail. People who repeat this offense serve
time in jail and pay stiffer penalties than first-time offenders.
Household Items: Household items such as utensils, cleaning items, tools, furniture, and
other household goods may be found at reasonable prices at K-Mart, Target, Sam 's, and
Wal-Mart. The Salvation Army, located on East University Avenue, sells used household
items at very reasonable prices.
Clothes: Many department stores and small stores sell clothes, and their prices can range
from very reasonable to very expensive. Many students choose to buy clothes at Wal-Mart,
K-Mart, Sears, Belk J.C. Penney and TJMax, because the prices are less expensive here than
at other stores. Yet other stores may have excellent sales during the year, which make their
prices competitive with less expensive stores.
GETTING ALONG WITH AMERICANS
Adjusting to a New Culture:
When people move to a different setting, they must make certain adjustments or adaptations
to their usual behavior and attitudes. It is instructive to observe one's reactions to being in a
new culture, and to compare these reactions with those of other people from different
countries. The observations can result in increased self-understanding and help one to gain
insights into the various factors that have made the person what he is. If you are able to keep
the perspective of someone who is observing himself or herself while undergoing an unusual
experience, you will be able to prevent yourself from becoming extremely anxious or
depressed, and can learn more from the intercultural experience he/she is having. Some new
students experience "culture shock" when they first arrive. "Culture shock" is the name given
to the feeling of disorientation and confusion that often occurs when a person leaves a
familiar setting and moves to an unfamiliar place. The climate and terrain, the language,
customs, food, and the culture are different. It is harder to convey your feelings and
personality in a different language than your native one. You may feel lonely and may have
doubts about your decision to come here. Signs of culture shock include interruptions in
normal sleep patterns, anxiety, frustration, and excessive anger over minor irritations. It is
common to become dependent on fellow nationals who are also in the in the same situation
and have the same language and customs. Here are some ideas which may help students who
are experiencing culture shock.
Maintain perspective. You should remember that thousands of persons who have come to
Gainesville and the University of Florida from other countries have survived!
Evaluate expectations. Your reactions to the United States and Gainesville are the product
of the way things are here and the way you expected them to be.
Keep an open mind. People in the United States and in Gainesville may do or say things that
people at home would not do or say. It is important to realize that people here are acting
according to their own set of values, not according to your values from your country.
Avoid Being Judgmental. Try to avoid evaluating or judging their behavior according to
standards of your country. This may make it easier for you to adapt to your new
environment. Visit the ISS. A discussion with one of the international student counselors
can help you to get a useful perspective on culture shock and its learning and personal
Learn from the experience. Moving into a new culture can be a fascinating educational
experience. It gives you the opportunity to explore a new way of living, and compare it to
your own. There is no better way to become aware of your own values and attitudes, and to
broaden your point of view.
Improve your American English. The better you can express yourself, the easier everything
will be. Realize that you as an international student will often be treated as a stereotype.
Foreigners anywhere are, at first, treated as representatives of groups to which they are
perceived to belong, and not as individuals. On many occasions, you may be referred to as a
"foreign student" or "a student from country X." You are thus identified by the country you
come from. The ways Americans may respond to you will depend on their own experiences
with people from your country. It is important that you realize that their comments do not
have anything to do with you personally. Contact students from your home country who
have already been here for some time. They will be able to explain to you (in your own
language) procedures which may seem unfamiliar. Please contact the ISS if you do not know
anyone from your home country, and they will help find someone.
Understand your status: Realize how the status of your role here compares to the status to
which you are accustomed in your home country. Each society attaches different importance
to individual roles or positions in the society. In many countries, the role of "university
student" or "professor" is given more respect or "status" than it is in America. If this is the
case, it can be difficult to adjust to having a lower social status in this country than you are
accustomed to having in your own country. It is helpful to recognize that you are not being
downgraded as a person, but that you happen to be in a society where less value is attached
to being a student than may be the case in your home country. People here may understand
little about your culture, and may therefore misunderstand you and your behavior. They may
assume that limited English proficiency is a lack of intelligence, rather than understanding that
English is not your native language. Here are a few questions that international students
might want to think about: How do Americans make friends? How is respect shown? How
do family members interact? What is the relationship between males and females in different
situations? What are the dating patterns? How do people spend their leisure time? How do
they deal with conflicts and disagreements? What do they talk about, when and with whom?
How often do they "take turns" during a conversation?
Thinking about Going Home
After first arriving in America, it is natural to spend time thinking about the new country and
your reactions to it. However, it is helpful to try to keep in mind, that you will be going
home after finishing your degree. It is advisable to remember that you will change while you
are here. You will learn new ideas, adopt new attitudes, and behave in new ways. At the
same time, things will be changing in your home country. Family members, friends, and
professional colleagues will have experiences that you will not share, and they also will
develop new ideas, attitudes, and ways of behaving. Social, political, and economic
situations may change also. This means that when you return home, things will not be as you
remembered before you left. You will need to adjust to a "new" culture again. This
readjustment will be easier if you prepare yourself before you actually go back home. Try to
keep your expectations realistic, try not to pass judgment on people and situations you will
encounter after going home. You may experience culture shock again upon returning home.
Notable Characteristics of Americans
The American society is the most culturally diverse society in the world. Even with this
diversity, it is possible, in general, to describe attitudes and practices that are common among
Americans .in general. The following remarks are only generalizations. Individuals who are
exceptions to any or all of them do exist.
Individualism. Most Americans see themselves as separate individuals, and only secondly as
representatives of a family, community, or other group. They dislike being dependent on
other people, or having others depend on them. Some people from other countries may view
this attitude as selfish or self-centered. Others may view it as a healthy freedom from the
constraints of ties to family, social class, or clan.
Informality. Americans are taught that "all men are created equal." While they may violate
the principle in some aspects of life, in other aspects they adhere to it. They treat each other
in very informal ways, even in the presence of great differences of age or social standing.
From the point of view of people from other cultures, this type of behavior may reflect lack
of respect. From the point of view of Americans, it shows a healthy lack of concern for
Limited Friendships. People from other cultures may view friendships among Americans as
superficial. Because they are taught to be self-reliant and live in a highly mobile society,
Americans tend to avoid deep involvement with many other people. Furthermore,
Americans tend to "compartmentalize" their friendships, having their "friends at work,"
"friends at school," a "tennis friend," and so on. This is sometimes viewed by foreigners as an
"inability to be friends." Here it is seen as a normal way to retain personal happiness in a
mobile, ever-changing society.
Time consciousness. Americans place considerable value on punctuality. They tend to
organize their activities by means of schedules. As a result they may seem to be in a hurry,
always running from one thing to the next, and not able to relax and enjoy themselves.
Foreign observers sometimes see this as being "ruled by the clock." In this country it is a way
of assuring that things get done.
Materialism. "Success" in American society is often measured by the amount of money,
status, or the quantity of material goods a person is able to accumulate. Some cultures see
this as lack of appreciation for the spiritual or human things in life.
Conversations with Americans.
Another way of describing differences between people from diverse cultural backgrounds,
besides comparing their values, is comparing their styles of communication. When people
with different communication styles interact, they often misjudge or misunderstand each
other. It is helpful if you as an international visitor know something about the
communication style of Americans and the way it differs from your own communication style.
With that knowledge, the foreigners will be better able to understand what is happening when
they are dealing with the local people, and will know some of the ways in which the latter are
likely to misunderstand or misjudge them. Generalizations (subject to exceptions) are made
about the ways Americans communicate. In casual conversation (what they call "small talk"),
Americans prefer to talk about the weather, jobs, sports, people they both know, classes, or
past experiences, especially ones they have in common. Some Americans do not discuss
politics or religion, at least not with people they do not know well, because politics and
religion are considered controversial topics. Students at universities, however, discuss these
subjects often. Sex, bodily functions, and perceived personal inadequacies are considered to
be very personal topics, and are likely to be discussed only between people who know each
other very well. Many misjudgments and misunderstandings can arise from interactions
between people who have different communication styles. Here are some examples: Foreign
visitors in the U.S. might think that they hear little but "small talk" among Americans. They
may arrive at the conclusion that Americans are not intellectually capable of anything more
than small talk about subjects such as the weather, sports, teachers or their own social lives.
Many people who regard argument as a favored form of interaction reach the conclusion that
Americans are intellectually inferior. Americans may be alarmed by vigorous arguing, with
raised voices and use of gestures. They may expect violence, or at least long-lasting anger,
to follow from loud disagreements. They may perceive as anger what you consider normal
communication. Embarrassment or unease almost always results when someone raises a
discussion topic that the other person thinks is inappropriate for the particular setting or
Guidelines for Interacting with Americans
Men usually shake hands with each other the first time they meet. Men usually do not shake
hands with women unless the woman extends her hand first. Women do not usually shake
hands with each other. A university setting is usually very informal. Students who meet one
another will normally not shake hands at all. A student could shake hands with a professor or
staff person if introduced, but not usually with a fellow student.
American names: American names generally have three parts: the first (or given) name, the
middle name or initial, and the last (family) name. In most cases, the first name appears first,
then the middle name or initial (if used), and finally the last name. First names are used in the
U.S. more frequently than elsewhere. People may call each other by their first names
immediately after they have met. When deciding whether to call people by their first name of
not, the following general rules apply: Address people of your approximate age and status by
first name. This would apply to fellow students and neighbors. If the other person is clearly
older than you, you should use Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms. and the last name. For example, you
would address Marlon Brando as "Mr. Brando." If the older person asks you to use his or
her first name, do so. The older person will probably address you by your first name from the
beginning. "Ms." (pronounced "Mizz") is increasingly used for both unmarried and married
females. If a student is not certain whether or not a woman is married, "Miss" or "Ms." is the
appropriate term to use. If the other person has a title such as "Ambassador," "Doctor," or
"Dean," use that title and the last name. For example, you would address Senator Edward
Kennedy as "Senator Kennedy." Any faculty member can be addressed as "Doctor," whether
he holds the rank of assistant professor, associate professor or full professor. Again, the
other person might ask you to address him by his first name, and you should abide by that
wish. Americans do not use a title followed by a first name. For example, you would not
address Elizabeth Taylor as "Miss Elizabeth" but as "Miss Taylor" or, if she asked you to, as
"Elizabeth." If you are in doubt about what to call a person, ask the person, "What name
shall I call you?" Americans will sometimes be confused about what to call you. If you see
that person does not know what to call you, tell him, "You can call me "
Sometimes it is helpful to pronounce your name syllable by syllable. Americans' ready use of
first names may make it appear to you that they are oblivious to differences in age and social
status, but they are not. There are subtle differences in vocabulary and manner, depending
upon the relationship between the people involved. For example, an American is less likely to
use slang or obscenities when speaking to a person who is older, whose social standing is
higher, and/or whom he does not know well.
Ritual greetings: When two people are first introduced, the dialogue normally goes
something like: "How do you do?" "Fine, thank you. How are you?" "Fine, thanks." After
the first meeting, there are two kinds of greetings. The more formal is "Good Morning,"
"Good afternoon," or "Good Evening." The less formal is simply "Hello" or just "Hi." You
may simply say "Good Morning," "Hi," or whatever is said to you, in response. Any of these
greetings may be followed by "How are you?" To this one should answer "Fine, thank you,"
whether you are fine or not! These ritual greetings are much shorter than those to which
people from many other countries are accustomed. People from countries where ritual
greetings are more elaborate may have a negative reaction to the American custom, thinking
that it reflects coolness and lack of concern for other people. This is not the case! The
American casual parting remark "See you later," means "goodbye," and does not mean that
the person saying it has a specific intention to see you later.
Visiting Americans: You will probably have opportunities to visit an American home. The
invitation may come from your major professor or through someone you have met in a class,
or elsewhere. The following paragraphs give a general idea of the behavior that is
appropriate in such situations. Your prospective host will either phone you, speak to you in
person, or send you a written invitation. An arrangement made by telephone is expected to
be kept, even if it is made far in advance of the actual event. A written invitation will include
the date, time, place, and a description of the occasion. If at the bottom of the invitation it
says, "R.S.V.P." ("Respondez-vous sil vous plait"), you should notify the host whether or
not you plan to be present. If it says "Regrets Only," you should notify the host only if you
do not plan to be present. It is polite to notify your hostess of any last minute change of
plans, and of any dietary restrictions you have. In the United States you should never say
that you accept an invitation unless you truly intend to do so. If you do not know what
clothing could be appropriate to wear for the occasion, simply ask: "What should I wear?"
If you are not sure, ask the host or hostess to describe the type of outfit appropriate.
Sometimes "casual" dress can mean a different style of dress to different people. The time of
day also can determine what is considered appropriate dress.
Punctuality: Punctuality is usually essential, especially if you have been invited for a meal or
for a cocktail party. You may be thought inconsiderate and impolite if you do not arrive at
the appointed hour. Again, it is a very good idea to notify your hostess if you will be more