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International Students

International Students Guide: How to Get Help

By August 15, 2022No Comments

International freshmen, looking forward to your upcoming college life? This summer, many of you are leaving your hometown, to live and study all by yourself in a different country.

As the journey begins, have you and your family felt a little concerned about the challenges ahead? To help international students get ready for this new chapter, our team at DC Student Defense has created a guide about where to get help when you study abroad.

Who can I go to for help as an international student?

Studying abroad in a different country can be overwhelming. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available to students on campus.

If you have any questions and concerns mentioned below, these are the people that you should talk to.

  • Academic advisors

To assist you with your academic development, they offer advice for curricular planning, setting professional goals, and selecting interesting courses, which often comes with delightful encouragement. They can also answer some general questions to help you navigate in this new environment.

  • International student advisor

As you might have noticed, there is a tremendous amount of paperwork and procedures for international students to check-in, transfer credits, and update their visa and employment status. Failure to provide certain documents on time can get you in trouble. So first, get in touch with the international service office or advisor as soon as you arrive at your university. And always stay updated with policy changes for international students.

  • Resident Assistant (RA)

Most freshmen will move into residence halls on campus, where they will have an RA who makes sure that the building is free of any violations of law and student conduct. If you have issues with your living space or roommates, talk about it with your RA.

  • Medical and Mental Health Center professionals

Adapting to a new environment and dealing with pressure can be challenging, both physically and mentally. The good news is that every school has medical and mental health services. Students can make an appointment with a doctor if they need to. In most cases, universities provide several free mental consultations. Additionally, F-1 students may check the list of providers covered by their mandatory health insurance. So don’t hesitate to ask a doctor for help.

What other resources are there?

In addition to on-campus resources, you can always seek help from other credible institutions.

  • Students advocacy organizations

You can find a variety of student-led advocacy groups in universities. Some commonly seen organizations fight against discrimination, violence, sexual assault, etc. If you are suffering from any type of injustice at school, let them hear your voice. Many organizations can provide you with information and advice, so you don’t fight alone.

  • Cultural and ethnic associations

For many international students, joining a group of peers from their origin with the same cultural background would be a good start to college life. In those associations, you can find people who have struggled in similar situations and problems as you do – perhaps culture shock, language barrier, and feeling homesick in a foreign land. When you are anxious and lonely, I’m sure you will get a lot of support from this group.

What should I do if I become involved in any legal matter on or off campus as an international student?

The best solution is to hire a lawyer.

At DC Student Defense, you will find professional student defense attorneys who can handle your disciplinary and criminal charges. Students and their parents trust us because our attorneys are very experienced with campus and court justice procedures. We help college students across the nation in various student misconduct cases. The violations include but are not limited to alcohol and drug offenses, plagiarism and cheating, assault, Title IX and sexual assaults, and domestic violence.

Handling these charges and sanctions properly is especially crucial for international students because the outcome will very likely affect their visa status, in addition to academic transcripts and career development. As soon as you receive a warning or notice from your university, or you face serious sanctions like suspension or expulsion, contact us immediately. 

Contact DC Student Defense for more information

We hope every international student will have a freshman year full of happiness and success. Whatever you need, attorneys at DC Student Defense will always be here to help.

These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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