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Frequently Asked Questions

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International Students

Personal Information for International Students
Personal Information for International Students
International Students should consider several personal issues before arriving at Francis Marion University.

Banking and Finances
Most international students choose to open a bank account with an American bank.  To open an account, students should bring their student identification, passport, and funds for deposit.  Banks offer many different financial services.  Students may wish to compare the services and costs of several banks before choosing one at which to open an account.  A checking account will permit you to write checks to make purchases and pay bills.  Most retailers will accept a personal check on any U.S. Bank as long as you can show proper identification (passport, student identification card, or driver’s license).  By using checks, it is easy to keep records of your purchases and payments.  A “debit card” allows you to withdraw or deposit money to your bank account using an automatic teller machine (ATM) and to make purchases at stores that accept the card.  Most students choose to use a major credit card (such as Visa or MasterCard), which is available in some countries prior to arriving in the United States.

At the beginning of the semester, the ISA Office will provide transportation to local banks to assist the student in opening an account if desired.

Employment opportunities for foreign students are limited BCIS regulations and are available only to students who have maintained their immigration status and academic standing.  F-1 students may work on campus without permission from the INS or the office of International Student Affairs.  F-1 students may work on campus no more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session.  During the vacation periods and academic breaks, you may work full time (40 hours) per week on campus if you are returning to classes the following semester.

Generally, international students with an F-1 visa may not work off campus.  There are situations in which students may apply for permission to be employed off campus.  To do so, the student must consult with the ISA Office for more information.  Please note that permission to work off campus is often refused, and the application process may take many months. 

Social Security Number
A Social Security Number is an identification number issued by the United States Government for tax purposes, and is often used by various entities for identification.  A social security number is often requested of individuals seeking to open a bank account, apply for a driver’s license, register a motor vehicle or complete a tax form.  You do not need a social security number to open a bank account even if the number is requested and expected of a U.S. citizen.

However,  you will need a social security number if you will be employed and paid by a U.S. employer.  To apply for a social security number, students must go in person to the Social Security Administration Office in the McMillan Federal Building in Florence, SC.  Students will need their passport, I-20, and a letter from the ISA Office.  During the first week of classes, the ISA Advisor will coordinate transportation to the Social Security Office for those who expect employment.  In some cases, it takes several months to receive a Social Security Card after submitting the application. 

Cultural Shock
It is normal to have some ups and downs during the period of transition to a new culture.  Culture shock occurs at a different rate for difference people, and may build up gradually.  Everyone experiences culture shock in different ways.  The most effective way to combat culture shock is to step back from a given event that bothered you, assess it, and search for an appropriate explanation and response.  Try the following.

1. Observe how others are acting in the same situation.
2. Describe the situation; what is mean to you, and your response to it.
3. Ask a local resident or someone with extensive experience how they would have handled the situation and what it means to the host culture.
4. Plan how you might act in this or similar situations in the future.
5. Test the new behavior and evaluate how well it works.
6. Decide how you can apply what you have learned the next time you find you find yourself in a similar situation.
7. Ask the Office of International Student Affairs for the names of other international students that may have experienced these feelings and seek their advice. 

Throughout the period of cultural adaptation, take good care of yourself. Read a book or rent a video in your home language, take a short trip if possible, exercise and get plenty of rest, write a letter or telephone home, eat good food, and of things you enjoy with friends.  Take special notice of things you enjoy abut living in a host culture.  If experiencing difficulty with the transition, International Students should consult with the ISA advisor as soon as possible. 

Contact Information

Francis Marion University

Office of International Student Affairs

Office of Student Affairs

Admissions/Enrollment Management
843-661-1231 or 1-800-368-7551

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Last Published: August 12, 2014 9:50 AM
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