With each new year comes a new class of international students who might be unfamiliar with American laws, and it’s a joint effort between MSU police and the Office for International Students and Scholars to educate them on laws, specifically those involving traffic and alcohol.
OISS Director Peter Briggs said students are required to attend orientation at the beginning of the year, but his office also facilitates weekly sessions that discuss different topics about life in the U.S. These sessions may feature presentations on anything from culture to traffic laws.
With a handful of major traffic accidents involving international students already proving to be an issue this semester, MSU police Sgt. Florene McGlothian-Taylor said her department is especially interested in making sure international students understand and review the resources available to them regarding the law.
In response to the need for more accessible education, MSU police and OISS created a series of videos in 2012 on different topics, including alcohol, traffic lights and what to do when stopped by a police officer.
“The adjustment process can almost be put into categories,” Briggs said, mentioning the number of adjustments international students have to make in their transition to the U.S. “Laws are something that international students need to take seriously, especially under the scrutiny of U.S. immigration.”
In addition, McGlothian-Taylor said traffic signals and bicycle laws can prove confusing for some international students.
“Countries differ — our (police) lights may mean something different in someone else’s country,” McGlothian-Taylor said. “In some countries they travel on the left side of the road whereas we travel on the right side of the road.”
Economics junior Salha Fawal said she took driving lessons and classes when she arrived in the U.S. to learn more about the laws.
“I didn’t know how to drive and there is a lot that is different from Saudi Arabia, like the traffic rules on where we can stop and where we can walk,” economics junior Salha Fawal said.
During driving lessons, Fawal said she made a few mistakes when driving because of the different rules drivers must follow.
“They told me you cannot turn left until all the cars are done coming,” she said.
For most of her traffic rule education, driving or pedestrian, Fawal mostly utilized resources outside the university.