International and Postdoctoral Services Office newsletter for J-1s and J-2s. 
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The J Connection

Safety tips for this holiday season

While enjoying this holiday season, we want you to be safe. While visiting local places in Augusta or anywhere in the U.S., please follow these safety tips to protect yourself and ensure a happy and safe venture:
  1. Be aware of your surroundings and pay close attention to those around you.
  2. Do not walk alone in poorly lit areas.
  3. If approached by a stranger, move quickly to a place where there are other people.
  4. When in public places always look alert and confident.
  5. Do NOT accept rides from strangers or people you do not know very well.
  6. When out shopping, carry your bags and purse close to your side.
  7. Do not leave valuables in your car in full view of would-be thieves.
  8. Keep doors to your home locked.
  9. When walking to your car in a parking garage, avoid talking on your cell phone and have keys in hand ready to unlock your car door.
  10. If you feel you are in danger Do NOT be afraid to “make a scene.”
  11. Trust your instincts!
  12. Call 911 for emergencies.

The USA as seen through your camera lens

This quarter, we're featuring two photos submitted by Quihua Yang and Xinglou Liu. Thank you for sending us your photos!
We will continue to collect photos, and we look forward to your submissions. Please send your photos in .jpg format to Beth Koons. Tell us a little bit about the photo, where you are and who you’re with. We will feature one or two of these photos in our quarterly newsletters.
Quihua Yang from the Vascular Biology Center (VBC) with her baby, who was born at Augusta University Medical Center.
Xinglou Liu from Cellular Biology and Anatomy (CBA) with his family at the beach.

Traveling outside the U.S.? 

  • If you are planning to travel outside the United States this holiday season, your form DS-2019 should by endorsed by an IPSO advisor. Please make an appointment as soon as you know your dates of travel. 
  • If your visa is expired, you may need to get a new visa to re-enter the U.S. Before you arrive at your destination, we recommend that you schedule your visa appointment with a U.S. consulate or embassy as early as possible. 
  • If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico or the islands adjacent to the U.S., consult your IPSO advisor for more information. 
  • If you are traveling to a country other than your home country, you may need an entry or transit visa and should contact that country’s embassy or consulate for information. This includes layovers. 
  • You must have a valid passport that will remain valid for at least six months after your arrival in the United States. 
  • Remember to schedule an appointment upon your return from travel.

The holiday season in the U.S.

The holiday season opens with Thanksgiving Day celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Family and friends gather, giving thanks for the many bounties in their life. They eat turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. Football and parades are as much a part of Thanksgiving as the food! Many watch their favorite NFL football teams; others watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

No sooner than the night is over, folks are up the next morning and off to the shopping malls for Black Friday - the biggest shopping day of the year! Black Friday got its name because businesses end up in the black (turn a profit) after the weekend is over. Shoppers are guaranteed a bargain on that day.  

You’ll also start to see red and green everywhere – the traditional colors of the season. Many businesses and cities will decorate with lit trees adorned with ornaments, wreaths hung on doors with big red bows, garland trailing down stair cases or railings, and Santa Claus, of course! Santa, all dressed up in his red suit and white beard will eagerly greet children in most malls across the nation. Children will either love the jolly old fellow or cry with fear.

The Christmas tree in the lobby of the Children's Hospital of Georgia.

But most American children know that if they whisper in Santa’s ear, their wish list of gifts might just come true on Christmas Day! 

Many other celebrations take place in the U.S during the holiday season. But most celebrate this joyous season with goodwill and peace in their hearts. The spirit of the holiday season is truly magical, a season of giving and a season of being thankful.

The IPSO staff would like to wish you all a wonderful and peaceful holiday season!

English for Multilingual Writers class offered for Spring 2018  

ENGL 6950: English for Multilingual Writers is being offered for the Spring 2018 semester and will meet every Wednesday from 4 to 5 p.m. on the Health Sciences Campus.

This 1-credit course is designed to help non-native English writers understand important features of academic writing in the medical field. Topics include how to make an effective argument, how to structure information logically, how to integrate sources in research writing, how to write objective, authoritative, impersonal, information-condensed sentences required in research writing, how to write grammatically correct sentences, etc. No new writing from the students is required for this course. We will study sample research articles to understand features of academic writing, and will have a chance to apply the language and writing knowledge covered in the class to improve some writings. 

For more information, please contact Dr. Jun Zhao at

Tax season is right around the corner

In the month of March, Augusta University Tax Specialist Rebecca Wagner will be presenting a Tax Workshop for J-1 exchange visitors.  The workshop will explain everything you need to know about filing taxes in the U.S. Dates and times will be announced soon.

Beware of scam phone calls  

The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) will not call you or email you demanding an immediate payment. Do not give out your credit or debit card number over the phone, and do not agree to send money via a wire transfer or prepaid debit card. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS, hang up.

If you're not sure if you owe taxes, you can call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040. For more information, visit the IRS webpage about phone scams

International Community Lunch

Thanks to everyone who came to the International Community Lunch: Holiday Edition to celebrate the holiday season! We hope everyone had fun sharing in the festivities, and we hope to see you at the next International Lunch in February. Be on the lookout for an announcement!
IPSO Staff members LD Newman, Tiffany Takahashi and Beth Koons celebrating the holiday season with some of Augusta University’s international visitors.
Copyright © 2017 Augusta University IPSO, All rights reserved.

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