International students share things they wish they knew before

International students share tips, advice

From restaurants to area parks to safety advice, use this guide for recommendations in and around Syracuse.
Published: December 17, 2019
International students offer advice

1. Nature has plenty to offer

Despite Syracuse’s reputation for snow, most students arrive at a time where it’s filled with color. Even without your own car, it’s not really complicated to explore the nearby parks and scenery. You should check if you need to apply for an international driver’s license before you get here.

Civil engineering senior Rim Tahri is an international student from Morocco and has already explored several outdoor destinations around Central New York, including Green Lakes and Letchworth State Park. Tahari said most of the time it was really easy to rent a car with Zipcar or Enterprise, but there are also some places she could Uber to.

Nature in New York State has many beautiful places to offer. There are not only numerous waterfalls but also the Catskills and Adirondack mountains that home to plenty of wildlife including the densest black bear population in New York state. Forests, lakes and rivers stretch for as far as the eye can reach, and there are nearly infinite spots you should plan on for hiking, picnicking or taking in Mother Nature’s beauty.

The closest spots to SU’s campus are Green Lakes and the Chittenango Falls State Park, along with these day trips that should not miss:

2. Downtown Syracuse is full of surprises

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Chika Hiraoka enjoys her coffee at Armory Square in the beginning of November.

Chika Hiraoka, a 20-year-old international freshman from Japan, is studying acting at the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Hiraoka said she heads downtown to free her mind escape campus life. Getting to know the American culture is one of the things she likes to do, and she found many great spots for that including Original Grain.

Armory Square in the heart of downtown Syracuse offers some stylish bars and restaurants along with shopping boutiques and walking routes. Some of the restaurants, just like Oh My Darling and The York switch into bars at night. You can enjoy dinner and meet new people while you wait for the music to start. Simply use the Connective Corridor bus for a free ride back and forth.

On a sunny day, you definitely should stroll around Creek Walk, which starts downtown and leads you all the way to Onondaga Lake. Not far from the Onondaga Lake Park is one of the biggest malls in New York State right along the waterfront. The mall is so large — the biggest in New York and Top 10 in the nation — that it needs its own ZIP code. Also, check out the website of St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview for great concerts during the summer months with a stunning backdrop.

3. Work out as much as you want!

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Time to relax after classes: Dana Macadar from Israel comes to the Barnes Center every day.

SU has a variety of sport classes and gyms on campus. And the best part is that there’s no extra charge!

Visit as many sessions and areas as you like. Enjoy the brand new pool and jacuzzi at the Barnes Center at the Arch and take advantage of their seemingly endless opportunities whether it’s doing cardio on the fitness floors or climbing the 48-foot rock wall.

Advertising senior and international student Dana Macadar from Israel comes here almost every day because she appreciates the motivational energy among all students. The second floor is her favorite place to work out, but you can choose out of four. Dana came to SU to finish her undergraduate program and enjoys her workout to forget about all the assignments for a moment.

Also, the Barnes Center offers many special activities like pet therapy, aqua Zumba or massage chairs to destress and calm down after classes. Just one advice: Make sure, you don’t accidentally enroll in sports classes with credits and assignments. Some of the fit keeping courses at SU require you to work at home while others don’t.

4. Canada is really close

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Silvia Rockmore spent a weekend in Montreal in late October, which is only a four-hour drive from Syracuse.

The Canadian border is no more than 1.5 hours drive away from Syracuse making Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa a few hours beyond the crossing worth visiting. Besides various cities, there are many different nature experiences in Canada as well.

Silvia Rockmore is an financial business senior from Spain and went to explore Montreal with a few friends over a fall weekend. If you are here on a visa, you need to get the travel signature at the Slutzker’s Center before you travel outside the United States and want to re-enter with your visa after.

Make sure to have these with you when visiting the Slutzker Center:

  • Syracuse University ID
  • Passport
  • I-20 document
  • DS-2019

Normally, the signature is valid for 12 months and allows you to go in and outside the States as many times as you’d like.

5. Help is around every corner

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Above Syracuse: Raiha Akram takes some time off after classes.

Unfortunately, the city of Syracuse is not popular for the safety rankings. Nevertheless, Syracuse University offers many services to make you feel safer.

Raiha Akram is an international student from Pakistan and came here for her master’s program in international business. Not only the Department of Public Safety, but also strong communities on and around campus are always there to answer her questions and give her safety advice.

Always remember: When you feel unsafe on campus, just call the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and you can either get a free ride home, or a walking escort that makes sure you get home safe. For your own safety, you should save the DPS number on your phone, which is (315) 443-2224

Additionally, safety apps that you can have on your phone can add peace of mind.

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Once you spent a few days in Syracuse and got to know all the opportunities around campus, you will definitely have an inspiring, interesting and diverse stay in this city. With your open-minded and positive energy, you have the power to strengthen a welcoming, various and warm-hearted campus community at SU.