Health and Safety

Even master travelers will tell you the most important thing to getting the most out of your experience abroad is to keep your health and safety, and that of your fellow classmates, as your top priority!

No matter your previous travel experience, whether it’s vast or strictly domestic, this experience will be one of huge growth academically and personally, and one of intense bonding with your fellow classmates. Each of you has a responsibility to each other to ensure each of you get the most out of your experience. This means considering those around you: what if some of the group want to stay out late and others want to go to sleep early? This means making a pact that no one explores anywhere on their own or leaves the group alone.

Even the most experienced travelers have unfortunate things happen to them in any big city – but the majority of them will tell you it usually had something to do with their decisions or behavior. Excessive alcohol, staying out too late, being alone, walking with headphones in, leaving a purse/bag unzipped or setting it down on the subway even if only for a few seconds, trusting that adorable child on the train to entertain by playing an accordion while his buddy accidentally bumps into those around to quickly pick-a-pocket…these things happen every minute of every day. There’s nothing we can do to stop these things from happening, but there are certainly decisions we can make to help reduce our risks of being a victim of crime abroad.

Tips to help reduce the risks of being the victim no one wants to be while traveling in ANY city – in the U.S. or abroad (from our pals at
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Don’t wander through unfamiliar areas alone, and always remain alert.
  • Don’t go out alone at night. Even when you’re with friends, stick to well-lit streets where there are a lot of people and travel in groups of 3 or more. Ladies, invite those guys studying abroad with you out WITH you, include them!
  • Don’t flash jewelry, expensive cameras, or electronic equipment and better yet, leave those valuables you would be devastated to lose at home.
  • Use caution when walking or jogging. Remember that in some countries, drivers use the left side of the road. In certain areas, drivers may not expect anyone to be running along the road.
  • When crossing streets, keep in mind that pedestrians may not be given the right of way. Obey pedestrian traffic signals.
  • Be careful with alcohol. If you drink, make sure it is only with people you know and trust, and designate one person to remain sober. As in the United States, never drink and drive. (Drunk driving laws abroad are sometimes much more severe than those in the United States.)
  • Don’t attract attention to yourself with provocative or expensive clothing or boisterous conversation in public. Observe local students’ behavior, and try to mimic it. Try blending in.
  • Use only official taxis with a meter running. Yes, Uber exists in other countries but we do not recommend using it while you travel abroad.
  • Before you travel from your program site, look into how to get where you are going so you can travel confidently rather than timidly. This way you can pay attention to your surroundings rather than whether you’re going the right direction.
  • Read the local papers to find out where high crime areas are and whether civil unrest is brewing.
  • Stay away from demonstrations or any kind of civil disturbances. Even innocent bystanders can be hurt or arrested.
  • Protect your passport. Keep it with you, in a front pocket or your purse, or hidden and locked away in your room/suitcase. Be careful when displaying it.
  • In general, avoid being engulfed in a crowd. This is the preferred environment of pickpockets.
  • Accidents can happen anywhere. If driving, know what local traffic laws are and follow them. Always use a seat-belt. Make sure you understand local road signs and signals.
  • Remain alert when walking. Before crossing streets, remember to look both ways; in some countries, traffic will be coming from the opposite direction from what you would expect.
  • While these preventative measures can ward off some dangers, anyone can be a victim of a random accident or theft. For these rare circumstances, this is why your university provides you with insurance while abroad!
  • For the latest safety alert information on a specific location, visit and select the country of interest from the alphebetical listing.