6 Study Abroad Safety Tips

As you enthusiastically zip tight your newly purchased suitcase this summer for a six week trip to Germany, or as you daydream beside the pool of the Fall semester spent in Africa, it’s crucial that in addition to thinking about how awesome your time abroad will be, you consider personal safety.

Most college students have an unforgettable time studying in other countries, whether it be with a group for a few weeks, or on an individual basis for a whole semester. You want your trip to be unforgettable for the right reasons. To ensure that you have the best experience abroad possible, check out these tips on how to protect yourself and your belongings.

Knowledge is Power

Before you leave for another nation, find out as much as you can about the country, the culture, the currency, and the area in which you’ll be staying. What’s going on in that country right now? What are the social norms? How safe is your neighborhood? What sort of precautions must you take? The learning doesn’t end once you’re abroad: What expressions are used? What areas should you avoid? If you wish to travel to an additional country while there, what do you need to cross the borders? Having a good grasp on your surroundings will make you appear less like a tourist and keep you out of trouble.

Know the Law

In addition to familiarizing yourself with this new country’s culture and social norms, it may also be a good idea to be aware of the law. What’s allowed in the USA may not be allowed in other places, and visa-versa. Getting arrested in another country can be a sticky and complicated situation. And by sticky and complicated we mean awful. Do not get arrested.

Have an Emergency Contact

While you likely have tons of paperwork to fill out for your trip abroad, take extra time on the emergency contact paperwork. Be sure that the information you’re putting down is not only accurate, but the best it can be. Don’t put down your dad’s cell phone as an emergency contact number if you know he leaves it in the car half of the time, and tends not to check voicemails.

Copy your Documentation

Before leaving abroad, make photocopies of your passport and driver’s license, and place them in a pocket of your suitcase. If your wallet or purse gets stolen, you want to have backup paperwork. It is more common than you’d think when student travelers’ wind up passport-less in a foreign country following a pickpocket.

Separate Your Money

As pick-pocketing is the most common crime experienced by those studying abroad, you’ll want to take extra precautions with where you keep your money as well as how much you carry. Don’t carry a lot, and keep what you have in separate places. You’ll want to ensure that if someone pulls a wad of cash out of one pocket, that you still have another wad in your shoe, and a credit card back in your room.

Be Aware of Your Appearance

Depending on where you’re headed this summer or Fall semester, you may want to consider the way you dress and the jewelry you wear. You don’t want to attract attention to yourself, offend people, or have the necklace you received at your high school graduation generate interest.

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