We all know that studying abroad can be a really fun experience and you should do everything you can to make the most of your time abroad. However, as well as having lots of fun you need to be aware of some of the dangers that you can encounter when you plan to study abroad.
Before you depart you should try and gather as much information as you can about current travel warnings that are in place to specific countries. It is recommended that you do not travel to countries on these lists. You should also be aware that most insurance companies will void any coverage you have if you are injured or hurt in countries that are on these lists. The best way to find what the current travel warnings are is to visit: As well as general country travel warnings it is good to get as much information about the country you are traveling to such as traditions, procedures on how to do things and much more. We recommend using resources such as Google and Wikipedia which will provide you with more specific country information.
Have The Right Paperwork
Before you leave your home country, make sure you’ve taken care of all important paperwork and documents. The most important will of course be your passport and, depending on where you’re going, your visa. Having the right paperwork is necessary for getting in and out of just about every country so make sure you’ve done your homework and have a clear understanding of all aspects of your visa including restrictions, duration, and validity.
– Note: Don’t forget to make multiple photocopies of all important documentation. Carry one in your bags but separate from your passport, leave one in your home in the U.S., and leave one at your home/dorm abroad.
Sign Up For Insurance That Covers You Internationally
One of the most important things study abroad students don’t consider enough is health insurance, even though most states actually require you to enroll in a student health insurance program or in a health benefit plan while you’re abroad. While you may be covered under your parents’ plan, check to see if the plan you’re under covers you abroad, and if it covers you beyond the basic trip to the ER.
If it doesn’t, see if your home college or university offers a student health insurance plan. This is pretty common among schools with well established and organized study abroad offices. You can also apply for an individual insurance plan through providers that work specifically with either study abroad students or frequent international travelers.
Keep Valuables Close to you
Just like when you are home, do not flash your wallet with lots of money in it or your brand new mobile phone around. This will only draw attention to yourself and make you are target for pickpockets
Learn Your Surroundings
Similar to gathering information about the country you will be visiting, it is also equally important to get as much information about your host town or city. This information will most likely come from your Study Abroad Office but you can also ask past students about this. You want to learn things like what areas you should avoid, how the public transportation system works, etc...
Let Someone Know Where You’ll Be At All Times
Obviously, this doesn’t mean inform the world you’re heading to the bathroom, but you should let someone know whenever you’re leaving your abroad university for a long period of time. Include a list of hotels or hostels, contact numbers, flight information, and your expected return date. You should also send your international phone number and abroad address to friends and family back home in case they need to get in touch with you about anything in the U.S.
Keep in Contact
Probably one of the most important rules is to keep in contact with people and let somebody know where you are going. Nowadays it is relatively cheap to have a mobile phone and this will make it easy for people to contact you should they need to. Also, if you are sharing an apartment with someone let them know if you are going out and where - that way if anything happens someone knows where you went.
At the end of the day you want your study abroad experience to be fun and with little or no hassle and for most of the time it will be, but by making yourself aware of the hazards you can avoid any trouble and have a great time abroad!
Know What To Do In A Large-Scale Emergency
Emergencies abroad can include theft or robbery, injury and illness, natural disasters, political upheavals, and acts of terrorism. More than likely, you won’t get much of a warning before any of these occur either, which is why it’s so important to register your trip.
If anything like this happens while you’re studying abroad, the State Department sets up a special task force which is in touch 24-hours a day with the Ambassador and Foreign Service Officers in that country. If you have to get out of the country in a hurry, they’ll even charter special flights to help get you home.
Register with the nearest embassy or consulate through the State Department's travel registration website. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare and whereabouts may not be released without your express authorization. Remember to leave a detailed itinerary and the numbers or copies of your passport or other citizenship documents with a friend or relative in the country where you are living. (Embassy and consulate locations can be found in the country's Consular Information Sheet.) If your family needs to reach you because of an emergency, they can pass a message to our local office and this office will contact the embassy or consulate in the country where you are traveling and pass a message from your family to you. Remember consular officers cannot cash checks, lend money or serve as your attorney. They can, however, if the need arises, assist you in obtaining emergency funds from your family, help you find an attorney, help you find medical assistance, and replace your lost or stolen passport.
If you have any other safety tips, questions, or comments please feel free to leave them below and I’ll get back to you!