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Personal Safety and Crime

You should exercise the same safety precautions that you would at home. In addition, you need to be mindful that it will be difficult to conceal that you are a foreigner, and this may make you more vulnerable to theft and crime.

A few words of advice before you depart:

  • Register your travel plans with the U.S. Department of State.
  • Go to Apple App or Google Play store and download AlertTraveler to get updates on events that could potentially impact your travel or safety.
  • Research and understand the political situation in your host country. Detailed country analysis can be found through the U.S. Department of State and the AlertTraveler App.
  • Learn or start to learn the language of your host country. The more you understand what is going on around you and the easier it is for you to communicate, the safer you will be.
  • Pack light. The less you have, the less you have to worry about.
  • Become familiar with the local emergency numbers and the procedures for obtaining emergency health and law enforcement services in the host country.

and while you are abroad:

  • Integrate and blend in to the host culture. While "safety in numbers" is a good rule to follow, traveling as a large identifiable group of U.S. students will attract attention and possibly cause problems.
  • Don’t draw attention to yourself as a foreigner or American. College sweatshirts, baseball caps, and such could be bad choices in an area with anti-American sentiment
  • Be alert and aware of your surroundings. If a situation occurs that raises your suspicion, mention it to the appropriate people.
  • Do not wear headphones while walking around outside.
  • Never leave handbags/purses/baggage unattended and make sure they are locked. If the item has a shoulder strap, wear it crossing the strap over your body. Do not put valuables in the exterior pockets of book bags or backpacks or in bags that are open at the top.
  • When in crowded areas and on public transportation, make sure that bags are in front of you where you can see them.
  • Keep a low profile and avoid confrontations or situations that could become provocative or put you in any danger. Similarly, stay away from demonstrations and unruly crowds.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash or keep all your cash or important documents in one place.
  • Do not leave valuables unattended.
  • Try to stay on well-lit, heavily-traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through alleys. Stay in the middle of the sidewalk. Avoid walking close to the street or buildings.
  • Don’t hitchhike.
  • If you are out late at night, don’t walk home. Take a taxi instead.
  • Carry your card with emergency contacts, insurance details and your ID with you at all times.

Additional resources: