Safety – Your Safety
Safety seems to be a major cause of concern for students and parents alike when they consider study abroad. This fear seems to be misplaced, as the majority of study abroad programs take place in ‘safe’ parts of the world. Moreover, CUNY does not offer study abroad programs for countries issued Travel Warnings by the U.S. Department of State as potentially unsafe (more information is located at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html). Moreover, worse-case scenarios won’t happen if you’re careful. These following tips should help you stay safe while overseas.
1) Online Research is your Friend
There are many resources online to help you figure out any safety hazards that you can face while overseas. The Department of State offers a great website on some “Dos and Don’ts” at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/tips_1232.html. Plan before you depart the U.S. so as to be prepared for anything.
2) Don’t Forget your Visa
If you’re eager to explore a country outside the U.S., ensure to check whether the country requires a visa before traveling there! The visa application process should be relatively painless for U.S. citizens. However, if you are based outside the United States, you should consult your region’s local Consulate to inquire about the visa process.
3) When in Rome…
Remember to observe the cultural customs of the place(s) in which you plan to study or visit in order to avoid a potential faux pas (and the resulting consequences).
4) Don’t Bring (or Bring Back) Restricted Items
As you likely already know, TSA regulations presently restrict the possession of liquid items within a carry-on bag (http://www.tsa.gov/311/index.shtm). You may also want to familiarize yourself with the other items that you cannot bring on your trip (http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm). The Department of State also prevents the following items from entering the States: products made from sea turtles, ivory, furs from spotted cats or marine mammals, feathers and feather products from wild birds, most crocodile and caiman leathers, and most coral items.
5) Use Common Sense and be Constantly Alert
Yes, common sense does have a place on this list. As the Department of State recommends – “dress conservatively” to avoid the attention of thieves. Bring any medication you may need with you. Be wary of passport fraud and monetary scams. You are the key to preventing harm to yourself and others.
6) In Case of Emergencies – Have a Plan!
Chances are, you will not have an emergency while overseas. However, it should be a given that you should have the contact numbers of the police and emergency services within the country you are visiting as well as the phone numbers of family or friends you can count on in an emergency. You may also want to check out this webpage detailing more information on evacuations (http://www.state.gov/www/flo/paper10.html).
In short, always research your site before you leave. Having a safe experience is paramount to having a great study abroad experience.
Tune in next time, when I will talk about surviving on a budget. Ci vediamo più tardi!
Looking for a prior article in this series? Look no further:
Part I: My Summer in Venice
Part II: Financing Your Experience
Part III: The Big Five [Reasons for Studying Abroad]