How Can I Stay Safe While Studying Abroad?

Traveling overseas can be exciting. Living overseas can be even more so. When living abroad, especially as a student, you have to be careful and alert because there are many nefarious people who seek to take advantage of the naivete of Americans. Here is a sample of simple things on how to stay safe while studying abroad:

1. Know the language.

If you plan to study abroad, you should be at least familiar with the language of your host country even if the university you plan to attend offers classes in English. If a police officer stops you and asks where you live, you want to be able to tell him or her without fumbling. Just because the university provides classes in English doesn’t mean that the police will be equally accommodating. The citizens of most countries will respect you more if you try to speak their language even if you butcher the attempt.

2. Buy applicable insurance.

Despite your best precautions, something could happen to you while you’re out of the country. If this occurs, you might not be covered by your host country’s health plans. It pays to be prepared with adequate insurance coverage. It’s just good sense to protect yourself.

3. Be aware of your surroundings.

Don’t visit the “wrong side of town” just because it seems “cool.” Heed the advice of the native citizens. They know the deal when it comes to their village, town, or city. Don’t take unnecessary chances in an effort to “soak up local culture.” There’s plenty of culture to see in the safer parts of town. Even there, however, you should walk with a friend or a group, if possible, and remember never to flash large amounts of cash.

4. Speaking of cash, leave it home.

Traveler’s checks may seem passe in the world of high-speed internet data, but they’re still safe and replaceable. There are also modern equivalents, such as prepaid cards that act as traveler’s checks. Some of these cards allow you to carry multiple currencies on them, which saves on exchange rates and ATM fees.

5. Stay sober.

It may seem like a killjoy, but staying sober is far more advisable than being rolled in a back alley because you are so drunk you cannot see through a ladder. If you must drink, be sparing. Always keep an eye on your drink no matter your gender. Thieves don’t care if you’re a guy or a girl.

6. If you feel like you are being followed, never go to your own hotel or domicile.

While your hotel room might feel safe and cozy, if you go there, you will simply advertise to the “bad guys” where they can find you. Go anywhere else and ask for help. You can try police stations, stores that are open, or even other hotels. Many times, the locals will know what to do even if you don’t.

Here’s a good rule on how to stay safe while studying abroad: Trust your gut. It’s usually right. Keep a low profile. Even though most people will peg you for a tourist or foreign student, there’s no reason for you to act like one. Respect the culture of the country where you’re studying. See the world, be careful, and enjoy yourself!

Related Resource: 30 Affordable Colleges with the Best Study Abroad Programs 2017 – 2018