Prepare to Go Abroad
Health, Medical, and Safety Matters
Precautions to Take Abroad
- If you bring ATM, debit, or credit cards be sure to make a copy of the front and back of your cards. Keep this information stored separately from the cards. If the card is lost or stolen you have your account number, security code, expiration date, and customer service telephone number. Also you should make sure the toll-free customer service telephone number will work overseas. Some credit card companies have a separate telephone number for international callers.
- Never keep your wallet in your back pocket or your backpack as it is likely to be stolen. When at a café or restaurant do not put your purse or backpack under your chair without it being secured to you in some way.
- To avoid carrying large amounts of cash, pull out only what you need for a few days from the ATM. Make sure there is no one suspicious hanging around the machine when you go to get money and don’t use ATMS in poorly lit areas. Countersign travelers checks only in front of the person who will cash them.
- Deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money, buy airline tickets or purchase souvenirs. Do not change money on the black market.
- Keep a small amount of money in your pocket to pay for small purchases so you do not have to open your wallet in a busy place.
- Make sure your credit card is returned to you after each transaction.
- Look for ATM’s that display the logo on the back of your card, or those recommended by your bank for your card. Whenever possible, use ATM’s located in larger cities and operated by reputable banks. Try to use ATM’s with a “card swipe” reader versus a “card insertion” reader. This way, you card will always be in your hands! Be alert and look around! If too many people are loitering around an ATM, go to another one.
Violent crimes in most locations abroad tend to occur much less than in the U.S. However, pick pocketing and petty theft are prevalent. Every year several students report having their purses/wallets pick pocketed. In order to avoid having items stolen follow these tips:
- Wear your wallet in your FRONT pocket. Back pockets & backpacks are easy for pickpockets.
- Realize that anything left unattended is subject to theft. This includes putting your purse/backpack under your chair at a café.
- Do not bring any expensive electronics or other item you cannot afford to lose.
- Wear your purse strap diagonally across your chest. Make sure it is zipped.
- Do not put your wallet or other valuables in your backpack.
- Do not flaunt expensive jewelry or flash large amounts of cash in public.
If something is lost or stolen…
If your possessions are lost or stolen, report the loss immediately to the local police. Keep a copy of the police report for insurance claims and as an explanation of your plight. After reporting missing items to the police, report the loss or theft of:
- Travelers checks to the nearest agent of the issuing company
- Credit cards to the issuing company
- Airline tickets to the airline or travel agent
- Passport to the nearest US embassy or consulate
- Inform the Office of Study Abroad of the loss or theft of possessions
Safety on the Street
Although violent crime is rare, exercise the same judgment and caution as you would in a U.S city. Here are a few reminders:
- Do not walk alone after dark (this goes for men as well as women.)
- Know where the unsafe areas of town are and avoid them. Ask a local friend or program director if you don’t know.
- Don’t bring home friends from bars or clubs. Get to know people a few weeks before inviting them to your home if you do not know them through other local people.
- Do not become excessively drunk. You cannot make good judgments when drunk and you will become an easy target for anyone considering committing a crime.
- When traveling let someone know where you are going and when you will return.
Terrorism and Natural Disasters
These are concerns for all of us, especially since the public transport bombings in London and Madrid and the earthquakes in China. There are common sense things you can do to minimize becoming a target of terrorism:
Whether it's an act of terrorism or a natural disaster, students should always keep the following in mind:
- Know where the meeting point is for the group in case of emergencies and make sure to let someone know if you will be traveling. If something happens and you can’t be located, you can imagine the panic that would ensue!
- Know your program’s emergency procedures, who should be the first person you call if something happens?
State Department Information
The Department of State’s Consular Information Sheets are available for every country of the world. They provide background information for countries, as well as addresses and emergency telephone numbers for US embassies and consulates abroad.http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4965.html