Staying Safe Abroad

by Noemi Arellano-Summer

photography courtesy of Olivia Sokol

So, you’ve done it! You’ve made the decision to study abroad, whether that’s for a summer, a semester or even a full year. Now, for the important things: what are you studying? What do you need to bring with you? Where will you be staying? And, most important of all, how do you stay safe in a foreign country?

Make sure you have the necessary vaccines

Health is a necessary part of safety. Especially when traveling somewhere where the food, water and the even air are all different than what you are used to, receiving the necessary vaccines is smart—and sometimes required by law. In these cases, vaccines may very well save your life. Additionally, a basic checkup with your doctor isn’t a bad idea. Then you know going in that you are as healthy and prepared as you can be, ready for the sightseeing and studying that awaits you.

Don’t carry everything together

Particularly when taking public transportation or otherwise out and about, keep track of your belongings. Don’t keep all of your credit cards and cash in the exact same place. By following this method, if you do happen to get mugged or drop your bag, then all your necessary items won’t be gone in one fell swoop. It’s also recommended to keep your items at the front of your body, using a fanny pack or something similar. Don’t keep anything in your back pockets, including your phone. It makes you an easy target for pickpockets.

Copy your documents

When travelling internationally, you’re going to have quite a few different pieces of paper floating around. To make sure you keep track of everything and make second copies of all your paperwork. Have electronic copies in a secure place that can’t be hacked or otherwise stolen. You need to make sure that only you can get to electronic copies of documents like social security cards, identification cards and passports.

Be aware of your surroundings

When out and about in a foreign country, even if you’ve been there for a few months already, stay aware of your surroundings. This may sound a little paranoid, but it’s really easy to drift along, start thinking of other things, and suddenly, you’re walking down a dark alley, all without meaning to. So, stay aware of where you are. Make sure you know how to get back home, whether it’s by way of walking, the subway or a Lyft.

Research your destination

This one may also seem really obvious. What else are you going to do during the weeks leading up to your departure? But I don’t just mean to look at tourist attractions. Since you’re going to be staying in that country for at least a few months, I would recommend researching their laws and procedures as well. You never know what piece of information you might need or might just find interesting.

When you’re anticipating studying and exploring a new country, health and financial problems are the last things you want to think about. Hopefully, this advice subdues some of your travel worries, and you can start your journey abroad carefree. Bon voyage!