Your Health and Safety

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State Department's website to learn specific information about your host country with the U.S. Department to let them know your location, which is extremely important in case of a natural disaster or other emergencies.

Researching your surrounding can help you make the most out of your time abroad!

2. Staying Healthy
Staying healthy begins at home. First, learn about the health conditions in your host country. If you need travel shots (immunizations), get them as soon as possible (usually 4-6 weeks before you leave). Before you leave home, follow these steps:
  • For students with learning, physical or mental disabilities, visit Mobility International and learn about the experiences of other students with disabilities abroad. 
  • If something is illegal in the U.S., it probably will be illegal in your host country. 
  • Don’t fool yourself and think that local authorities will give you a break because you’re a foreign student. 
  • Infractions considered minor in the U.S. oftentimes carry severe penalties in other countries. 

Rights of the United States Do Not Apply Abroad
Once you leave the U.S., the civil rights and liberties you receive from the U.S. constitution don't apply. Some countries don't even have basic laws that we are granted in the U.S. If you're uncomfortable with this, consider studying in a different country.

If in Trouble
If you find yourself in trouble for breaking the law in your host country, contact the local U.S. embassy or consulate.

If you are arrested, the embassy and consulate can visit you in jail. With your authorization, the consulate can notify your family or friends and deliver request for money or aid. The consulate can help you choose a local attorney to ensure you are receiving all of your rights under the law of your host country. Consulates, however, cannot guarantee your release from jail.

4. Alcohol Use AbroadResearch your host country’s drinking laws and customs. In many countries, the legal drinking age is lower than that of the U.S. However, in some parts of the world, drinking alcohol is highly restricted or even illegal.

If drinking alcohol at your age is legal, remember to be smart about how much you consume. Being drunk in an unfamiliar country could lead to dangerous situations. Also, be aware of the risk of date rape, which can happen to both women and men. Sometimes, people will buy you drinks and add date rape drugs to them. For your safety, you should buy your own drinks and never leave your drink unattended.

5. Drug Use AbroadIf you're thinking about using illegal drugs when you're abroad—DON'T. In many foreign countries, laws against drug use and possession are very strict. Every year thousands of Americans are jailed in foreign countries—sometimes for life—for drug possession, even in small amounts.

You are more likely to be caught because police abroad specifically target foreign students for illegal drugs. Obtain more information about Drug Use Abroad and what services the U.S. can and cannot provide if you are caught abroad using or possessing illegal drugs.

6. Behavior TipsStaying safe while abroad has a lot to do with your behavior. Follow these tips:
  • Don’t attract unnecessary attention to yourself with loud conversations with other Americans while in public. 
  • Always be aware of your surroundings. If certain areas seem unsafe, avoid them. 
  • Try not to be flashy with expensive jewelry or electronic equipment. 
  • Don’t carry too much cash. 
  • Use caution with alcohol and drugs; they impair your thinking and judgment. If you drink alcohol, be sure that you are with people you trust. 
  • If you travel independently, notify someone from your school where you’re going. 
  • Use only official taxis. 
  • Avoid political or social demonstrations. Such events can become dangerous, and you can be hurt or even arrested. 
  • Keep your passport in a safe place. If you carry it with you, keep it in your front pocket (or another safe place on your person). 
  • Be polite to other people and respect their opinions, even if you disagree. Remember that people in your host country may have different values and be less “politically correct” than what you are used to. 
  • Use common sense.

Must Ask Questions 
  • What should I do in case of emergency? Who should I contact? 
  • What is the equivalent of 911 in my host country? 
  • Do I have any health issues that I will need to take care of while I’m abroad? 
  • What medications will I need to take with me? 
  • What are the local laws? 
  • What are common crimes in my host country? 
  • How can I safely get around? Is public transit safe and reliable? Are there things I should look out for as a pedestrian? 
  • What is appropriate dress and behavior in my host country? 


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