Are you concerned about your safety while studying abroad? There are some simple precautions everybody should take prior to departure, regardless of where you are going.
Preparing for study abroad can be daunting. There is so much to organize! Plane tickets, accommodation, finances, translations, visas — sometimes the list can seem never ending!
After you’ve made all these essential arrangements, it’s easy to simply start daydreaming about the adventure that awaits you abroad – the history, the culture… the accents. However, before you leave for your life-changing semester, you need to take these important precautions to ensure your study abroad experience is as safe as possible.
1. Make Sure You’re Insured
Take out an appropriate insurance policy before you leave. When selecting an insurance policy, make sure you research exactly what types of losses will be covered in the event of an emergency. Remember that different types of insurance policies offer vastly different coverage. Some simply offer basic emergency health insurance – others offer comprehensive coverage that will give you protection in scenarios like theft, lost baggage or political instability.
When selecting your policy, you need to make an informed decision based on a realistic assessment of your needs. Make sure you thoroughly understand your policy prior to departure – don’t wait until you’re in a bind overseas. If you run into an emergency overseas, you don’t want to have money difficulties to add to your concerns.
2. Visit Your Doctor
Visit your regular doctor prior to your departure. They’ll be able to inform you if there are any vaccinations you require, and they’ll be able to assist you with any prescriptions you need during your time abroad — make sure to get as much as you’ll need for the entire time you’re away, as medication cannot be mailed through customs.
Ask your doctor to write a letter that explains any medication you will be carrying – this can help you to avoid a stressful misunderstanding when you are clearing airport customs in your destination country.
3. Know Your Emergency Contacts
Learn the emergency phone numbers. Before you leave home, make sure you have the numbers of the emergency health care services and local police written down (and saved in your phone – see the next tip).
I also recommend having the number of a good taxi cab company on hand. Your school should be able to recommend a reputable one. That way, if you ever find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time, you always have a number to call.
Write down the contact details of your home country’s embassy. It’s also a sensible idea to register your contact details with them, so that they can contact you if your study abroad country becomes unsafe.
4. Invest in a Cell Phone
In today’s world, having a cell phone abroad is an important aspect of study abroad safety. Obviously, it will prove invaluable if you ever need to dial those emergency numbers listed above (although hopefully you won’t ever need them). Also, it’s important to stay connected with others when you’re in unfamiliar surroundings.
Say you get lost on your way home from school in the first week or get locked out of your housing. In such cases, a cell phone can be a big relief, enabling you to contact your host family or roommate for help.
Inform yourself about the merits of putting your existing phone on “roaming.” Make sure you ask about additional charges for data usage abroad – you don’t want a shock when you receive your bill. It may be cheaper to purchase a prepaid phone plan in your destination country. Also, you can save a lot of money by using phone cards (and services like Skype) to call home.
5. Attend Student Orientation
When you study abroad, you’ll be in a totally new environment. Attending your school’s international student orientation will help you get acquainted with your new campus and can provide you with valuable safety tips on-campus and off.
You’ll be able to access information relating to everything from local healthcare facilities to mental health hotlines for students.
6. Get Familiar With Your Surroundings
Make sure you are well equipped with city maps, subway maps, and whatever else you might need to safely live in your new study abroad city.
Talk to locals about safety in your destination: What areas are secure? Are there parts of town to avoid? Are pickpockets and other petty thieves a concern on public transit?
7. Follow Basic Safety Rules
When it comes to study abroad safety, you should follow the same basic safety rules you would at home: don’t walk in deserted areas at night, don’t leave your bag unattended in public, don’t leave your drink unattended at a club, and so on.
Also stay updated on any advisories regarding staying safe on campus. Some schools send students mass emails updating them on any safety concerns.
Be Smart, Stay Safe
Your safety and security should be paramount when you are planning your study abroad experience. Review these tips to make sure that you have the best experience possible by avoiding unnecessary mishaps. Don’t be anxious about your personal safety while studying abroad – just be smart.
How ULS Can Help
If you’re applying to colleges overseas, ULS can help with all your translation needs. From diplomas and transcripts to recommendation letters and student resumes to medical records and birth certificates, we provide professional, certified translation services in more than 200 languages.