6 Tips You Need to Stay Safe While Studying Abroad

March 22, 2016


Junior year of college brings with it a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand, you’re probably nervous about graduating with the right amount of credits, anxious about figuring out your career, and simply tired of classes. But there’s always a positive - and in this case, the potential to study abroad.

No matter where you decide to study abroad, though, there are risks. And with the recent news of Otto Warmbier sentenced to hard labor in North Korea, we thought it best to help you stay safe by offering some of the most important tips to remember.

1. Sign up for the Smart Traveller Enrollment Program. The US Department of State wants to help you keep current with the important news of whatever country you’re in. If you sign up for the Smart Traveller Enrollment Program (STEP), they’ll alert you whenever something happens, like travel or safety warnings. And if you’re worried about any potential passport problems, STEP is a great program to help out.

2. Keep an eye out. Though it might seem like an obvious tip, it’s still extremely important to keep in mind. No matter the time of day (though especially at night), be wary of your surroundings. Enjoy the city, food, and culture, but understand that tourists are easy to spot, especially to locals. Pickpocketers are rampant, so make sure you keep your personal items close to you at all times. Even better? Leave anything you don’t absolutely need at home. Not only will you not attract as much attention, you’ll also reduce the risk of losing something important.

3. Make photocopies of everything. Well, maybe not everything. But the most important documents you have, like your passport, driver’s license, ID, travel tickets, etc. That way, if you need to carry one of them around, you can just use the photocopied version and leave the real one locked up.

4. Try to avoid being out alone. Now, that isn’t to say everywhere you go will be unsafe, or that you need to be overly cautious. But, especially when you’re out at night, try to use the buddy system as frequently as you can. Yes, I’m talking about the same system you used to go to the bathroom in kindergarten. As silly as it might sound, simply making sure you’re with a friend can significantly reduce the likelihood of anything bad happening.

5. Study. Wait, what? I’m actually talking about the neighborhood and city that you’re going to be living in for the next few months. Study maps, learn your way around, and really understand the best routes around town. It’s way better to spend a few hours early on learning the lay of the city than to get lost and find yourself in potentially risky situations. After all, not everyone travels to an English-speaking country, so it’s especially important to understand where you’re going as much as possible.

6. Have Fun. Okay, I know this isn’t really a tip to stay safe. But while it’s important to remember these five tips and act safely in general, it’s still really important that you focus on having fun. You are living in a foreign country, and for the vast majority of you, it’s not an experience you’ll easily repeat, if ever. Meet new friends, try new foods, immerse yourself in a new culture. And yes, you should be going to class, even if it is just Italian Cooking 101. 

Bonus tip: Even if you have a stellar sense of direction, it’s still easy to get lost in a new city. Create a fake contact in your phone, one that you’ll easily remember, and jot down your local address or cross-streets. That way, if you do get lost, you’ll be able to ask for directions. You’ll also reduce the risk of giving away your personal information if your phone does get stolen.

If you’re getting ready to apply to college, search through thousands of profiles from students who have already gotten in. Find their essays, stats, and advice answers to learn how they were accepted, and find out how you can get in too.

Sources: USA Today, topuniversities.com, CEA Study Abroad, Huffington Post

About The Author

Drew Evans
Drew Evans

​Drew is a content and social media guru. When he’s not working, he loves to photograph, play music, play sports, and travel. He is also weirdly obsessed with Thai food, Girl Scout cookies, and learning new languages (even though he’s not fluent in any). For any editorial ideas, contact info@admitsee.com.

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Stanford ‘20

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I love languages, exercising, and eating!
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Born in small town, interested in math, science, and literature. Attending Stanford University starting fall of 2016, planning on studying engineering or computer science, with a minor in a foreign language.
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