Study Abroad safety concerns at the top of your students’ minds
Contributed by our friends at Global Travel Academy.
Studying abroad is an exciting experience, yet one that may spark some concerns during the pre-departure phase. Your students might be feeling some anxiety or nervousness around meeting new people, being away from your home and family, and, with the recent worldwide events, their personal safety. With this top of mind, our friends at Global Travel Academy have compiled students’ top six study abroad safety concerns, along with an appropriate solution that can be put into place to mitigate their fears.
How do I keep valuables, such as my laptop and jewelry, safe while abroad?
It’s recommended to leave your valuable items at home, but if you are studying then you will probably need to have a laptop and maybe some other tech items of value. If this is the case, the best way to keep these items safe is to be cautious and use your common sense. Avoid being flashy with your possessions and always keep them on or near your person. If you are taking the bus or a train, keep your bag on your knee or between your feet.
After a night out with friends, how do I communicate with a taxi driver my home address if my language skills are limited?
We suggest that you translate your address into the local language and have this saved to your phone, either in its text form or as an audio file. Ask a local coordinator or homestay family if they can write this down or record this for you. If the place is tricky to find, have them include some instructions.
Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity to meet new people and make friends for life, but what do you do if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe in a social situation?
As soon as you begin to feel unsafe or uneasy, remove yourself from the situation. It is important to always have the means and budget to get back to your accommodation via Taxi or other safest mode of transport. Mitigate the risk of feeling unsafe by sticking together with well-known friends and by letting a coordinator or host family member your whereabouts at all times.
I am planning on traveling over the weekend with some fellow study abroad students. What do I need to do to ensure my safety?
Let someone know where you are going, where you are staying and when to expect you back at your accommodation. And don’t forget to let your family at home know your plans and whether you will be contactable or not, this will avoid a panicked call from Mom when she can’t get hold of you.
What documents should I carry with me and how do I keep them safe?
The key travel documents that you need are:
- Any visas
- Travel insurance details
- Emergency contacts – both from the people organizing your trip and the local emergency contacts for your host country
- Prescriptions or medical notes
- Passport photos
It is advised that you make physical photocopies of these documents that are kept in a safe place, separate from the originals. It also pays to take photos or scans of these documents and store them online, either in an email or on Dropbox.
I’ll need to use public wifi connections to catch up on emails and study while I’m traveling. How do I protect my information online?
Often, free and public wifi is unsecured and can leave your information vulnerable to hackers. To browse the internet safely there are a few things you can do:
- Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). This will encrypt any information your device sends or receives, protecting it from hackers.
- When surfing online, make sure the URL you are visiting starts with HTTPS; the S stands for secure.
- Make sure the software and apps on your device are updated. The newest version will always have the most up-to-date security.
Do you have a specific concern about studying abroad? Get in touch with Global Travel Academy if your students need training on becoming a safe and responsible traveler while studying abroad!