Studying abroad can be an amazing experience—students return home with a new perspective of the world and their place in it. It is important to remember, though, that there are risks associated with studying abroad of which it is important to be aware.
Morris students are held to the University of Minnesota Student Conduct Code whether they are on or off campus (including students studying abroad or participating in National Student Exchange). So get familiar with the code!
In an effort to help students get the most of their abroad experience, we have some tips for you to consider.
General Tips for Travel
- Use the same common sense traveling overseas as you would when traveling in the U.S.
- Be aware of and respectful of cultural differences. Going abroad will help you enhance your intercultural communication and understanding of diverse people, but be cognizant of how you behave in comparison to the general population of your host country.
- Avoid drawing attention to the fact that you are a tourist. When independently exploring with fellow program participants, avoid traveling in large English-speaking groups if English is not the host country’s language. Participate in the local culture and downplay American tendencies. Tourists may be more readily identified as crime targets.
- Remember that people you just met are not “friends.” You do not know their intentions or history, so be cautious until relationships are developed.
- Be aware of your surroundings—both to appreciate the experience and to be conscious of the people and places around you in case of emergencies
- Keep track of your belongings and hold on to your bags in crowded places or on public transport. It’s easy for someone to grab your bag if it is sitting on the seat next to you.
- Lock your room and avoid leaving valuables in your room. Utilize safety deposit boxes when possible. Many hostels have a safe at the main counter as do most hotels.
- If it is possible to leave your passport at your home abroad or in a safe, take advantage of that option and carry a photocopy in your wallet instead.
- Carry the following phone numbers with you: airline customer service, medical insurance, U.S. consulate and embassy, relatives at home, car/shuttle service.
- Visit Lonely Planet to read more about your destination country and browse guidebooks.
- See a doctor before going abroad to verify that you are in good physical and mental health. At this time, you should also see if there are vaccinations or medicines that you should get before going abroad. Do this at least four to six weeks before going abroad.
- If you become ill or injured while abroad, notify your local program personnel and contact the U.S. embassy for a list of medical facilities.
- If you wear glasses or contact lenses, be sure to carry your optometrist’s prescription with you. You should also bring an extra pair of glasses and spare contact lenses.
- Keep a card with your doctor’s name and contact information and a list of your medications and allergies with you at all times.
- While abroad you are subject to local laws. There is little that the University or State Department can do to assist you if you end up in jail, so know the local laws and abide by them.
- Avoid participating in political demonstrations, drinking excessively, or using drugs. More than one-third of U.S. citizens jailed abroad are held on drug charges.
- If you get in legal difficulty, contact the consulate immediately.
- Keep a small amount of money in your wallet or money pouch to pay for minor expenses rather than pulling out all of your money every time you make a purchase. Avoid pulling out big wads of money while in public.
- Be discreet about your money and passport. Using a money pouch or belt makes it more difficult to be pick-pocketed.
- Carry a variety of payment methods, the safest being traveler’s checks. Change traveler’s checks only as you need them.
- Don’t carry all of your money with you. Keep it in a variety of places—your wallet or money pouch, bag, and/or fold some in with your passport.
- ATMs can be found everywhere. Check with your cash card company on procedures in foreign countries or if your card can only be used in certain machines.
- Report theft immediately to the authorities.
- Carry small amounts of cash for small expenses like cab fare.
- If you plan to use public transport, study maps and ask your program staff or host family if they have suggestions to help you learn how the system works and where it will take you. Ask if there are areas that you should avoid.
- Know the subway and bus schedule and know the hour that they stop running for the night.
- Read about the taxi system in guidebooks to identify legitimate and illegitimate cabs and give you tips on pricing and finding a cab when you need one.