Health and Safety
The best way to maximize your safety while studying abroad is to be aware of conditions that affect safety in your host country and any countries you plan to travel to; then adjust your behavior so that you take normal safety measures. Be sure to listen to - and obey - the faculty and/or directors on-site as they discuss safety issues. Just as if you were on campus the most important factor to your own personal safety will be to remember the following:
- Be aware of your surroundings. Don't wander through unfamiliar areas alone or at night.
- Don't go out alone at night. Even when you are with friends, stick to well-lit areas.
- Do not wear expensive (or expensive looking) jewelry.
- Use caution when walking or jogging on the roads - remember what side of the road a car may be on.
- Remember that pedestrians do not always have the right of way. ? Be careful with alcohol. If you drink, make sure it is only with people you know and trust - and always have a designate persons to remain sober. Remember there are consequences for drinking that will reach back to campus.
- Use only official taxis. Unless meters are used, agree on the fare before you get in.
- If you are studying abroad on your own, talk with your program director about the safest methods of transportation when traveling on your own as well as to safe hostels.
- Read the local newspapers.
- Stay away from demonstrations or civil disturbances. Do not go "just to see what is happening."
- Protect your passport. Keep it with you.
- Try to avoid being engulfed in crowds. These are favorite spots for pickpockets.
- And - it goes without saying - obey the law.
Excerpt taken from IIEPassport.org
Try to understand the cultural context of these laws and regulations. If you disagree with them, it is fine to discuss your feelings with other North American participants in your program. You may also want to write about objectionable conditions in a journal. However, be careful about discussing your feelings with your host family or local students, until you know their views and the cultural context better. They may well be embarrassed to hear their country criticized. They may risk trouble by talking about issues that may not be discussed openly in their society. If you object so strongly to local laws or customs that you do not think you can follow them, it may be advisable to choose a different country. Talk to your study abroad advisor in the early stages of your planning. U.S. notions regarding freedom of speech and expression have no parallel in many countries. It is important to realize that civil rights protections and U.S. legal procedures do not apply in other countries. People who are arrested are typically held without bail until their trial. Prison conditions in many countries can be wretched, and the U.S. idea of "innocent until proven guilty" does not apply. U.S. embassies and consulates are able to offer only limited assistance to U.S. visitors who break laws. If you are arrested, they can contact your family and provide you with a list of local attorneys. They can visit you in prison to see that you are being treated humanely. They cannot, however, provide free legal assistance or money for bail. Most importantly, they cannot get you out of jail.
The following sites will assist your student as they prepare to study abroad.
Augustana College urges students traveling abroad to consult with their family physician and with the Center for Disease Control prior to departure, and to follow the professional advice from those sources. Faculty and staff of Augustana College cannot make medical decisions for students participating on international programs, nor make recommendations on health. This is best done in consultation between the student and their family phsysician.
Center for Disease Control - Site has information on outbreaks throughout the world, diseases that can affect travelers, vaccinations, safe food and water, and special needs
Crisis Abroad - Details what the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs can do for Americans caught in a disaster or a crisis
Road Safety Overseas - Site contains reports on international road safety and international driving
SAFETI Clearinghouse - An extensive collection of web resources
SIT Health & Safety - The site includes information to assure students' safety and well-being
World Health Organization - Site has library, publications catalogue, weekly epidemiological records, world health reports