Undergraduate Study Abroad

General Safety Tips

While you are abroad take the same precautions you would take in any large U.S. city you are not familiar with.

  • Don't walk in unfamiliar areas of the city at night or accept rides from strangers. Plan to arrive at your destination during the day.
  • Be careful with money in public just as you would be in this country.
  • Become a professional people watcher. Watching the local residents and their habits is your best guide to safe behavior. The less you stand out the safer you will be.
  • Learn about the customs and local laws of your country. Remember that you are subject to their laws and are not protected by U.S. laws.
  • Learn to walk the way the locals do. People are able to spot a foreigner immediately by their posture, walk, and mannerisms. Carrying a backpack around the city with you is another easy way for others to tell you’re a foreigner.
  • Lock hotel rooms when traveling. Do not stay in hotels without adequate locks. The money you would save is not worth putting yourself or your belongings at risk.
  • Never leave your bags unattended. Never let a stranger watch your luggage while you go to the bathroom or purchase a ticket.
  • Walk away immediately from any suspicious persons or packages and report them to the authorities after you are a safe distance away.
  • Make two (2) photocopies of your passport ID page, airline tickets, and credit cards. Leave one copy at home. Bring the second copy with you in case something gets lost or stolen abroad. We also recommend storing a digital copy in your phone or Google doc. 
  • Bring extra passport size photos for student ID’s abroad, a replacement passport if needed, or for obtaining a visa abroad.
  • Beware of pickpockets and con artists. The most common sites for purse or phone snatchings are central train stations or crowded shopping areas. Thieves often strike when people are distracted: making a phone call or checking a train schedule, with a bag casually left at one’s feet.
  • If anything is lost or stolen, report it to the local police. Keep a copy of the police report for insurance purposes or in case you need to replace your passport or student visa. Report lost passport to both the local police and then to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for a new one; lost airline tickets to airline or travel agent.
  • Before going to another country, check the country’s travel advisories and read safety, health, and travel recommendations for your destination. The State Department SMART travel section is very useful. Register your trip with International SOS before you depart.
  • Be sure your program director has your contact information and knows where/when you will be traveling. Give a relative and/or friend a copy of your travel itinerary and contact information.
  • Be sure your cell phone will work where you are traveling and keep it with you always fully charged and turned on. Respond immediately to any calls, text, or emails from Brown and/or your host program staff.

Additional Topics

If you take prescription medication or over-the-counter medication on a regular basis, research its availability and legality in your host country before going abroad.
Sexual harassment is a particularly difficult area because of the extreme variance in acceptable behavior between cultures.