Posted October 27, 2011 by FPFai in bookitnow

5 Safety Tips for Students Traveling Abroad

Study abroad programs are highly encouraged for students of all ages. With the rising costs of travel, most study abroad programs give students the opportunity to travel while saving a substantial amount of money, such as with group packages for cheap flights and hotel rentals. One type of program that is currently expanding its horizons is the foreign exchange program. Students attend classes at a university in a foreign country for anywhere from a semester to an entire year. Consider choosing one of hundreds of holiday packages that allow you to study abroad while volunteering or interning. For the more adventurous students, there’s even a program called “semester at sea” that sends students sailing around the world while attending classes on board. No matter what kind of program you choose or what your educational level, staying safe while traveling abroad is essential. Check out the following tips that will help you be as prepared as possible when studying abroad.

1) Research the native language and cultural norms. You aren’t expected to know everything about the people and country before you travel to a new place. However, you should have a basic knowledge for you to advance further in your education and cultural understanding. Culture shock is a major issue with travelers who find themselves in a completely new part of the world where everything is different from what they are used to. Prevent yourself from suffering from culture shock, as well as offending the locals by learning key phrases of the native language, cultural norms, and food trends. Spending a little time beforehand studying the etiquette will undoubtedly save you some embarrassment and possibly harassment.

2) Don’t be too trusting of strangers. Even though you will certainly meet some incredibly helpful people along your travels, understand that some destinations expect the naïvety of foreign travelers. For example, in many third world countries, locals commonly assist tourists with the understanding they will be paid for their help, which can lead to trouble for you if you are unprepared for this. Keep an open mind when accepting favors, so you are able to use your best judgment without offending anyone. Don’t share your personal information, such as your lodging destination or travel plans, unless you have gotten to know someone well enough to trust them.

3) Maintain your self-confidence and have an assertive disposition. Studies show that body language is a key factor used by criminals in determining who they will target for criminal activity, such as theft or kidnapping. Stand with your back straight and your head held high on broad shoulders. You want to look as least like a victim as possible to deter the threat of criminals on the prowl. As a tourist, you will most likely get lost from time to time, such as turning down the wrong street or a missed train stop. Don’t let those around you realize that you are lost, no matter how lost you are. Keep a knowing and positive look about you as you find your way.

4) Organize the documents and paperwork you need for your travel. This includes passports, photo I.D.s, credit and/or debit cards, travel tickets, travel itineraries, and a list of contact information both of people in your home country and host countries. Make a copy of these vital documents to leave with someone back in your home country, so that if you lose your paperwork, you can have someone fax or mail it to you in an emergency. It is essential that you have all the required identification and travel documents while studying abroad. Check with each country you are visiting before you leave on your trip to find out the travel requirements on documentation, required vaccinations, and what you can bring into the countries in your luggage. Having everything you need without including prohibited items is crucial for a successful study abroad trip. You don’t want to be stuck in an airport or held by customs authorities in a foreign country because you can’t find the proper documentation or you brought along a food or medicine that is against their laws.

5) Learn about some of the major laws for each country you are traveling to. For instance, research the laws that are not existent in your home country but are an issue in other places. Every country has established their own rules of conduct to insure the safety of people. Make sure to understand how to avoid breaking these laws so you don’t end up in detention. If you do find yourself detained, you will quickly learn that the justice system is not the same for every country. Prevent this disaster from occurring by respecting and obeying the laws of your host country.

Use these basic tips as you plan and prepare for your own study abroad experience. By following this advice, your time traveling abroad will be filled with fun adventures as you make long-lasting memories and friendships. You will have one of the best educational experiences available as you learn about a particular language and culture first-hand. Just make sure to use common sense and be prepared; safety will follow.