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Safety Abroad

University Security wants your study abroad experience to be a rewarding and safe one. Please review the information contained in the US Department of State publications listed in "Required Reading" below, as well as these common sense guidelines.

If you'd like to know the health and safety risks of certain destinations, use the Worldcue Planner tool (Net ID required).

Safety Tips

  • You are an ambassador for the University of Rochester, and of the United States.
    • Bad impressions are lasting impressions.
  • Learn about the country in which you will be studying and its customs.
  • Learn about local laws and the consequences for their violations.
    • What may be a minor infraction in the US can have major repercussions in your host country.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Learn how to summon help in any emergency.
    • Know how to use a pay phone and have the correct change or token on hand.
  • Inform yourself about the safety of areas that you will commonly frequent.
  • Learn the emergency exit routes in your residence and school buildings.
  • Have a safe place to store valuables at your residence.
  • Carry only the cash or credit cards that you'll need.
    • Use travelers checks in place of cash.
  • When traveling, carry cash and credit cards in a money belt.
  • Whenever possible, travel with another person or in groups.
  • Keep your host program informed of your whereabouts.
    • When traveling, let someone know with whom you'll be, along with the date/time of departure and return.
  • Keep a low profile in demeanor and dress.
    • Conceal jewelry or don't wear it at all.
  • Don't shout in public.
  • Do not hitchhike, even though local citizens may.
  • Exchange currency only at authorized agencies or reputable establishments.
  • Before you go, make a copy of the identification page of your passport.
    • Take the copy with you, but keep it separate from your passport.
  • Keep a record of your passport number, and the date and place of issuance.
  • Know the location of, and register at, the nearest US Embassy or Consulate.
  • Keep up on current events in the US and as they relate to US citizens in your host country.
  • Review on a regular basis all US State Department Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts and Country Specific Information pages for the areas and regions you'll be residing in and visiting.
  • If taking a cell phone, make sure you have an appropriate calling plan.


  • Avoid wearing clothing that immediately identifies you as a US college student.
    • Clothing with fraternity/sorority logos or baseball caps worn backwards, for example, may hamper your efforts to blend in.
    • More seriously, criminals often seek out tourists or international students, simply because of their appearance.
    • Many returnees recommend wearing black clothing, especially in Europe.
    • If the locals don't wear white athletic shoes unless they are engaged in sports, don't use them for streetwear.
  • Be especially careful to be polite and to observe signs and regulations in public places.
  • Whenever possible, travel with another person.
    • Leave the following with your program director: name of travelers, dates of departure and return.
  • Inform yourself about the safety of areas you commonly frequent.
  • If you are staying with a host family, bring gifts from the US — inexpensive, lightweight and representative of our culture, UR, or your hometown.
  • Don't be insulted or make a judgment until you have had time to think it over and discuss it with someone.
  • Make an effort to immerse yourself in your new culture. Become more than a guest.
    • You will be a resident... act like one. Adapt to their way of life; don't try to change it. (That doesn't mean you need to compromise your own moral standards.)
  • Keep a journal, or a log while you are abroad.
    • Journals provide a wonderful opportunity to record all of your adventures overseas. This will be one of the most valuable pieces of memorabilia to look back at after you return to the United States.
  • Expect the unexpected.
    • So you get off the plane and your luggage isn't there! Have those few necessities in your carry-on bag. Counteract something you don't believe is affecting you. But once you do recognize what is happening, there are a number of things you can do.
  • Flexibility, a sense of humor, patience, and counting to ten before you speak are all keys to a successful international experience!

Required Reading

Recommended Websites

US Department of State:

US Department of Education: