Safety

Traveling abroad is not inherently dangerous. The fact of the matter is that a U.S. citizen will encounter few countries that are as dangerous as home! (Looking at crime and violent crime rates). That being said, it is easy to identify Americans abroad, which can make you a target if you’re not careful.

The State Department Travel Page is filled with valuable travel safety and logistics information.

 

In The Airport and Arriving

Out and About

Personal Safety

Laws

Natural Disasters

Politics

STEP Program

 

In the Airport & Arriving

Flying can be the most daunting part of study abroad for some people, especially students who have never flown before. More information on making your flying experience easier can be found here:

Airport safety is, like all safety abroad, comprised of being aware of your surroundings, displaying confidence, and generally using common sense. Always be aware of your luggage– don’t leave it in your gate while you walk to the bathroom or a restaurant. Do not ask strangers to watch your bags, and do not do the same for others. If you nice unattended baggage, report it to airport personnel.

If your education abroad program doesn’t offer airport pickup, you will probably take a taxi from the airport to your university.

 

Out and About

The most important step you can take to keeping yourself safe abroad is to pay attention. When you walk around, actively observe your surroundings. Pay attention to the route you take, and visible landmarks. Be aware of the people around you, and their behaviors. If you ever feel uncomfortable or unsure about a situation, it’s okay to leave. Don’t worry about potentially offending anyone. It’s better to be safe.

 

Personal Safety

Personal safety abroad is the same as home. It involves being aware of your surroundings, controlling your own behavior, using common sense, and using the buddy system. Trust your gut, and if a situation feels wrong, get out of it. Watch your drinks at parties. Don’t allow strangers to take you places, and don’t get in strange vehicles. If you don’t look and act like a victim, you’re less likely to be one, so leave your expensive jewelry at home, and avoid being drunk or conspicuously lost or disoriented in public. Keep calm, use your head, and you’ll be fine.

 

Laws

Before departing for your study abroad program, research the laws of your host country. Crimes and the severity of punishments vary widely by country. Know what is legal and what is not. For example, freedom of speech is not a given abroad, and you should avoid saying or posting anything online that could cause you trouble. If you are arrested abroad, there is little the United States government can do other than to provide you with legal counsel. U.S. citizenship is not a form of illegal immunity abroad.

 

Natural Disasters

Las Cruces has a very tranquil climate. Before you go abroad, research potential natural hazards in the area you will be in. When you arrive, ask your host institutions’ coordinator about safety procedures. For example, what are the steps you should take in the event of an earthquake?

 

Politics

Political instability and conflict can manifest in many different forms:

State of Violence Intensity Group Level of Intensity Name of Intensity Definition
non-violent low 1 Dispute A political conflict is classified as a dispute if it meets all elements of the basic concept.
non-violent low 2 Non-violent Crisis A political conflict is classified as a non-violent crisis if physical violence is being implicitly or explicitly threatened to persons or property by at least one of the actors, or if one actor uses physical violence against property, without regarding the injury of people as acceptable. A threat of force is understood as a verbally or non-verbally communicated prospect of violent measures that is based on the conflict item. An acceptance of the injury of persons is present when the use of force against property includes the possibility of the injury of people but the violator is indifferent to this possibility.
violent medium 3 Violent Crisis A political conflict is classified as a violent crisis when at least one actor uses force sporadically against persons – or things in case that physical violence against people is considered acceptable. The applied means and consequences altogether are limited.
violent high 4 Limited War A political conflict is classified as a limited war when at least one actor uses force against persons and maybe things in a distinctive way. The applied means and consequences altogether are serious.
violent high 5 War A political conflict is classified as a war when at least one actor uses force massively against persons and maybe things. The applied means and consequences altogether need to be framed as extensive.
Courtesy of Wikipedia. 

We do not send students to countries with a risk of violent crisis. However, while abroad you will witness different forms of human governance, and different political climates and attitudes to match. In some countries, embassy protests are quite common, whereas in other countries street protest is unthinkable. Research your destination country– knowing basic facts about their politics will not only enrich your interactions with and understanding of the local cultural, but also keep you safe. Do not attend rallies, protests, or political gatherings abroad. Respect that you are an outsider in their politics, and that your presence at any such event will stand out, potentially making you a target.

 

STEP Program

When you arrive at your study abroad destination, we strongly recommend registering in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which will provide you with localized news alerts courtesy of the embassy, and will help them to find you in the event of an emergency.