Safety is one of the five most important factors for international students when considering where to study abroad. Most university campuses and their surroundings are quite safe, especially in the United States. Campus safety is a priority, and many schools even have their own security staff or campus police. But students will undoubtedly stray from their university environment to explore neighboring communities, cities, and even countries, which is a large part of their study abroad experience.
In traveling to these new places, you may encounter negative situations if they are not fully informed about the nature of the destination and travel routes. To make the most of your experience abroad, remember these important safety tips:
1. Know what to expect
For many students, coming to school in the U.S. might be their first time in the country. Americans are generally friendly, accommodating, and willing to help visitors, especially those from other countries. But there are exceptions, and you should know where and when they exist, and how to react appropriately.
2. Follow common sense safety precautions like you would in your home country
It’s always a good idea to know your city anywhere you live in the world, and the same principle applies when you’re studying in a different country. Be aware of and examine your surroundings, and try to travel with a group late at night.
3. Research the area so you’re familiar with the surroundings
Most schools are located in safe areas of town. Schools like Trinity College in downtown Hartford, University of Southern California in the Watts section of Los Angeles, or University of Chicago in the city’s south side have safe campuses, but the areas immediately outside of the campus may not be as safe. If you’re considering living off-campus, research the area and ask friends, school administrators, and others who know the area well in order to make an educated decision.
4. Don’t believe everything you see on television
This one is pretty straightforward. Television and other media may portray some places as more or less secure than it really is. In this case, it’s important to distinguish facts from fiction.
5. What resources are available to you should something happen
No school or university is immune to safety issues. Many students visiting from other countries are reluctant to engage the authorities when they are the victim of an offense, especially if it is culturally sensitive. It is important that students report offenses to the appropriate authorities and seek relief. Also, make sure you know the emergency phone number in the country, such as 9-1-1 in the U.S.
Following these simple steps will help you have a safer, smarter experience wherever you are studying or traveling. It’s all about being prepared, knowing when to ask for help, and making sure you have the right tools. One tool that can help is GeoSure, a mobile application for students to access valuable, personalized information on the security profile of cities and countries around the world. Through a unique combination of predictive analytics and crowdsourcing, users can report experiences and view reports of others, right down to the street level, anywhere in the world. GeoSure allows people to help one another, be a part of the community they’re living in, and become more empowered and informed. GeoSure is available for free in the Apple App Store and can help you make the most out of your international education experience!