Better Safe Than Sorry
Are you planning on traveling abroad for your studies? That journey does sound extremely exciting. However, there are some risks that come with being a visitor from another country. As such, it is very good to note the various risks that you could face when in a place different from home and be ready for it.
Different countries have their own set of rules. Before entering a foreign country, it is good to know about these rules to ensure that you do not end up making a mistake that you could have avoided easily. So here are some tips on how to stay safe when studying overseas!
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Understand the country that you are traveling to
Do your research! Prepare yourself before you enter the county. There are regular updates on travel advisories for each country and it is very easy to look up these online. These advisories provide you with clear and detailed information on which parts of the country are safe, the types of transportation you should use to get around when you should avoid traveling, potential scams, and so on. There are even guidebooks that you can find in stores and online that can give you good information about the country as well. This includes the various customs, proper behavior you should have, and which neighborhoods would be the best to stay in.
Prepare for anything
As they always say, it is best to be prepared than not at all. It is good to have copies of important documents such as your passport, visa, airline, and hotel confirmations. In case anything gets lost, these things are still with you. As such, it is good to keep these separate from the original so that if the original gets misplaced or stolen, there is a backup. You should also keep a digital copy on your mobile phone or device.
It is also good to prepare and plan for what steps you will take in the event of an emergency. Have emergency phone numbers and hotlines not only in your mobile devices but written and kept somewhere that you can easily reach out for when in trouble. You should also reach out to the local embassy before you leave. It is also good to know a bit of the basic phrases of the local language to ask for help or inform a doctor if you are unwell.
Understand the laws and customs
It is a very good idea to pay close attention to laws and the local customs in the country you are going to. There are many countries that have very strict laws when it comes to drug use. The act of having drugs on you could lead you to be imprisoned. And though most countries allow the consumption of alcohol, there are different laws and ways to behave when in public and drunk.
You should also be aware of the ‘do’s and ‘don’ts and try not to speak about things that might be too sensitive. In some extreme cases, a small discussion on prohibited topics could end up in you being seen as a person who supports terrorism.
Keep your electronic devices safe
It is a very good idea to have passcodes on your lock screen when you are traveling. This is in case your phone gets stolen, it would take a while for the stealer to have access to your phone. Additionally, many services such as Apple’s Find my Phone or Google’s Find my Device will help you find your phone or erase the details in it remotely if you lose it or have it stolen.
If you are visiting an area that has a highly restricted internet with a high rate of hacking, it is good to use a ‘throwaway’ phone instead. So when you get back home, you can just erase all information. It is also good to use a virtual private network or VPN service while traveling when using the internet to form unknown networks.
Keep yourself healthy
Check on government websites for the various recommended vaccinations and medications you should take before traveling to a specific country. Health professionals can also advise you at clinics what type of medications are illegal in certain countries and what alternatives you could take if need be.
You should have enough medication on you for your entire stay overseas. It is illegal in most countries to have medication mailed over, so please bring enough.
Also, it is good to apply for travel insurance. This would help you to cover emergencies and medical expenses while you are overseas. Most of these plans are rather affordable. Better be safe than sorry.
Stay away from civil and political unrest
As much as you want to, refrain from joining large gatherings or mass demonstrations. Yes, it may be an interesting experience to be a part of a protest, however, it could turn violent at any moment. During such events, a lot of pickpocketing happens too.
Should anything happen to you because of this, do reach out to your country’s embassy for help. Monitor local news media for the latest updates on any disruptions on travel or public services. Leave the country as soon as possible if things get too dangerous.
Keep track of your things
There is nothing more important than your own safety. Do not be a victim of pickpocketing or baggage theft. These cases usually happen because the victims are unaware and not alert to their surroundings. Have good situational awareness. Always be observant and orientate yourself and know where you are and what is around you. Decide and think about your actions before you act on them. This ensures that you are fully aware of what your next steps are going to be so that you would not end up doing anything foolish on impulse.
Keep track of your own belongings and keep them secure and within sight when possible. If not, ensure that they are safely locked up so that no one can steal anything from you. If you are traveling by road, it is good to avoid traveling at night and walking in places that are not brightly lit.
Personal safety should be your priority
Studying overseas can be one of the most memorable times of your university life. But fun shouldn’t come at the cost of your safety. Take care to read up on the country before you travel, and make preparations for any unfortunate situation you might find yourself in. You don’t want to be stranded in a foreign country with no clue what to do if you get pickpocketed or arrested.