Health And Safety
The US State Department Registration
The US State Department offers an important service on its website registering US citizens with US embassies and consulates while abroad via the web, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
While your program should register you at the local embassy/consulate once you arrive, it’s a good idea to do this yourself so that the local embassy or consulate can apprise you of any security or other concerns that arise while you are abroad.
Register as a Short-Term Traveler if you’ll be abroad for less than six months, or as a Long-Term Traveler/Overseas Resident if you’ll be abroad for six months or more. The Web site also has a wealth of helpful information on traveling internationally.
Unfortunately, everyone will know you are a foreigner, regardless of how much you try to blend in. This doesn't mean you shouldn't try to do so; you should attempt to act within your new cultural spheres, but people who are looking for targets will target foreigners, most usually Americans, and they'll always know you're a foreigner.
- Do not leave your bags or belongings unattended at any time. Security staff in airports and train stations are instructed to remove or destroy any unattended luggage.
- Do not agree or carry or look after any packages or suitcases for anyone. Make sure no one but you puts anything in your luggage.
- Don’t keep all your documents and money in any one place. It’s best to carry your travel documents and some money on your person in a place inaccessible to others – even when you go to the bathroom on the plane. Keep a photocopy of your passport and visa separate from the original.
- If you find yourself in uncomfortable surroundings, try to look as if you know what you’re doing, and stay in well-populated areas. Try not to draw unnecessary attention to yourself. Always show respect for the culture and laws of other countries.
- Use caution when traveling alone. Women especially, but all students, should not walk alone at night. Be responsible for your safety and well-being. Learn from locals what behavior might put you at risk.
- Keep the on-site director(s) informed of your whereabouts and any health problems. When you travel, be sure that someone knows where you are and how to reach you.
- Have cash or credit card on hand for emergencies like illness or an unexpected need to get home.
- Be alert to your surroundings and people around. Be wary of those who seem overly friendly or interested in you. Be cautious with new acquaintances – don’t give out your address and meet in public places. Be discreet in giving out information about other students or group events. Report unusual activity near your classes or home to the program director.
- Don't hitchhike, even if the locals do.
In times of political conflict involving the United States, these additional precautions are advisable:
- Stay apprised of the current political situation by checking the news. In the event of emergency, advisories may be made to the general public through the media. In this situation, stay in contact with on-site staff, who then can contact authorities locally and at home, as well as parents and Framingham.
- The on-site director should register all participants with the nearest American Embassy or Consulate, and students should be sure they are so registered.
- In large cities or popular tourist destinations, spend as little time as possible in potential targets for terrorist activities, especially places frequented by Americans.
- Keep away from areas known to have concentrations of residents aligned with interests unfriendly to the US and its allies. Always consult with the on-site director before making travel plans.
- Be inconspicuous in dress and demeanor. Avoid American logos and name brands on clothing and belongings. Avoid large or noisy groups. Do not flash money or bring out documents (especially your passport) in public places. Keep small bills in your pockets to pay for purchases.
- Keep away from political demonstrations, particularly those directed toward the US. If you see a situation developing, resist the temptation to satisfy your curiosity or join the crowd. Walk away. Do not agree to interviews regarding political conflicts.
- Make a personal communication plan with your family and decide on methods of contact should an emergency arise. Ask your on-site program director about program emergency/contingency plans.