Travel can be risky. With a common-sense approach, you can minimize risks while traveling abroad.
Steps to Minimize Risks and Stay Safe Abroad
- Don’t be an obvious foreigner. Make an effort to blend in as much as possible and respect local norms and customs. Loud or boisterous behavior advertises your presence in a negative way. Display confidence. By looking and acting as if you know where you are going, you may be able to ward off danger.
- Dress conservatively and leave jewelry at home. Fashion makes a statement, but it’s not always interpreted the same way. What you may consider casual clothing such as shorts and sleeveless tops might be seen as provocative or inappropriate in another culture. Flashy clothes or lots of jewelry may signal you’re a good target to potential criminals. It’s best to dress conservatively, according to local standards. Take cues from locals. Most travel guides will give you tips about appropriate dress for the country you’re visiting.
- Keep copies of your passport and hide the original. Make three copies of your passport: one to put in your suitcase, one to carry on your body and one to leave with a family member or trusted person in the United States. Don’t carry your passport with you on a daily basis. Put the original in the safest place you can find, which will depend upon your living and traveling arrangements. Passports are the hottest commodities in the world, so be mindful of where yours is at all times.
- Listen to your gut. Trust your instincts. When you get alarmed or spooked, there is probably a good reason for it. Stop and calmly observe and assess the situation around you, decide what your options are for getting to a safer place, and make a decision and act.
- Drink only in moderation. Alcohol is a major contributor to many of the problems in which students find themselves when abroad. Drinking to excess can lead you to making bad decisions and winding up in dangerous situations. Act responsibly and don’t put yourself in an unnecessarily risky situation.
- Know how to contact the local embassy or consulate. The local embassy or consulate provides many services for its citizens abroad. U.S. citizens should register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website. Know the location of your nearest embassy or consulate.
- Read local English-language newspapers and websites. It is important pay attention to the local news, especially as it relates to foreigners so you can make appropriate choices while abroad.
- Avoid unexpectedly amorous men and women. Attractive as you may be, it is strongly advisable to be wary of people who approach and try to woo you the moment you arrive. Most of the time the real motive is gaining a foreign passport or your wallet or taking you to a gift shop where you’ll be pressured to buy.
- Be aware of real security threats. Research the political climate in the country you’ll be visiting and whether there is any strong anti-American sentiment. Most countries have some type of English-language media outlets on the Internet that publish local news. Check them out along with wire services such as Reuters and the U.S. State Department. It is always better to enter a foreign country with your eyes open. It might take keen eyes and ears to detect rumblings of civil unrest that can increase dangers to foreign visitors. This heightened awareness will shorten your response time to potential warning signs. Your knowledge of local or national politics also will demonstrate to those you meet that you have a greater depth of interest in your host country than sampling the local pastries. Watch local news programs, read local papers and talk with the locals.
- Avoid known hotspots, political conversations and political rallies. Avoid political conversations and rallies that could increase tensions and emotions or breed angry mobs for which a U.S. citizen might serve as a scapegoat. Political issues with host nations may escalate and provoke retaliation against hostile or bigoted remarks concerning Americans. The CGE will not approve travel to countries under a travel warning issued by the US State Department. Read the current list of State Department Travel Advisories.
- Control only the things you can control and don’t panic. The most important advice is to control your own situations. Controllable factors that place you at risk in the United States are often the same things that put you in danger in your host country:
- Being under the influence of alcohol and drugs
- Being out after midnight
- Being alone at night in an isolated area
- Being in a known high crime area
- Sleeping in an unlocked area
- Being out after local curfew
- Don’t use recreational drugs. With very few exceptions, other countries are extremely intolerant of recreational-drug use and make no distinction between “hard” and “soft” drugs. Being caught with even a tiny amount of a controlled substance can result in arrest, deportation and/or imprisonment. If this happens, there is nothing the U.S. State Department can do to help you. Do not take this risk.
Health and accident insurance is provided for all TU students who participate in a TU study abroad program though AIG. When students enroll in a program, information on how to access the plan through AIG will be provided.
Here are some general guidelines regarding insurance as it applies to going abroad:
- Know what your insurance will cover. For example, high-risk sports injuries, dental care and optical care sometimes are not covered by basic medical insurance. If certain preexisting conditions are excluded, check on the exact definition of preexisting.
- Familiarize yourself with the insurance options provided by your program provider. Some programs include insurance as part of their program fee and have preplanned insurance arrangements for their participants. Purchasing their insurance may make it easier for the program staff to assist you while abroad. However, you still should look closely at the limitations in its coverage. If the program does not offer insurance or the program insurance is not sufficient to meet the minimum amounts recommended by TU, you should purchase additional study abroad insurance.
- Other considerations. When considering your insurance options, look at the financial limits of coverage, whether your insurance applies during independent travel or vacation, which countries it includes, whether evacuation and repatriation is included, the policy’s start and end dates, and whether you will have to pay first for treatment and be reimbursed later by your insurance company.
Students with Disabilities
The Center for Global Engagement (CGE) encourages students with disabilities to explore opportunities for studying abroad.
Consult with the CGE staff and the Center for Student Academic Support to determine reasonable accommodations and plan for a successful study abroad experience. If you have a condition that will require accommodation, it is important to disclose this information early in the advising process so we can assist you with identifying a location that can provide the appropriate support.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) prohibits discrimination based on gender in educational programs that receive federal financial assistance.
Study Abroad Complaints
If you have a complaint of sexual harassment, harassment, sex discrimination or sexual assault during a study abroad trip, you should contact the Title IX Deputy Coordinator, Jane Kucko, Vice Provost of Global Engagement.
Title IX Questions or Complaints
If you have questions or concerns about Title IX or want to file a complaint of noncompliance, contact the university’s Title IX Coordinator.
Anyone who has a complaint regardless of whether it’s against a student, staff, faculty visitor or otherwise should feel free to contact the Title IX Coordinator, Matt Warren, directly if they are uncomfortable about initiating a complaint with the designated deputy coordinator.
The University of Tulsa has grievance procedures for anyone who is dissatisfied with how her or his case was handled by someone within the Title IX complaint system.
TU is committed to ensuring that all students regardless of background or identity are able to and supported in studying abroad. Whether students are first generation, identify as LGBTQI+, come from a racial or religious minority, have a visible or nonvisible disability, or are simply a non-traditional student, the CGE wants to make sure that students are supported all the way through the study abroad process from inquiry to application, abroad, and returnee phases.
All student experiences are unique and some students may have concerns or particular issues in studying abroad depending on their identity and experience but the CGE has a rich set of resources and programs to make sure students have a positive and engaging experience abroad.
We encourage students to talk to their advisor about their specific concerns as well as familiarize themselves with the following resources:
The CGE also encourages students to look on host program websites for additional resources: