While overseas, on-site directors and staff are available to help students seek care in the event of a medical emergency. They also offer orientations to help students understand any risks specific to the area where they are studying abroad.
We encourage students to investigate health insurance options and learn what their insurance provider covers and requires prior to participating in study abroad. If a student seeks medical care, they should be prepared to pay out of pocket and submit for reimbursement at a later date. Brown University also has an Accident & Sickness insurance plan that covers students during their program dates for illnesses and emergencies. It does not replace their regular insurance plan, but offers additional coverage for unanticipated medical occurrences.
Safety for students abroad is carefully monitored by Brown residential directors and OIP staff. We work with students during the pre-departure process to prepare them for their surroundings, and educate them on what to expect in their new environment. Should a student ever feel unsafe while abroad, he or she should immediately speak with the program/resident director or onsite staff.
General Safety Tips and Traveling Alone
While you are abroad take the same precautions you would take in any large U.S. city you are not familiar with:
- Don't walk in unfamiliar areas of the city at night or accept rides from strangers. Plan to arrive at your destination during the day.
- Be careful with money in public just as you would be in this country.
- Become a professional people watcher. Watching the local residents and their habits is your best guide to safe behavior. The less you stand out the safer you will be.
- Learn about the customs and local laws of your country. Remember that you are subject to their laws and are not protected by U.S. laws.
- Learn to walk the way the locals do. People are able to spot an American immediately by their posture and walk. And, stop carrying your American backpack around the city with you. Wearing a backpack is almost as bad as wearing a red bull’s-eye.
- Lock hotel rooms when traveling. Do not stay in hotels without adequate locks. The money you would save is not worth putting yourself at risk.
- Never leave your bags unattended. Never let a stranger watch your luggage while you go to the bathroom or purchase a ticket.
- Walk away immediately from any suspicious persons or packages and report them to the authorities after you are a safe distance away.
- Make three (3) photocopies of your passport ID page, airlines tickets, and credit cards. Leave one copy at home. Bring the second copy with you in case something gets lost or stolen abroad, and give the third copy to your program resident director. Bring extra passport size photos for student ID’s abroad, a replacement passport if needed, or for obtaining a visa abroad.
Beware of pickpockets and con artists. The most common sites for purse or camera snatchings are central train stations or crowded shopping areas. Thieves often strike when people are distracted: making a phone call or checking a train schedule, with a bag casually left at one’s feet.
If anything is lost or stolen report it to the local police. Keep a copy of the police report for insurance purposes or in case you need to replace your passport or student visa. Report the loss of travelers check to the nearest issuing office; passport to both the local police and then to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for a new one; airline tickets to airline or travel agent.
Before going to another country, check the country’s travel advisories and read safety, health, and travel recommendations for your destination. The State Department SMART travel section is very useful. Register your trip with International SOS before you depart.
Be sure your program director has your contact information and knows where/when you will be traveling. Give a relative and/or friend a copy of your travel itinerary and contact information.
Be sure your cell phone will work where you are traveling and keep it with you always - fully charged and turned on. Respond immediately to any calls, text, or emails from Brown and/or your host program staff.
Important Contact Information
As a precautionary measure, keep emergency contact numbers of various family members in one place (such as in your phone and at the end of the Study Abroad Handbook) so that you can access them quickly. In addition, it is always important to keep contact information for your host family or roommates, program/resident director, and the OIP. If you are traveling over weekends or breaks, please be sure to provide the program/resident director with your cell phone number and any travel itinerary in case they need to contact you while you are traveling.
International SOS is emergency travel assistance coverage provided for all students studying abroad through Brown University.
Students Abroad: US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs - A resource for students studying abroad provided by the US Department of State, with a focus on safety, security, and service for US citizens abroad.