Smart, Savvy and Safe: 6 Things to Consider Before Studying Abroad

Navigating a new place can be daunting. Prepare yourself for everything from dodging shady landlords to learning the local lingo.

- Know where your local amenities and facilities are situated, and how to locate them from your residence. Know the location of your local hospital and police service, and familiarize yourself with emergency numbers (e.g 911 in the U.S. is 000 in Australia). This website contains most of the emergency numbers you will need from around the world.

- Make sure you have appropriate medical insurance/cover – you could be stuck for thousands of dollars if you don’t! Keep all your records in a safe, easy to access place. If you speak a different language to your host country, make sure you memorize a range of phrases that allows you to communicate your needs with emergency services. You should also memorize how to say your address in your host country’s language.

- When you get to your destination, take the time to figure out a “safety route” for all your major day-to-day activities including going to school, workplace and social spots. Your safety routes should be areas that are well lit and well populated i.e travel down bright major strips as opposed to darker laneways. If you can, talk to some locals about where the dangerous spots are to avoid in your local area – everywhere has them! Also, let your nearest consulate know you are in the country studying and engage with the student affairs office to learn about neighbourhoods, housing and transport links from lodging to campus.

- Watch out for shady landlords/accommodation operators. In many major cities there is a tendency for bad people to take advantage of the vulnerability of students and strip them not only of their cash, but also of their dignity. Try, to the best of your ability, to organize accommodation through legitimate providers – and also take the time to shop around. Look at the market rate for rental properties/rooms for let in the area you wish to stay in and use that as your benchmark. Also, most countries have practices that protect the rights of tenants, and this also applies to students, so familiarize yourself with what rights you have. You don’t need to get ripped off, and you don’t need to live in a room the size of a cupboard!

- Campus culture is very important to your study – take the time to research potential campuses to make sure they are right for you. This recent article from the New York Times EducationLife supplement is a good example of what opportunities and challenges international study presents.

- Also, take some time to learn the local customs. What is polite, impolite, offensive and acceptable behaviour in your host country? If you have travel safety questions about your destination or are planning to explore your new host country, hop on travel discussion boards to ask questions of locals and other people who have been there such as Zinch or World Nomads Answers. Before you go, learn about tips and advice that can keep you safer and confident in your new host country. A little bit of research could save you a lot of trouble!

Content written and provided by World Nomads

written by
Sean Castillo
November 16, 2010

3 Responses to “Smart, Savvy and Safe: 6 Things to Consider Before Studying Abroad”

  1. Adeyemo peter
    November 22, 2010 at 3:57 am #

    how can somebody apply? this what i to know about pls send help for that.

  2. Seantyel Hardy
    June 20, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    This was helpful. I plan on studying abroad the summer after my freshman year and one of my friends is studying in Panama her whole first year!

  3. Tiffany Marshall
    November 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    Thank you! This was very informational! Keep it up!

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