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Arrival and Host Country Safety

NU Student Abroad

All students must read "A Safe Trip Abroad"  

Know Your Surroundings

  • Find out which parts of town are considered risky by the locals. As in the United States, always stay in well-lit and well-traveled areas. Be especially alert in crowded places; they are likely to be a place for thieves and muggers. In addition, avoid groups of ten or more; groups of two to three draw less attention. Of course, NEVER go with stranger alone.
  • Avoid dangerous areas, do not use shortcuts, narrow alleys, or poorly lit streets. Try not to travel alone at night.

Avoid Being a Target

  • Use money belts or "neck safes" to hold passports, cash, airline tickets, credit cards and other valuables. Do not wear them outside your clothing or visibly hung around your neck; they make you a target. Always be mindful of your bags; try to keep one arm or foot through the strap at all times so you protect your belongings.
  • Watch out for beggars or "gypsy children,"particularly in Southern Europe. In an attempt to get your money or possessions, they may try to confuse you by swarming around. Also be aware of people who try to "give" you something for free, i.e. a flower or hand-made jewelry.These people will usually turn to someone else you are with and ask for payment for the "gift." If you are in an uncomfortable situation with a beggar, try speaking strongly to them in a language neither of you understands. This will break communication, which is the essential  element in their asking for money. Also, be careful to whom you give your luggage. Sometimes thieves will pose as porters or taxi drivers.
  • Stay away from political rallies and demonstrations. Do not get involved in students' causes. Remember you represent the United States and that your behavior influences foreign people's opinion of your country. Be a good representative of your family, Niagara University and of the United States. Be aware of anti-American sentiment and stay away from discussions that evoke heightened emotion.

Use Common Sense

  • Try not to dress blatantly American. It's important to realize that such displays may bring unwanted attention. Baseball hats and white athletic shoes worn for non-athletic events will highlight the fact that you are American-and some people will resent you for that.
  • Try not to arrive late at night in an unknown town if you haven't already made arrangements for spending the night. Beware of people hawking their hostel or hotel at the train station. These are not always safe options.
  • Be aware of local laws and regulations.Do not take pictures of police or military installations. You should not take photos at topless or nude beaches or baths- your camera could be confiscated. Realize that illegal drug use and possession are serious crimes. If you are arrested, you are subject to foreign law, not U.S., and the consequences could be harsh-including the death penalty.
  • Use the safety deposit boxif you are staying in a hotel. Leave your passport and any money you don't expect to need the day safely locked away.
  • Try not to travel alone in a town you don't know very well. If you do go solo, try to make friends on the train or at your hostel. This is a great way to make international friends. However, don't be too trusting of people you just met. It's kind of a tightrope walk. Best advice to stay smart and trust your instincts.

Special Advice for Women

  • Be prepared to learn as much as possible about the social customs of the culture you are about to visit. This can help you avoid difficult situations, as well as ensuring that you'll have a better time.
  • Do not wear questionable clothing that could be considered provocative (especially in Greece, Italy, and Southern France). In the Mediterranean area, and other parts of the world, mere eye contact from a women is considered a come-on.
  • Wearing a ring can usually get you out of uncomfortable situations with men. You can excuse yourself by declaring your marital fidelity- flash your "wedding band" to prove it. Also always speak clearly and emphatically if you want to be left alone.
  • Walk confidently as if  you know exactly where you're going- even if that means walking around the block twice. Try to always wear comfortable and functional shoes.

For Anyone Traveling Alone

  • Make sure someone else knows your itinerary.
  • If you feel uncomfortable eating alone, bring something to read. Go before or after dinner hours. Waiters like large parties for their tables during dinner hours.
  • Find a place to stay before dark. Be very cautious of people who offer you rooms. DO NOT go with any strangers if you are alone.
  • Avoid holding yourself to a strict schedule when traveling; relax and don't try to see everything.

Money and Valuables

  • Carry alternatives to cash such as travelers cheques and debit cards.

  • Keep a list of credit card/debit card  numbers and the toll-free phone numbers in a safe place at home. Immediately report a missing credit/debit card to the issuing company. If you report the loss before the card is used, the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized charges.

  • Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Ask them to flag your file with a fraud alert, including a statement that creditors need to get you permission before opening any new accounts in your name.

  • Report any loss or theft to the police or other appropriate authorities. Keep a copy of the police report for insurance purposes.

  • Place additional cash and valuables in a hotel safe box.

  • Keep your wallet in an inside or front pocket, never in a coat pocket.

  • Always keep your luggage nearby and within your view.

  • Lock your doors and windows when you leave the room.

  • Report the loss or theft of your passport to the nearest US Embassy or Consulate.