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Quick Tips

  • Do not walk in unfamiliar areas of the city at night or accept rides from strangers.
  • Be careful with money and other expensive items in public.
  • The less you stand out the safer you will be.
  • Never leave your bags unattended. If anything is lost or stolen report it to the local police. It is also necessary to report the loss of travelers check to the nearest issuing office and passports to both the local police and then to the consulate to apply for a new one
  • Be sure your program director knows where you will be traveling and when, in case you must be contacted.

These tips and more are outlined in the following video from International SOS: "Street Smarts"

The US State Department’s website (see links below) is a resource for information on issues related to US citizens traveling internationally.

In compliance with Stanford’s International Travel Policy, BOSP will not send undergraduate students to countries for which the State Department has issued a Travel Warning. This applies to program locations as well as to field trip destinations.

Worldwide Assistance & Emergency Evacuation Services

All Stanford students are covered by the BOSP International SOS Worldwide Assistance & Emergency Evacuation Services plan. The services provided by International SOS range from telephone advice and referrals to full-scale evacuation by private air ambulance for medical necessity. This coverage does not provide health and medical coverage overseas. You remain responsible for ensuring that you have such coverage in the countries and for the duration of your travels.

Please be aware that some of ISOS’s services carry additional charges. Should you request a service which has an additional charge, ISOS will inform you in advance and will require a credit card number in order to activate the service. If, in the event of an emergency, Stanford provides the financial guarantee to ISOS on your behalf, the University will bill you for this charge upon receipt of the actual amount by ISOS. Please know that such charges may not be billed until after you return from the trip abroad.

Cultural Issues and Perception

Don’t assume you know and understand the local culture. Try to learn about your host culture’s values, customs, popular culture, etc. as much as possible. Most people will experience some difficulties adjusting to their new country and culture. This is totally normal, and should be expected. Cultural adjustment comes in stages and people react differently to the changes. Try to look at things from their perspective. For every behavior you don’t understand, try to figure out what its underlying value is.

Watch the Sexual Harassment and Staying Safe Overseas Video

Sexual Harassment

Cultural difference in interactions on romantic or sexual levels can be a problem area - some behaviors might be very inappropriate in the US, but considered perfectly acceptable in the culture in which you are living, and vice-versa. Sexual harassment is a particularly difficult area because of the extreme variance in acceptable behavior between cultures. In some cultures it is difficult or impossible for non-sexual relationships to exist between men and women. Until one is fully aware of the cultural norms combined with the verbal and non-verbal clues that he or she is sending, one must be very mindful of the emotions and expectations that are evolving. You are encouraged to contact center staff to report any behaviors that you feel are sexually harassing. They will assist you in resolving the situation in a culturally appropriate way.

Compliance with Laws

When you are in a foreign country you are subject to its laws and not protected by U.S. laws. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. It is important that you learn about local laws and regulations and obey them. You are responsible for obeying all host countries laws and regulations, which can be both different and stricter than in the United States. Do not assume will be treated gently because you are an American. If you become involved in a legal problem, please contact center staff immediately. Please note, however, that it is unlikely that BOSP can intervene on your behalf if you are arrested for an illegal violation.

Do not use illegal drugs while you are abroad. Most countries have very strict drug laws and enforcement can result in prison sentences and even the death penalty. If you attend a party at which others are using drugs, leave immediately. If you are arrested for drugs, the US consular officer cannot get you released from jail.

Emergency Situations

  • All programs arrange a “telephone tree” so that any urgent messages from the director can reach all students.
  • You will receive a copy of an emergency card, which includes phone numbers of the program location and staff members.
  • Emergency procedures will be explained to you during onsite orientation.
  • If your physical safety is threatened and you have not been able to reach your director or the local police in your host country, call the Stanford Operator at (650) 723-2300, and they will connect you to the appropriate University office.

Clery Reports for Overseas Centers

In full compliance with the 1998 Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, or Clery Act, Stanford University’s Bing Overseas Studies Program has provided the most recent crime statistics reports for each of its overseas centers. During on-site orientation at each of our centers, overseas staff will inform the students of the various resources offered by local law enforcement and emergency services. The centers also share important crime awareness tips to encourage students to be aware of their responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others. The full Clery reports are available on the Stanford University Department of Public Safety website.

Stanford University Department of Public Safety

Helpful Links

Bureau of Consular Affairs
State Department International Travel Information (by country)
Students Abroad: Smart Travel 101