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Things to Consider

Prescription Medication

If you take any prescription medications, consult the US State Department website for information on your host country’s customs regulations.  Often, people bringing prescriptions into the host country will require an official doctor’s note to verify the person’s need, the amount of medicine, and the length of stay.  Customs officers are likely to request these documents if they deem the contents of the person’s baggage suspicious.  Also, be sure that the amount you bring is sufficient for the length of stay.  If it is not, arrangements must be made to ensure you have enough for your time abroad.


The State Department and CDC provide accurate information regarding necessary vaccinations for visitors to other countries.  If traveling to Western Europe, it is unlikely that you will need any additional vaccinations, but travelers to countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, may be encouraged to receive vaccinations for various illnesses common to the host country. 

US Embassies and Consulates

In certain scenarios (natural disaster, conflict, etc.), it is advised that Americans abroad contact the closest embassy or consulate in their host country.  All embassy and consulate information is provided to students at the Risk Management Session, and it is also available online.


More often than not, issues with students studying abroad can be attributed to alcohol consumption.  It is assumed that students participating in education abroad will exercise sound judgement with regard to consumption of alcohol or other drugs, and any violation of the SCSU Code of Conduct or the laws of the host country or rules of the host institution could potentially result in the student’s termination from the program and early departure.  If you choose to consume alcohol abroad, exercise sound judgment and be aware of the laws and cultural expectations of your host country and the rules of your host institution.  Safe and responsible consumption of alcohol is expected around the world.

Host Country Customs and Cultures 

Many of the countries our students visit have social and cultural norms that are significantly different from our own, differences which challenge us to understand other cultures, and perhaps see our own culture through a new lens.  The interface between our students' experiences growing up in the United States and the lives of those living in the host country is where authentic exchange and personal transformation so often take place. 

It should be noted, though, that students should always be considerate of the host culture, and understand that the rights and treatment of women, members of the LGBTQ community, people of various ethnic backgrounds, young people, and foreign visitors in general, can differ greatly from those in the United States.  Though this very rarely becomes an issue for students, it is important to be aware of how the host country’s customs and cultures can influence your safety abroad. 

Petty Crime and Theft

Violent crime is rarely an issue for students studying abroad, but petty crime and theft (notably pick-pocketing) are more common.  It’s important that you keep track of your valuables and important documents at all times while traveling, and make additional copies of passports and other forms of travel identification in the case of theft or loss.  Petty crime is common across the world and, though not a specific threat to health and safety, it could cause serious headaches with finances and identification.  Being aware of your surroundings, traveling in groups, having money close to your person, and keeping important documents in a safe can all help in avoiding petty crime and theft. 

Food and Water

Depending on the sanitation standards of the host country, food and water safety can be an issue for American travelers.  Though usually not serious, food poisoning can cause discomfort for students studying abroad.  It is important to consult the CDC information provided at the Risk Management Session to ensure that you are aware of any contamination issues associated with food and water.  It is often advised that travelers to specific countries bring anti-diarrheal medication and an antibiotic in the case of severe food poisoning, and any long-lasting symptoms should be brought to the attention of a medical professional.