Syracuse Abroad wants you to be aware of some basic precautions for your travel safety and convenience. Most of these require common sense and staying alert.
- Be informed about current events: There are many ways to keep up-to-date with current events. Download your favorite news app, sign up for your free New York Times online subscription through Syracuse Abroad (available to semester students only), or register for travel alerts through International SOS. Also, be sure to remain up-to-date in your host country by staying connected to local news (via online news sites, television, or newspapers at local kiosks).
- Learn about cultural norms: A good way to learn about the cultural norms of the country where you will be living is to talk with other students (like our global ambassadors) who have spent time in the country or with people from that country.
- Be inconspicuous: Don’t try to draw attention to yourself by looking too “American” or by talking loudly. Try to avoid places frequented by tourists. Don’t put yourself at risk by staying out after local transportation has stopped running. Learn a few basic language phrases for each country where you plan to travel. Use discretion and common sense in your behavior and dress.
- Be aware of your surroundings: Use the basic precautions that are customary in any major city in the world today. Travel with a friend, if possible. In addition to completing your center’s travel form, leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend, a parent, or your hosts. While in a new city, plan your routes and walk confidently. If you are being followed or feel threatened, go into a store or other public area.
- Stay with the group: Don’t walk alone or in isolated areas, especially at night. It is always advisable to walk with friends. And never leave your friend alone with people you both do not know.
- Be responsible with alcohol: One of the most common cultural differences you will encounter overseas concerns the consumption of alcohol. In many countries, alcohol is available at younger ages; however, drinking occurs in different contexts than those found on many U.S. university campuses. People drink in moderation at meals, whether at home or in restaurants, clubs, and pubs. Alcohol is a complement to a meal and drinking is merely one aspect of convivial socializing. Nearly everyone abroad, including young people, considers binge drinking crass and rude. If you drink to excess, you reinforce negative stereotypes of American students abroad, and you put yourself and your friends in danger.
- Stay in touch with Syracuse Abroad: You are required to fill out your center’s travel form before you leave your host city, even if it just for a weekend. Listen carefully to Syracuse Abroad staff regarding pick pockets and specific information about safe and unsafe neighborhoods. Always carry the Syracuse Abroad emergency card with you in case something goes wrong. Make sure you have a charged cell phone (with available minutes) with you at all times so that Syracuse Abroad can reach you if needed. If you are the victim of an assault or persistent harassment, please contact a staff member at your center immediately. The staff member will be able to provide you with confidential advice and assistance.
Added security at international airports has increased the time necessary to check-in, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to go through security checks. All carry-on luggage will be X-rayed and possibly hand-searched. Travelers themselves may be searched.
If you have any questions about how much time to give yourself or what may or may not be carried aboard an airplane, contact the airline directly or check their website. In general, remember the following:
- Do not leave luggage unattended at any time.
- Do not pack valuables (passports, documents, contact lenses, medications, etc.) in checked luggage. Keep them in your carry-on bag.
- If you are bringing medications with you, you should have a doctor’s prescription with them for identification.
- Don’t carry your passport or money in a hip pocket, open purse, or outside pocket on your backpack. Pick-pockets mingle in tourist crowds.
- Photocopy the front (data) pages of your passport, or copy the information and keep it separately.
Returning to the United States
It’s normal to have questions or concerns about US customs and entering the United States after your time abroad. Keep in mind while going through customs:
- Customs officers are allowed to ask questions, and, in the unlikely event they believe it warranted, send a person to secondary inspection, so know this may be a possibility. Remain calm.
- Maintain a professional and respectful attitude. Answer all questions asked by authorities. This is not the time to joke around.
- In the unlikely event you are detained, don’t panic! Contact Syracuse Abroad at any time day or night at 1.800.235.3471 or 315.385.9487.
- While this is unlikely to occur, if this results in missing your connecting flight, talk to airline staff for assistance with re-booking.
Syracuse Abroad will support you from pre-departure through your travel back home. If you have any concerns about your planned trip or re-entry into your home destination, don’t hesitate to reach out to Assistant Director, Student Services Bridget Demorest.