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If you are concerned about safety issues abroad, or are worried about the status of student travelers in times of terroristic threats or national crises, you may phone the Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Emergency Citizen Services in Washington, D.C. at 202-501-4444.  Do not be alarmed when you hear travel advisories at first.  These advisories are information the government has received and the government is obligated to make it publicly known.  Listen to and read all travel advisories carefully.  Then make the best judgment with a clear head whether or not there is reason to be alarmed.  US Travel Advisories can also be accessed from the following website:

Current Travel Warnings

Down Pitt's Traveling Warning Policy

More student travel safety information is available from Scholastic Overseas Services at

Personal Security Tips

  • Don’t stand out: while “safety in numbers” is a good rule to follow, traveling as an identifiable group of U.S. students will attract attention and possibly cause problems.  Try to fit in with the surroundings.
  • Whenever possible, speak in the local language.
  • Report suspicious events immediately: Contact the on-site study abroad coordinator/resident director if you observe suspicious persons within the premises of your educational environment.  Act similarly if anything might indicate threats or an actual terrorist attack on the premises or on student activities.
  • Careless talk: Do not be free with information about other students.  Be wary of new people.  Do not give out yours or anyone else’s address or phone number to strangers.  Don’t give away your class or field trip schedule.
  • Official contact: Your resident advisor may have an agreement with you as far as leaving the campus site and staying with others.  Do let your advisor and host family, if applicable, know if you will be staying overnight somewhere else, especially in case of an emergency.
  • You should dress and behave inconspicuously in public.  Try not to "advertise" that you're a foreigner by wearing your college sweatshirt or hanging out in typically American bars and pubs.

Crime Prevention Tips

  • Do not take valuables on your trip which you may have difficulty replacing.
  • Take major credit cards, ATM cards, or travelers checks, NOT large amounts of cash.
  • Find out which parts of town the locals consider "risky."
  • Stay alert in crowds, especially in areas frequented by tourists.
  • You can NEVER be too careful with your money and belongings.  Use extreme caution at all times.  Possibly the best way to carry your money and passport is in a belt tied around your waist in the inside of your pants, or around your neck, under your shirt.
  • Limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages (drink responsibly) and stay away from banned/illegal substances.  YOU are ultimately responsible for your own behavior and choices.
  • Do not just set your bags down next to you; make sure they are touching some part of your body. 
  • It will be your first instinct to trust many people you meet, but using common sense is not distrust – it is smart. 
  • Fanny packs can be easily cut off of you on crowded trains and buses.  Even in church/religious sites, never let your belongings out of your sight. 
  • Be especially careful when taking pictures as your attention is focused on your subject and camera, rather than your belongings. 
  • "When you least expect it - expect it."  Above all, use common sense at all times.  If something does not feel safe, it probably is not.

Emergencies on Site

Most study abroad programs have pre-planned procedures for emergency evacuations in times of crisis.  However, you may not be made aware of the specific procedures due to national security.  If a situation should occur in which these plans need to be activated, you would be informed about how to proceed.  Remember, at any given time, in any given place, a dangerous situation could develop.  For this reason, students should take general precautions while living overseas.  For example, be alert to the possibility of being under surveillance and report anyone loitering around your residence, following you, or acting suspicious.  Also, pay attention to daily news reports.

Safety First