Staying safe while studying overseas

For students, May Term is a time to regain sanity after a tough academic year. Activities range from taking a three-hour class on slightly atypical material, to traveling to Thailand, to socializing in not-so-academic surroundings.

Every year, Simpson offers several trips for students to go on. These opportunities let students learn about other cultures and receive some traveling experience.

Many of the students at Simpson are from small towns and have barely been out of Iowa, let alone the country. Simpson gives students the chance to go on trips they would normally never have an opportunity to go on.

“I have traveled to Mexico, Australia, China, Spain, Italy and will be going to Thailand this May Term,” said senior Jennifer Chambers, international education undergrad.

While May Term trips are typically a lot of fun, for people that have never left the country these trips can be somewhat frightening. Don’t worry. Simpson, as well as your trip leader, are well prepared to make sure you have an enjoyable and safe trip.

“Simpson does have an emergency response protocol to assist in the event of an emergency while traveling abroad,” Jim Thorius, vice president and dean for student development said. “Trip leaders are thoroughly briefed on the plan and know how to access assistance if needed. The college is aware of safety advisories from the U.S. State Department and will take necessary precautions as advised by some.”

When you travel overseas, you need to be cautious and street smart. Stay with your group as much as possible. Take great care of your money and passport. Leave valuables or irreplaceable items at home. Avoid high crime areas. Don’t go out alone at night and don’t get intoxicated to the point you are unaware of your surroundings.

“Pick-pocketing is the most common occurrence so students should make sure they don’t keep money out in the open or in back pockets or purses that don’t go around shoulders,” Chambers said.

Be aware of pick-pockets. They can be anyone from a small child to a sixty-year-old grandmother.

Backpacks are easy to steal from, so if you insist on bringing your backpack stick your valuables in the very bottom of your big pocket–the smaller pockets are very easy to steal from.

Men, don’t stick your wallet in your back pocket–it will be very easy to steal.

The best suggestion is to buy a small purse or bag that goes over your shoulders that you can hold onto in busy areas.

The important matter to remember is that while you do want to have fun, you should also keep yourself safe. Crime happens all over the world, from your small town to the place that your are going for your May Term trip

“Be aware of what is going on around you,” Fred Jones, professor of sociology and criminal justice, said. “Keep your eyes open. Don’t do foolish things, such as drinking excessively because such behavior makes the traveler more vulnerable. Listen to your faculty adviser and to locals who may be providing you with tips on how to interact most effectively in country.”

Here are some safety tips from the U.S. State Department:

? Make sure you have a signed, valid passport and visas, if required. Also, before you go, fill in the emergency information page of your passport!

? Read the Consular Information Sheets (and Public Announcements or Travel Warnings, if applicable) for the countries you plan to visit.

? Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs of the countries to which you are traveling. Remember, the U.S. Constitution does not follow you! While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws.

? Make two copies of your passport identification page. This will facilitate replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy at home with friends or relatives. Carry the other with you in a separate place from your passport.

? Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends at home so that you can be contacted in case of an emergency.

? Do not leave your luggage unattended in public areas. Do not accept packages from strangers.

? Prior to your departure, you should register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department’s travel registration Web stie. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare and whereabouts may not be released without your express authorization. Remember to leave a detailed itinerary and the numbers or copies of your passport or other citizenship documents with a friend or relative in the United States.

? To avoid being a target of crime, try not to wear conspicuous clothing and expensive jewelry, and do not carry excessive amounts of money or unnecessary credit cards.

? In order to avoid violating local laws, deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money or purchase art or antiques.

? If you get into trouble, contact the nearest U.S. embassy.