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Practical Advice

Research Your Destination: The better you prepare yourself for your time abroad, the more meaningful your experience will be. It’s important to know what to expect and what is expected of you. Make sure to check U.S. State Department Website. There, you can find information on getting or renewing your passport, entry requirements for you host country, and general travel advice. In particular, access the Country Specific Information for your host country and look at any Travel Alerts for both your host country and any countries to which you plan to travel.

Check the Local Weather: Make sure you check the local weather beforehand. This will help you pack only the things you will need.

Keep Your Money Close: Be sure to keep your purse, backpack and/or wallet close to your body, or on your lap if you are at a club or restaurant — never put it on the back of your chair or on the floor!

Learn About International Traffic Safety: Road accidents for passengers and pedestrians are a serious matter, both here and abroad. Perhaps even more so in a country where traffic comes from the other direction! Ask your Program Resident Director, host family, or a local what their rules are.

Stay Hydrated: Sure, you’ve heard it before, but, depending upon where you go, finding clean water may be more of a challenge than you expected. Choose bottled water with a securely sealed cap. Sodas or other liquids are not substitutes for water.

Start a Buddy System: Never go out at night alone. Start a buddy system so you will have someone who you are accountable for, and vice versa.

Learn the Lingo: While you may not be fluent in the language of your host country, it is beneficial to learn a few basic phrases, such as taxi, bathroom, and common salutations, to ease some communication conflicts.

Leave Valuables at Home: Those chandelier earrings may get looks at home, but that shouldn't be your goal in a foreign city! It is best to travel with minimal to no jewelry — this lessens your risk of being a target for thieves.

Don’t Draw Attention to Yourself: You do not want your actions or behavior to draw unnecessary attention. Resist the urge to act loudly or boisterously in public. Try mirroring the social behaviors of the locals. Also, don’t display cash or your passport in public.

Listen to Your Gut: Be cautious with meeting people. Of course you can be friendly, but avoid making rash decisions, such as getting into a cab with a stranger. Stand your ground, be aware of your surroundings, and if something feels off, always listen to yourself. Most of this is common sense and a matter of knowing what is normal or not normal in your host country, so pay attention and if something feels fishy, follow your gut and walk away.

Know Where Home Is: Make sure you always carry something that lists the address of where you are staying and the phone number. This can be vital if you ever happen to get lost.

Buying Souvenirs: Do not buy all of your souvenirs when you first get there. You will be in the country for a while and have plenty of time to shop. Plus, you will want to buy souvenirs while you travel.

Ask Around: Talk to other people in your program or locals and get tips from them on what to do. They might know the cheapest place to get your laundry done, eat good food, use the Internet, etc.

Keep A Record of Your Experiences: Keep a daily journal (whether that’s an online blog or a paperback) to note what all you are doing. Even if it is something as simple as "Studied at the library then hit Theo's for crepes. Delicious!" You will really get a kick out reading your journal years later.

Study a Guidebook: Guidebooks are always a good way to learn about any country you plan on living in or visiting.

Check Maps Before You Go Out: Looking lost or confused can make you vulnerable. Plan where you are going and how you are going to get there and back before you leave.

Avoid Getting Scammed: With taxis, avoid scams by keeping your luggage nearby, establishing a price beforehand, and carrying small bills (so you can pay them the exact amount of money and not risk them saying "sorry, I have no change"). With restaurants, don't order food that doesn't have a price listed on the menu (unless that's the norm). Also, don't take pictures of people without their permission -- they might ask for payment afterwards. Lastly, don't accept gifts from strangers, and buy tickets from official vendors only.

Contact Us 

Charla Bailey
Director of International Education

Office: Tschoepe Hall 107
Phone: 830-372-8098

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