While traveling abroad can be one of the most exciting experiences of your college career, it can also pose unusual personal risks to health and safety. Please read the following information very carefully and be sure to discuss it with your parents, with your doctors, and other medical providers. In some cases, you will also want to talk with your insurance company. We cannot stress enough the importance of the following Health and Safety sections, and we urge you to ask questions until you thoroughly understand the content and its meaning for you individually.
Talking With Your Physician
We urge you to consult your primary care physician a few months before you depart the U.S. for your study abroad program. This way, you can make sure you are up to date with your routine vaccinations and ask specific questions you may have about required or recommended immunizations for the area(s) you will be visiting. Please do not take medication, receive immunizations or other preventative care, or follow medical advice before consulting with your personal doctor.
If you take prescription medication of any kind, you will definitely want to bring a supply with you, along with the written prescription itself. You must consult your doctor before you depart the U.S. about how to handle medication while abroad. In some cases you may be able to have a doctor in your host country prescribe the medication for you; in other cases, you may have to bring enough medication for your entire stay abroad.
Make sure your prescription medication is not considered an illegal narcotic. If you are going abroad with a preexisting medical condition, you should carry a letter from your doctor describing your condition and medications, including the generic names of prescribed drugs. Any medications carried overseas should be in their original containers and clearly labeled. Check with the foreign country's embassy here in the U.S. to make sure your medications are not considered illegal narcotics. A listing of foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S. is available on the Department of State's website.
Centers for Disease Control
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) maintains a Travelers Health Web site (http://www.cdc.gov/travel) that is constantly updated, providing health information and special warnings about health risks. It has a search feature where you can find region-specific health information, including common health problems in that area, recommended immunizations and precautions, and information for travelers with special needs. CDC also maintains a travelers’ hotline, accessible by phone from within the United States (1-877-FYI-TRIP or 1-877-394-8747).
U.S. Department of State Registration
We ask that all students take a few minutes to enroll in The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency. STEP also allows Americans residing abroad to get routine information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. To register with STEP, go here: https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/.
Please also register with the nearest U.S. Embassy upon arrival in your host country. Registering when abroad serves several purposes, including quicker facilitation in the replacement of your passport if lost or stolen while abroad. Further, it allows the Embassy to contact you should the need arise in an emergency. The address and contact information for the U.S. Embassy abroad can be found at the end of the Consular Information Sheet (check your Saint Joseph’s pre-departure packet) and on the U.S. Department of State website of U.S. Embassies and Consulates: http://usembassy.state.gov/. The State Department also provides a free smart-phone application that you should consider downloading.
Drugs and Alcohol Abroad
When traveling overseas, it's important to obey the laws and regulations of the country you're visiting, especially those pertaining to drug and alcohol use. Every year, many American students are arrested abroad on drug charges or because of their behavior under the influence. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, so be informed.
Avoid underage and excessive alcohol consumption. Many arrests, accidents, and other violent crimes have occurred while under the influence of alcohol. While abroad, driving under the influence and drinking on the street or on public transportation may be considered criminal activities by local authorities, as they would be in many places in the United States.
Don't accept packages from anyone. Some Americans think it's a good idea to take advantage of an offer for an all-expense paid vacation abroad in exchange for carrying a small package in their luggage. If you are caught, ignorance is no excuse. If the package contains illegal drugs or substances, the fact that you didn't know will not reduce the charges. You could miss your flight, your exams, or several years of your life during a stay behind bars.
Don't import, purchase, use, or have drugs in your possession. Drug charges can carry severe consequences, including imprisonment without bail for up to a year before a case is tried, physical abuse, and sentences ranging from fines and jail time, to years of hard labor. Some crimes even carry the penalty of death. Contraband or paraphernalia associated with illegal drug use can also get you in trouble. Furthermore, personal involvement or association with others involved with drugs of any kind will be considered misconduct abroad and is a violation of the Community Standards Agreement. The student may be subject to additional penalties in the United States including suspension or academic dismissal.
Every country has different values placed on alcohol and other drug use as well as the reasons and ways to consume. Educate yourself about the culture you are going to be immersed in and prepare yourself for the cultural differences. Learn the laws and cultural norms before you travel and remember, every Hawk must follow SJU policies and guidelines while abroad. For more information, visit www.sju.edu/wade.
Sometimes going abroad may amplify a condition. A student may not have adequate access to their prescription medication or mental health facilities. In addition, culture shock, language barriers, and homesickness can deepen isolation or depression.
Before traveling, create a workable plan for managing any known mental health issues while abroad. The availability and quality of mental health services differ widely from country to country. In many countries, students will find it difficult — and sometimes impossible — to find treatment for mental health conditions. With your health services provider or with a member of the SJU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) office, put together a workable mental health plan before you go overseas.
- If you have a medical or psychological condition that may require treatment while you are abroad, discuss this ahead of time with your doctor. Study abroad is a great opportunity to try new things but this is not the time to experiment with not taking your medicine or mixing alcohol with medicine.
- Research the social culture of your destination to learn about how mental health concerns are viewed. Attitudes toward mental health can greatly vary between countries.
- If currently receiving mental health services — including prescription medication — find out if those services and/or medication are available at your destination.
- Consider the support system you’ll have in place while abroad. If possible, know ahead of time who you can consult about your mental health while traveling.
If you are a young woman in a foreign country, even dressing modestly may not protect you against the unwelcome advances of strangers. Always try to stay with a group when exploring locally and avoid walking alone at night. In addition, don't feel the need to be overly polite if you are bothered by someone. While it may seem rude to be unfriendly to a stranger, creating boundaries to protect yourself is important. Use facial expressions, body language and a firm voice to fend off any unwanted attention.
Traveling through foreign lands gives you a unique opportunity to observe a rich tapestry of cultures and customs – which may include very different ideas about gender roles. Some countries have more conservative views about what constitutes appropriate female behavior. Remember, you're a visitor. Do some research on dress and social behaviors before you go, and respect the customs of the nation. You may not agree with all of the cultural practices you learn but you should abide by them while in that country.
In some countries, wearing the wrong clothes can get you arrested or lead to a dangerous situation. What you think is casual may actually be considered provocative or unacceptable in other cultures. Know before you go, and pack accordingly. On arrival, note what local women are wearing and try to follow their lead. Stay away from anything too revealing or tight. Don't wear excessive makeup, and keep jewelry to a minimum to avoid attracting attention. Any fashion statement you DO make should show consideration for the country you are visiting.
Sexual violence is an important safety issue to consider in all your travels. You should be as informed as possible prior to your departure from the U.S.
Sexual violence can happen at home or abroad. Being a victim of sexual assault is difficult, but it can seem particularly so if you are far from home in a culture with which you are not familiar. If you have been a victim of sexual assault, you have been through an experience that may have been very frightening. During the days or weeks following an assault, you may experience some feelings that are unfamiliar to you. Some feelings that others have experienced and that you may also experience include anger, isolation, anxiety, fear and depression. You may also find eating and sleeping difficult. You may have “aches and pains” throughout your body and feel as though you have no energy. At times, you may feel out of control with your emotions. Although this may be difficult for you to accept, understand that these feelings are normal for someone who has been through a trying experience. They may lessen in time.
No matter where you are in the world, if you or someone you know who has experienced a sexual assault, there is help available to you and to them. Saint Joseph’s University offers a wide array of confidential resources to help students who have experienced a sexual assault, and the Center for International Programs (CIP) staff has been trained to assist you in receiving the help you need at your study abroad location. If the allegation of sexual assault involves another Saint Joseph’s University student or students, or a faculty or staff member, the University will conduct its own investigation and take appropriate and immediate action to address the circumstances presented and stop the alleged conduct from occurring again. If you would like more information or to talk with someone while you are abroad, please contact the Saint Joseph’s University Counseling Center:
You could also utilize the services of RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. They have a toll free, 24/7 hotline for sexual assault counseling and referrals: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), http://www.rainn.org.
In addition, all those traveling abroad should be familiar with the University’s sexual offenses and sexual harassment policies located in the SJU Handbooks:
Administrative, Professional and Staff: http://www.sju.edu/int/resources/humanresources/Wellness.html
You may not be considered an ethnic or religious majority in the United States, but by going abroad you may become a minority. In some cases, your outward appearance can also make you stand out, especially if the country’s population is very homogeneous. Sometimes the locals’ curiosity, interest, ignorance or misunderstanding of you can be unpleasant. They may ask what you consider insensitive questions about your cultural heritage, physical features, or national origins. There may even be people who are eager to touch your hair or skin. (This is especially true with children.)
If you find yourself in such a situation, try to distinguish between a person who is genuinely curious about you and your culture and someone who has bad intentions. If a comment or action offends you, try to be tactful with your response, or if you are very upset, leave the situation. Always remember to put your safety first.
Before going abroad, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:
- How is my ethnic group perceived in my host country? What kinds of stereotypes are there?
- Am I used to being a part of the majority at home but will be a minority abroad? Or vice versa?
- Will there be other minority students on my program?
- How should/will I react if something offends me?
- Who will I contact if I do face racial or discriminatory incidents?
Tips for Positive Race Relations Abroad:
- Read about your host country’s racial and ethnic history, as well as their current attitudes towards people of different ethnicities. You might also want to research the topic of immigration, depending on your destination.
- Be aware that people may generalize or incorrectly identify your ethnicity.
- Talk to other students who have studied abroad, particularly if you are a student of color. Learn more about their experiences and ask for their advice.
- The more you integrate with the culture of your host country, the less you’ll stand out. But your skin, hair, or other features may still attract attention.
- Build a support network among other study abroad students so that if you do face racial or discriminatory incidents, you’ll have support to deal with it.
- Be prepared if an incident does arise, but don’t go abroad expecting racism or discrimination.
As always, you have many resources available to help support you when you travel abroad. At any time before, during or after your international experience, you are welcome to contact the CIP by phone or e-mail. We are ready to help put you in touch with resources and staff that can address any concerns you may have.
LGBTQ Students Abroad
Attitudes and tolerance toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) persons vary from country to country, just as they vary among U.S. cities and states. Some countries offer many legal protections to those who are LGBTQ, while other countries criminalize homosexual behavior. Depending on where you go, openly expressing your sexuality may put your safety at risk. If you will be living with a home stay, it’s a good idea to discuss with the Study Abroad Advisor whether or not you should come out to your host family.
Most LGBTQ travelers encounter no problems when overseas, but it helps to prepare before you go. As soon as you are accepted into your program, find out what kinds of legal rights LGBTQ persons have in your host country. You’ll also want to research what kinds of behavior are appropriate for friendship and dating. Two people of the same gender kissing or holding hands often has a different meaning abroad than it does in the U.S.
No matter where you go, you will encounter different ideologies and will have to adapt to different customs while you are abroad. Some students find it is necessary to hide their sexual orientation for safety reasons, while others feel free to express their sexual identity openly. In addition, discussing sexuality is taboo in some cultures, while in others it is acceptable.
Become informed and be aware of the attitudes, customs, and laws of your host country. You can do some research on the internet, but LGBTQ travel guides generally provide excellent country by country advice. It’s also worth checking for local gay newspapers or websites to obtain more information. After all, no one understands the local attitudes better than those who live there. Keep this information in mind so you can have a safe and rewarding experience abroad.
Must Ask Questions for LGBTQ Students:
- What are the laws regarding sexual orientation in my host country?
- Is it safe for me to be out when I’m abroad? Should I come out to my host family?
- What are the cultural norms for dating and friendship?
- What kinds of LGBTQ resources are there in my host country?
- What is the LGBTQ population like in my host country? How visible and large is it? How do they dress, behave, etc.?
Tips for LGBTQ Students:
- Research the terms and definitions used in your host country to talk about LGBTQ issues.
- Put your safety first. If necessary, use discretion.
- When traveling outside of your program, check for LGBTQ or “gay friendly” hotels and lodging. Some hotels won’t accept bookings from same sex couples – others actively seek LGBTQ bookings.
- Find a support network abroad.
- Be alert and try to avoid potentially unsafe environments. The general openness of LGBTQ settings can sometimes be taken advantage of by criminals. Look out for yourself and your friends, especially late at night.
- If you experience difficulties, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. There are consular officers available 24/7 at every embassy who provide emergency assistance to Americans.
Resources for LGBTQ Students:
- The U.S. Department of State’s webpage for LGBTQ
travelers: http://studentsabroad.state.gov/smarttravel/forlgbttravelers.php. (The State Department also publishes an
Annual Human Rights Report, which includes a section specifically
regarding sexual orientation and gender identity in each country.)
- NAFSA Rainbow Special Interest Group: provides information and resources on issues affecting undergraduate and graduate students studying abroad (http://overseas.iu.edu/lesbigay/student.htm)
- IGLHRC (International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission):
a leading international organization dedicated to human
rights advocacy (www.iglhrc.org)*
(International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association): provides information on gay rights around the world,
and contains a map which highlights potentially dangerous regions and
- Go Overseas: 9 Major Life Lessons Learned Studying Abroad as an LGBT: http://www.gooverseas.com/blog/what-i-learned-lgbt-studying-abroad *
*Please note that Saint Joseph’s University is not affiliated with these organizations.
Students with Documented Learning, Physical and Psychological Disabilities
If you have a learning, physical or psychological disability, please contact the Office of Student Educational Support Services (SESS) immediately after you receive your official study abroad acceptance notification from the Center for International Programs. The Director of SESS will then follow established protocols, which include obtaining appropriate documentation from your provider and consulting with you, the CIP, and, if needed, with the program provider or overseas University to discuss what types of reasonable accommodations might be available to you while participating in any University-sponsored travel abroad program.
With advanced planning and plenty of vigilance, your trip abroad can be safe and enjoyable. Here are some travel tips from the U.S. Department of State:
Before You Go
- First things first. Check with you doctor to make sure it is okay for you to travel.
- Thoroughly research your location(s) and its accessibility—wheel-chair ramps can be narrower, hotel bathrooms may not have safety bars, and crossing lights may not have a sound indicator. Accessibility laws vary from country to country, so it’s better to be prepared for what you may encounter before you go.
- Obtain a letter from your doctor on letterhead, explaining your need for any medical devices and medications. If possible, have this letter translated into the language used in the locations you will be visiting.
- Bring sufficient medications with you and be sure to pack extra quantities in your carry-on bag, just in case your checked luggage gets lost. Remember to keep it in its original container and clearly labeled. Check with the country’s local embassy to ensure it is legal for you to bring your medication into the country. Visit www.tsa.gov for current medication screening procedures.
- Make sure you have adequate medical insurance. Be prepared for the unexpected. Are you covered under your parents' policy or through the University’s plan? Now is a good time to find out if your current coverage covers you overseas. Consider supplemental insurance to fill in any gaps your current provider misses. And be sure to read the fine print about pre-existing conditions.
- If you’re planning to travel to another country with a service animal, start the necessary documentation early. The amount of paperwork involved in bringing an animal into some countries can be voluminous and processing can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year to process! Be sure to contact the nearest embassy or consulate of the country you will be visiting to find out their specific requirements (some countries may require the implantation of an identifying microchip into your service animal). Ask your doctor to write a letter explaining your need for a service animal and ask your veterinarian to provide health and rabies certificates and to document the animal’s vaccinations are all up-to-date. Also, research how to obtain medical care for your animal abroad.
- Since many countries use 220-volt electricity (as opposed to 110 required by most U.S. appliances), you may need to purchase a "converter" or a "transformer" to be able to use your medical devices or equipment. Check with your manufacturer to find out what will work best for your devices.
- Create a list of the names and numbers of nearby medical facilities.
- Join disability organizations and support groups located at your destination to create a support system to help you with the transition of living in another country. The Mobility International website (http://www.miusa.org/) is a good place to start!
- Learn how to say and/or write simple phrases in the language spoken at your destination explaining your disability and how to ask for or reject help. (“Thank you. Can you help me cross the street?”)
- Before you book your flights, contact the airline early to confirm that your medical equipment (ventilator, wheelchair, etc.) meets the airline’s regulations and obtain copies of the airline’s policies on the rights of passengers with disabilities. Ask plenty of questions such as, “Will I be required to purchase a second seat for my medical equipment” and “Is the airplane bathroom wheelchair accessible?”
- Do you require oxygen service? Currently, passengers are not allowed to bring their own oxygen canisters aboard for use during flights, and legally, airlines are not required to provide oxygen service. Find out in advance about your airline’s procedures for allowing oxygen suppliers to meet you at the arrival gate.
- Whether you require a wheelchair or a sight-guide, you can request assistance at your airline’s check-in to help you maneuver through the airport and to make your travel experience easier.
- Know your rights when going through airport security screening both here and abroad. For example, the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) limit of one carry-on bag and one personal bag does not apply to medical supplies and devices for assistance. Review the current TSA policies as they relate to disabilities.
- It’s a good idea to carry a Pacemaker Identification Card (ID) when going through airport security. Do NOT walk through the metal detector or be hand-wanded. Show the Security Officer your pacemaker ID ahead of time and request a pat-down inspection.
- Normally, oxygen sources are temporarily disconnected during security screening. If you are not medically cleared to be disconnected or if you have concerns, ask the Security Officer for an alternate inspection process so you can remain connected.
- If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask airline or airport personnel. Be assertive and specific!
- Each day, be sure to pack everything you’ll need while you’re away from your lodging for the day. Be sure to bring back-up supplies in case of emergencies.
- On a periodic basis, reach out to your support group of friends, family, faculty, officials, and locals to help ease any culture shock or homesickness you may experience.
- If you take medication or use other supplies, keep up with your schedule, and take inventory often to make sure you’re not running low. Study abroad is a great opportunity to try new things, but this is not the time to experiment with not taking your medications or mixing alcohol with medicine.
- Familiarize yourself with your lodging’s fire escape procedures and where you might be safest in the event of an earthquake or tornado. Keep a working flashlight near your bedside.
If you choose to drive abroad, this is one time you want to make sure you stay "on the beaten path." It is estimated that more than 200 U.S. citizens die each year because of road accidents abroad. It is important to be aware of the rules of the road in the country you’re visiting.
First thing’s first. If you choose to drive while abroad, make sure you obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you go. Many countries don’t recognize U.S. driver's licenses, but IDPs are honored in more than 150 countries outside the U.S. An IDP is not intended to replace a valid U.S. State license and should only be used as a supplement to a valid license. By the way, IDPs are not valid in your home country and you must be 18 to get one.
Before departure, you can obtain an IDP at a local office of one of the two automobile associations authorized by the U.S. Department of State: the American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance.
Once you have your International Driving Permit, you’re going to need insurance. Car rental companies worldwide usually provide auto insurance, but in some countries, the required coverage is minimal. When renting a car overseas, it is highly recommended that you consider purchasing insurance coverage that is at least equivalent to that which you carry at home.
Generally, your U.S. auto insurance does not cover you abroad. However, your policy may apply when you drive to countries neighboring the United States. Check with your insurer to see if your policy covers you in Canada, Mexico, or countries south of Mexico. Even if your policy is valid in one of these countries, it may not meet that country's minimum requirements.
Here are some quick tips to make your driving experience abroad, an easy ride:
- Obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you go abroad.
- Carry both your IDP, and your State driver's license, with you at all times, and know the country's rules before you get behind the wheel. Information may be available from the foreign embassy in the United States, foreign government tourism offices, or from a car rental company in the foreign country.
- Always "buckle up." Some countries have penalties for people who violate this law.
- Many countries require you to honk your horn before going around a sharp corner or to flash your lights before passing.
- Before you start your journey, find out who has the right of way in a traffic circle.
- If you rent a car, make sure you have liability insurance. If you do not, this could lead to financial disaster.
- If the drivers in the country you are visiting drive on the opposite side of the road than in the U.S., it may be prudent to practice driving in a less populated area before attempting to drive in heavy traffic.
- Always know the route you will be traveling. Have a copy of a good road map, and chart your course before beginning.
- Do not pick up hitchhikers or strangers, and when entering existing your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants. Doing so can have severe criminal penalties in other countries.
In many countries you can be detained for photographing security-related institutions, such things as police and military installations, government buildings, border areas and transportation facilities. If you are in doubt, ask permission before taking photographs.
Americans have been arrested for purchasing souvenirs that were, or looked like, antiques and which local customs authorities believed were national treasures. This is especially true in Turkey, Egypt and Mexico. Familiarize yourself with any local regulations of antiques. In countries with strict control of antiques, document your purchases as reproductions if that is the case, or if they are authentic, secure the necessary export permit (often from the national museum). It is a good idea to inquire about exporting these items before you purchase them.
Terrorist acts occur unpredictably, making it impossible to protect yourself absolutely. The first and best protection is to avoid travel to areas where there has been a persistent record of terrorist attacks or kidnappings.
Most terrorist attacks are the result of careful planning. Just as a car thief will first be attracted to an unlocked car with the key in the ignition, terrorists are looking for the most accessible targets. The chances that a tourist, traveling with an unpublished program or itinerary, would be the victim of terrorism are slight. In addition, many terrorists groups, seeking publicity for political causes within their own country or region, may not be looking for American targets. Nevertheless, the following pointers may help you avoid becoming a target of opportunity. They should be considered as adjuncts to the tips listed in previous sections on how to protect yourself against the far greater likelihood of being a victim of crime. These precautions may provide some degree of protection, and can serve as practical and psychological deterrents to would-be terrorists.
- Schedule direct (no plane change or non-stop) flights if possible and avoid stops in high-risk airports or areas.
- Be cautious about what you discuss with strangers or what others may overhear.
- Try to minimize the time spent in the public area of an airport, which is a less protected area. Move quickly from the check-in counter to the secured areas. Upon arrival, leave the airport as soon as possible
- As much as possible, avoid luggage tags, dress and behavior that may identify you as an American.
- Keep an eye out for abandoned packages or briefcases, or other suspicious items. Report them to airport authorities and leave the area promptly.
- Avoid obvious terrorist targets such as places where Americans and Westerners are known to congregate.
Travel to High Risk Areas
If you must travel in an area where there has been a history of terrorist’s attacks or kidnappings, make a habit to:
- Discuss with your family what they would do in the event of an emergency. Make sure your affairs are in order before leaving home.
- As noted earlier, it’s a good idea to register your travel with the Department of State. This may be accomplished online at https://travelregistration.state.gov. Registration will make it easier to contact you in case of an emergency.
- 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.
- Remain friendly but be cautious about discussing personal matters or your itinerary.
- Leave no personal or business papers in your hotel room.
- Watch for people following you or “loiterers” observing your comings and goings.
- Keep mental note of safe havens, such as police stations, hotels, and hospitals. Formulate a plan of action for what you will do if a bomb explodes or there is gunfire nearby.
- Let someone else know what your travel plans are. Keep them informed if you change your plans.
- Report any suspicious activity to local police, and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
- Select your own taxicabs at random. Don’t take a vehicle that is not clearly identified as a taxi. Compare the face of the driver with the one on his or her posted license.
- If possible, travel with others.
- Be sure of the identity of visitors before opening the door of your hotel room. Don’t meet strangers at your hotel room, or at unknown or remote locations.
- Refuse unexpected packages. Check for loose wires or other suspicious activity around your car.
- Be sure your vehicle is in good operating condition.
- Drive with car windows closed in crowded streets. Bombs can be thrown through open windows.
- If you are ever in a situation where somebody starts shooting, drop to the floor or get down low as possible. Don’t move until you are sure the danger has passed. Do not attempt to help rescuers and do not pick up a weapon. If possible, shield yourself behind a solid object. If you must move, crawl on your stomach.
Resources for Victims of Crime
When a U.S. citizen becomes the victim of a crime overseas he or she may suffer physical, emotional, or financial injuries. The emotional impact of the crime may be intensified if the victim is in unfamiliar surroundings, far away from sources of comfort and support, and not fluent in the local language or knowledgeable about local laws and customs.
If you become the victim
of a crime overseas, please immediately report
the incident to the local police and get help (medical if needed). It is recommended that you request a copy of
the police report for your records.
After contacting the necessary police or medical authorities, your next point of contact should be your on-site program coordinator, resident director, or you can use the 24-hour emergency phone number provided to you (usually during the on-site orientation). Since these individuals are located with you in the host country, they will be able to address the problem, help you navigate the potential differences in emergency procedures and resolve any issues as quickly as possible.
Finally, utilize the services of the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Consular offices are available for emergency assistance 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. Contact information for all U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas can be found at http://www.usembassy.gov/. While consular officials cannot investigate a crime, provide legal advice, represent you in court, serve as official interpreters or translators, or pay legal, medical, or other fees for U.S. citizens, they can assist crime victims in many other ways. Consular personnel overseas are familiar with local government agencies and resources in the countries in which they are located, and they can help you:
- replace a stolen passport
- contact family, friends, or employers
- obtain appropriate medical care
- address emergency needs that arise as a result of the crime
- obtain general information about the local criminal justice process and information about your case
- obtain information about local resources to assist victims, including foreign crime victim compensation programs
- obtain information about crime victim assistance and compensation programs in the U.S.
- obtain a list of local attorneys who speak