Stay Safe on Campus
Studying abroad can be an amazing experience that can enhance your education. During this exciting time it is important to remain aware of the risks surrounding you. You may be in a college campus community with your peers, but it is still a different environment. Regardless of where you are from and what country you are traveling to, there are necessary precautions that you must take:
- Use the buddy system when going out - This may sound lame, but it works. Always make sure a friend knows where you are going and when you are expected to return. Make sure there is at least one person whom you can trust when going out that can be responsible for getting everyone home safely.
- Watch your drink - Never put your drink down. Never allow someone you do not know pour you a drink. Never leave your drink unattended. If you leave your drink, do not return to it; get yourself a new one. You never know who may want to slip a drug into your drink.
- Watch how much you drink - Alcohol is the number one rape drug. In as many as 90% of sexual assault cases, the perpetrator, the victim or both have used alcohol. If someone is persistently making you drink, be cautious of the situation.
- Save Campus Police or Security numbers in your phone - This might be the most important number in your phone. Many campuses offer security escorts to any location on campus. If you are at the library late at night, and feel uncomfortable walking back to your dorm, do not hesitate to call campus security. They are there for your safety; never feel embarrassed to call them.
- Be aware of your surroundings - Be observant at all times, especially at night. If you see something suspicious, call campus security or 911. If you feel you are being followed, cross the street and change direction. If you are alone, walk in a well-lit area and be visible; wear bright colors. Do not use headphones. Make sure you are alert and walk with confidence.
- Always keep your doors locked - Even if you are expecting a guest, have your doors locked so no one else may enter freely; never prop doors open. When there is a knock on the door, be sure to identify the person before answering.
- Keep your valuables in a safe place - One of the largest campus crimes is theft. Never leave your personal belongings unattended. Only carry a small amount of cash and one credit card on you. When leaving your room, if only for a few minutes, be sure to lock your doors. It only takes a few seconds for someone to make you a victim of theft.
- Make copies of your visa, passport, or I-94 - Make copies of all important documents. Make sure to leave one set of copies at home in your country. While abroad, keep copies of the original locked away when you do not need them.
- Do not trust easily - Not all people can be trusted. Most sexual assaults are committed by acquaintances. Be cautious of over-friendly people.
One last thing to remember is to trust your instincts; if it feels wrong, it most likely is wrong. Remember your safety comes first. If at any time you have questions regarding your safety, contact your campus police. Everyone at your university is there to help you and make your experience more enjoyable. Your time abroad is supposed to be fun, exciting, and educational, and it can be, as long as you use caution in every situation. The above are suggestions to keep you safer. No one can truly prevent victimization 100%. Do what you can, but remember that if you are victimized, it is never your fault. Seek help and support from a hospital, local police, campus police, and the victim services agency where you are.