While You’re Abroad…

A general rule of thumb is to use common sense and be as cautious as you would be in any large city in the United States. Be aware of your surroundings. Use a map to familiarize yourself with the layout of your host city and country. Take some time to learn the nearest metro stops and bus/trolley routes. Familiarize yourself with the local currency. Walk at your own pace, but look alert and purposeful. If you find yourself in uncomfortable surroundings, act like you know what you are doing and where you are going, and move to a place where you are comfortable.

A Few Suggestions

Do not leave your bags or belongings unattended at any time. Security staff in airports or train stations are instructed to remove or destroy any unattended luggage. Do not agree to carry or look after packages or suitcases for anyone. Make sure no one has placed anything in your luggage. Be as inconspicuous in dress and demeanor as possible. Downplay those elements of your appearance and manner that broadcast that you are American.

Use the buddy (or in the evening, small group) system, especially in the first few weeks of your stay. Walking with someone else helps to deflect approaches by would-be harassers.

Be careful how late you come home at night. Try to get home while public transportation is still running or plan to take a taxi.

Be careful to observe traffic lights. For those of you in countries where drivers drive on the left-hand side of the road, you will have to make an extra effort to check before crossing the street.

Local Transportation & Travel

While abroad, you should remember that public transportation is the way the great majority of local residents get around their towns and countries, so it should be a part of your experience as well. For that reason, and for reasons of economy, we strongly discourage students from renting automobiles or other motorized vehicles while abroad.

When riding a bike, always wear a helmet.

Going Out of Town?

Keep the Director(s) informed of your whereabouts. You must let the Director(s) and/or your host family or roommate know of any traveling you plan to do. This is so we can contact you in case of an emergency.

In Times of Political Conflict

Keep abreast of the current political situation by listening daily to the television or radio and by reading the newspaper. In the event of an emergency, advisories may be made to the general public through the media. In case of an emergency, remain in contact with the on-site staff or the American Consulate nearest you.

When in large cities and other popular tourist destinations, avoid or spend as little time as possible in potential target areas for terrorist activities, especially places frequented by Americans: bars, discos, and U.S. fast food restaurants; branches of American banks; American churches; and American consulates or embassies.


Boston University respects the laws of the countries in which we operate, and requires that our students do the same. Boston University will not prohibit a student from drinking alcoholic beverages if the student is of legal drinking age. However, it is the policy of Boston University to create a community that allows the student to take full, healthy advantage of the educational and personal opportunity offered by study abroad.

As part of a community, students share responsibility for the health and well-being of the group, and are held directly accountable for making informed and low-risk health decisions about their own consumption of alcohol. Students are responsible for compliance with the laws of the country where they choose to live and study, and are also expected to show prudence in all their behavior while abroad, including the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

All participants in Boston University programs are expected to understand and abide by the Code of Student Responsibilities as well as the special conditions and expectations that are conditions of participation in the University’s programs abroad.

Disruptive behavior resulting from alcohol abuse, violation of local law, or violation of Boston University policy is grounds for disciplinary action and possible dismissal from the program. Such behavior may also subject the student to prosecution under the local laws of the host country.

Advice Especially for Women

What may be appropriate or friendly behavior in the United States may bring you unwanted, even dangerous, attention in another culture. Try not to take offense at whistles and other gestures, regardless of whether they are compliments, invitations, or insults.

Realize these gestures are as much a part of the culture as its food, history, and language, but if your intuition tells you a situation is dangerous, then act as if it is. Be extra careful with giving your trust. This applies generally, but is especially important when traveling alone.