Safety & Security
While Georgia Southern prioritizes our student's safety and security, it is ultimately the student's responsibility to research the culture and climate of their host country and ensure that they are aware of the laws and regulations of that community, as well as taking safety measures to protect themselves and their belongings. Students will be given a list of recommended safety procedures during their pre-departure orientation, but here are some important points to remember:
RESPONSIBILITIES AS A STUDY ABROAD PARTICIPANT
Keep in mind that study abroad programs impose inherent risks, and neither the University System of Georgia nor Georgia Southern can guarantee your safety or eliminate all potential risks. While every effort has been made to ensure your safety, the USG cannot monitor or control all activities and behaviors of participants nor can it assure U.S. standards in all situations. It is up to program participants to accept a higher level of responsibility for their behavior, safety, and actions. The decisions made by study abroad participants in their behavior and actions impact health and safety issues for themselves and other program participants. Just as program sponsors have a responsibility to program participants, participants themselves have several responsibilities related to participation and behavior while on the study abroad program.
- Be familiar with matters relating to health concerns, legal issues, safety, and political conditions in the host country or countries you will visit.
- Students have an obligation to prepare and participate fully in program orientations
- It is the student's responsibility to maintain adequate health insurance coverage while abroad
- The student must disclose personal information that may be necessary to ensure a safe and pleasant study abroad experience, and this may include providing accurate and complete physical and mental health information
- Students are required to comply with the program's terms of participation, codes of conduct, and emergency procedures, and should express any health or safety concerns that you may have to the program director
- Students should respect the rights and well being of others, and encourage others to behave in a similar manner
UPON ARRIVALNo matter how safe your campus and community appear to be, you should acquaint yourself with your new environment by reading information your home campus provides or that your host institution provides once you arrive on-site. Explore your new neighborhood and campus during the day and become familiar with areas around you before venturing out to explore your new neighborhood at night. Ask fellow students or staff members about risky areas you should avoid, especially those to avoid at night.
GENERAL SAFETY ADVICE
- Exercise the same precautions you would in any U.S. city; in unfamiliar surroundings, you may not be aware of safety issues.
- Always carry the address and telephone number of your new home with you and do not give out your name or address to unknown people
- Know where the nearest police station and hospital is and keep emergency numbers handy.
- When traveling alone, avoid a late-night arrival, especially if you have not made arrangements for lodging beforehand.
- Become familiar with common laws and customs of the host country, as well as sty informed about local and regional news
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Keep an eye on your luggage at all times
- Use money belts or concealed purse for passport, visa, money, and other important documents - avoid purses or bags if possible
- Take the same precautions you would at home, and follow your instincts- if something makes you uneasy, there is a reason.
'REGISTER' UPON ARRIVAL TO HOST COUNTRYSome countries require international students to "register" with the local police department. Your host coordinator will likely advise you if you need to do this. It is also a smart idea to register with the U.S. Consulate. Registering with the U.S. Consulate helps you to stay informed during times of crisis.
ENROLL IN STEPThe Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. All students traveling abroad are required to enroll in STEP.
What does STEP Do?
- Gives students access to important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
- Helps the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
- Helps family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency
LEGAL MATTERSThere are a number of common legal matters you should be aware of regardless of your host country. The most important thing to remember is that you, as a foreign visitor to your host country, are subject to the host country's laws and judicial systems. The American legal and judicial systems do not have any jurisdiction in foreign countries. Once travelers leave U.S. jurisdiction, U.S. laws or U.S. constitutional rights do not apply. Adhere to local laws strictly- don't assume that what is legal in the United States is also legal in other countries.
ILLEGAL DRUGSDO NOT travel with any illegal drugs. The U.S. government can assume no responsibility if you are arrested for drug use. Even in places where the use of drugs by local citizens is grudgingly accepted by authorities, foreign students are dealt with very differently from locals. You will jeopardize your experience abroad by taking such a risk. You may also be dismissed from your study abroad program if you are caught using drugs and you are still bound by the Georgia Southern code of conduct. If approached by someone selling drugs, walk away. Do not even talk to that person, because a conversation with a suspected narcotics dealer is seen as an act of intent to purchase in some countries. Penalties in most countries are much more severe than in the U.S., and the U.S. embassy will be powerless to intervene on your behalf. Legal systems and civil rights are vastly different in some countries; many countries do not offer the possibility of bail, a jury trial, or an English-speaking attorney. Learn the laws of the host country and obey them.
What U.S. Consular Officers CAN Do:
- Insofar as it is possible, ensure that the detainee's rights under local law are fully observed and that humane treatment is accorded under internationally accepted standards.
- Visit the U.S. citizen as soon as possible after the foreign government has notified the U.S. embassy/consulate of the arrest.
- Provide the detainee with a list of local attorneys from which to select defense counsel.
- Contact family and/or friends for financial or medical aid and food, if requested to do so by the detainee.
What U.S Consular Officers CANNOT Do:
- Demand the release of a U.S. citizen
- Represent the detainee at trial, give legal counsel, or pay legal fees or other related expenses with U.S. government funds.
- Intervene in a foreign country's court system or judicial process to obtain special treatment.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
If your signature will be needed for any official or legal document during your absence you should make arrangements for a "power of attorney" to be held by an appropriate person to act on your behalf. You can do this by writing out in detail the specific duties that the person you choose will execute. Take this to a notary and have it notarized.