University of Delaware

Institute for Global Studies

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90th Anniversary Study Abroad


Over 1400 students study abroad through UD annually. It's important for these students to be as prepared as possible. If there's specific information you would like to see, feel free to contact us; we welcome additional suggestions.


Know Before You Go

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What should you pack? What method of payment should you plan to use to buy meals and souvenirs? How can you look after yourself and your classmates while abroad?

Most study abroad programs go smoothly, and we hope that yours will too. To help ensure that, we suggest using this for general reference and for understanding the importance of personal health, safety, and what to do in an emergency.



Promoting Your Personal Safety

Before you leave for your program, it's important to know site-specific precautions. Your faculty director will share those at pre-departure meetings. Don't forget - you'll be in a place and culture that is not your own. It's important to be mindful of how you prepare and conduct yourself.


Contact Information

  • Know where the nearest U.S. embassy/consulate is.
  • Know how to reach your faculty director(s) 24 hours a day in case of emergency.
  • Make sure you have contact information for other students on your program.
  • If you are going to be away overnight, provide your faculty director(s) with the appropriate contact information and location of where you'll be.
  • In non-English-speaking countries, it is advisable to have a pocket language book that contains basic phrases that you may need. This will be invaluable if you need to ask for help (police, hospital, doctor).
  • Know where to go for help - names/locations of hospitals, clinics, and police stations locally.


Street safety

  • Don't congregate with groups of Americans or spend time in restaurants and bars that are known to be frequented primarily by Americans (this has a negative effect on integration with people from the host country in any case).
  • Drug and alcohol use are discouraged - they increase your risks, from a safety perspective.
  • Avoid wearing clothing that announces, "I am an American!" This might include baseball caps, clothing with designer or athletic logos or American flags. Make students aware of local norms of dress.
  • Be careful about sharing program-related information with strangers (destinations and dates of excursions; names, addresses and phone numbers of host families).
  • Carry your records apart from your money.


Safety gear that you might consider buying includes:

  • A money belt/pouch that allows enough room for all of your necessaries and can be worn close to the body and under clothing.
  • Purse with thick straps.
  • A "dummy" wallet or coin purse.
  • A few passport-sized photos of yourself, especially if you'll be buying transportation passes, student identification, etc., or if you need to replace your passport.
  • A calling card.
  • A padlock and bicycle cable may be just enough extra insurance to make sure that luggage doesn't "walk away"; small padlocks are great for baggage zippers.


Sexual Assault Prevention

Rape is a risk everywhere, in some places more than others. Find out how problematic sexual assault is in the areas to which you will travel, and try to understand the known degree of risk. You can talk to people who have lived in the destination (ask your coordinator to help put you in touch with someone, if you don't already know someone there).

All students and faculty (especially women) should be aware of what they can do to reduce their own risk, have a realistic appreciation of the occurrence of sexual assault in the destination country and know what the University's policies are on aiding students who have been sexually assaulted.


    • Travel with other people and to watch out for one another.
  • Carry a whistle of some sort.
  • Pepper sprays may be unavailable or illegal in some destinations.
  • Observe local norms of dress (covering the legs or head, for example) and behavior.
  • Be aware that not everyone's intentions are pure-no matter how much fun it may be to flirt with someone from another country.
  • Familiarize yourself with phrases or gestures that may be interpreted as signaling sexual availability.
  • Do not accept a drink from a stranger.
  • Alcohol will impair your judgment and may make you an easy target.
  • In some places what Americans would consider sexually harassing behavior is considered normal, or even complimentary; if you know a woman who has traveled or lived in the destination country, ask her about male-female relations.
  • And - if you are assaulted - to get to a safe place and contact your faculty director(s). Local authorities, the Institute for Global Studies, and UD Public Safety should also be contacted as soon as possible.

It's important to know that even when abroad, you're covered by the University of Delaware's policies on sexual assault -- know what the University considers to be sexual assault and harassment (from UD's student handbook):

  • "XVIII. Sexual Assault
    Sexual assault is any unwanted non-consensual physical contact of a sexual nature, whether by an acquaintance or a stranger. Sexual assault can occur under physical force and/or coercion or when a person is physically or mentally unable to give consent. Sexual assault includes but is not limited to rape, forcible sodomy, forcible oral copulation, sexual assault with an object, sexual battery, and forcible fondling (i.e., unwanted touching or kissing of a sexual nature). The University of Delaware will not tolerate sexual assault and will adjudicate such acts of violence through the campus judicial system as well as encourage the accuser to pursue criminal and/or civil remedies."

  • "Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when 1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic advancement, 2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions or academic decisions affecting such individual, or 3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment. Student violations of the Sexual Harassment policy may include but are not limited to:
      • demand for sexual favors accompanied by threats or promises
      • persistent, unwelcome flirtation, requests for dates, advances or propositions of a sexual nature
      • unwanted touching such as patting, pinching, hugging or repeated brushing against an individual's body
      • repeated degrading or insulting comments that demean an individual's sexuality or sex
      • unwarranted displays of sexually suggestive objects or pictures sexual assault"

If inappropriate advances are being made by others on the program, both students and faculty are still covered by the school's code of sexual harassment, and the victim should report it to the faculty/resident director, or to:

Institute for Global Studies:
    From the U.S.: 1+ (302) 831-2852
    From abroad: (the country's exit code) + 1+ (302) 831-2852

Public Safety:
    From the U.S.: 1 + (302) 831-2222
    From abroad: (the country's exit code) + 1+ (302) 831-2222

The University takes sexual assault and harassment seriously. Per the student handbook: "The University of Delaware will not tolerate sexual assault and will adjudicate such acts of violence through the campus judicial system as well as encourage the accuser to pursue criminal and/or civil remedies".

A more difficult case of harassment is when the harasser is from the host culture, but isn't part of the program, and considers his/her behavior normal for his/her own culture. In many cultures, harassment (pinching women's bottoms, for example) *is* an everyday occurrence, and something that local women are accustomed to. However, you may consider this harassment and, by your cultural values, and University's definition, it is. Talk to your faculty director(s) about what preventative, culturally-appropriate measures you can take to respond.


Drug and Alcohol Use

Most U.S. colleges have drug and alcohol use/abuse issues on campus-and, by extension, directors should be prepared for these issues abroad. Talking with students about these issues ahead of time may prevent some problems while abroad.

Before they leave, students are required to complete an online orientation in which they agree to certain standards of conduct. A printable copy is available in our database (log in and follow the link to "student orientation"). Please review the agreement so you are aware of what students agree to. Specific expectations about drugs and alcohol include:

  • Not using, possessing or trafficking in illegal drugs
  • Abiding by the host country's laws governing the use of alcohol, and agreeing not to abuse alcohol
  • Abiding by all local and national laws in the host country/countries

In filling out the code of conduct agreement, students agree that if they're caught at any involvement with illegal drugs, and/or illegal alcohol use and abuse, they can be dismissed from the program-and sent home. It's wise to remind students of this.

It's important to provide relevant, current and specific information (both legal and locally normative) about drug and alcohol use in your destination country. If you don't know the information, find out. Tell students that:

  • If consumed at all, alcohol should always be consumed in moderation and in compliance with local and national laws.
  • Local laws about alcohol may differ from home. The host country may have a lower legal drinking age than the U.S., or no minimum age at all. Let students know what the situation is in the destination country.
  • Cultural attitudes surrounding alcohol use may differ from those at home. In other countries drunkenness, especially in public, may be considered disgraceful and can be cause for exclusion from clubs and sporting events (or even for arrest). Let students know what the local norms are.
  • They MUST avoid any possible involvement with drugs. Easy availability of drugs does not make their possession or use legal-and violating drug laws abroad can have potentially serious consequences. Laws in foreign countries are frequently and typically much stricter than in the U.S. for offenses involving illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia. The host country's law may presume an accused person guilty until proven innocent, rather than vice versa, as under U.S. law. In addition to the fact that University policy prohibits possession of illegal drugs and paraphernalia, students caught with these items can face deportation or imprisonment.

    Drug laws of course vary from country to country, but in many cases they are extremely severe, regardless of whether the drug in one's possession is for personal use or for sale to others. Bail is not granted for drug-trafficking cases in most countries. Pre-trial detention, often in solitary confinement, can last for months. Many countries do not provide a jury trial, and in many cases you need not even be present at your trial.

    If students are arrested for breaking the law in a foreign country, neither the University of Delaware, the faculty director, nor the U.S. Department of State can help. The laws of the host country prevail, without exception, in all situations.

Additional resources include:


Flight Safety

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues new guidelines and security protocols every day. Visit the FAA website for the most current information.

In addition, it always helps to observe common sense while at the airport and in the air:

  • Theft is frequent at airports. Keep an eye on your luggage, and don't leave anything important sticking out of a pocket. Lock luggage when you can.
  • NO MATTER WHAT, do not agree to watch a stranger's luggage, even for a minute, don't agree to carry packages for anyone, and make sure that no one but you puts anything in your luggage. (This goes for domestic and foreign train stations, too!)
  • If you spot a suspicious-looking package or piece of luggage, move away and report it to airport authorities immediately.
  • Pay attention to the safety lecture on the plane, and count the number of seat rows between you and the emergency exit (if the plane fills up with smoke, you can feel your way toward the emergency exit).


Personal Health

  • Carry proof of insurance (and a claim form, if possible). Know what your personal and HTH health insurance covers.
  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) provides medical reports on countries around the world; familiarize yourself with health information about your destination site.
  • Know about site-specific health/safety precautions that you can take. For example, in countries where people drive on the other side of the road, newcomers are often involved in pedestrian accidents - struck by a vehicle because they looked the wrong way when crossing a road. The same goes for local water, when some parts of town may have dubious reputations or other potential difficulties.
  • Given the grave physical consequences of contracting serious diseases, educate yourself as to transmission routes, appropriate preventive measures and, if necessary, treatments. Understand that the risks are not necessarily dramatically greater abroad, even in third world countries.
  • High-risk behavior is strongly discouraged during free time (bungee jumping, driving a vehicle, hitchhiking, etc.).
  • If you have a delicate medical condition (e.g. diabetes, peanut allergy) consider sharing this with others in your group. They may be more equipped to help you if something happens.
  • The quality of medications and contraceptives in your host country may differ from that of the U.S. - chemical compositions and brand names may be different. Consider making your purchases before departure.


  • Institute for Global Studies  •   Elliott Hall, 26 East Main Street  •   Newark, DE 19716  •   USA
    Phone: (302) 831-2852  •   Fax: (302) 831-6042  •   © 2013