The health and safety of students on study abroad programs is Davidson’s top priority, and students should prepare in advance to know what to do in case of emergencies. All travel poses some degree of risk. Therefore, the College requires all students to complete pre-departure materials that are included in the online application portal as well as attend a pre-departure session hosted by the Office of Education Abroad or their partner program. Please review the information below carefully to learn more about maintaining your well-being while abroad.
Take the time to understand your program’s safety and security practices and ask questions if a detail is unclear. The information provided to you in pre-departure and on-site orientation is meant to give you the tools to protect yourself and know where to go for help in the event of an emergency, and it is vital you take these sessions seriously.
In the event of an emergency, please notify the local director of your study abroad program as soon as possible. If you need to reach a Davidson College Education Abroad staff member, call +1-704-894-2250 and follow instructions.
- Share concerns about personal matters such as health conditions, medications, ethnicity, religion, and security, such as questions about women traveling alone and LGBTQIA+ safety abroad.
- Know the specific details of your program site, including current security and health situations, safe transportation means, the location of local hospitals and embassies and the phone numbers for the police, fire, and medical emergency services in your host city.
- Share contact information about your program, including phone numbers and addresses, with parents and family.
- Review the U.S. Department of State country-specific information for your host country, which includes information on local laws, crime, medical considerations, and other risks to look out for, including methanol poisoning. Remember that you will be subject to their laws, not the laws of the United States.
- Research the cultural norms, typical lifestyle, shared values, traditions and current events of your host culture.
- Resources such as Google Maps and travel guides allow you to learn about your host country, host city, and your neighborhood. The more you familiarize yourself with the local spots, the more confident you will be as you adjust to your new environment, and the safer you will be.
- Carry emergency contact information, your insurance card, and a copy of your passport at all times. Leave your actual passport in a secure place in your "home" unless traveling to another country.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times and trust your instincts – if it does not feel right, it probably is not.
- Pickpocketing is rampant in many cities, especially in areas that attract tourists and on public transportation; be aware of and discretely prevent access to your backpack, purse, wallet, and phone.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry and bringing valuables with you. If you do choose to carry items such as digital cameras, phones, or laptops, be sure to be discrete and not flaunt them or let them hang out of your bag while in public.
- Avoid public demonstrations. Even calm gatherings can quickly turn violent.
- If you are going out of town, follow your program’s procedure for letting local staff know of your travel plans.
- Do not go out alone, especially at night.
- Stay away from risky behavior:
- If you are of legal drinking age, use alcohol in moderation. Excessive drunkenness is not only socially unacceptable in many countries but could also have serious consequences such as arrest or removal from your program.
- Avoid illegal substances.
- If sexually active, do not engage in unprotected sex. It is advisable to bring contraception from home.
- Be aware of the dangers of methanol poisoning and learn how to protect yourself.
How you choose to socialize at Davidson College or in the United States may not be safe or appropriate in your host country. The risk of rape and sexual assault are greatly increased when traveling to an unfamiliar environment. Protecting your safety as well as that of your friends should always remain a priority. Students of all genders should be aware of and observe the host culture norms for appropriate dress, dance styles, and dating, especially if you choose to participate in your host country's nightlife.
Staying with a buddy is advisable for everyone. As friendly as people may seem, don't go home with anyone you have just met. Keep a close eye on food and drinks and be wary of accepting food or drinks from people you do not know, as they could include date rape drugs. Always carry enough currency to get home safely and keep the number of a safe and reliable transportation service with you.
Keep in mind that you will stand out due to a lack of familiarity with the local culture, and this puts you at a higher risk, especially if you have been drinking. Think back to everything you learned about sexual safety during college orientation. All of that information is extremely relevant as you enter a foreign environment.
SEXUAL ASSAULT AND RAPE
Regardless of the cultural norms of your host country, sexual violence is an act of power that no one deserves and that can happen to anybody. No matter how it started or how long the relationship existed (or didn’t exist) or how incapacitated you may have been, it is a non-consenting act, a crime. It is important to tell someone whom you trust and who believes you completely or contact the Pathways to Safety International hotline for survivors. It is advised to seek medical attention to check for injury and to test for sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy (if applicable). Pathways specializes in prevention and response to American victims of sexual assault overseas, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or geographic location. Case managers provide an informed, culturally-sensitive, compassionate response, as well as advocacy and assistance navigating medical, law enforcement, and legal options. The program can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from overseas by calling an international toll free hotline, 833-723-3833, via the AT&T Direct Access code for each country or by email via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Depending on the country, you may decide to talk to the police or take legal action. Take time to learn about the laws in your host country before you depart. Sexual assault and rape are traumatic experiences from which it may take a long time to heal and recover. Common effects of sexual assault include flashbacks, PTSD, and depression, but it is important to recognize that survivors are not alone and that support is readily available. While abroad, and after you return, reach out to people you trust and seek out resources for care and counseling.
- To reach a Davidson Education Abroad staff member, call +1-704-894-2250 and follow the instructions.
- EIIA – Davidson College’s emergency international travel assistant insurance
- U.S. Department of State – U.S. Students Abroad
- U.S. Department of State Country-Specific Information
- Pathways to Safety International specializes in prevention and response to American victims of sexual assault overseas and provide 24/7 assistance navigating medical, law enforcement and legal options.
- RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization and services include sexual assault survivor hotline and safety tips for international travelers.
- Picture This: Do's and Don'ts for Photography