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How do I find a safe program to study abroad through in college?


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David’s Answer

This is a great question and an important for anyone to ask who does not have extensive international travel experience. First and foremost, the main factor for safety in study abroad is one's own personal behavior once you are at your location of study. As an international business traveler -- and parent of a college student that recently studied abroad -- I get gravely concerned at some of the behavior I have witnessed when I've run across some US students in other locations. Another important step is to find a program with a good reputation. Most associated with a well-known college or university would have a safety program. Some universities have their own campus locations abroad. There are even some universities abroad that have specific programs welcoming foreign students. My son studied at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan in such a program. It was in a very same smaller city, all courses (except Japanese) were conducted in English, and they mixed Japanese students with the visiting students from 56 other countries. The students who committed to this program were quite responsible on their own, but the University did an excellent job on making expectations clear and orienting students before and during their stay. Other than that, the key consideration would just be the safety of the location itself. Good luck in finding a great program that suits your interest and comfort level. I hope we all get to travel again soon and it is such an incredible way to learn.

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Lisette’s Answer

I would recommend checking out Goabroad.com or overseas.com. You can read first hand reviews. These are my favorite abroad websites. It’s like the YELP of abroad programs. Do you have a place in mind?


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Thiago’s Answer

Hi Anna,


You can also count with the help of non-for-profit organizations focused in study abroad programs, like IES Abroad, CIEE and others. They can provide you with all support you need during your experience. In some countries they have offices and a networking ready to welcome and help you out.


In terms of safety, I agree with Robert. Don't put yourself in a vulnerable situation and nothing bad will happen to you. Study abroad is an unique experience that will change your life forever - don't let any fear hold you back!


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Robert’s Answer

Hi Anna. Most colleges/universities have established exchange student/study abroad programs. As such, most have security protocols and risk management policies in place to increase the safety of students. If you get into an international program and travel- certainly follow the advice and guidelines provided....even if they sound silly or like basic common sense. I have heard first-hand how incredible the study abroad experience can be. Unfortunately, I have also heard first-hand some horror stories of how some US exchange students got mixed up in some dangerous situations. To be honest though, those were the result of them leaving common sense behind and ignoring the safety protocols. (i.e. One went out drinking at a bar alone, another walking by herself in the middle of the night in a seedy part of a huge city).


Overall, participating in a study abroad can be an amazing experience, just understand where you are at, and be smart about the simple things to avoid potential dangers.

Best of luck!

-rbt


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Allison’s Answer

Studying abroad can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life if you plan ahead and stay aware of your surroundings. I would talk to your study abroad office to see if there are students from prior years you could talk to in order to assess their comfort level while they were there. I would try to find someone who is your same gender, staying in the same type of environment (homestay, dorms, etc.), and location.

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