Student Safety Abroad
We understand that, as parents, the safety and well-being of your son or daughter is likely one of the most pressing concerns you have about their study abroad experience. Given their distance from home, staying safe is especially important during their time abroad. The Belmont Office of Study Abroad official policy is not to engage in any study abroad programs in areas under active State Department Travel Warnings—in some cases, this includes states or certain regions of a country (border states in Mexico being a perfect example), while in other cases the warning applies to entire countries. You can view all current travel warnings here.
While our study abroad offerings are extremely safe, we ask both you and your son or daughter to do your homework about safety in your study abroad location or locations. We have equipped students with essential safety skills and tips for their time abroad. While violent crime may be rare, there are many cities abroad that have rampant scams and pickpockets that prey on tourists, and cultural norms in some cities and countries warrant that female travelers take extra precautions when in public. Many of the skills listed there are to combat against pickpockets or sexual predators, and if you’d like to read more about those skills and tips, feel free to download our student handbooks. That said, we do wish to stress that your son or daughter will be extremely safe during their study abroad experience.
In Times of Political Unrest
Long term study abroad programs last for longer than you’d think, and while it is not common, it is absolutely possible to be in a country that has a rapidly deteriorating political climate. While we hope that your son or daughter will never have to use this information, here are some ways to handle this process, including ways that you can help:
Make sure your son or daughter notifies the nearest US Embassy or consulate of their travel in advance. This way, the embassy or consulate directly contact or assist them in the instance that a political situation becomes unsafe for American citizens.
Keep in touch with the current political situation by listening daily to the television, radio, or reading the newspaper. In case of an emergency, advisories may be made to the general public through the media. Please note, though, that protests are often highly localized and American media tend to sensationalize events; in some cases, tourists in foreign cities can stay there without having any knowledge that there are active protests underway nearby. If the political situation deteriorates into a true emergency to the point that we are uncomfortable having our students there, the Office of Study Abroad will coordinate with the US State Department to make any necessary arrangements.
While we will not send students on programs in areas with pre-existing political turmoil, we cannot control where students decide to go on their independent travel. As such, we encourage you to urge your son or daughter to keep away from countries or regions known to have a large concentration of residents with interests unfriendly to the United States or its allies, as their nationality may implicate them in conflicts between a country and a US ally.