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Health and Safety

National Security Education Program
David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarship
2004 Midwest Convocation
May 21, 2004

David Comp
The University of Chicago
Health and Safety Abroad
• War in Afghanistan
• War in Iraq
• War on Terror

 With everything happening in the world

today how do you identify and avoid risk
abroad when you are in an unfamiliar
country and everything is new?
Health and Safety Abroad
 U.S. Department of State,
Bureau of Consular Affairs

• Consular Information Sheets

• Public Announcements
• Travel Warnings
Health and Safety Abroad
 Protecting your documents
• Critical to safeguard passport, other forms of
identification, money, and health related
papers such as prescription and immunization
 Keep copies of documents with family or friends back
in the U.S.
 Keep additional copies with you while abroad but
separate from originals
 “Virtual Safe” - Scan documents as PDF or JPG
documents and send them as e-mail attachments to
Health and Safety Abroad

Remember that you are

representing the United
States while abroad

Your behavior abroad feeds the

perception others have of the U.S.
and how they react to you
Health and Safety Abroad

Learn about and be aware

of the cultural norms of
your host country and
remember that you are
a guest in the country.
Health and Safety Abroad
 Always understand and be aware of
your surroundings:
• Dress appropriately and according to the
customs of the local community.
• Find out what areas of your city or town
are less safe than others.
• Know where to get help in times of
• Do not touch suspicious items or open
unexpected letters or packages.
Health and Safety Abroad
 Understanding and Awareness of your
surroundings (continued)
• Report to authorities any suspicious people
loitering around residences, instructional
facilities or following you.
• Keep your doors locked when you are home.
• Use common sense when divulging to
strangers what you are doing in the county and
where you live.
• Avoid political demonstrations.
Health and Safety Abroad
Students who are gay, lesbian,
bisexual, transgender, or
questioning should learn
about the local culture and
scene and how homosexuality
is viewed in your host
Health and Safety Abroad
 Safety issues for women:
• Think about your beliefs and your own
cultural background and how these may
compare to the majority viewpoints of
the country in which you’ll be studying

• Learn about basic safety and self-

defense techniques, from what to pack
to what to do in worst-case scenarios
Health and Safety Abroad
 Safety issues for women (Continued)

• Consider your beliefs about issues which affect

women, and be able to articulate them if you
choose to engage in discussion with local

• Think about ways to deal with intercultural

frustrations relating to gender and/or being a
woman overseas, including your response to
people’s possible stereotypes of you as an
American woman abroad
 Safety and Study Abroad: For Women Only, Northwestern Univeristy Study
Abroad Office,
Health and Safety Abroad
 Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, National Center for
Infectious Diseases

 World Health Organization

Health and Safety Abroad
 Sanitary and health conditions vary
greatly around the world.

 Food and Drink

• Boil it, Cook it, Peel it, or Forget it!
Health and Safety Abroad
 HIV/AIDS and STD’s

• Many countries have a very high rate of

HIV/AIDS and STD’s which are mostly
passed heterosexually.

• Important to apply what you’ve learned

to your sexual behavior abroad.
Health and Safety Abroad
• According to the WHO:
 As of April 22nd 2004, there have been nine
confirmed cases of SARS in China.
 A total of 8,098 people worldwide became

sick with SARS during the 2003 outbreak. Of

these, 774 died.
• According to the CDC:
 The United States had 9,858 reported cases
of the West Nile Virus with 262 confirmed
Health and Safety Abroad
Identify your instincts, and
learn to pay attention to
them and trust them. Take
responsibility for your own
health and safety as this will
be one of the best
educational experiences of
your life.
Health and Safety Abroad
 Safe Travels!

David Comp
Assistant Director
Office of International Affairs
The University of Chicago