Northeastern University has resources to ensure students’ safety, such as NUPD, the SafeZone app, and UHCS. But, who do you contact if you experience a health or safety issue while abroad? These are important considerations prior to your departure.
Your main resource for safety while abroad will be the International Safety Office (ISO). You should utilize this office as much as you can prior to traveling abroad. ISO provides one-on-one travel consultations, especially for those going to high risk destinations. In these one-on-one consultations, ISO will be able to discuss health, safety, and security concerns prior to your departure, including reviewing itineraries, creating custom maps, identifying key services in your destination, and developing emergency and communication plans. Additionally, NUPD, ISO and the university’s response vendor, iJet WorldAware, can provide a neighborhood safety assessment as you search for housing.
The International Safety Office also aims to monitor global events, assess the potential impact to Northeastern travelers, communicate effectively with the Northeastern community, and respond to international emergencies. Visit their website to learn more about these services, and what resources ISO offers for students abroad, including best contact numbers for both emergencies and non-emergencies.
Preparedness and Research
The International Safety Office requires all students to enter their travel itineraries and housing accommodations into “My Travel Plans” on myNortheastern. This requirement provides the university with up-to-date information on the traveler’s current and future location. The information is used to alert travelers of unanticipated events or conditions, which may create trip disruptions. In addition, the registry data enables on-campus resources and external support providers to better assist students, faculty, and staff obtain medical or security services. To register your travel plans into “My Travel Plans,” follow these instructions.
Additionally, utilize the free online resources available to you prior to your departure that can teach you about health and safety in the country you’re traveling to. GlobeSmart has “Culture Guides” that allow you to research the country extensively beforehand. Particularly, under the “Travel” section of these Culture Guides, the “Safety” and “Health” sections convey helpful information, such as local emergency numbers for medical, fire, or police help.
Before securing your housing, it’s a good idea to obtain as much information as possible from the housing provider, such as:
- • Safety or incident reports related to the housing
- • If the housing provider knows of any Northeastern (or other university) students who have lived there recently and their contact information
- • A list of what is included and not included in the accommodations
- • Safety features of the accommodations
- • The cancellation policy or deadline
- • Verification and reviews
If you plan to stay with a host family through a homestay, ask which members of the host family will be staying overnight at the residence and if other students will be residing there.
In general, the following safety tips are important to consider no matter where you are—in the United States or abroad.
- • Practice ride share safety when using Uber, Lyft, or other for-hire car/taxi services.
- • Know your neighbors.
- • If you decide to walk alone, especially at night, use well-lit, familiar streets.
- • Never take poorly lighted shortcuts through alleyways or wooded areas where someone may be hiding.
- • Be aware of your surroundings. Plan your route and walk with confidence. Avoid wearing earbuds or talking on the phone.
No matter where you are, it’s important to ensure your housing is safe and secure. Read the following tips to consider when you arrive at your housing abroad.
- • If your building has a security desk in the lobby of the building, introduce yourself. Ask about their hours, policies, or rules that the security team may enforce.
- • Check the door locks to make sure they are functioning properly.
- • Make sure your door has a deadbolt lock and a peephole.
- • Become familiar with how your door locks operate, and remember to keep your door locked at all times.
- • Whenever you leave your apartment, lock your door and take your keys.
- • If you have a sliding glass door, place a wooden rod in the door so it can’t be opened from the outside.
- • Immediately report all suspicious activity, strangers loitering in or near the building, or behavior by other residents or tenants that you feel presents a safety or security risk.
- • Make sure that you know who has the master keys. That is, who has access to your building.
- • The mailboxes should be locked.
- • Know who handles your maintenance (snow, trash, burned-out lights). Hazardous situations should be handled immediately.
- • Fire escapes are to be used for emergency exit use only.
Make sure your apartment is fire safe. Though there may be different laws and regulations governing fire safety in your destination, the tips below are important to consider anywhere. Do you have working smoke alarms and two ways out? Take these 3 steps towards safety today:
- Watch the #BestRoommatesEvah video here. Review fire safety tips and share with your friends and roommates.
- Check your apartment using the Off Campus Housing Fire Safety Checklist.
- Follow @campusfirewatch for a Fire Safety Tip each day!
Fire Safety Resources
- • Boston Fire Safety Website
- • NFPA Fire Safety Checklist
- • Avoid cooking fires with these safe cooking guidelines.
Protecting your personal belongings
When going abroad, it’s a good idea to protect your belongings. Even though you may have renter’s insurance now to cover your belongings here in the United States, check your policy to see if it covers your belongings abroad. If not, consider purchasing travel insurance that will protect your belongings, and yourself, while abroad. The International Safety Office outlines different types of insurance you should consider, and may be required to have, while abroad. Read up on these insurance requirements and recommendations here.
If your apartment and/or building does not allow you access to a rooftop or deck, respect this limitation. It is in place because those areas are not deemed safe for occupancy.