When you're abroad
Whilst you are abroad there are still certain actions you need to take. SSiD outline the processes and times that they need to happen here.
It may take time to settle into a new environment and cultural differences in your host country can seem very different at first, this is very normal. Our handbook offers advice and tips on helping deal with some of these issues.
Getting in touch
If you have any queries or problems of an academic nature whilst you are abroad, your first point of contact should be your Sheffield departmental study abroad adviser. Make sure you have a note of their contact details before you go. Please bear in mind during busy times or vacation periods, an instant response may not always be possible. Try not to wait until the issue becomes very urgent before getting in touch. Please follow us through our social media channels to keep in touch and be aware of any key messages we may send to your email account.
Personal safety & emergency situations
Much of this comes down to common sense, and being alert to local circumstances, especially when they differ from what you are used to. However, below are some guidelines to help you to avoid finding yourself in a difficult situation:
- Check the Foreign Office advice on their website
- Don’t be afraid to change seats on a bus or train if someone makes you feel uncomfortable
- Don’t hitch a ride or get into a car with some who has been drinking
- The safest way to find accommodation is via personal contacts or university support
- Arrange to meet people in public places (bars, cafés) until you know them
- When you go out alone, let someone know where you’ve gone, and who with
- Only go back to someone’s flat or house if you feel absolutely safe with them
- Make sure you have enough cash for a taxi at the end of a night out
- If you wouldn’t normally do something at home, don’t do it!
All this said, it is important not to be paranoid. The greatest risks usually come from resisting opportunist grabs for personal property (phones,cameras, cash, etc.), valuables are always less valuable than your personal safety.
The majority of students experience a smooth and enjoyable period abroad and it is important not to be overly worried about potential dangers such as natural disasters, civil unrest or terrorist attacks. That said it is sensible to prepare yourself in case you do find yourself in an emergency situation. The advice below does not cover all potential scenarios but should be followed as general guidance for critical situations:
- Consult the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel and safety advice either online or via social media channels: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
- Set up email alerts so that you are automatically notified when the FCO advice on your host country is updated
- Follow any instructions issued by the local authorities and/or your host university/workplace
- Do not get involved in public protests or enter public spaces where there is evidence of civil unrest
- As soon as you are able to, and so long as it is safe to do so, let your immediate family know that you are safe.
- Memorise at least one of your closest relatives' phone numbers
- Enter an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact in your mobile phone or keep one in your wallet
- Check social media channels to see if there are any check in pages. A post on social media is also a quick way of letting your family and friends know you are safe.
- In the case of major incidents, a member of staff from the University of Sheffield will normally contact you to check on your welfare or an incident management web page may be set up, please check the website regularly.
- You must reply to any emails of this nature as quickly as possible so we know you are safe
- Should you need to contact the University of Sheffield urgently during evenings or weekends, please call our emergency number 00 44 114 2224085
- Find out and make a note of your host country’s emergency services number before you go abroad. Put it into your mobile phone for easy access.
- If you are out of the country in question at the time of the emergency and have concerns about returning, please consult the FCO web pages in the first instance. If the delay has a significant impact on your period abroad, then you must notify your academic department as soon as possible.
- Remember that in emergency situations, the local authorities and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office should be your first points of contact.