Studying abroad used to be the go-to dream of students. A chance to explore the world where they could call the shots, finally untethered from their families an ocean away.

But in recent years, something has shifted. First it was the pandemic, and now, the world we thought was stabilizing feels on the brink. With major wars in Eastern Europe and the Middle East—both with global implications—a fraught relationship with China and major natural disasters, how do we navigate studying abroad?

This burden is especially hard on parents. While releasing your adult child out into the world always feels a bit daunting, it’s different these days. How do we put our minds at ease? What can we do to help ensure they come back safely?

The first step is to be prepared.

If you’re considering sending your son or daughter to study abroad, we recommend asking these questions first:

What will your child do in the event of political unrest, a terrorist attack or a natural disaster?

What will they do if they become seriously sick or injured?

How will family and friends get in touch with them in an emergency?

Is the country they want to visit a safe place for them? This question is especially true for students with a disability or a sexual orientation or faith practice that is less than fully embraced in their host country.

Considering the questions above, are there special precautions your child needs to take that are unique to them?

Asking these questions will help you and your child confront difficult what-if scenarios and establish a baseline of risk acceptance before you get too far into planning.


A smiling young man walks along a crowded city street with a backpack and headphones on.

Do’s and Don’ts of International Studies

If you and your child feel confident in the decision to study abroad after addressing the questions above, they should keep this list of international studies do’s and don’ts top of mind.


The U.S. Department of State recommends students do the following when taking a trip abroad:

…learn local laws and customs. If you’re studying abroad, you run a higher risk of being scammed if you don’t familiarize yourself with local customs. Doing so will help you keep a low profile and not attract negative attention.

…practice awareness while traveling. This is especially important if you’re a woman, LGBT+, are of a different race or have religious beliefs not predominant in the region. Read Global Rescue’s tips for travel awareness here.

…take time to learn about your destinations. Global Rescue’s destination reports provide up-to-date, comprehensive information for more than 200 countries.

…drink responsibly. If you drink, do so with people you know and trust. But be aware of how much you consume. Overdoing it makes you vulnerable.

…follow the social media accounts of the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate so you can monitor them if a local crisis occurs.

enroll in the STEP program so the U.S. Embassy knows to contact you in the event of an emergency.



…just make friends with people from your own country. It can be tempting to stick with people who share your culture, but doing so would be missing out on a wealth of experiences and learning opportunities.

…be afraid to stay local. Some students book trips to other cities or countries every weekend of their time abroad. But doing so takes your attention away from the abundant cultural experiences your host town has to offer.

…treat your trip like a vacation. Remember that the country you’re visiting isn’t just for your entertainment. Treat it with respect, look for ways to give back and honor the local culture.

…stay hooked on your screen. Looking down at your phone all the time is not just a safety risk because it makes you unaware of your surroundings. It also keeps you from taking in the sites around you.

…keep up with home too much. It’s natural to feel homesick in a new country, but recognize that your time is short, and the more you acclimate to your new surroundings, the less homesick you will feel. And it will help to refrain from following every moment of your friends and family back home.

…try and impose your beliefs on the people you meet. At best they may view your behavior as rude for violating local norms; at worst they may report you to the authorities for possible violations of local laws. Always be respectful, comply with local laws and cooperate with law enforcement if confronted.


Three laughing college students sit and study outside on campus,

Global Rescue: The Ultimate “Do”

A Global Rescue membership is the ultimate “do” for any study abroad experience. Students can purchase memberships at discounted rates to put their minds at ease knowing that our medical, security and evacuation services will be there for their family if a crisis occurs.

The Davis family knows this well. As a 16-year-old international high-school student in China, Lily Davis contracted an awful stomach virus and began vomiting blood. Her membership quickly became invaluable.

Global Rescue’s medical team guided the family through the process, ensuring Lily got the right treatment and keeping her parents informed the entire time.

“Global Rescue personnel were on the phone with me constantly,” her father, Robert, said. “Global Rescue was also on the phone with the Chinese medical staff and with the director of Lily’s school. I’m a firm believer in Global Rescue.”

Daniela Shields’ daughter, Alli, unexpectedly found herself in the middle of civil unrest in Hong Kong in 2019. Thankfully, Global Rescue quickly arranged for Alli to fly back home and out of harm’s way.

“The specifics from Global Rescue made the difference,” Shields said. “I learned things about the Hong Kong protests from Global Rescue that I didn’t hear until the next day on the news. I felt like we were ahead of the eight-ball at every turn.”

The Davis and Shields families know firsthand that even with careful planning, the unexpected can happen.