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Conduct & Safety

Student Conduct

While overseas, you are not only subject to the Rhodes Social Regulations Code and Honor Code, but also to the local laws and sanctions of the particular country in which you are studying. In many countries, the punishment for possession and/or distribution of controlled substances and for driving while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances is much more severe than in the United States.You should be aware that if arrested for a crime overseas, there is little Rhodes College or the local U.S. Consular authorities can do to intercede on your behalf. 

General Safety in Public Places

Being in a city and culture that you are unfamiliar with may contribute to your missing some of the danger signals that a local person would automatically take into consideration. You should also realize that many cultures may exist within one country. Please be aware of, and sensitive to, the majority culture, as well as the minority cultures in your host country.
Many people’s impressions of Americans come from what they see on popular television shows. Americans are portrayed as wealthy, particularly in developing countries, and in many locations you really will be more well-off than the local population. It is generally safer to attempt to blend in to the local population and to avoid standing out as a visitor to the region. 
If you wish to blend in, AVOID these classic "American" traits:
  • Dressing differently from the local residents
  • Speaking loudly in groups in the unmistakable American accent
  • Carrying backpacks everywhere
  • Wearing tennis shoes or flip flops
  • Drinking irresponsibly/in excess
  • Wearing U.S. college or university insignia clothing or heavily patriotic American clothing
  • Wearing baseball caps
  • Wearing what is considered locally to be VERY/TOO-casual clothing/shoes

By following the suggestions below, you can minimize your exposure to unsafe situations:
  • Do not leave bag(s) or belongings unattended at any time. Security staffs in airports or train stations are instructed to remove or destroy any unattended bag(s). Do not agree to carry or look after packages or suitcases for anyone, under any circumstances. Make sure no one puts anything in your luggage.
  • When traveling use a waist pouch to carry your passport and credit cards.  Wear the pouch under your clothes. Make photocopies of all essential documents and leave them with someone at home.
  • Try to speak the local language in public, even with other Americans. Even if you have a heavy accent, you will not attract as much attention, particularly if you take a cue from the locals and speak quietly.
  • Use the buddy system (or in the evening, small group), especially in the first few weeks of your stay. Walking with someone helps to deflect approaches by would-be-harassers.
  • Be careful how late you come home at night. Try to get home while public transportation is still running or plan to take a taxi. If you visit friends alone in the evening, ask them to escort you to the nearest metro station, or even to escort you home. Do be extremely cautious from whom you accept rides.
  • Be careful to observe traffic lights. Stay on sidewalks away from the curb, and walk facing oncoming traffic whenever possible. Drivers in large cities can be aggressive, and often erratic. Never assume a car will stop for you or steer out of your way. For those of you in countries where drivers drive on the left-hand side of the road, you will have to make an extra effort to check before crossing the street.
  • Keep your cash and other valuables (passport, paper airline tickets) in a locked suitcase in your room or a safe in the program’s headquarters, if available.
  • Do not bring jewelry, valuables, or anything that you would be devastated to lose. 
  • Be aware that it is common in some cities for thieves on motorcycles to pull jewelry and bags right off of people on the streets or sidewalks.
  • Avoid putting things in the back pocket of your pants or backpack. If you carry a backpack, wear it in front of you in crowded places. It is highly recommended that you bring a money belt to wear concealed around your waist under your clothes.
  • Do not handle or display large quantities of money (dollars or local currency) on the street. Only bring as much money with you as you need for the day or night.
  • Always keep an eye, and/or hands, on your purse/bag/wallet, especially in crowded public areas (public transportation, crowded sidewalks, markets, and metro stations).
  • If you suddenly find yourself being “crowded” in a market, move away from the crowd. Thieves have been known to slice open purses/bags with razors and make off with the contents. 

Use Common Sense

Use common sense and be as cautious as you would in any large city in the United States. Be aware of your surroundings. If you want to visit a new neighborhood, try to go during the day first. Look at a map before you leave, and note the nearest metro stops and bus/trolley routes. Walk at your own pace, but look alert and purposeful. If you find yourself in uncomfortable surroundings, act like you know what you are doing and where you are going, and move to a place where you are comfortable.