Skip to content

THINGS TO REMEMBER WHILE AWAY

There are many things that can help you be safe while you are away. Know what to do to get oriented with your new surroundings and what to do if things do go wrong. It is important to protect yourself while you are away as well as to be a respectful traveler. Find out more about things to remember while away as well as what to do in an emergency situation.

BE SAFE

Upon Arrival

  • Never leave your luggage unattended or permit anyone help you with your bags if you don’t know them.
  • Carry the address and contact number for your accommodation and know where you’re going. Try not to give the impression that you’re vulnerable or lost.
  • Contact your family, friends and the International Centre to let us know that you’ve arrived safely.
  • Acquire a functioning cell phone (if possible) and share the number with your emergency contacts, including the International Centre.

Get Oriented

  • Explore your new neighbourhood in the daytime and identify “safe spots” like the closest police office.
  • Build relationships and make friends with people in your community. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the local way of life - respect customs, local dress codes, religious and political sites.
  • Ask sensitive questions when there’s anything you don’t understand.

Protect Yourself

  • Be aware of local emergency numbers.
  • If you’re going out exploring by yourself, ALWAYS let at least one other person who you trust know which area you’re planning to visit and when you expect to return. 
  • Never let strangers know where you’re staying or share the details of your travel plans.
  • If you are harassed by an assailant who demands your wallet or other belongings, give it up and don’t fight back.
  • When you go out, only bring the money you need for the day. 
  • Take care of your physical and mental health.
  • Never carry all of your important documents in one location (i.e. wallet, passport, plane ticket, address book, and so on) to minimize the damage of loss. 
  • Carry bags in front of you, close to your body, where it will be more difficult for anyone to snatch. An ideal day back has a zippered inner compartment for added security. 
  • Do not accept drinks from strangers or leave food or drinks unattended. Drugs may be present that could put you at risk of assault and theft. 
  • Avoid public demonstrations, large crowds, and other civil disturbances. 
  • Don’t hesitate to seek help when needed.

For Consular Affairs, Legal Issues, Safety and Security Issues

Global Affairs Canada: Bon Voyage But… >

Details the limits of services that Canadian government offices can provide to Canadian citizens abroad.

Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) >

ROCA a free service offered by Foreign Affairs and International Trade that keeps you connected to Canada in case of an emergency abroad, such as an earthquake or civil unrest, or an emergency at home (available for Canadian citizens/permanent residents). It is strongly recommended that all Canadian students complete ROCA before departure

Safe Travel Planner >

An online training session that provides you with information and tools that will help you prepare for a safe trip abroad.

Canadian Embassies and Consulates >

To identify the embassy or consulate with responsibility for Canadians in your destination country.

World Embassy Page>

For the contact information of diplomatic missions for most countries around the world: 

KEEP IN TOUCH

After arriving at your destination it will be easy to get swept up in the adventure of your experience abroad. Remember to keep in touch with your family, friends and the International Centre after you arrive, and periodically throughout your trip, to let us know that you are safe and well.

Your Humber-issued email address is considered an official means of communication and will be used for correspondence from Humber. You are responsible for monitoring your Humber email account regularly while abroad.

Social media can be an excellent way to keep in touch with friends and family while abroad. Just as you would at home, however, consider how others will view your posts and pictures. Your readers will form an opinion about the people, cultures, and organizations you write about based on your comments. Be respectful in what you post and ensure that you represent others fairly. There will be days when you feel frustrated and/or homesick, but those feelings will pass. Be mindful posting on social media at these times as it may cause your family and friends to worry unnecessarily, when you’ve moved on. In addition, making negative comments on social media can have enduring consequences for you and those you have criticized, even when it’s not your intention.

BE AN AMBASSADOR

As a traveler abroad, you are seen by others to represent not only yourself, but also your family, your community, Humber, your culture, your country and even your gender! You have a great opportunity to leave a positive impression by always acting responsibly, and by being open-minded and respectful of other people and cultures.

As a guideline, when you sign the required Student Out of Province Travel Activity Form you agree to:

  • adhere to the College policies, procedures and follow the Humber Student Code of Conduct
  • familiarize yourself with and abide by all the local laws and customs throughout the trip
  • to act safely and in a responsible manner and exercise good judgment at all times to prevent harm to yourself and others.

Be aware of the image you present locally. Avoid behavior that will negatively affect that image – once an impression is made, it is hard to change.

IF THINGS GO WRONG

No matter how carefully you plan your trip, from time to time things will go wrong. In these situations it’s natural to feel lost or overwhelmed, but remain calm and remember that there’s always a process to follow that will get you back on track.

  • Theft: Cancel all missing credit and debit cards.
  • Report the theft and/or assault to local authorities.
  • Collect a copy of the police report (insurance companies usually won’t consider reimbursing you without a formal police report, and you may need the report to pursue legal action).
  • Contact the local Canadian consulate/embassy for assistance:
  • Keep in mind that laws and customs are different around the world. Perpetrators and victims of crimes may not be treated the same way as they would be in Canada.
Canadian Consulate/Embassy >
  • Inform the contact person at your host institution and/or your group program leader (if applicable).
  • Inform your airline of your situation. Some airlines offer discounted “compassionate” fares – find out what your options are.
  • Notify the International Centre and send your return travel itinerary details.

Your passport has been lost, stolen, or damaged

  • Report the theft / loss to local authorities immediately.
  • Get a copy of the police report.
  • Contact the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate [or the mission of your country of citizenship if you are not Canadian]to apply for a new passport. Review the guidelines for replacing a lost, stolen or damaged Canadian passport while abroad here.
Canadian Passport While Abroad >

If you regain possession of a passport that was reported lost or stolen, do not use it for travel. Report it immediately to the nearest Canadian government office abroad.

  • Go to a local hospital or clinic. Most major tourist hotels will also have in-house doctors who can either provide short-term care or referrals to other medical services.
  • If you need assistance finding medical services available to you in English or French, refer to the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT)
  • Contact your travel medical insurance company.
  • Keep a copy of all medical bills/receipts/records for your insurance claim.
  • Visit the government of Canada emergency information for the sick and injured
  • Review advice from Foreign Affairs Canada and the Centre for Disease Control
  • Listen to local news broadcasts for updates on the situation and follow the advice of local authorities.
  • Consult Foreign Affairs Canada’s Country Travel Advice and Advisories and carefully evaluate the implications for your security and safety before travelling to or remaining in a country affected by a dangerous situation.
  • Remain in close contact with your family and Humber International to inform us of your situation.
  • Prepare a basic emergency kit so that you will be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.

Carry information on how to contact Gobal Affairs Canada’s Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa, which operates 24/7 and accepts collect calls from Canadians overseas.

Foreign Affairs Canada >
Centre for Disease Control >
Basic Emergency Kit >
Foreign Affairs Canada's Country Travel Advice and Advisories >
Global Affairs Canada's Emergency Watch and Response Centre >

Clearly communicate to the arresting authorities that you would like to contact the nearest Canadian government office abroad of your arrest or detention immediately [or the mission of your country of citizenship if you are not Canadian]

Canadian Government Office Abroad >

Consular officials cannot arrange your release from prison. You are subject to the criminal justice system of the country where you are arrested and imprisoned. Review the assistance and support services that Consular officials can provide here. 

Consular Officials can provide >

SPECIAL TRAVELLERS

Her Own Way >

A women’s safe-travel guide produced by Global Affairs Canada.

Homosexual, Bisexual and Transgender Travel >

Advice from Global Affairs Canada

ILGA: International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association >

Includes an interactive country by country climate information. 

NAFSA Association of International Educators Rainbow Special Interest Group (SIG): > 

The Rainbow SIG is comprised of diverse members of NAFSA whose goals are to counsel international students and study abroad students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered; to support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered professionals in international education; to combat homophobia, heterosexism and transphobia within NAFSA. 

MIUSA: Mobility International USA >

A non-profit organization whose mission is to mission is to empower people with disabilities to achieve their human rights through international exchange and international development. 

DEALING WITH CULTURE SHOCK

Culture shock is a normal part of going abroad that all travelers experience at one point or another. It’s expected that you’ll feel stress while living in a new environment and dealing with new behaviours, words, facial expressions, values and attitudes that may be unexpected and quite different than what you’re used to.

SOME OTHER COMMON SYMPTOMS OF CULTURE SHOCK INCLUDE:

  • Irritability
  • Frustration
  • Loneliness
  • Homesickness
  • Confusion / disorientation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Inability to work or focus
  • Physical illness
  • Criticism of the host culture
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Sleep problems

Generally speaking, people experience culture shock in different stages. It’s important to keep in mind that each stage can vary in length and severity, and may reoccur over the duration of your time abroad.

stages of culture shock graph

stage 1 of culture shock Honeymoon

After months of preparing to go abroad, you’ve finally arrived! You’re a bit jetlagged and overwhelmed, but basically everything feels new, exciting and interesting.

stage 2 of culture shock Culture Shock

Slowly differences start to appear and make you feel irritated, frustrated and uncomfortable. Daily tasks like talking to others, shopping or navigating public transportation take more time and effort than you’re used to. You may start romanticizing life “back home”. You find that you’re not as excited and curious about your host culture as you were when you first arrived, and you want to spend more time by yourself or only with Canadians and other foreigners.

stage 3 of culture shock Cultural adjustment and adaptation 

The crunch is over and gradually the local behaviors, sayings, and customs start to make sense. You become more comfortable, the culture feels more familiar, and you feel less isolated. Your sense of humour returns and you’re able to be more positive and balanced about the differences around you.

stage 4 of culture shock Integration

You accept and embrace cultural differences. You appreciate many of the local customs, ways of doing things, and points of view. You realize that you’ll miss the culture when you return home, and aren’t in a hurry to leave. Your host country now naturally feels like a “second home”.

When you recognize the symptoms of culture shock, you’ll be better prepared to deal with it and minimize the effects. If you realize that you’re experiencing culture shock, here are some coping strategies that you may find helpful.

TAKE A STEP BACK

Admit that you’re experiencing culture shock. It’s not a sign of weakness to admit that you’re feeling confused, overwhelmed, and frustrated. It’s the common experience of every traveler.

Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise and take the time to sleep. Limit your alcohol consumption to moderate amounts.

Give yourself a break. Recognize the symptoms of culture shock and understand the pattern of adjustment. Learn how to control your reactions to stress and don’t try so hard to ‘fit in’ or adjust perfectly right away. Remember that culture shock is a normal and natural phenomenon that everyone goes through, so cut yourself some slack and take it one step at a time.

GET INVOLVED IN YOUR GUEST COUNTRY

Learn the rules of living in your host country. Try to understand how and why the local people act the way they do. Their behaviour and customs, although they may be different from your own, are neither better nor worse than what you are used to.

Get involved in some aspect of the new culture. Whether you study art or music, or learn a new sport or martial art, being an interested student will make a world of difference.

Take time to learn the language. It always helps to understand as much as possible of what people are saying. They will appreciate your effort to communicate with them in their language, even if it is just a few simple phrases, and it will make your daily life much easier.

Travel. Take the time to be a tourist and explore the country’s sights.

Make friends and develop relationships. Getting to know local people will help you overcome cultural differences and understand the country. It will also show you how to be more sensitive to cultural norms and expectations.

BE REALISTIC

Maintain contact with friends and family back home. Writing home about your experiences and problems can help you sort through them. It is also a good idea to keep a journal of your feelings and thoughts.

Do something that reminds you of home. Listening to your favourite music or practicing a familiar hobby can boost your spirits when you are feeling homesick.

Avoid idealizing life back home. Try to make the most of your stay and consciously adopt an open mind.