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The Importance of Safety While Abroad: Insights from an intelligence analyst and former study abroad student   


Protests, hurricanes, wildfires, epidemics and more pose a near constant threat to the international community. Despite, or perhaps in spite of these risks, the draw of new experiences, cultures, cuisines and sights has led to an exponential increase in international travel.

This has also led to an increase in the number of students, particularly Americans, who chose to study abroad. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 350,000 American students ventured abroad annually, and even during the pandemic, around 200,000 students studied abroad. 

As a student who participated in the University of New Haven’s Study Abroad Program in Italy, I can attest that studying abroad is one of the most transformative decisions you can make during your undergraduate years. Life becomes infinitely larger and brighter when you step outside your comfort zone. Studying abroad opens a door to diverse foods, vibrant cultures and breathtaking locations, all while you retain the support and resources of your home university. It’s a chance to dip your toes into the exhilarating experience of living and working abroad, just as approximately 8.7 million Americans currently do, as well as exploring a multitude of internships, jobs, and career opportunities across various sectors.

However, it’s crucial to address a concern that often lingers in the minds of people who contemplate studying abroad, safety. Many students, myself included, might not pay enough attention to safety precautions when venturing overseas. I once found myself stuck alone in a train station overnight after underestimating the time needed to transfer trains—one of the scarier experiences of my time abroad. I was also in Paris at the Louvre when a riot erupted nearby, with police using tear gas to disperse the crowd. The world beyond our borders can be as perilous as our own. As such, it’s essential to exercise even greater caution when traveling abroad, as students may not be equipped with the cultural knowledge to navigate a foreign country safely.

But concerns about safety should not deter anyone from studying abroad. For almost two years, I have had the privilege of working for SafeAbroad, a U.S.-based organization committed to ensuring students can travel abroad safely, without worries. Our team monitors global events, from elections and transportation strikes to terrorist attacks, to provide comprehensive safety assessments for students abroad.

During the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I had the opportunity to monitor real-time troop movements on the battlefield. This allowed us to forecast potential conflict escalation and assess the safety of neighboring countries where our students were traveling. As a member of the main Ukrainian Crisis Response Team, I was proud to be part of the group recognized with a GoAbroad Award in Crisis Innovation for our speed and accuracy in reporting on the conflict, often delivering updates hours ahead of mainstream news sources. Since this internship in 2021, I have assumed the role of Operations Manager at SafeAbroad, where I oversee the company’s analysts and support team. As an international affairs student focusing on economics and eastern europe, including Russian language studies, I am able to use my areas of study in my day-to-day work to collaborate with universities and colleges across the country. 

SafeAbroad is not the only organization dedicated to student safety. Most universities—including the University of New Haven—work with multiple companies and organizations to make sure students have the resources and support to study abroad safely. So for anyone on the fence, take the plunge and spend a semester abroad!

For people who may be interested in a career in national security, intelligence analysis or international affairs, you might want to explore SafeAbroad’s internship opportunities. The organization offers internships for a variety of majors, helping aspiring intelligence analysts enhance their analytical research, and writing skills. The company’s next cohort of interns will begin in the spring, so visit to explore internship opportunities. It’s a chance to broaden your horizons, learn valuable skills and contribute to the safety and security of fellow students exploring the world. 

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