Do You Know What To Do?


While we cannot tell you how to handle every situation you may come across while you are traveling abroad, we would like to give you some helpful tips on what to do if/when certain circumstances arise. With careful planning and adequate pre-departure preparation, you will develop new coping skills and be more confident when handling such challenges.


The most important advice that we can offer and probably the hardest to manage, is to try to stay calm when dealing with difficult situations.

There are a number of individuals supporting you throughout this experience. The following section offers common scenarios and coping mechanisms.

Lost/Stolen Passport

If your passport has been lost or stolen, you should report the loss by contacting the local authorities (local police). Next, you will need to contact the nearest American Embassy or Consulate immediately to make a report. You will be expected to travel to the Embassy in order to apply for a new passport. Check the U.S. State Department website for details on other documents you should plan to bring with you.

Tip #1: Carry two extra passport photos with you while traveling.

Tip #2: It is also important that you produce a photocopy of the passport that was recently lost/stolen. All students are reminded to make copies of important documents prior to their departure. In an effort to reduce the risk of misplacing the photocopies, students have most recently been scanning these documents and sending them on email to their private email account. This will ensure that you will have access to copies of your documents if you should ever need them.


If you find yourself sick or injured, you must first get yourself the appropriate help you need. When you first arrive at your host institution, ask where you can seek medical attention and what the hours of operation are. If there is a clinic on-campus, but it is only open during the week, ask where you should go if you need assistance after hours. This will help you in the event that you need to secure medical attention while you are at the host institution.

If you need assistance, notify your on-site contact. In most cases, you will find they will offer you support and will make sure you get the assistance that you need.

If you are traveling or need advice on where to find the nearest English-speaking physician, remember to access your WorldRisk - AIG International Services plan. Information on how to contact this service provider is provided to all students during the GVSU pre-departure orientation. This service can offer a lot of helpful advice and emergency assistance.

Watch out for your friends & colleagues. Reach out to those that may not be feeling well and ask if they need assistance.

Wallet Lost / Stolen

You will hear repeatedly during your pre-departure orientation the importance of establishing back-up plans and diversifying your money. When traveling, do not keep all of your money and cards (credit & debit cards) all in once place. We recommend using a money belt or some other means when you need to carry all of your belongings with you.

Remember - it may take several days to several weeks to replace a debit card or credit card.

Make sure you have one or two loved ones back at home that are willing to assist you in the event that something happens while you are abroad. Your family can provide assistance by sending you money via Western Union or by using other mechanisms to send money on the same day or overnight.


Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is clearly defined and prohibited under U.S. law. In many other countries, the definition and the laws surrounding sexual harassment may be subject to cultural interpretation. In many countries, men have traditionally held the power in society and little progress has been made in terms of womens' rights and protection against such harassment. This does not mean sexual harassment is acceptable in an overseas context. If you experience what you consider to be inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature from official university representatives or in your homestay, you should report this to the appropriate supervisor or academic officer. Additionally, please contact Rebecca Hambleton or Mark Schaub in the Padnos International Center to report your concerns.

For additional information on GVSU's policies on harassment visit:


Page last modified July 24, 2012