We have prepared a number of safety tips and guidelines to help you prepare for study abroad, so that you know what to expect when on campus at Monash or while overseas, and how you should deal with safety concerns if they arise.
Preparing for study abroad
You should research safety conditions and emergency numbers in your host country before you go.
In Australia, Smartraveller (part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) provides up-to-date travel advice (which you can subscribe to), allows you to register your travel plans, and also provides links to insurance. If the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises of:
- a level three (3) "reconsider your need to travel" advisory for the country you are going to, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International) will decide whether it is safe for you to travel to or remain in that country. Your program may be cancelled and arrangements made for you to depart the country immediately at your own expense.
- a level four (4) "do not travel" advisory for the country you are going to, the University's approval for your overseas study program will be cancelled and arrangements will be made for you to depart the country immediately at your own expense. The Monash Abroad office will help you make the necessary arrangements but you should make sure your travel insurance covers the costs.
If you're a non-Australian citizen you should consult your home country's foreign affair departments to check for travel warnings. The US State Department Travel Warnings and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office are also good information resources.
In the event Monash cancels your program before it commences on the basis of travel advice, you may be required to refund your Monash Abroad Travel Scholarship (if applicable).
You should make an appointment to see your doctor at least three months before you leave home, to get:
- any immunisations you may need
- a letter from your doctor that describes all of your medical conditions and the medication prescribed
- details about the availability of these medications in your host country
- an adequate supply of prescriptions or the medications you'll need while away
- information about personal health risks like susceptibility to infection or medications that should be avoided.
You should also have a dental check-up before your departure and bring extra eyeglasses, contact lenses and a copy of your prescription. It's also a good idea to pack a first aid kit, and inform your Monash Abroad coordinator of any existing health programs – in an emergency situation it is crucial that this information is available.
The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is a card for full-time students abroad that you can use to verify your student status. It can qualify you for discounts on travel, tours, accommodation and reduced or free admission to museums, theatres and cultural attractions. If you are planning to backpack, discounted accommodation is offered by International Youth Hostels in participating countries. You can apply for both cards through STA travel.
Australian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer students preparing to go on exchange should be aware that social attitudes towards LGBTIQ around the world can be very different from those in Australia. It is highly advised that you prepare well and read up about your destination before you go, particularly if you are planning an exchange to a more socially conservative country. With careful planning and research it is possible for LGBTIQ students to have very successful and rewarding study abroad experiences.
When deciding on which program might be best for you talk to one of the Monash Abroad advisors about potential host countries or universities. Laws or attitudes towards the LGBTIQ community create potential risks for exchange or study abroad. You might also find other sources of information to be useful such as online resources, guidebooks, government resources and local and international LGBTIQ organisations.
Some questions you might consider:
- What are the laws like regarding LGBTIQ in my host country?
- What are the cultural attitudes towards LGBTIQ in my host country?
- How open can I be about my sexuality/gender identity with my teachers, friends and others?
- What resources are available at my host university? Do they have LGBTIQ support programs or student groups?
- Are there any LGBTIQ-friendly establishments nearby?
Monash Abroad recommends that you learn as much as you can about the laws of your host country and other countries you intend to visit. Remember that you must obey the local laws while overseas.
Women travelling alone
A woman travelling on her own may encounter more difficulties than a man by himself. Relations between men and women and the position of genders within society differ significantly around the world. Not all countries value the concept of equality and these views may challenge your own perceptions of gender. Be prepared for varying opinions on gender issues. To avoid hassles be flexible, try to fit in and understand the role of the sexes in the culture in which you are travelling. Flexibility means observing how the host country's women dress and behave and following their example. What may be appropriate or friendly behaviour in Australia may bring you unwanted, even dangerous, attention in another culture. The Women's Travel Portal gives links to various resources about how solo travelling women can stay safe while overseas.
If you are concerned as to whether having a disability will affect your ability to study abroad, or you are unsure as to how to determine your best host country and university, please see our handy checklist to point you in the right direction.
Safety at Monash
Even though some of the information is South Africa-specific, Monash South Africa gives great tips about your safety and security – including personal safety, travel safety and alcohol safety (which make up a large majority of overseas incidents).
At Monash, the safety and security of staff and students is an important priority and shared responsibility.
Our campus security is state-of-the art. We ensure our safe environment with 24-hour campus security that includes regular security patrols and CCTV camera surveillance.
Staff and students are issued with security access cards, and students living on-campus in residences have swipe-card access to the main residence entrance and their homes.
Whether you come to Monash to study, work, live at or visit the university, our Campus Protection Services are in place to ensure your safety.