How safe is studying abroad?


Picture courtesy of Creative Commons.

Studying abroad is a great way to travel while obtaining a college degree. NMSU students can find that, if they are responsible, studying abroad is not only a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but it is a safe option, as well.

According to the NMSU Office of Education Abroad, students have the option of going to another country to study during almost any time of the year.

Caitlyn Dugas, international education advisor and faculty-led international programs coordinator at NMSU, said that the study abroad program was “very flexible” and that students can go abroad a semester, a whole year or during winter, spring or summer break.

There are eight types of programs students may study abroad through: direct, exchange, faculty-led, incoming, intensive language, internship, student teaching and volunteer.

Christian Miller, an international business and accounting student at NMSU, is currently spending a semester in Graz, Austria on an exchange program through International Student Exchange Programs.

Students majoring in International Business at NMSU are required to “complete an international experience which may involve working or studying abroad,” according to the department’s webpage.

They must also learn a foreign language. Miller, an El Paso native, chose to learn German, which is an official language in Austria, because of his German heritage.

“People speak English, so I can get around relatively easy, if I needed to but most people prefer to speak German,” Miller said via a FaceTime interview.

The only way Miller can communicate on his cellphone is through Wi-Fi.

Miller explained that if there was an emergency, he would text the study abroad coordinator at the University of Graz.

The same goes for students from other countries who choose to come to NMSU to study abroad.

According to Dugas, the point of contact in case of an emergency for exchange students coming to NMSU is the Director of Education Abroad, Angel Palumbo.

Dugas explained that most of the emergencies that their office and those abroad get are preventable.

“Mostly the things that happened to students are self-inflicted,” Dugas said. “I was drunk at 2 a.m. and I went in an alleyway and I was pickpocketed.”

The OEA also does allow students to travel to dangerous countries, judged by the United States Department of State Travel Advisory.

Students may not study abroad to any country ranked 3 or above on the list.

Countries that are “red-flagged” include Middle Eastern countries such as Afghanistan, Iran and Yemen, as well as other countries like Russia, El Salvador and Chad.

Austria is ranked at level one, the lowest danger level.

“[Austria] is probably safer than Las Cruces. I could walk around at two in the morning and not worry about anything except for frostbite or hypothermia,” Miller joked.

Miller expressed different ways students can be safe while studying abroad, as well.

It is important for students to have all their important papers such as visas and passports in a safe place, be street smart, lock up bicycles and watch for drivers.

For more information about study abroad programs at NMSU, visit their website at

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