Health and Safety

The U.S. Department of State website has country-specific information as well as a broad array of advice for traveling internationally. You will be in a safer position if you take the time to read through this resource thoroughly.

The Center for Disease Control website has a Traveler's Health page that you should also look through to be aware of local health issues where you are traveling. You can find any mandatory and suggested immunizations by country on this website as well.

It is also important to learn about the country that you will be visiting. If you know a bit about the population, such as their dominant religion, language and most popular sports figure, you will be able to navigate your experience more easily. The CIA World Fact Book website is a good reference for this - do not rely on Wikipedia however tempting it may be.

Information on Your Host Country

It is very important to inform yourself about the country that you will be traveling to. One very detailed and reliable source for statistical information by country is the CIA World Fact Book website.

Spend time searching on your own for more cultural information. While you are in another country, your ability to interact with people will depend upon having common knowledge. While many people who live in countries outside of the United States know a great deal about what goes on within the U.S., it is quite likely that you do not know very much about the country you are traveling to. By learning more, you will position yourself to have a more fun time while abroad and will set yourself up to represent America well.

To get informed, you can now find websites specific to teaching cultural differences; you can find music on YouTube; you can find pages on Facebook. The best method to get informed is to find someone who is from the country that you will be visiting. There may even be a Santa Fe student from the country that you will be going to. If you are interested in meeting an international student at Santa Fe, contact the International Education Coordinator.

Before you go abroad, you should have explored these questions (adapted from Keene State College Global Education Office):


  • Give a broad outline of the country's history (major eras and events).
  • Name the national heroes and heroines. (Explain why they are considered heroes/heroines).
  • What is the history of the country's relationship with the United States?
  • What are the national holidays?


  • What is the current political structure of the country?
  • Who are the major current leaders? What are the major political parties?


  • What are the country's dominant religions? Is there an official state religion?
  • What are the important religious ceremonies, observances, holidays?
  • How do members of the dominant religion feel about the others? Are there religious conflicts in this country?


  • Are there separate societal roles for men and women?
  • What are the rules/norms for "romantic" relationships in this country? Do young people date? If so, do they date in groups, in couples? Is it OK to hold hands, touch, and kiss in public?
  • What are the rules/norms for friendly female/male relationships?
  • In what type of social activities do young women and men participate?


  • What is the common form of marriage ceremony and celebration?
  • What are the attitudes towards divorce? Family planning? Contraception? Abortion?
  • What is seen as the ideal family size?
  • Is the typical family nuclear or extended?
  • What is the legal age for voting, marriage? Driving a car? Are there differences for men and women?
  • When do children usually move out of their parents' home and establish their own households?


  • What are the special privileges of age or sex?
  • When is one expected to present or accept gifts? What kind of gifts?
  • How do people greet each other? Are there differences based on social status, age, or sex?
  • Is there traffic/driving/pedestrian etiquette?


  • Is there a traditional or indigenous style of dress? If so, describe it. Who wears it and when?
  • What is appropriate dress for you as a foreigner?
  • Are there special dress customs you should know about? (i.e.: taking off your shoes in certain places?)
  • What types of clothing must you have for various occasions you might encounter?


  • What foods are most popular? How are they prepared?
  • How do people eat? Manners?
  • Utensils? Customs?
  • Are there taboo foods that are not considered edible or that aren't permitted for religious reasons?


  • What are the favorite leisure activities of adults? For young people?
  • What are the popular sports? Is there a national sport?
  • How available are television and radio? What types of programming are available?
  • What musical types are common?


  • What kinds of health services are available? Where are they located?
  • Are there common home remedies for minor ailments? What are the attitudes towards folk medicine?
  • Is the water drinkable?
  • Which immunizations are required to enter the country? Which are recommended?
  • Are there official rules regarding the use of health insurance?


  • What is taboo in this country? What topics are taboo in conversation?
  • What type of moral code is followed? (Christian, Muslim, Confucian) How does this moral code influence attitudes towards drinking alcohol, drug taking, gambling, and pre-marital or extra-marital sex?


  • Is education free? Compulsory to what age? Available to all?
  • In schools, do age, sex, race, caste, and class segregate children?
  • What kinds of schools are considered best---public, private, religious?
  • What style of teaching prevails in schools (rote learning; importance of exams; lectures...)?
  • Describe the university system. What is the school year calendar? What is the grading system like?


  • Are the prices asked for merchandise fixed, or is one expected to bargain? How is bargaining conducted?
  • Is it OK to touch merchandise for sale? Does touching indicate a desire to buy?
  • When does the normal workday begin and end? Is there a siesta (break) time?
  • What is the customary time to visit friends?


  • How will your financial position/social status compare with the majority of people living in this country?
  • How do people in the country generally think of Americans? Other foreigners? Are major daily newspapers friendly towards the U.S.?
  • How many Americans live in this country?
  • Will you need visas to travel to neighboring countries?
  • Are there special laws governing the activities of foreigners that you should know about?
  • What should you do if you find yourself in legal trouble?