Is it safe to study abroad in Rio de Janeiro?

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College Study Abroad

College Study Abroad

YES! But like all major cities, there are risks. In addition to staying cautious and following CIEE safety guidance outlined during orientation, always educate yourself on your destination using resources from the U.S. State Department.  

Student health and safety is our top priority. Each of our 60+ sites is regularly assessed using international risk management standards to make certain our programs can be safely and successfully run. In addition, our professional onsite staff are available 24/7, and are thoroughly immersed in the community and trained to support the wellbeing of every study abroad student.

Classes are held at the CIEE Global Institute – Rio, located in a safe and well-populated area of the city, near a metro stop. Students live with local families located within walking distance or a short metro ride away from the CIEE Global Institute. 

While you’re studying in Rio, or anywhere else, adhere to these simple tips and you’ll have an amazing time discovering the world. 

Look out for each other

Whether it’s day or night, always travel in groups and leave no friend behind. Not only does it save on the cost of a taxi, but you’ll have someone to take photos and create amazing memories with! Be sure to let others know where you’re going and if you think a friend isn’t making a good choice, speak up! It’s important to care for yourself and others.

Dress down and simple

Rio’s warm weather calls for loose clothing and comfortable footwear. Make it easy on yourself by packing simple and basic outfits. Avoid flashy, brand name clothing, purses, and backpacks. Choose your accessories carefully and leave expensive (or even expensive-looking) jewelry, watches, sunglasses, and anything else glitzy at home.

Keep an eye out at beaches

Copacabana and Ipanema are world-famous, must-see beaches. Thousands flock to their white sands and expansive coastline every year. Like any beach, it’s important to keep a close eye on your possessions. Go with a group and take turns swimming or playing volleyball to ensure no items are left unattended. If you’re planning to tan or nap, use your bag as a pillow. Don’t take anything valuable to the beach and avoid going once the sun goes down.

Carry essentials only

If you don’t absolutely, positively need it – leave it behind. Bring enough cash for your daily activities and no more, but carry a credit card for emergencies. If you’re not heading to class or planning to tackle some coursework, leave your iPad, laptop, camera, and other valuables locked in your room. Also, keep your backpack and purse zipped closed and carry them in front of you. A traveler’s pouch, worn around your waist and under your shirt/pants, is an excellent option.

Use taxis and Ubers after dark

Yellow cabs and Ubers are safe, inexpensive, and great ways to get around the city. You’re highly encouraged to use them after 10 p.m. or when the metro is unavailable. Double check the taxi’s license sticker in the front window and the company’s name on the rear - and for Ubers, always check that the license plate matches the one in the app.

Invest in your safety

Being a college student means being on a budget, but always think twice before choosing the cheapest accommodations, transportation, or restaurants. Plan ahead for the safest and best options.

Use bug spray and sunscreen

Summer and the heavy rain season (January-June) brings mosquitos which have been linked to the Zika virus and other diseases. Avoid exposure by using insect repellents and wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants, and rain boots while outdoors. Use a mosquito net, if camping. You’ll also be getting plenty of sun in Rio, so wear sunscreen to avoid sunburns.

Hand over possessions

In the unlikely event you are involved in a robbery, never resist. Hand over everything you are asked to. Material possessions can be easily replaced, and nothing is worth more than your safety. 

Enroll in STEP

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service for U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad where you can enroll your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. In turn, you’ll receive important information about safety conditions and emergencies, and your friends and family will be able to reach you.

Bottom line

If we didn’t believe it was safe to hold study abroad programs in Rio, we wouldn’t. 

If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re available 24/7 at 1-800-40-STUDY (1-800-407-8839).

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