Laws, Rules and Regulations While Abroad

CMU Code of Conduct​

All students remain subject to the CMU Code of Conduct while studying abroad, in addition to being subject to the code of conduct of the host institution. Students who violate CMU's Code of Conduct while studying abroad may be sanctioned for their actions. Students who violate either the host institution's code or CMU's code (or both) may be dismissed from the program by a representative of the foreign program/institution, CMU's Director of Study Abroad, or CMU's Judicial Officer.​

Local and National Laws

While you are abroad, you are subject to the laws of that country. You will find that many countries do not offer the same freedoms or rights that you are accustomed to in the United States. In some countries, there is jail time when arrested.  The ability to post bail is part of the U.S. system and is not a worldwide practice. Be sure to take the time to learn and understand the local laws.

If you are arrested while abroad, the local embassy or consulate will be able to provide you with the name of a local attorney, but they are not able to serve as your legal council or offer financial assistance. If you find yourself in trouble, you should contact your site director and seek legal council in-country immediately.

A Note on Drugs: DO NOT, under any circumstances, buy, sell or consume drugs while you are abroad. Some countries have very strict laws governing drugs that may include long jail sentences, if convicted. Some countries even impose the death penalty for those convicted of serious drug charges.

Personal Responsibility for your Safety

It is important to remember that you play a vital role in maintaining your safety while abroad. Without a doubt, you should exercise the same, if not more, personal safety precautions outside the United States as you would at home. Keep your money in a safe place. Don't call attention to yourself by wearing valuable jewelry or clothing that sets you noticeably apart from local people. Do not go out alone at night.​

Familiarize yourself with your surroundings and the local transportation to and from your residence. Cities in other countries, just like U.S. cities, have both safe and unsafe areas and neighborhoods. Use common sense and do not take risks. Whenever and wherever possible, travel in groups. Always inform someone (resident director, roommate, host family or other responsible person) of your travel plans and return date.

Carefully read the U.S. State Department's Country Specific Information to learn about the safety issues of the country in which you will study. Check information for other countries you intend to visit. You should check this site regularly to see if new announcements or warnings have been issued. You cannot be too informed or too careful.

  • In recent years, there have been Worldwide Caution announcements regularly issued to Americans abroad by the U.S. State Department. These cautions warn Americans to be vigilant while traveling abroad and recommend that you:
  • Don't wear items of clothing that identify you as an American (i.e. baseball caps, college T-shirts/sweatshirts, etc.).
  • Avoid large crowds and other situations in which anti-American sentiments may be expressed.
  • Don't identify yourself as an American; try to blend with the local people. Try to avoid traveling with large groups of Americans.
  • Avoid American facilities if possible.
  • (i.e. Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood, American friendship clubs or popular hangouts for Americans).​

Working Abroad Legally

Most countries around the world do not permit international/study abroad students to work. Violations to these laws may be cause for deportation. The same can be true for unpaid internships, volunteering, etc. It is important that you thoroughly research labor laws before accepting a job abroad.

The OSA discourages students from working during their international experience (with the exception of students participating in international internships). There will be numerous demands on your time and past program participants have found it difficult to balance their studies and travels with maintaining a part-time job.

Special Note to Women

Coming from the United States, you may find it difficult when you encounter unequal or unfair treatment as a woman abroad. In some countries, it is not uncommon for women to be honked at, stared at, or receive catcalls. As a foreigner, you are probably even more likely to encounter this treatment simply because you look different or because of American stereotypes. Making eye contact with or smiling at a stranger, which is perfectly acceptable in the United States and even common, may result in unexpected and unwanted attention. Keep in mind that, in some cultures, these behaviors may be acceptable in the host culture and considered harmless. Observe how other women from the local culture handle these situations. Don't yell back or give attention to the person if the behavior is unwanted. It is best to ignore such people and act as if you don't see or hear them.