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Duke GEO Article
by the Duke Global Education Office

It is easy to carry a laptop or smartphone around; but, unfortunately, it is just as easy for thieves to steal one. In the seconds it takes you to turn around to greet a friend in a coffee shop, a thief can pick up and make off with your valuables.

  • laptop and smartphone on desk

Most Common Site of Theft

When you travel, be especially alert to one of the most common sites of laptop and smartphone theft: airports. Such thefts are epidemic in airport restaurants and waiting areas. Thieves are also known to target airport security checkpoints; they take advantage of the fact that unwary travelers can easily lose track of where their belongings are during the course of luggage and personal scans.

Storing Your Laptop on a Flight

Do not place your laptop in the overhead compartment of an airplane. Not only will it get tossed about, it will present an unnecessary temptation to the light-fingered. It could also easily fall on someone’s head when the compartment is opened. Also, do not store your laptop in your checked luggage, as it may take hard knocks that could severely damage your machine. Instead, keep your laptop under the seat in front of you, where it can be seen at all times.

Storing Your Laptop in Your Hotel or Apartment

There have also been incidents where students were victims of laptop theft in their hotels and apartments. When not mobile with your laptop, it’s a good idea to keep it locked to your desk using a laptop cable lock or secured in a hotel room safe, if available. You should also consider carrying the cable lock with you in case you need it at school or in an internet café.

Precautions to Take Now

All laptops and smartphones should be secured with a password/passcode, if possible. You’ll get used to the extra security precaution, and you’ll be happy that you kept your data behind a password in the event that your device is ever stolen.

Always keep a backup copy of your files separate from your laptop. It hurts to lose a laptop, but it hurts even more to lose all of your digital photos and school files because you didn’t back them up. 

Bottom line: You need to guard your laptop and phone as closely as you guard your wallet.




Accommodating Students on Study Away Programs

The Duke University Global Education Office (GEO) works closely with Duke’s Student Disability Access Office (SDOA) to help students – both Duke students and non-Duke students – with disabilities request and receive approved accommodations on study away programs to the extent that they can be arranged.

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World Situation FAQ: How GEO Monitors and Assesses Safety Conditions

The safety and security of Duke students studying away is the first priority for Duke University. Using trusted sources of information and analysis, we are constantly monitoring and assessing the security conditions in and around our study away sites.

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International SOS (ISOS): Emergency and Travel Assistance Service

Duke has contracted with a travel assistance company called International SOS (ISOS), which provides emergency assistance and other services for all students (both Duke and non-Duke students) studying abroad on Duke programs. Learn what services are offered and how to make the most of this benefit.

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Smart Things You Can Do To Avoid Unsafe Situations

Just like in the United States, it is important that you are vigilant and take commonsense precautions to safeguard yourself while on your study away program. There are proactive steps you can take to make your situation as safe as possible.

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Sexual Misconduct on Study Away

Duke University is committed to encouraging and sustaining a living and learning community that is free from harassment, violence, and discrimination. Familiarize yourself with Duke’s sexual misconduct policies and the options for reporting, both confidential and non-confidential.

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Things You Can Do to Minimize the Risks of Sexual Misconduct 

Sexual assault and rape are prevalent globally, and no one is immune. While female-identifying students are statistically more susceptible, students of any gender identity should exercise caution and awareness. Sexual assault can happen at any time or place. It is important to remember that sexual violence is never your fault.

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Before You Go: Health & Wellness To-Do Items

This checklist will help you think about your health-related needs and take care of what needs attention before you depart. Things like what to pack, what to do if your routine medical visits falls during your time away, glasses and contacts, prescription medications, and immunizations, to name a few.

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Driving While Abroad

While we strongly recommend that you not drive while abroad, should you choose to do so, you may need a special driving permit, a road permit, or both to drive in certain countries. An international driver’s permit, available from your local automobile association, should be recognized by many countries and may, with your driver’s license, suffice for driving.

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