Preparation and Safety Tips

Sather Gate at night.

Before You Leave

It is important to start thinking about safety before you arrive in the U.S. Consider some of the following tips before packing your bags:

  • Make two copies of your passport. Leave one with your family and bring the other with you on your trip and keep it separate from your original passport. While you are traveling, protect your passport by using a money belt or neck pouch.
  • Keep a copy of your health insurance information card with you at all times along with the 24/7 assistance phone number.
  • UC Berkeley recommends that all students, including visiting students, get immunized against chickenpox, measles, and influenza, preferable before traveling to the U.S.
  • Develop a plan with your family for telephone and/or email contact in case of an emergency so you can communicate with them directly about your safety and wellbeing.
  • Familiarize yourself with U.S. laws and customs.
  • Download the Safety Resources Contact Card for your Smartphone.

After Arrival

Once you arrive, safety should be your number one priority. Be sure to think about some of these security and preparedness guidelines:

  • Keep an eye on your valuables
  • Always keep your personal items secure. Do not flash your wallet or phone around. This will only draw attention to yourself and make you a target for pickpockets.
  • If you have set up a place to study in the library and have to leave for a few minutes, either take your things with you or ask someone you trust to keep an eye on them. This may seem like a pain, but it only takes a few seconds for someone to walk away with your laptop.
  • Be careful with your keys. If you lose them, replace them immediately rather than relying on your roommate to let you in.
  • Get a locking device for your laptop, whether a physical lock or electronic tracking/locking device.

Stay Vigilant

  • Use the campus escort service at night or walk with a friend.
  • This is especially important after dark. It is generally not a good idea to walk around alone at night. Visit Berkeley's nightsafety website.
  • Make sure someone you are close with knows where you are at all times.
  • Know the phone number for Campus Security

Be Careful

  • Whether you live on or off-campus, always stay alert. When walking alone, remain aware of who is behind or ahead of you.
  • Keep your doors and windows locked at all times, and do not open the door for strangers. It is common in American culture to speak to someone through a closed door if you do not know who they are.
  • Most doors come equipped with a peephole, which allows you to see who is on the other side without them seeing you.

Learn Your Surroundings

  • It is important to learn as much as you can about Berkeley and the SF Bay Area. You want to learn things like what areas to avoid, how the public transportation system works, etc.

Drink Wisely

  • At some point, you will want to socialize and this often leads to drinking. The golden rule with drinking is to drink sensibly and among friends who you trust. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and sense of judgment which can make you very vulnerable to thieves and trouble so the advice is drink sensibly or not at all.

Measles and Varicella Vaccines

  • Although there are no immunization requirements for summer visiting students, we strongly encourage you to get the Measles (MMR) and Varicella (chickenpox) vaccines before your departure. The Varicella vaccine is only recommended if you never had the chickenpox virus.
  • If you are unable to obtain the MMR and/or Varicella vaccines in your home country, you can visit UC Berkeley's University Health Center once you arrive and get the needed vaccine(s). The fee for the MMR vaccine is $95 and the Varicella vaccine is $153. For more information visit the immunizations page on the University Health Services website.

COVID-19 Preventative Measures

The COVID-19 pandemic is still a concern for many people around the globe, and the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 you must:

  • Clean your hands often, either with soap and water for 20 seconds or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people (at least 6 ft).
  • Cover your nose and mouth at all times when on the UC Berkeley campus, the surrounding community, and every time you are around others.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, as often as possible.
  • If you have a fever or respiratory symptoms, stay at home and consult your healthcare provider.

For additional information on how to stay safe, And campus updates, please visit the COVID-19 resources and support web page.