Health and Safety
Planning ahead and protecting one's health and safety abroad are essential to a successful international experience. Safe travel involves addressing basic health concerns through appropriate inoculations and other preventive measures, required insurance coverage, and common-sense safety practices.
Students are responsible for informing themselves about the health and safety issues in their host country and other areas where they may travel, in addition to the laws and customs surrounding personal comportment, sex, alcohol, cultural mores, and drugs in their host country. Students will be held liable for any violations of these norms by local authorities even though they are visitors. A wide array of resources can help students acquire this important information, including their home school study abroad office, University Health Services and/or primary care physician, the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. State Department, and the embassy or consulate of their host country in the U.S. Efforts to inform oneself are essential to well-being, and will greatly add to the success of one's experience.
Prior to each term, the Program Managers in Buenos Aires arrange a pre-departure meeting with the next term’s cohort of study abroad students. In addition to other logistical information, region-specific topics of health, safety, and security will be discussed. This information is reiterated upon arrival in Buenos Aires and students are given emergency phone numbers for program staff.
Program participants are required to have or obtain international health insurance.
As in any other big city, students in Buenos Aires will need to take some basic precautions. Students should be particularly careful is the area around Retiro's bus terminal. Even though Retiro boasts some of the most luxurious hotels in the city, it is also very close to "Barrio 31," a poor neighborhood whose youngsters often take advantage of tourists.
Basic Security Precautions
- Areas around ATMs/banks: Students must be careful taking out money, because some people will work either solo or in pairs/groups in the areas outside ATMs to rob people leaving the ATM. Students need not be paranoid (most likely nothing will happen), but should be on the lookout for people loitering outside ATMs or people near the bank who might be communicating with someone else on a cell phone. Avoid withdrawing money at night. It is better to go home, drop off the money that was withdrawn, and then go out with what money is needed.
- iPods/phones: Students will likely be safe listening to their iPod or phone on runs, while walking around the city, etc. Note, however, that it is an obvious item of value; most likely, no one will approach a student on a bus and rip it from them - but like in any big city, it might be best to purchase some neutral-colored headphones (black or grey rather than the white ones that scream "I'm listening to an iPod"). Students should avoid listening to super-loud music as they are walking to avoid any accidents. Be very alert and present, especially when crossing busy streets.
- Bank Cards, Passports, and Credit Cards: One should always leave their passport in a safe spot at home and carry it only when absolutely necessary (when buying bus tickets, booking travel, etc.). Always carry a passport photocopy; grocery stores and other places may require a form of photo identification when purchasing something with a credit card. Carry a passport copy and a photo ID (a student ID, a driver's license, etc) when going grocery shopping. Most places will also ask customers to provide a passport number when signing a credit card receipt; be prepared to provide the number. It is also recommended that students leave their bank card in their house unless they are withdrawing cash that day.
- If something happens: In the event that a student has something valuable robbed (laptop, primarily), they need to file a police report. Talk to people in the place where it was stolen (home, school, hostel, etc) to ask how to do this. Typically a victim of theft will be directed to the nearest police headquarters (comisaría). Tell the police officer what happened, they will type up a report (which is then signed), an official stamp or something similar is placed on the report, and that is it. Victims of theft will need this form if they are going to file an insurance claim (so hang onto it).
- Carry the CASA contact information card at all times
- Carry a paper passport copy (leave original in a safe place at the host family's house). Having a copy will make it easier and faster to replace a missing passport
- Students should keep their host family address and phone number with them. Tape it to back of a photo ID (University ID or Driver's License) or on the paper passport copy
- Be alert when walking/crossing streets (traffic does not stop for pedestrians as in the U.S.)
- Become familiar with crosswalk symbols: green or orange flashing means DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CROSS
- Use caution when operating electrical appliances brought from the U.S. Electricity in Argentina runs through a 220 volt system, and a simple misuse can cause not just a shock, but death. Use products like hairdryers, curling irons, straighteners etc. with care.
Students should let someone know where they are going
- Travel in pairs – two is better than one
- Avoid walking in parks at night
- Refrain from using excessive or attractive phones and technological devices - it is best to be 100% alert at night. Similarly, there have been instances of individuals whose phones were stolen while they were walking through crowds. Be alert and cautious, and keep a firm grip on belongings when in public
- Take an Uber or a taxi when in doubt. Ensure that the taxi is one of the trademark black and yellow Buenos Aires taxis - preferably a private "radio-taxi" and not a private or unrecognizable service. Always carry enough money for a taxi ride home
- Monitor alcohol consumption
- Recognize areas of vulnerability and risk
Reporting an incident
- Check surroundings: know where you are calling from
- Remain as calm as possible
- First call María José or Magdalena
- Definition of an emergency: Any crime or incident that involves bodily harm, or threat of bodily harm, assault and/or racially motivated verbal/physical harassment. Also contact Harvard/CASA personnel and your host family to notify them about any injury or sickness requiring medical attention.
U.S. Consulate in Buenos Aires
Before traveling to Buenos Aires, students should register themselves in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
The U.S. State Department maintains a website for American students traveling abroad, with helpful information about health, security, and emergencies.
The following documents are useful:
- Alcohol and Drugs Overseas
- Safety Tips for Going Abroad
Embassy of the United States in Buenos Aires
Address: Av. Colombia 4300
(C1425GMN) Buenos Aires
Telephone: (54-11) 5777-4533
Fax: (54-11) 5777-4240
American Citizen Services: To report an emergency involving a U.S. citizen, please click here. For matters related to emergency and non-emergency services for U.S. citizens, including U.S. passports, birth and death registrations, and tax-related questions, please direct your e-mail to: BuenosAires-ACS@state.gov