Most participants in university programs have a safe and enjoyable time abroad, but the trip for some becomes a nightmare. Drugs, alcohol and disorderly behavior have ruined time abroad. Such reckless behavior can do more than ruin your stay; it can land you in a foreign jail. Every year, more than 2,500 U.S. citizens are arrested abroad, more than a third on narcotics charges. Some countries do not distinguish between possessing and trafficking. Alcohol can also get you into trouble. U.S. students have been arrested for being intoxicated in public areas, and for drunk driving. Regardless of the country you are in, you are subject to its laws and are under its jurisdiction. If outside of the U.S., you are NOT under the protection of the U.S. constitution nor are you immune from prosecution if you violate local laws.
Before you go, learn as much as you can about the local laws and customs of the countries where you plan to visit. Good resources are web resources, books, movies, tourist bureaus and U.S. embassies around the world through their consular services. You can find Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements for every country of the world at http://www.state.gov/travel.
Leave copies of your travel itinerary, passport info page and entry visa, international health insurance information, program contact information with family or friends at home. This is so that you can be contacted should there be a need.