The security and well-being of our members is our number one priority. Even though we are dedicated to ensuring that your language stay takes place in the best possible conditions, unforeseen problems might always happen.
That is why the projects we guide you on are organised by long-time partners in whom we can fully trust. Thanks to our experience in fields such as travel, international relations, and volunteering, we managed to build strong and lasting relationships with associations who share our commitment for our members’ well-being. These partners will be present and accompany you throughout your language stay. Being guided by local people and belonging to a group substantially reduces the risks of problems during your stay.
PREPARATION IS ESSENTIAL…
Our language trips follow our vision of an active, responsible, and participatory way of travelling. This vision opposes mass tourism and consumerism. It enables our members to avoid the problems that may happen when you follow touristic well-trodden paths.
We put all our travelling and international volunteering experience at the disposal of our members to ensure them a successful language stay! And how do we do that? By organising predeparture preparation training sessions – to convey knowledge that will be of use during your trip – and online information sessions – if you can’t join us physically.
You can also rely on our support and advice. We will remain in contact with you throughout your stay and provide you with our experience before, during, and after your trip.
If anything happens to you there, you can call our emergency number at any time: +32 (0)495 680 934. No matter what time of day or night it is, there will always be an SVI member available for answering your questions and guiding you to a solution.
Basic Security Rules…
… are obviously to be respected!
Even though all our stays were cautiously selected by our partners, it is always better to be careful when settling in a new environment.
In order to get you familiar with the precautions to be taken and help you prepare your departure, you can read these travel reviews by the Belgian, Canadian, French and Swiss Ministries for Foreign Affairs (in French):
• http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/cav-fiche-pays.php3 (France)
• http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/travad/travel.html (Switzerland)
• http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/menu-fra.asp (Canada)
… And more documentation in English from other countries:
• Department of Foreign Affairs (Ireland)
• Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK)
• U.S. Department of State (USA)
• The State Department’s Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management (ACS)
You will find there some valuable advice, some of which being for extreme situations but still good to be aware of.
At your arrival, please ask your host association for information about what you can and cannot do, and where and when you can and cannot go! Also ask for emergency numbers (112 in Europe) and for the project manager’s phone number (which should be written on your info sheet) and save them in your mobile phone. They might be of use at some point!
It can also be a good idea to write down the address of your accommodation on a piece of paper (or a card) that you will always keep on yourself when you go out.
Also, don’t forget that security includes road safety (50 percent of deaths among travellers), bathing places, mountain or forest hiking, etc.
Consular Assistance Abroad
If you are a European citizen and your stay takes place out of the EU, you might need to contact the embassy or consulate of your country at some point. If there is no such diplomatic representation between your home country and the country you are staying in, don’t panic! Your European citizenship grants you the right to receive help from any embassy or consulate of any EU member state, under the same conditions as if you were a national of this country.
Possible situations in which you may need help from a consulate or embassy:
- Lost or stolen passport
- Accident or serious illness
- Violent crime / arrest / detention
- Emergency aid / repatriation (natural disasters, civil unrest, armed conflicts, or other emergencies).
The diplomatic mission or consular post you have decided to turn to will provide you with all the necessary assistance and will inform your parents, friends, doctors, and employers in your country, through your country’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Check these links if you want more information regarding your rights as a European citizen:
- La protection consulaire du citoyen de l’Union européenne dans les pays tiers. Bilan et perspectives
General Security Advice for Women
The Echappez belle brochure is full of women’s testimonies and tips for feeling stronger and more confident in your everyday life. It will teach you how to take care of yourself and get yourself out of unpleasant – or even dangerous – situations.
Check those links for more information regarding female travellers’ security:
- Voyager au féminin, conseils pour la voyageuse vigilante et accomplie (Québec administration)
- Journeywoman: Online information and tips about travelling as a woman
- HERmail: A list of the names of different women from all over the world who are willing to provide you with information about security in their own country.