OK, it’s not actually personal advice from Secretary of State John Kerry. But the U.S. State Department on Wednesday unveiled what it describes as “scary, but true” warnings to American students planning to head overseas for the annual debauchery that is spring break.
“Students are not invincible when they go abroad. Every year, there are incidents of travelers being arrested, injured, sexually assaulted, and even killed,” the department warns on one of several webpages.
In a triumph of optimism over experience, the department urges revelers to “avoid underage and excessive alcohol consumption.”
“'Overdoing it’ leads to the majority of arrests, accidents, violent crimes, rapes, and deaths suffered by American students on spring break,” it says. “As in the U.S., disturbing the peace, lewd behavior, littering, driving under the influence, drinking on the street or on public transportation may all be considered criminal activities by local authorities—is it worth it?”
No hard drugs. No weapons, especially guns. Be cautious about where and when you swim. Don’t take part in political demonstrations: “You can ‘stick it to the man,’" the department says, "but on your own soil.” If you keep making that face, it’ll freeze that way forever. OK, that last one is fake.
“Remember that standards of safety and supervision (i.e., for swimming pools or hotel balconies) may not reach those expected in the United States,” the department also notes. “The difference has contributed to the deaths of U.S. citizens overseas. It’s scary, but true.”
But for those who still can’t walk the line, the department advises: “If you find yourself in a legal jam, contact the closest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance.”
And the department offers a special program, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, to keep travelers up to date on warnings and help them stay in touch during emergencies.