Personal Expression/Demonstrations Abroad

UCSC Global Learning encourages you, as a student, to experience new cultural and social perspectives that are outside of your day-to-day experience of living in the United States. This may include engaging in conversation, debate, and expressing opinions.

While living and traveling abroad, it is important to recognize that your constitutionally protected right to free speech and expression in the United States does not travel with you as a U.S. citizen. Some countries may restrict political speech or social expression in ways that are different from protected forms of expression in the United States.

It is important that you become acquainted with such restrictions, regulations, and cultural expectations before traveling to your host country, and especially before engaging in public demonstrations in support of political, social, or human rights causes.

Participation in public demonstrations abroad presents several risks, including arrest, detention or deportation, mob violence, assault, police or military violence, and crowd crushes. Because of these risks, Global Learning strongly discourages you from participating in demonstrations abroad.

If you find yourself in a demonstration, there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of injury:

  • Leave an area where a demonstration may be developing or is occurring.
  • Avoid densely populated crowds and recognize the signs of a crowd surge. If you are caught in a crowd surge, protect your head and chest, maintain an upright position, and calmly attempt to vacate the area. Keep your arms in front of your chest to maintain space to breathe.
  • Find a safe place to shelter in place until the crowds or disturbance subsides.
  • Comply with local authorities if given directives, stopped, or arrested. Contact the U.S. Consulate immediately if arrested. Do not sign any documents or make any statements without legal representation.

Helpful Resources

  • United States Department of State country travel advisories provide general security information for your host country.
  • Overseas Security Advisory Council country security reports provide in-depth info about the safety and security situation in your host country, including info about expression restrictions.
  • The US Embassy in your host country might post alerts or warnings about demonstration activities. The Smart Traveler Enrolment Program (STEP) may also provide info and alerts about upcoming events to avoid.
  • The WorldCue mobile app can provide up-to-date info about potentially disruptive demonstrations or other events that could impact your location. provides an overview of the legality and social acceptance of gender identities and sexual orientation in countries around the world.

Last modified: Jun 04, 2024