I have been told that I may die or be robbed this year when I travel to Brazil for a few months.

One friend recently told me that only the White people, like me, from her group were robbed during the few months she lived in Brazil in 2014, so should I worry? I have traveled to Europe, but I am experiencing a new country and a new culture for the first time.

I am a recipient of the Frances L. Phillips Travel Scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and so, I want to be excited about this amazing opportunity. But listening to friends and other people who have traveled to the country has made me question my safety there. I want to be excited about the opportunity, but I need to worry about my safety too.

The most important thing for anyone traveling to a new country to know is that every culture is different, and so, you must use your common sense in order to respect their way of life and ensure your personal safety. Using your common sense sounds sensible and simple, but while abroad, you must think about how your actions and words are recognized and interpreted by the people around you.

More than likely, most local or native people will know you are not from there, so you must use your common sense to show them that you are respectful of them and their space. Granted, even though you may show respect in certain ways, they may not reciprocate those same feelings or actions. Remember, you are infringing on them and their life. You are the one traveling abroad and sight-seeing.

Even though I want to be happy, I do need to listen to the advice of others, especially if they have traveled to the same country and cities. Making connections with other travelers and planning your safety before you even travel to your desired location will only help you have a better and safer experience while traveling. In preparation for my safety and well-being, I read blogs, talk to friends about their experiences abroad and watch videos. Heeding the advice of others is important because chances are you will have similar experiences, and so, you will know how to properly react to the situations when you are confronted with them.

Have any advice for traveling to Brazil? What do you do in preparation for travel? Share your thoughts below.