Albright’s warning:

by Nichol Nelson

University students headed to foreign shores for spring break should be aware that reckless behavior like drug use or heavy drinking could lead to harsh consequences.
That’s the word from the U.S. government. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright sent out a letter to college campuses last week to warn traveling students about strict foreign laws.
Spring and summer are the times college students travel abroad the most. And each year, more than 2,500 American citizens are arrested in foreign countries, according to U.S. Department of State figures.
About half of the arrests are drug-related charges, but alcohol use also factors into many arrests.
Maria Rubenski, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Consular Affairs, said travelers to other countries are often not aware of foreign laws.
The federal bureau can help U.S. citizens who find themselves in trouble by notifying family and protesting mistreatment, but cannot get offenders out of jail if they commit a crime.
Rubenski said traveling students can pay big penalties for breaking foreign laws.
She cited an example of two young American women who traveled to Peru when they were in their late teens. The girls agreed to carry a suitcase to America for a large sum of money and were jailed for drug trafficking.
“They’re in their third year of incarceration with no end in sight,” Rubenski said.
Students studying abroad through the Global Campus office are warned about the dangers of drug possession abroad during their orientation to the program, said a spokeswoman for the Global Campus. Participants are also asked to sign a waiver that says they will follow University codes of conduct while studying abroad.
But despite the warnings, some University students do use drugs abroad. The spokeswoman said one participant was dropped from the Global Campus program last year after officials discovered that the individual was using illegal substances.
Alcohol use can also lead to trouble abroad. Drinking often leads to uncharacteristic behavior, Rubenski said.
“When (a student) is completely sloshed, it makes them lack judgment,” she said.
Cynthia Toothman, a junior in French, went to Montpellier, France to study abroad through the Global Campus in 1997. She said that she was told about the dangers of drinking and drug use during her orientation, but was surrounded by alcohol in French culture.
“I went as a freshman,” Toothman said. “My mentality was pretty innocent.”
Toothman said she didn’t drink excessively in France, but knew people who did.
“I encountered a lot of people who went there to drink,” she said.