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Working with the Foreign Office to make student travel safer


This year, I am the Durham University Student Brand Ambassador for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office; the role basically means that I am representing the FCO to promote the Travel Aware campaign amongst students to ensure that they are clued up prior to going travelling. Many students get themselves into trouble whilst travelling abroad because they haven’t done their research before they go. The FCO has great resources like their information on individual countries, and foreign travel checklist which are always worth looking at before you travel anywhere.

The campaign is run across 30 universities, and each ambassador works very closely with student activities departments, year abroad departments and media outlets to make sure students are receiving the correct and necessary information about how to keep safe abroad.

I learnt about the role after receiving an email from the Durham Modern Languages department back in March last year advertising the position. I have always had a keen interest in travel and international affairs, and would love to work for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the future, so I jumped at the opportunity. The application process was fairly rigorous, consisting of an online application form, a video interview, and lastly a telephone interview. However, it was completely worth it, and I was delighted to be offered the role.

Travelwise Student Ambassadors Foreign OfficeLast September, just before I returned to Durham for my final year, I had the chance to visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London for a training day. I was in awe of the magnificent building and felt pretty overwhelmed at the grandeur and rich history! The training day was jam-packed, fun and informative, involving talks and advice sessions by journalists, PR gurus, travel agencies and the FCO team to help us on how best we can promote the Travel Aware campaign at our universities.

Harriet TravelwiseI am really enjoying working as a student brand ambassador alongside my degree, and writing travel-related articles for Palatinate, the Durham student newspaper, organising events around the university, and handing out scratch maps and others freebies to as many students as I can in order to promote safe student travel abroad. It has been a great way to engage with many Durham students, and meet other like-minded students from across UK universities. A particular highlight so far was last November when I was able to return to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for a networking session, where I met many inspiring people.

There are so many opportunities to travel abroad during your time at Durham – from course field trips to Rome, sports tours to Barcelona, charity expeditions to Borneo, and entire years abroad spent in Australia, Canada or Denmark, so it is incredibly important that students understand what they need to do in preparation before travelling as well as being made aware of the support available once they are far and wide, so they can have the best time without worry!


Find out more information about the Travel Aware campaign


Harriet O'Connor

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