This is all really depressing, but it isn’t acutely dangerous. It isn’t as if Americans can’t go and visit mountain gorillas in Virunga or try surfing in Vietnam. Your luggage is almost certainly going to be stolen at the airport in Singapore, but nobody is going to shoot you when you go to the red-light district to buy it back from the Triad gang that’s fencing it. In fact, apart from food poisoning, most of the world is pretty safe for big, loud, monoglot Americans.
Except for these places. Everybody in these places hates you, and none of them believe you when you claim to be a Canadian.
The Islamic State of Whatever
At the time of this writing, a reasonable-sized stretch of miserable, stinking desert stretching from eastern Syria to just outside of Baghdad and up into the Northern hills just short of Kurdish sniper range is unofficially the DICKS Caliphate. Being American inside this caliphate is a capital offense, though the gunmen in the pickup trucks are so busy killing just about everyone else, so maybe they’ve just gotten carried away. The good news is that the only legitimate reason for going anywhere near the new caliphate is to pilot drone strikes, so your junior year abroad is unlikely to be affected by their antics unless you’re in one of those hard-core ROTC programs.
Saudi Arabia (and Friends)
If, for some reason, you’ve been consumed with an ambition to shake off the dust of Kentucky and swing through Tehran, you’ll need more legal representation than Charlie Sheen. First, since Iran has no representation in the United States—technically, the US government is still pretending Iran is ruled by the Shah. We’re still in Stage One of dealing with loss, clearly—you have to find a Pakistani embassy and ask for their Iranian Affairs desk.
After you ask for a tourist visa, and they stop laughing at you and go find the forms, expect to pay a large, but always-changing, sum of money for “processing fees” or whatever euphemism bribes go by these days. You’ll also need at least two official invitations from Iranian hotels, employers, or generally important entities. You will not have these, so you’ll have to pay another bribe. Whereupon your visa will be issued in a few months (maybe), and then arbitrarily revoked at the airport when you land. All things considered, it might actually be faster and cheaper just to take out Canadian citizenship and book your flight out of Toronto.
To be fair, you’re probably physically safer in North Korea than almost anywhere else, even the streets of your own city. Considering that foreigners in North Korea are literally never alone during their visit, being accompanied at all times by an official tour guide/spy, the odds that you’ll be robbed in Pyongyang are nil. Unfortunately, your safety net is still a net.
Say the wrong thing in Best Korea, or even just have a smart look on your face near one of the zillion-plus pictures of Dear Leader, and they won’t have to chase you far before you’re on your way to prison. Don’t bother asking to speak to the American legation, there isn’t one, and abandon hope of your passport getting you out of trouble. It’s the reason you’re in trouble in the first place. Really, your best hope if they see fit to arrest you, is if Bill Clinton isn’t busy while you’re being interrogated.