With preparation and ongoing awareness of safety and health issues, living abroad can be just as safe as living in the United States.
Responsibilities of Participants
In studying abroad, as in other settings, participants can have a major impact on their own health and safety through the decision they make, both before and during the program and by their day-to-day choices and behaviors.
1. Participate fully in all orientations before departure and on site, and read and carefully consider all information provided by Overseas Study that relates to safety and health conditions in host countries.
2. When applying for or accepting a place in a program, consider carefully their health and other personal circumstances, and assume responsibility for them after acceptance.
3. Make available to Overseas Study accurate and complete physical and mental health information and any other personal data that are necessary in planning for a safe and healthy study abroad experience.
4. Obtain and maintain supplementary health insurance coverage and liability insurance, if required, and abide by any conditions imposed by the carriers.
5. Inform parents/guardians/families, and any others who may need to know, about their participation in the study abroad program, provide them with emergency contact information, and keep them informed on an ongoing basis.
6. Understand and comply with the terms of participation, codes of academic and ethical conduct, and emergency procedures of the program, and obey host country laws.
7. Once on site, be aware of local conditions and customs that may present health or safety risks when making daily choices and decisions. Promptly express any health or safety concerns to the program staff or other appropriate individuals.
8. Become familiar with the procedures for obtaining health and law enforcement services in the host country.
9. Avoid substance abuse of all kinds.
10. Follow the program policies for keeping program staff informed of their whereabouts and well-being, especially when travelling away from the program site.
11. Behave in a manner that is respectful of the rights and well-being of others, and encourage others to behave in a similar manner.
12. Accept responsibility for their own decisions and actions.
Responsibilities of the Study Abroad Office
1. Monitor possible changes in country conditions. Provide information about changes and advise participants and their parents/guardians/families as needed. Develop and maintain emergency preparedness and crisis response plans.
2. Provide orientation meetings and materials to participants prior to departure for the program and onsite, which include appropriate information on health, legal, environmental, political, cultural, and religious conditions in the host country. In addition to dealing with health and safety issues, the orientation should address potential health and safety risks, and appropriate emergency response measures. Ask students to share this information with their parents/guardians/families so they can make informed decisions concerning preparation, participation, and behavior while on the program.
3. Consider health and safety issues in evaluating the appropriateness of an individual's participation in a study abroad program.
4. In the participant screening process, consider factors such as disciplinary history that may impact on the safety of the individual or the group.
5. Provide students with information on the role of and assistance provided by the on-site resident director or program coordinator.
6. Discuss with students, following their selection but prior to their participation in a study abroad program, individual health and disciplinary history issues, which may impact on the safety of the individual or the group.
7. Provide health insurance (including emergency evacuation and repatriation) to participants or assure that participants receive information about how to obtain such coverage.
8. Direct on-site program staff to provide information for participants and their parents/guardians/families regarding available medical and support services, and to help participants obtain the services they may need.
9. Hire vendors and contractors (e.g. travel and tour agents) that have provided reputable services in the country in which the program takes place. Advise such vendors and contractors of the program sponsor's expectations with respect to their role in the health and safety of participants.
10. Communicate applicable codes of conduct and the consequences of noncompliance to participants. Take appropriate action when participants are in violation.
11. In cases of serious health problems, injury, or other significant health and safety circumstances, maintain good communication among all program sponsors.
12. Provide these guidelines to participants and their parents/guardians/families regarding when and where the responsibility of the Study Abroad Office ends and the aspects of participants' overseas experiences that are beyond the control of the office. In particular, we generally:
- Cannot guarantee or ensure the safety of participants or eliminate all risks from the study abroad environments.
- Cannot monitor or control all of the daily personal decisions, choices, and activities of individual participants.
- Cannot prevent participants from engaging in illegal, dangerous or unwise activities.
- Cannot ensure that U.S. standards of due process apply in overseas legal proceedings or provide or pay for legal representation for participants;
- Cannot ensure that home-country cultural values and norms will apply in the host country.
- Cannot fully replicate home campus support services at overseas locations.
- Cannot assume responsibility for the actions of persons not employed or otherwise engaged by Overseas Study, for events that are not part of the program, or that are beyond the control of Overseas Study and its subcontractors, or for situations that may arise due to the failure of a participant to disclose pertinent information.
Recommendations to Families
In Study Abroad, as in other settings, parents, guardians, and families can play an important role in the health and safety of participants by helping them make decisions and by influencing their behavior overseas.
When appropriate, parents/guardians/families should:
1. Through their student participants, obtain and carefully evaluate health and safety information related to the program, as provided by the Study Abroad Office and other sources.
2. Be involved in the decision of the participant to enroll in a particular program.
3. Engage the participant in a thorough discussion of safety and behavior issues, insurance needs, and emergency procedures related to living abroad.
4. Be responsive to requests from the Study Abroad Office for information regarding the participant.
5. Keep in touch with the participant.
6. Be aware that some information may most appropriately be provided by the participant rather than the program.
While traveling abroad it is a good idea to keep multiple forms of identification on you at all times, including: driver’s license, passport, visa (if you require one), and an insurance card. Additionally, it is smart to make copies of all of these and keep them where you are living in case you should misplace one. The study abroad office should have a copy of your passport on file which is also there for you in an emergency situation.