Health and Safety
In order to be safe abroad, you are responsible for reading, understanding, and abiding by the following policies:
- Handbook of Selected College Policies (.pdf)
- The Scot’s Key (.pdf)
- Code of Academic Integrity and Social Responsibility
- College of Wooster Drug and Alcohol Policies
- Your host institution’s policies
- Your program’s policies
- Host country/city laws. You can find basic information here.
The most common health concerns of students studying abroad are:
- Jet Lag
- Common cold
- Alcohol abuse
(International Educator Health and Insurance Supplement, 2010)
What is an emergency?
It is a circumstance that puts you at risk or has already compromised your well-being, health, and safety. Emergencies can be small or large and might include: physical or sexual assault, robbery, physical or emotional illness, accident, injury, hospitalization, terrorist threats or attacks, political or natural crises, arrest, legal action, or death.
- Read and evaluate all materials that your program provides for you.
- Know where the local emergency and medical facilities are located, how to contact them, and how to use them.
- Consider purchasing a cell phone when you arrive, allowing parents, and on-site staff to contact you in the event of an emergency.
- Take time to study a map and orient yourself to your new city, learn how to use public transportation so you can get home, know how to use a pay telephone, and learn basic vocabulary so you can ask for directions or help.
While traveling, do not assume that just because someone speaks your language that (s)he is “safe”.
While in a foreign country (or unfamiliar city), you will be expected to abide by the local customs and obey the laws of that country/city. This applies notably to the illegal sale of drugs and alcohol abuse. Each year, more than 2,500 American citizens are arrested abroad – about half on narcotics charges, including possession of very small amounts of illegal substances. Remember, a U.S. Passport will not protect you from arrest or detention resulting from the violation of local laws.
Did you know?
The United States Department of State provides the “iPhone App Smart Traveler”, a tool designed to provide easy access to frequently updated official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps and U.S. embassy locations.
In cases of political instability…
If you are in a politically unstable country, or should the environment in your host country change during your time abroad, avoid taking part in protests, public demonstrations, or other gatherings even if you support the cause. Public protests often turn dangerous and the political responses could vary greatly by country.
What if you lose your Passport?
The loss or theft of a valid United States Passport should be reported immediately by phone or in writing to:
United States Department of State
Consular Lost/Stolen Passport Section
1111 19th St., NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
Outside the United States: Contact the nearest United States Embassy or Consulate
Additional Resources for a Successful Off-Campus Experience
- Association for Safe International Road Travel - Road travel reports including road conditions, transportation options, regulations and statistics. Tips for road travel safety and best practices, with a special section for study abroad.
- Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Emergency Numbers Around the World (.pdf)
- Medical College of Wisconsin Travel Health
- SAFETI - Safety Abroad First Educational Travel Information handbook by the Center for Global Education.
- Sarah's Wish - A foundation with study abroad travel guidelines and a safety video "Know Before You Go."
- Travel Clinic - A guide to staying healthy during travel abroad, before you go, while you're away, and when you return.
- Travelers Vaccines - Pre-departure, on-site and re-entry travel health tips plus a travel clinic locator.
- U.S. Department of State Travel Information – Students should check this site for information and updates from the U.S. State Department about current safety and security issues.
- List of U.S. consulates, embassies and diplomatic missions abroad
- World Health Organization - World health by country and by topic.