Health and Safety Information
In study abroad as in other settings, students' personal decisions and
behaviors can have a major impact on their personal health and safety. Ultimately,
traveling abroad involves preparing for many of the same precautions that one
would take while traveling within the U.S.
However, depending on a student's destination and his or her personal
choices, students may need to be aware of additional potential health and
safety risks when traveling overseas. There
are many resources available to help students better understand risks
associated with traveling and living in foreign countries as well as
precautions that can be taken. Additionally, while it is not possible to
eliminate all potential risks while abroad, there are many things that students
can do in advance of their travel to prepare for a study abroad experience and
minimize potential risks.
To aid students as they plan and consider potential health and safety considerations,
we have put together the information below to address various topics related to
health and safety while abroad. In
addition to the information provided on this page, study abroad students must
attend a mandatory pre-departure orientation session in which health and safety
issues are covered. Contact the International Center for specific date(s)
regarding pre-departure orientations.
Additionally, refer to the
Study Abroad Handbook (pdf - 311 KB) for additional health and safety information.
In an Emergency
In the event of an emergency overseas, study abroad participants should
first contact the appropriate local authorities as well as their on-site
emergency contact. Each program has an on-site person whom you can contact for
any emergency situation. This may be a program director or someone in the
international office at your host university. Make sure that you know who your
on-site emergency contact is as soon as you arrive in your host country.
In the case of a serious emergency abroad, contact the Winthrop University
Campus Police at 803/323-3333. They have a representative available 24 hours a
day to respond to student emergencies.
Remember that "911" is not the universal emergency number; make sure
that you know the emergency numbers for your host country.
All Winthrop students are required to
have sufficient health and accident insurance protection during their study
abroad program. Winthrop University has worked with Cultural Insurance Services
International (CISI) to offer comprehensive international health insurance to
Winthrop students for $40/month. The insurance has no deductible. Students can
get further details and enroll in the CISI policy through the International Center.
As wonderful an experience as study
abroad can be, it is important for students to make responsible personal
decisions while abroad. Students are
encouraged to carefully take note of the safety risks and relevant precautions
involved in traveling and living in a foreign country. Issues of safety
are covered in the Study Abroad Handbook (pdf - 311 KB) that
study abroad students receive prior to studying abroad and are also reviewed
during the mandatory pre-departure orientation. When students arrive at
their study abroad sites, they usually receive additional information regarding
safety issues. Students should carefully read the Study Abroad Handbook
and consider all materials issued by the program sponsor that relate to safety,
health, legal, environmental, political, cultural, and religious conditions in
their host country.
Similar to living in the U.S., being
cognizant of personal safety concerns is also important while overseas. It is a good idea to guard valuable personal
items and avoid visibly handling large amounts of cash, expensive jewelry,
and/or technology in public areas. As
part of a student's personal safety, students are encouraged to create a
passport kit for themselves and provide a kit for their parents/family members
prior to leaving the US. The duplicate
lost passport kit should contain two passport photos, an official copy of his
or her birth certificate, a photocopy of the photo, signature, and visa pages
of passport. If a student's passport is
misplaced, lost or stolen, the items in the kit will facilitate a smoother
transition for replacing your document(s).
Identity theft is a global problem, so it is also a smart choice to
share credit card numbers (especially the 800 numbers on the back of the card)
with parents or family members in the event that a card is lost or stolen.
The U.S. Department of State
The U.S.Department of State offers
valuable information for students who are planning to travel or study
abroad. Students should read the State Department's Country Information Sheet for the country in which they plan to study or visit, and check any
Public Announcements or Travel Warnings that may pertain to that particular
country. Country Information Sheets provide an overview of conditions
pertaining to travel in each country. Students are strongly advised to
register with the US embassy in their host country. Students can do this
via the embassy's website. Students who are not US citizens should
register themselves with their country's embassy in the host country.
iPhone App Smart Traveler
The U.S. Department of State has released the iPhone App Smart Traveler. This app is a tool designed to provide easy
access to frequently updated official country information, travel alerts,
travel warnings, maps, and U.S. embassy locations. Pulling from content posted
to the U.S. State Department website
this free app allows users to see travel warnings and alerts issued by the
State Department, gather background information about different countries, and
find U.S. embassies and consulates overseas.
Students are also advised to consult
the website of the U.S. Department of State at http://studentsabroad.state.gov/ and http://www.travel.state.gov to find resources including:
Country Information Sheets
for American Students Abroad
U.S. Embassies around the World
Registration with Embassies
U.S. Department of State - Students Abroad
and their families should be aware that the U.S. Department of State maintains
a website for U.S. citizen students who are, or will
be, studying abroad. This is a one-stop reference for Country
Specific Information, tips for safe travel, and other important information
about studying, traveling, and living overseas. Students and parents may
download flyers and tip cards.
U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheet
travel warnings for Americans in light of political unrest or health issues in
individual countries as well as announcements for particular regions. In
addition, please visit the Nations Online site which
pulls together global travel warning information from 10 different
national governments plus the World Health Organization.
Registering with the U.S. while
US citizens living abroad can register with their nearest embassy or
consulate through the U.S.
Department of State's website. By doing so, students will receive
updated information on travel and security within the country to which you are
heading. Registering with the US Department of State can also make it easier
for the U.S. Embassy (and your family) to locate you in case of an emergency or
Personal Health & Immunizations
The most frequent health issues faced
by students abroad are those that affect travelers in general and include
gastrointestinal troubles, colds, and flu. The stress of adjusting to a
new culture and new physical environmental can also contribute to health
problems. Minor, moderate, and serious (physical and mental) health
issues can and do arise. Sometimes these issues are not new to the
student but are exacerbated when the student tackles the challenges of living
in a different culture far from his or her normal routine and support
system. Some health issues may be new to the student or unique to the
host country or region. The Health & Wellness Center on-campus has a
Travel Clinic where students can seek advice on health issues involved with
living in another country.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recognized as the
leading federal agency for promoting, preventing, and controlling disease,
injury and disability. The CDC's website has a Travelers'
Health section that students should consult prior to departure. This
site will also help students determine, with their doctor's guidance, the
immunizations required and suggested for the area(s) where they plan to travel.
Because some inoculations require a series of medical visits over the course of
several months students should begin to investigate whether or not they need
immunizations well in advance of their study abroad experience. The CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) have websites
containing helpful information on health risks and considerations for most
countries and regions around the world.
Winthrop Travel Clinic
World Health Organization
Mental Health Abroad
Studying abroad is not a cure for existing mental health conditions. In fact, the stresses associated with
studying overseas may make existing
conditions worse by adding stress, unfamiliarity, culture shock, language
barriers, and removing a student from his/her normal support system. If you are
struggling with a mental health condition, you should carefully consider whether
or not studying abroad is right for you, and consult with your physician as you
make plans. Be sure to describe to your doctor your intended study abroad
plans, including which countries you intend to visit, what you would be doing, and
the duration of the program. The Study Abroad Office can help make sure that
you have the support and resources necessary to be successful overseas.
If you are taking any prescription medications, ensure you have all the proper
documentation for bringing your medication into your host country. We
recommend you visit your doctor at least one month before departure to make
sure you are fit to go abroad and that any medication complications are worked
out. Not all medications approved in the U.S. are legal in other
countries, and some countries have stricter regulations than others. This
is especially true of ADHD medications and other psychotropic
medications. Ask your doctor if your medication is legal in your host
country, and if it is not, talk to your doctor about switching to another
your medication is legal, you must:
- Bring your
medication in its original containers, which should be clearly labeled.
- Bring a
copy of your prescription.
enough medication for the duration of your time abroad.
- Bring a
note from your doctor explaining your medical condition, the medication,
and why you are carrying such a large supply.
- Be sure to
bring all of these things in your carry-on luggage to present at
customs. DO NOT PACK YOUR MEDICATION IN YOUR CHECKED BAGGAGE.
It is important to have all of these documents on hand so your medication
is not held up at customs. It can be very difficult and costly to
get a new prescription in your host country. It may also be illegal
to have any medication shipped to you.
If you have allergies, reactions to certain medications, foods, or insect
bites, or other unique medical problems, it is strongly suggested you disclose
this information to the Study Abroad Office as well as the host institution
where you will be studying abroad. You may also want to consider
wearing a "medical alert" bracelet. Talk with your doctor to
determine what the required medical treatment for your allergies should
be. You may also wish to carry a letter from your physician explaining
any necessary treatment. If you take over-the-counter allergy medication,
you will want to research the availability of your medicine abroad.
is a good idea to learn how to say what you are allergic to and describe your
allergic reaction in the language of your host country.
Your host country's gastronomy may differ significantly from what you typically
eat and consume in the US. If you have dietary restrictions, it is
strongly suggested you disclose this information to the Study Abroad Office as
well as the host institution where you will be studying abroad. Certain
programs may have dietary and food restrictions that will be discussed during
the program. Your program manager will discuss any food limitations or
restrictions during their program-specific orientation.
how to say what your dietary restrictions are in the country's host language
will help you to obtain the food you can eat and avoid the food you
cannot. Research the food available in your host country, and do not
assume that the food you want or are used to eating will be readily
Learning about your Host Country
The more a student understands about his or her host country prior to
studying abroad, the better prepared the student will be in day-to-day
interactions and in the event of an emergency overseas. Make sure to take some
time to research the culture and customs of your host country. Some important topics
dress for people from that country (including gender norms)
- Views on
citizens of the U.S.
& food safety
there is a known significant increase in the level of potential danger to
Winthrop students in a city or region where they study abroad, University
officials meet to determine what steps to take to maximize student
safety. U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings and Public
Announcements, the travel advice of other governments, news sources, the
resident directors and international student offices at the study abroad sites,
and other information sources are all instrumental in informing University
decisions. Encourage students to
utilize their on-site resources in-country while overseas, but also know that
the staff at the International Center are also available to assist as