General Health & Safety Recommendations
UConn Travel Clinic
The UConn Travel Clinic, 860-486-0773, provides information on immunizations and/or shots necessary for travel in certain areas of the world and other pertinent health information. Further questions or concerns should be directed towards a family doctor. Students with medical conditions should discuss possible effects of a study abroad experience with their doctor. A Health Information Form in which you have the option of disclosing medical information to the UConn Education Abroad and to your Resident Director (for UConn programs) is required post-acceptance. We strongly encourage you to submit an equivalent form to your third party provider, if this applies to you.
Prescriptions & Medications
If you take prescription medicine, you should research whether it is available in your host country and bring a copy of the prescription for the generic name of the drug. In developed countries, you will need to take only an initial supply of the medication; in most developing countries, you will want to take a supply that will last your entire stay. Make sure all medications are in your carry-on.
If you regularly use any over-the-counter remedies, you may want to take an initial or full-year’s supply. For customs purposes, take all medicines in their original containers. For more information and tips on medication, visit this page on Counseling and Mental Health’s website.
Students should not hesitate to inform their Resident Director, third party provider or host family of any medical problem. Students participating in most UConn-offered study abroad programs are automatically enrolled in CISI International Health Insurance. Click on “Cultural Insurance Services International Health Insurance” on the left of this page for details on the coverage.
Itineraries and Passports
Leave a detailed itinerary with family or friends. This will be invaluable in case they need to contact you in case of an emergency.
Leave a copy of your passport biographical-data page with a friend or relative in the United States. If prompted to upload a copy of your passport within your online study abroad program application, be sure to do so. It is always easier to replace a lost or stolen passport if a copy is easily accessible.
Sign your passport, and fill in the emergency information. Make sure you have a signed, valid passport, and a visa, if required, and fill in the emergency information page of your passport.
Familiarize yourself with local conditions and laws. While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. The State Department web site at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country.html has useful safety and other information about the countries you will visit.
The first thing you should do when you arrive in your host city is to contact your family and/or friends to let them know you’ve reached your destination. You should also learn the local equivalent of 911. It is your responsibility ensure that you know how to access emergency services if/when needed.
One great benefit of studying abroad is the opportunity to travel to other destinations during your free time. Please note that if you plan to do any extra traveling you are required to inform your Resident Director (Faculty-led and Third Party programs) where you are going, where you are staying and when you are returning.
Students participating in all UConn study abroad programs are required to follow the laws of the country in which they are travel and abide by the UConn Code of Conduct. Illegal, irresponsible drinking and/or misbehaving while drinking are violations of the University’s policy and students will face consequences.
Tips for Staying Safe
- Know about local safety conditions. Students should do their homework before traveling.
- Avoid poorly lit places and walking alone. Stick to well-traveled streets and try to walk in groups at night. Students should be especially cautious when in a new city and not yet sure what parts of town may be less safe.
- Don’t carry valuables, even in a backpack, or locked luggage. If you must carry cameras, radios, etc. don’t leave them unattended.
- Don’t flaunt wallets, purses, or cameras. Wear a money belt concealed under clothing.
- Use alcohol sparingly and be aware that drinking even a small amount could increase your vulnerability to crime. Drink responsibly!
- Leave expensive or expensive-looking jewelry at home.
- Be on the offensive, rather than the defensive. Be aware of the surroundings.
- Avoid political demonstrations, large crowds and gatherings.
- Let Resident Director and/or on-site staff know if you are traveling during, before or after the program.
- Integrate into the host culture as much as possible – clothing, mannerisms, language.
- Be careful to not give out information about your group to strangers (i.e., don’t carelessly discard information about your classmates’ addresses & telephone numbers).
- Be aware of what is going on.
- Have phone numbers of program contacts handy at all times.
- Know how to reach a doctor, a hospital or clinic, and the police in the country in which you are traveling.
- Have sufficient funds or a credit card on hand for emergencies.
The health and safety of our study abroad participants are primary concerns at the University of Connecticut. As a result, these guidelines have been developed for study abroad providers, including the University of Connecticut, study abroad participants, and their parents/guardians/families. Since guidelines alone cannot guarantee the health and safety of participants, the following address issues of general concern and the responsibilities of all parties. It is, of course, not possible to account for all the inevitable variations in actual cases, so those involved must also rely upon their experience and thoughtful judgment while considering the unique circumstances of each situation.
Responsibilities of UConn Education Abroad
1. Conduct periodic assessments of health and safety conditions for UConn approved programs, including program-sponsored accommodations, classroom facilities, events, excursions and other activities, prior to program. 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 guidelines for program directors and staff with respect to managing emergencies abroad.
3. Provide orientation meetings and materials to participants prior to departure for the program and on-site, 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.
4. Consider health and safety issues in evaluating the appropriateness of an individual’s participation in a study abroad program.
5. In the participant screening process, consider factors such as disciplinary history that may impact on the safety of the individual or the group.
6. Provide students with information on the role of and assistance provided by the on-site resident director or program coordinator.
7. Discuss with students, following their selection but prior to their participation in a study abroad program, individual health and disciplinary history issues that may impact on the safety of the individual or the group.
8. Provide health insurance (including emergency evacuation and repatriation) to participants or assure that participants receive information about how to obtain such coverage.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. Communicate applicable codes of conduct and the consequences of noncompliance to participants. Take appropriate action when participants are in violation.
12. In cases of serious health problems, injury, or other significant health and safety circumstances, maintain good communication among all program sponsors and representatives.
13. Provide these guidelines to participants and their parents/guardians/families regarding when and where the responsibility of the UConn Office of Global Affairs – Education Abroad ends, and the aspects of participants’ overseas experiences that are beyond the control of Education Abroad. In particular, the Office of Global Affairs – Education Abroad 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;
Responsibilities of Student Participants
In study abroad, as in other settings, students can have a major impact on their own health and safety through the decisions they make before and during their program and by their day-to-day choices and behaviors.
Students Participants should:
1. Participate fully in all orientations before departure and on-site, and read and carefully consider all information provided by the Office of Global Affairs – Education Abroad and host providers/institutions 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 the Office of Global Affairs – Education Abroad 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.
Recommendations to Parents/Guardians/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.
1. Be involved in the decision of the participant to enroll in a particular program.
2. Through their student participants, obtain and carefully evaluate health and safety information related to the program, as provided by the Office of Global Affairs – Education Abroad and host providers/institutions.
3. Engage the participant in a thorough discussion of safety and behavior issues, the relevant insurance policy, and emergency procedures related to living abroad.
4. Be responsive to requests from the Office of Global Affairs – Education Abroad 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.
This document is adapted from NAFSA’s Interorganizational Task Force on Safety and Responsibility in Study Abroad, 2001.
UConn Education Abroad also stays abreast of the worldwide political and health issues using the following sites:
Parts of this page were adapted from Arizona State University’s Study Abroad page.