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University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP)

Health, Safety & Security

Safety Planning and Important Information

The University of California partners with global security and emergency assistance providers to help UCEAP students get assistance anywhere in the world, if needed. Behind the scenes, the University of California assistance partners are tasked with supporting UCEAP students, UCEAP academic partners, and UCEAP study centers when the unexpected happens.  All students are automatically registered in iJET Worldcue, an internet-based database, that generates real-time alert intelligence and assessments of local situations that lets students know what’s going on as events occur and situations change, no matter where they are. Collaborating with top providers allows UCEAP staff and faculty to benefit from intelligence assets and logistical expertise when responding to emergencies.
 

Student Participant Responsibilities

Several documents outline a student's responsibilities, the UCEAP Statement of Understanding, the UCEAP Student Agreement, Study Abroad Guide, Program Guides, and UCEAP policies.  Safety on UCEAP is a shared responsibility and requires students to be well-informed and active participants in their own well-being overseas. Following is a partial list of student responsibilities in preparing to study abroad through UCEAP. 
 
  • become familiar with and acknowledge the risk of the particular activity, taking appropriate precautions as needed;
  • making a pre-departure self-assessment regarding appropriateness of participation in UCEAP;
  • attending all pre-departure and on-site orientations;
  • reading all program documentation and researching their destination country(ies); 
  • updating their local contact information through MyEAP;
  • obtaining appropriate travel immunization and medical advice; 
  • having an operational cell phone that works abroad for calls and text messaging;
  • familiarizing him/herself with the UCEAP accident and illness insurance and appropriate travel documents;
  • providing written acknowledgement and consent by signing the UCEAP Student Agreement; 
  • checking their official campus email account regularly during their stay abroad;
  • reporting any newly identified hazards to the local UCEAP staff and/or partner abroad;
  • in the event of an emergency (personal or regional) or crisis, following the official UCEAP instructions;
  • reporting all incidents to the local UCEAP staff and/or partner abroad;
  • acting safely and in a responsible manner and exercising good judgment at all times to prevent harm to him/herself and to others;

The Key to Safety and Security is Being Prepared

Talk to your student about health and safety. All students receive health and safety information, both general and specific to their destination, before departure and after arrival during on-site orientation. Make sure both you and your student have thoroughly reviewed this information.
 
UCEAP emergency staff are experienced and knowledgeable about emergency preparedness and incident management, and can be reached 24/7. The UCEAP Health, Safety and Emergency Response team in the Systemwide Office in California daily monitors world events, that could potentially impact UCEAP students, through several U.S. governmental agencies, security and intelligence providers, local resources, and its partners abroad. Make sure you, and your student, know how to reach local and UCEAP systemwide staff during an emergency.
 
Be aware of the different kinds of emergency situations that could occur while your student is abroad. These could include environmental (e.g., earthquakes, floods), personal (e.g., petty theft, assault),  health (e.g., illness), or safety (e.g., civil unrest, arrest) issues. Reading about and understanding the different situations that your student will encounter will help in having a personal emergency action plan.
 
Your student’s safety and security is UCEAP’s top priority; however, your student has a central role to play in minimizing potential dangers. Your student should become familiar with the risks involved and assess individual behaviors and/or daily choices that could heighten their risk.
 

How to prepare. . .

No amount of planning can anticipate every single problem that may arise but it is critical to be prepared.

 
All participants have a responsibility to educate themselves about their host country and exercise judgment and common sense in respect to their own safety, taking into account their own capabilities and circumstances at the time. To prepare for a healthy and safe study abroad experience students need to read about basic health and safety issues before leaving the U.S., know who to call during a local emergency, and to make informed, responsible, and reasonable decisions concerning health and safety once abroad. 
 
UCEAP cannot monitor students’ daily personal decisions, choices, or activities abroad any more than is the case on the UC campus. Students are expected to participate actively in minimizing their risks while participating in UCEAP and while traveling. The Study Center and/or UC partner institution is the immediate source of assistance to students in both routine and urgent matters and for general advice.
 
UCEAP strongly urges students to disclose any physical or mental health issues before departure on the relevant health forms to ensure that appropriate preparatory advice and ongoing support while abroad is made available as needed. This information is also critically important in the event of an emergency.
 
Before traveling during scheduled program breaks or weekends, students must always inform the UCEAP Study Center of their plans and seek advice and information regarding safety precautions for their destinations. They must sign out and update their local contact information through MyEAP. This step is critical in case of an emergency abroad or in the U.S.
 
Checklist for parents, guardians, and other family members
 
Families can play an important role in the health and safety of participants by helping them make decisions and by influencing their behavior while abroad.
 
  • Encourage your student to regularly review the U.S. Department of State travel information for the study location and for any destinations he or she plans to visit during program breaks or weekends.
  • Encourage your student to register with the U.S. Department of State STEP online registration.
  • Ensure that your student will carry, at all times, the 24/7 contact information for the UCEAP Study Center and local emergency services.
    Keep a copy of all contact information in your possession.
  • Obtain and carefully evaluate UCEAP program materials, and related health, safety, and emergency information.
    Know the program information and its geographic location. If you have questions after reviewing all program materials, ask your student.
  • Read about the geographical location and have a general idea of the program calendar.
  • Read about the health care system in the host country.
    Do not wait until your student is facing a medical situation to find out what your student will need to do. Make sure your student has important information about his/her medical history or health information in case access to care abroad is needed.
  • Discuss with your student any of his or her travel plans and activities that are independent of the program.
    Keep a copy of his or her travel itinerary during breaks.
  • Engage your student in a thorough discussion of safety and behavior issues, health-related issues, insurance needs, and emergency procedures related to living and studying abroad
  • Know how to stay in touch with your student while on UCEAP, especially during an emergency whether in the U.S. or abroad. 
  • Discuss safety and health precautions with your student before departure and after arrival. Prepare him/her with the information and skills to make informed decisions while abroad.
  • Emphasize to your student how important it is to maintain regular communication with the UCEAP Study Center while abroad.  Ensure that your student has a cell phone that works abroad so the local staff can reach him/her, particularly during an emergency.
  • Remind your student to call home, particularly if you have arranged before departure for your student to do so.
    Learn about your student’s arrival schedule as some programs have activities that may impact his/her ability to call home.
  • Locate the nearest U.S. Embassy in the city or cities your student will visit.
  • Make copies of all important documents such as your child’s passport, visa, itinerary, and credit cards.
  •  
  • Fire Safety: Make sure you, and your student, understand about fire safety and fire hazards while abroad. Fire safety standards vary dramatically around the world.  Purchase a smoke alarm that your student can take abroad. Consider purchasing a fire safety kit from http://www.firesafetyfoundation.org/education/14.html.

UCEAP Policy Limitations

 
The University of California Education Abroad Program provides information for required pre-departure and on-site orientation sessions that cover health and safety topics. However, UCEAP cannot:
 
  • Guarantee the safety of participants or ensure that risk will not be, at times, greater or similar than on a UC campus.
  • Eliminate all risks from the UCEAP environments abroad.
     
  • Monitor or control the daily personal decisions, choices, or activities of individual participants.
  •  
  • Prevent participants from engaging in illegal, dangerous, or unwise activities. 
     
  • UCEAP holds adult students accountable for following UCEAP and host institution policies, country laws, program-specific regulations, and for respecting and being responsive in a timely manner to UCEAP program officials, UCEAP representatives abroad, and partner institution officials. The decision to ignore or violate policies and regulations, to respect UCEAP officials and those acting on their behalf abroad,  or to endanger the safety or security of others will result in disciplinary action.
  •  
  • Assure that U.S. standards of due process apply in legal proceedings or provide or pay for legal representation for participants. Your student will be subject to the country’s laws and regulation, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the U.S. and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S .law.  Legal and administrative processes may be substantially different from those in the U.S. and slow by our standards.
  •  
  • Assume responsibility for situations that may arise due to the failure of a participant to disclose pertinent information.
  • Assure that American cultural values and norms will apply in the host country.

Emergencies

No amount of planning can anticipate every single problem that may arise but it is critical to be prepared.  We have contingency plans in place and monitor events 24/7 at all UCEAP locations, and surrounding regions.  We have staff in California and around the world who are experienced and knowledgeable in risk assessment/management, and emergency response, and security evacuation.
 
University of California Education Abroad Program operates an emergency response system based on four  levels to categorize a student incident or the situation in a given country, or location, depending on the risk to individual students, or the group of students and faculty, and a four-phased approach in response to relocation or evacuation triggers. Certain situations may call for an expedited response moving quickly through all four phases or moving directly to the third or fourth phase, but the intent would remain the same, in that a set approach is followed rather than an ad-hoc response.

 

Medical and Personal Emergencies

Medical Emergencies

University of California partners with Europ Assistance/USA (EA/USA), a worldwide assistance provider, that focuses on helping students wherever they encounter a medical or travel-associated problem. EA/USA has a network of 40, 24/7, multi-lingual assistance centers and 11 security operations centers, all supported by on-the-ground logistics and security assets.

While students should contact the UC Study Center representatives first for immediate attention to their emergency, EA/USA specializes in helping students navigate through unfamiliar healthcare systems to make sure they receive the care and attention that they need.
 
As all UCEAP students have adequate illness and accident coverage while on the program, EA/USA in partnership with ACE Insurance, the UCEAP insurance carrier, can help facilitate direct payment to health providers, if possible and allowed by country regulations.
 

Europ Assistance/USA (EA/USA) Contact Information

 
Within the U.S.: 1+866-451-7606
International collect calls from abroad: 1+202-828-5896 (access through an AT&T operator)

The UCEAP insurance plan is ADDN 04834823
 
EA/USA’s medical staff will get in touch with the student’s local attending physician(s) to assess the situation and investigate the quality of care the student receives, whether the local doctors are able to properly assess the student’s condition and treat the student according to Western Medical Standards and whether the treatment regimen is relevant to foster the student’s recovery. EA’s doctors will recommend transferring the student to a different facility or even back home if in their medical opinion they believe the care is not adequate. Medical evacuation is covered by the UCEAP insurance.
 
Checklist of parents/guardians and other family members
 
  • It is advisable to talk through a personal emergency contingency plan in case your student is injured or ill while abroad. Students are instructed to print and carry at all times their UCEAP insurance card, which contains important contact information. 
  • Read insurance benefits details and terms of coverage that are included in the UCEAP Insurance Plan.
  • It is good to prepare for the unexpected: Have a valid and updated passport ready with correct entry visas in case it becomes necessary for you to travel on a short notice to your student’s UCEAP destination.
  • Ask your student for the UCEAP emergency contact abroad.  Keep a copy of all contact information.

Personal Emergencies

If your student experiences a personal emergency while abroad, he/she should immediately contact the UC Study Center representatives who will address your student’s needs and will work closely with the appropriate staff at UCEAP. If your student is not at the program location, he/she can contact the UCEAP assistance provider directly. See contact information above.
 
Whether your student experiences a minor illness, setback, or a more serious illness, theft, etc., remind your student that the local UCEAP representatives and/or UC Study Center Director are their most important contacts for immediate assistance. One priority of the local UCEAP representatives is to manage the incident with the student's best interest in mind. Local staff are knowledgeable and experienced about the best approach and what is reasonable (culturally and resource wise) to expect from local healthcare providers, governmental entities, and legal systems.
 
Your student may call you directly, bypassing the local UCEAP representative. If you get a phone call from your student that is of concern, encourage him/her to contact the UCEAP local representative. Families/parents are often a student's most important emotional contact.
 
If your student is facing an emergency or an unresolved matter, please let us know immediately. Call the UCEAP 24/7 emergency line at 1+805-893-4762. We will contact the local UCEAP representative.
 
If you believe that your student is facing a personal emergency that he or she has not reported to the UC Study Center, contact UCEAP staff directly by phone at UCEAP’s Systemwide Office number: (805) 893-4762. A 24/7 attendant will respond and refer your call to the appropriate UCEAP staff on call. In the event of an actual emergency, the appropriate person will return your call as soon as possible. Non-emergency calls will be returned the next business day.
 

UCEAP Emergency Protocols

We have contingency plans in place and monitor events at all UCEAP locations, and surrounding regions, 24/7.  We have staff in California and around the world who are experienced and knowledgeable in risk assessment/management, and emergency response, and security evacuation.
 
The need to relocate or evacuate students and faculty often happens in an atmosphere of crisis and chaos so preparedness is crucial for UCEAP to be able to respond effectively and quickly to a changing security situation. If needed, UCEAP will relocate or evacuate students and faculty from a location to ensure they are not exposed to unnecessary risks.  Ideally this decision is taken before anyone is put in danger, but situations can deteriorate rapidly and media attention with 24-hour reporting (at times inaccurately) will make effective decision-making more complex.  The decision to relocate or evacuate is never easy. Some students will want to remain or feel that UCEAP is overreacting, or acting too cautiously.  Regardless of this, the decision will be taken by members of the UCEAP Crisis Management Team and the local faculty/staff.
 
Students are partners in sharing the responsibility for their own health and safety while on UCEAP. Health, safety, and security planning starts in advance of departure with critical information and orientation that students receive pre-departure. UCEAP provides:
 
  • A focused and multi-level approach to emergency preparedness and emergency plans tailored for each location to effectively coordinate timely local response resources.
  • Pre-departure and on-site orientations.
  • Emergency contact information for students while abroad.
  • Quality support services for students, including 24-hour dedicated emergency response staff support abroad and in California.
  • Proactive assessment and management of risk.
  • A dedicated 24/7 UCEAP health, safety, and emergency response unit that monitors health and safety issues around the world with the potential to impact UCEAP programming, faculty, staff, and students. The UCEAP health and safety unit staff monitor and assess world events, identify possible threats, review and update policies and protocols, and work with the local UCEAP and the Systemwide Office regional staffs in directing and managing responses to most student incidents.
  • 24-hour travel and security assistance through the Health, Safety, and Emergency Response unit at UCEAP Systemwide, and the University of California partners in keeping travelers safe: Europ Assistance-USA, iJET Intelligent Risk Systems, and ACE American Insurance Company.
  • UCEAP illness and accident insurance coverage anywhere in the world 24/7, starting 14 days before the official start of the program and up to 31 days after the end of the program, including security evacuation, and emergency medical evacuation and repatriation and other non-medical benefits.
  • In the event of an emergency at a UCEAP location/region abroad, updated information will be posted on the UCEAP website, Current Alerts page.

Suggested Personal Emergency Plan for Students

 
Students should learn about the kinds of situations that could happen where they live and anywhere in the world where they will be traveling (similar to following personal emergency protocols while in the U.S.). These could include environmental (e.g., earthquakes), personal (petty theft), health (injuries, illnesses), fire safety, etc. Knowing this information will help your student create an emergency plan.
 
Students should think about their daily activities and how an emergency might impact them. An emergency can be a stressful situation filled with distractions, noises and changing directions from local and UCEAP officials. Writing down instructions and/or talking with local UCEAP faculty/staff before an emergency will help your student focus and stay calm. 
 
Checklist for UCEAP Students
 
  • Get information on fire safety while abroad, read about local fire safety protocols, and design possible escape plans in case of fire. Identify two exits from every location.
  • Know about the UCEAP insurance coverage (medical and non-medical benefits).
  • Know where local emergency shelters, in case of an emergency, are located.
  • Register online with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive important emergency information from the local US Embassy.
  • Have emergency contact information for the UCEAP program and local emergency services within reach.
  • Know who to call during an emergency abroad.
  • Print and carry at all times your UCEAP insurance card.

Program, Region, or Country Emergencies (Civil Unrest, Natural Disaster, etc.)

UCEAP in California and local representatives monitor local conditions (political, natural, social, disease, etc.) in all UCEAP locations.
 
During a local emergency, UCEAP's, first concern is to quickly and effectively determine the safety and whereabouts of all students and to manage resources and make timely decisions to keep students safe. UCEAP will respond immediately to the emergency abroad working with on-site staff and following comprehensive emergency contingency plans to ensure that students are safe. In the event of a local crisis, our priority is to communicate with the local UCEAP faculty/staff, and students.
 
UCEAP's ability to effectively communicate is critical to the safety and security of our students/faculty and staff on location. The UCEAP Systemwide office in California many times must use all resources to quickly and effectively respond to the emergency, often under uncertain conditions.
 
UCEAP procedures require the use of different communications tools to contact as many people as possible in the shortest period of time. The UCEAP Alerts page will provide you with updates on any evolving situation. We will contact the student's emergency contact directly, when necessary.
 
If there is an emergency affecting an entire program, region, or country, check the UCEAP Current Alerts page. UCEAP regularly posts factual and updated information about situations abroad and indicates what actions are being taken to protect students.
 
While media fulfill a significant communication role during a natural disaster or crisis situation, it is important to note that media outlets work under pressure and time constraints to report so, at times, there may be an exaggerated broadcast about the magnitude of a particular crisis situation or natural disaster. Therefore, it is important to check different media outlets for accuracy to minimize anxiety and the spread of rumor.

Health

All participants are required to have a health clearance as a condition to participate. Please refer to the Health chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad for additional information.
 
If your student has a chronic medical condition, such as severe allergies, asthma, or diabetes, he/she should prepare to manage the condition abroad. Consider how travel stress including culture shock, unmet expectations, new environment, etc., will affect your student's health. Preexisting psychological conditions are often intensified by living in a different culture. Also, there may be fewer, or inadequate, local resources to help him/her manage potential triggers.
 
Encourage your student to reach out to the UCEAP local representative in case of any health issue.  UCEAP will work with your student and the UCEAP 24/7 assistance provider, Europ Assistance/USA (EA/USA), to find necessary medical care anywhere in the world. EA/USA can help your student find a local doctor, will monitor your student's care, can work through their local agents to guarantee payment, if possible, and will assist in any kind of travel needs that your student may encounter while traveling. For more information about EA/USA, click on the Emergencies tab above.
 

Psychological Health Issues

It is not unusual for university students to face some form of stress over the course of their academic experience, including while they’re studying abroad. Stress can range from personal to educational, and can impact in unexpected ways. The stresses of travel and life in an unfamiliar setting can exacerbate existing mild psychological disorders while studying abroad. Most students are generally able to cope; for some, these experiences can become overwhelming and unmanageable.
 
Travelling and studying abroad can trigger mental health issues. Help your student recognize symptoms, reach out for help locally, and learn strategies to manage mental health issues.

As a parent or family member, you may be the first person your student will reach out to when in distress or struggling. Being aware of what options are available to your student while abroad is central to identifying the most effective support available. Talk to your student so he/she can be informed about local resources that may be available, if necessary. This is particularly important if your student is traveling with psychotropic medication.
 

Culture Shock

 
Culture shock and homesick feelings are normal. It is easy to become worn down from physical and mental stress due to the vastly different environment. Most students expect to quickly adapt to the new culture—and they need to adjust rapidly if they are to effectively meet the academic demands placed upon them. Culture shock is a normal developmental phase of adjustment to a new cultural environment. It is not a psychological disorder. Most students who experience culture shock function reasonably well under the stress and are able to keep up with the responsibilities of school and everyday life. Strong emotional reactions are normal responses to abnormal situations and are to be expected under the circumstances. They are usually transitory—lasting a couple of weeks—and do not imply mental illness or an inability to cope.
 

Confidentiality

UC, Federal, and State privacy laws protect and ensure the confidentiality of medical information. UCEAP cannot require students to disclose a psychological health condition for which they have been or are being treated before their departure, especially if continued care is recommended. If your student begins to experience psychological health problems after their arrival at their program location, he/she should contact the Study Center staff immediately. 

If you believe that your student is experiencing serious psychological health problems, contact the UCEAP Systemwide Office immediately. Refer to the Health chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad for more information.
 

Traveling with Medications

  • Make arrangements with your student's physician to have enough medicine while abroad. Prescription medications for legitimate health conditions may come under intense scrutiny by foreign customs officials.
  • In some countries, drugs that are legal and readily available in the United States are considered illegal, require a prescription, or may arouse suspicions among local officials and customs and immigration authorities.
  • Mailing prescription and over-the-counter medication abroad is not recommended as it may be illegal in some countries. Customs officials in the local country may stop the shipment and charge prohibitive amounts to get the medications. 
  • Your student has been instructed to check with UCEAP's assistance provider, Europ Assistance/USA (EA/USA), before departure about availability and legality of medication. EA/USA contact information: Phone: 1+(866) 451‐7606 or e-mail: OPS@europassistance-usa.com. For more information, refer to the Health chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
 
If your student's prescribing doctor advises against taking a large supply of medication, he/she should provide a note with the diagnosis, treatment, and medication regime so that an overseas physician can fill the prescription locally, provided the medication is licensed and legal in the country. In some cases, the local physician may conduct an examination and confirm the diagnosis before filling the prescription provided by the U.S. doctor.
 
For more information, refer to the Health chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad for more information.
 

Allergies

Selecting safe foods in the U.S. may be easy, but a foreign menu can have many unexpected ingredients and the label will be in the local language.
  • Consult with a Travel Health Specialist.
  • Plan ahead, have an emergency care plan, and a letter from your doctor that confirms your food allergies and medications. Carry the documents with you at all times.
  • Research all your travel destinations.
  • Always be prepared for your worst-case scenario.
  • Careful preparation will make your trip safe and enjoyable. Make sure you have all the medicines you need for the duration of the trip and a for a few extra days in case of unexpected travel delays.
  • Consider wearing medical alert identification indicating your allergies. 
  • If you have to take any medications for your condition, make sure to have them on you at all times. This means antihistamines and epinephrine if you have a serious food allergy.
  • Find out how to talk about your allergies in the local language.
  • In a restaurant, don’t assume that just because the waitstaff has informed you they know how to deal with food allergies that your food will be safe.
Read more in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Health chapter.
 

Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Some UC students have serious alcohol and/or drug abuse problems. Alcohol and drug misuse and abuse have surfaced among the students studying abroad. Local laws, coupled with differing cultural, religious, or political views regarding alcohol and drug abuse, can have potentially dire consequences for your student. Impress upon your student the dangers of drug and alcohol misuse or abuse and the importance of adhering to UCEAP’s Substance Abuse Policy.