Safety Information for Parents and Families
BE INFORMED. BE PREPARED.
You may need to travel to the location on a moment's notice. Have a valid passport with the correct visa.
Thank you for supporting your student in their quest to expand their studies through an education abroad program. It will be a defining period in your student's life. Given the uncertainties of today's world and media focus on disasters in other countries, parents are naturally concerned about keeping their students safe and making sure they have the best possible study abroad experience. It is understandable. It is unsettling to be so far away from your student knowing that they are living in an unfamiliar environment.
Stay involved with safety planning as your student prepares. While supporting your student in developing the independence, maturity, and responsibility it takes to navigate competently in a cross-cultural context, it is critical that you stay informed. For an overview of UCEAP's health and safety protocols refer to UCEAP International Risk Management and Emergency Response.
Your student's welfare is a partnership with UCEAP. While no one can guarantee safety in the U.S. or abroad, UCEAP has several health and safety measures in place. UCEAP staff monitors current international political, social, and economic conditions and events in program locations. In addition, faculty and staff at the program site are trained and available to facilitate student safety and to support students who may need medical assistance. Key to this responsibility is the student's involvement in planning and preparation before their UCEAP experience. We provide students with necessary resources and tools. Our expectation is that our students will be proactively committed to their preparation before departure and will call our staff in California or abroad if they need help or have additional questions.
Before departure, students receive ample health and safety information about their program site. All students have coverage through the UCEAP travel insurance
. One of the benefits of participation in UCEAP is that through our assistance partners and local staff/partners, we provide immediate travel and emergency assistance, automatic registration with iJET International, the UC security services provider, and 24/7 response to emergencies. All students will receive travel alerts automatically from iJET based on their program location.
As students are legal adults, our communication will be primarily with our students. We always encourage students to share important information with their parents or guardians. During emergencies, we will communicate with student's emergency contacts as allowed by Federal laws.
UCEAP also strongly encourages students to register online with the US Department of State
. UCEAP works closely with risk assessment experts and emergency evacuation services, and provides ongoing information, monitoring and communication with UC staff and faculty, and partner institutions abroad. UCEAP also works closely with the UC campus student health centers on pre-departure preparations and consultation in case of an emergency abroad.
Know Before your Student Travels
The University of California Facilitates UC Travelers' Safety
The University of California partners with global security and emergency travel assistance providers to help UCEAP students get assistance anywhere in the world, if needed. Behind the scenes, the University of California robust assistance network supports UCEAP students, academic partners, and study centers when the unexpected happens.
All students are automatically registered with iJET Worldcue, an internet-based intelligence agency, to receive real-time alerts, destination intelligence, and assessments of local situations that informs the UCEAP community, including students about events as they occur and as situations change, for every UCEAP program location in the world. Collaborating with top security intelligence providers allows UCEAP staff and faculty to benefit from instant security intelligence and logistical expertise to keep students safe.
UCEAP Student Responsibilities
Your student can stay safe and healthy abroad by taking some simple precautions.
Resilience against the impact of global threats will depend on preparedness and timely response. Students should always report any safety concern or crime to onsite local staff immediately. The staff can help the student in contacting the appropriate local authorities as necessary. Students, and their parents/guardians, should review policies to become familiar with UCEAP expectations.
Several documents outline a student's responsibilities, the UCEAP Statement of Understanding, the UCEAP Student Agreement, Guide to Study Abroad, 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 as they prepare for UCEAP.
- Becoming 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 local calls and text messaging that does not depend on local Wi-Fi. This could be either a phone purchased locally or unlocking an existing smartphone and installing a local SIM card after arrival.
- Checking out officially through MyEAP while travelling for the weekend or during a break so UCEAP local staff can locate your student in the event of an emergency.
- Providing written acknowledgement and consent by signing the UCEAP Student Agreement;
- Checking their official campus email account regularly during their stay abroad.
- Remaining alert to dangers and risks at all times, particularly in places that are unfamiliar or feel uncomfortable;
- Reporting any hazards/threats to the local UCEAP staff and/or partner abroad;
- Following all official UCEAP instructions in the event of an emergency (personal or regional) or crisis;
- Reporting all incidents to the local UCEAP staff and/or partner abroad;
- Responding to welfare drills in a timely manner.
- Acting safely and in a responsible manner and exercising good judgment at all times to prevent harm to self and/or to others.
Preparation and Awareness
Think about possible kinds of emergency situations that could occur while your student is abroad. These can include environmental (e.g., earthquakes, floods), personal (e.g., petty theft, assault), health (e.g., illness, exacerbation of pre-eexisting conditions), or safety (e.g., civil unrest, arrest, sexual assault) issues. Reading about and understanding the different situations that your student will encounter can help in having a personal emergency action plan.
Know who to call in an emergency before an emergency occurs.
Your student’s safety and security is a UCEAP 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 students 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.
Students need to research various online resources (US Department of State Students Abroad
, US CDC Travelers Health
, etc.) . Read about basic health, local endemic illnesses, travel vaccinations, and safety issues before leaving the U.S., Know who to call during a local emergency, and make informed, responsible, and reasonable decisions concerning health and safety once abroad.
Advise your student not to take risks that he/she wouldn’t at home.
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.
Encourage your student to disclose any physical or mental health issues before departure on the relevant UCEAP health forms to get advice and to plan for ongoing support while abroad. This information is also critically important in 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. so we can reach your student, particularly during an emergency.
Checklist and tips for parents, guardians, and other family members
Help your student to make responsible decisions and choices while abroad. The health section of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
covers a number of important issues to address with your student before departure. We encourage you to read it carefully and contact our office if you have questions.
Communicating with your Student while Abroad
PLAN BEFORE DEPARTURE:
Cell phones while abroad - Having a cell phone with local and international plans is a necessity. Contact your phone service provider to arrange for a calling card, an international calling plan, or learn the most inexpensive way for your student to call collect or wirelessly from the destination country. Make sure that you have a telephone number where you can reach your student and know the times of day when he or she is most likely to be available.
You may not hear from your student for several days after the start of the program. Silence does not necessarily mean something is wrong. There is a whirlwind of activity for your student - it will be a busy and overwhelming time. Communications may be a challenge during the first couple of days. A U.S. cell phone may not work overseas unless it is compatible with international GSM standards. Even if it is, they will have to purchase and use plug-in "SIM cards" to make calls at local rates..
In the event of an emergency or crisis abroad, local UCEAP staff and its partners will reach out to your student with instructions and accurate information. We will use any means possible (e.g., text, email, phone, WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat). It is critical for your student to have a phone with a local plan that does not rely on Wi-Fi so our staff and partners can reach your student even if not close to a hotspot. If your student is facing an emergency and needs to call local emergency services, they must have a phone with a local plan; otherwise, they will not be able to get timely help when they need it. In many countries, local cell phones with local plans are inexpensive.
- 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 online with the U.S. Department of State STEP, to receive important security messages directly from the local US Embassy/Consulate.
- 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. This information is on your student's online program guide.
- 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 geographic 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. Establish a communication plan using all means available: email, text, cell, etc.
- 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. If your student contacts you from abroad and is unhappy, upset, frustrated, it will make you anxious. Due to the distance and your inability to help, you may feel helpless. Direct your student to reach out to the local staff/partners for support. Any questions or concerns from your student while abroad can be managed much more efficiently and in real time by the local staff or partners.
- Ensure that your student has a cell phone that works locally so the local staff can reach him/her, particularly during an emergency.
- Have a plan for communication: Make sure you have a good understanding of how to reach your student at the program site and when he/she is traveling, and that you have clear expectations about how closely your student will be in touch with you.
- 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.
- Make sure you, and your student, know how to reach local and UCEAP Systemwide staff during an emergency.
- Sexual Violence: It is a global problem, not only in the U.S. In the event of a sexual assault abroad, UCEAP students are urged to seek local support from their Study Center, or directly by contacting a local survivor support organization. UCEAP has compiled a list of sexual violence resources available in all program locations, and on each UC campus. Survivors need a circle of support around them to begin healing and you will form a big part of such support. Giving the survivors a safe space to contemplate their options begins a healing process of regaining power after theirs has been taken away. You can review resources on how to support a survivor through the UCB website, here http://survivorsupport.berkeley.edu/support
- 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 the Fire Safety Foundation.
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.
UCEAP Student Policies
Parents and students should educate themselves on official UCEAP policies, terms, and conditions. Students are governed by and responsible for complying with this sets of policies:
BE INFORMED. BE PREPARED.
You may need to travel to the location on a moment's notice. Have a valid passport with the correct visa.
UCEAP Emergency Response Protocols
No amount of planning can anticipate every problem that may arise but it is critical to be prepared. UCEAP Systemwide has contingency plans in place and monitors global events 24/7 at all UCEAP locations and surrounding regions. Staff in California and around the world who are experienced and knowledgeable in risk assessment/management, emergency response, and security evacuation communicate regularly concerning any events that may affect UCEAP students.
The University of California Education Abroad Program operates a robust 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 remains the same: a set approach is followed, rather than an ad-hoc response.
For an overview of UCEAP Emergency Response Protocols, refer to the document below.
As a UCEAP participant, your student will have support he/she needs if an emergency arises. In addition to UCEAP local and partner institution staff in charge of student welfare, the University of California partners with United Healthcare Global Assistance, which administers the UCEAP travel insurance policy to provide worldwide medical and travel-related assistance services.
Students can access their travel insurance card here
. Students are instructed to print it and carry it in their person at all times.
Students should contact the local UCEAP Study Center or partner institution staff first for immediate assistance.
Checklist of parents/guardians and other family members
- 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 the UCEAP travel insurance policy details and terms of coverage that are included in the UCEAP Travel Insurance brochure.
- 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 program location. Read about Emergency Reunion benefits in the UCEAP travel insurance brochure.
- Ask your student for the UCEAP emergency contact abroad. Keep a copy of all contact information.
- Before your son/daughter departs for their program, discuss how you will handle any family emergencies that may arise. A plan should include all family telephone numbers; access codes for messages on family voicemail; contact information for out-of state relatives; and email addresses, including a backup address.
If your student experiences a personal emergency while abroad, he/she should immediately contact the local UCEAP Study Center or partner institution staff. They will address your student’s needs and will work closely with the appropriate UCEAP Systemwide staff . If your student is not at the program location, he/she can contact the UCEAP assistance provider, United Healthcare Global
, directly during an emergency. See contact information above.
Whether your student experiences a minor illness, setback, or a more serious situation, remind your student that the local UCEAP Study Center or partner institution staff are their immediate responders. One priority of the local UCEAP representatives is to manage the incident with the student's best interest and welfare 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.
Families/parents are often a student's most important emotional contact. Your student may call you directly, bypassing the local UCEAP staff. If you get a phone call from your student that is of concern, encourage him/her to contact their local UCEAP representative.
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 to ensure the student receives necessary support, appropriate to their situation
If you believe that your student is facing a personal emergency that he or she has not reported to local UCEAP or partner institution staff, contact 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.
The University of California has contingency plans in place and regularly monitors events at all UCEAP locations, and surrounding regions, 24/7. Staff in California and around the world 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 acting too cautiously. Regardless, the decision is the responsibility of the University of California Office of the President, in coordination with the UCEAP Crisis Management Team and 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, and continues while students are abroad. 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 for all UCEAP programs and locations.
- UCEAP uses multiple communication methods for providing students with critical health and safety information; through their Campus EAP advisor, student handbook, in-depth pre-departure and onsite orientations, and onsite updates via email and text.
- A dedicated 24/7 UCEAP health, safety, and emergency response unit that monitors health and safety issues with the potential to impact UCEAP programming, faculty, staff, and students. The UCEAP Health, Safety, and Emergency Response 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 staff in directing and managing responses to 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: iJET Intelligent Risk Systems, United Healthcare Global (UHCG), and ACE American Insurance Company. Students need to register their itinerary to receive customized intelligence reports covering entry/exit, security, health, transportation, culture, language, environment, financial, communication and legal concerns for their specific destination(s), then receive real-time alerts before, during, and after their trip about changing conditions that might affect their itinerary or long-term stay. This constant support allows travelers to stay safe and to circumvent potential difficulties with minimal program disruption.
- UCEAP travel 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.
- Constant communication flow is maintained between UCEAP Systemwide and UCEAP or partner institution staff abroad.
- 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 and water safety, transportation problems, and more. Knowing this information will help your student create an emergency plan.
Students are encouraged to proactively 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 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.
- Registration with UCEAP’s security assistance service provider, iJET, is automatic and provides free ongoing safety updates pertaining to the program location and region.
- 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, Regional, or Country Emergencies
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.
In the event of a regional situation affecting U.S. citizens, the local U.S. embassy will post notices on its website, broadcast information through local media channels, and contact U.S. citizens using any known email addresses or phone numbers for students registered in the U.S. Department of State’s STEP program, as advised. In the rare case that the situation is potentially life threatening, the embassy will advise all U.S. citizens to leave the country, and it may be able to offer some assistance in doing so. UCEAP will work with the local Study Center or partner institution staff, and the UCEAP security assistance provider. If your child is studying in or traveling to a country that is prone to natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions or floods, or places where political and social upheaval is commonplace, he or she should take extra precautions by becoming familiar with local evacuation plans on the country’s website.
Before going abroad, make sure your student gest a complete physical, dental, and eye check-up 6 weeks before leaving. Inform yourself of all health risks, endemic diseases, food/water precautions and US CDC-recommended travel immunizations. Know where the best hospitals and clinics are located in the country your student will be visiting and studying in. Have a copy of all local program contact information. Make sure you have a valid passport and a visa for the country where your student will be studying.
UCEAP Travel Insurance
UCEAP students are automatically covered by the UCEAP travel insurance policy. It is separate coverage from the student’s UC campus health insurance plan (SHIP), or private insurance. There is no need to take action to activate coverage.
More information about insurance, including a link to the insurance card, claim forms, benefit details, policy brochure, extension of insurance, the affordable care act (ACA), gap in coverage before or after the program, can be accessed through the UCEAP website, Participants
country portal -insurance
tab and within the Insurance
section of this website.
Managing Existing Medical Conditions Abroad
Physical health is essential to student well-being and success abroad. Students begin to receive information about health matters during pre-departure orientation and are required to obtain a health clearance before they can participate in UCEAP. For some locations, students obtain additional country-specific details through an online travel course which includes special location-specific health information, instructions, and advice in order to prepare for healthy and safe participation in their program.
Parents are encouraged to communicate with their student who will need to anticipate any health issues that could arise while abroad. With advanced planning, students with preexisting medical conditions can identify whether adequate health care resources are available in their chosen destination before they depart. Information about local medical care will also be provided by the host university staff during the on-site orientation.
While living abroad can present special health challenges; forward planning, country awareness, appropriate preventive measures, and careful precautions can substantially reduce the risks of adverse health consequences abroad. Please refer to the Health
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and the country-specific pre-departure checklist for more details.
In the event of an illness or minor injury, your student should contact the UCEAP or partner institution local staff for referrals to local medical care. In the event of a medical emergency only, your student should proceed to the emergency room of a local hospital, contact the UCEAP or partner institution local staff and UnitedHealthcare Global Assistance at +1-410-453-6330 international collect.
As a parent or family member, you may be the first person your student will reach out to when in distress or struggling. We encourage you to help your student recognize symptoms, reach out for help from local staff, and learn strategies to manage mental health issues. Being aware of what options are available while abroad is central to identifying the most effective support available for a healthy and rewarding time abroad. Talk to your student before departure and make sure you and your student understand local resources. This is particularly important if your student is traveling with medication. Encourage your student to reach out to the local UCEAP or partner institution staff in case of any mental health concern. UCEAP will work with your student to find necessary support services where available.
It is not unusual for students to face some form of stress over the course of their academic experience, including while they’re studying abroad. The stresses of Travel and life in an unfamiliar setting can exacerbate existing mild psychological disorders or initiate the onset of new conditions. Most students are generally able to cope; for some, these experiences can become overwhelming and unmanageable.
When living in a new country, students can experience culture shock. Without their friends and family support, students may encounter an initial feeling of isolation that will fade within three weeks. Sometimes culture shock feelings do not subside.
Students with a past history of mental health should share this during their health clearance appointment so the clinician can work with UCEAP Systemwide to identify sources of continued treatment while on UCEAP.
Disabilities and Chronic Conditions
Please refer to important information in the UCEAP website, Disabilities
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, but can result in an unexpected emotional response. Most students who experience culture shock function reasonably well 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.
UC, Federal, and State privacy laws protect and ensure the confidentiality of medical information. UCEAP cannot require students to disclose a health diagnosis for which they have been, or are being treated before their departure, even if continued care is recommended. If your student begins to experience physical or mental health issues after arrival at the program location , he/she should contact the local staff immediately.
If you believe that your student is experiencing serious distress, contact the UCEAP Systemwide Office immediately. Refer to the Health
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad for more information.
Accidents, Illnesses, and Injuries
While accidents are by definition unplanned, students can still plan to stay safe, especially in a foreign country. Accidents and injuries do occur, and cannot always be avoided. Fortunately, prior knowledge, common sense, and situational awareness can help keep your student safe while abroad. Being proactive and prepared by learning about your student’s destination can help prevent common accidents and injuries.
The biggest cause of illness abroad is related to minor health issues, and accidents, including traffic injuries and those from recreational activities. Often these incidents could have been prevented with proper planning and information about health and safety risks in the destination country or activity.
Second to routine or unexpected health problems abroad, road accidents are commonly reported. Lack of familiarity with local roads, driving on the opposite side of the road, lack of safety precautions, even safety as a pedestrian can increase risks. Unsafe roads and vehicles with inadequate transportation infrastructure contribute to the traffic injury problem in some countries. In many of these countries, motor vehicles often share the road with vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycle users. The mix of traffic involving cars, buses, taxis, rickshaws, large trucks, and even animals (on one road or in a single travel lane) increases the risk for crashes and injuries.
- Consult with a travel medicine specialist to learn about potential risks, required vaccines and even what kind of insect repellent to pack.
- Know what to avoid and how to get help if needed.
- Carry a card that identifies, in the local language, blood type, any chronic illnesses, any current medications, and any allergies.
- Pack copies of personal medical records so local doctors can provide the best treatment possible.
- Be prepared to pay out of pocket at the time any medical services are obtained while traveling.
- Do not drive a motorized vehicle: Traffic patterns and rules of the road are different. Insurance coverage and liability insurance requirements differ.
- Do not engage in activities that require concentration until you’ve adjusted to the new time zone.
- Know the public transportation quality of your travel destination.
- Be cautious while using public transportation.
- Know where to find competent medical care abroad ( contact your local UCEAP or partner institution staff and/or US embassy).
- Be prepared for language and monetary differences which can be confusing.
- Wear a MedicAlert bracelet to indicate any serious medical conditions or allergies.Know whom to call and where to go in case of emergency.
Parents and students are encouraged to research safety resources before the program to assess and reduce personal risk and prevent accidents. There are many useful safety information resources for international travelers, including road safety checklists and country-specific driving risks:
For information about local road conditions and public transportation, visit:
Traveling with Medications
Students are responsible for making arrangements with their physician to have enough medicine while abroad.
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.
Students are advised to check any regulations that may apply to transporting medicine out of the US, and into their host country. Different countries have different rules and regulations about the types of medicine they allow to be taken into the country and the maximum quantity permitted. Some medicines available over the counter in the US may be controlled in other countries and vice versa.
Do not plan to mail medications to your child abroad. Mailing prescription and over-the-counter medication is not recommended as it may be illegal in some countries. Customs officials may stop the shipment or charge prohibitive fines.
Some prescription medications are illegal or unavailable in other countries. Your student has been instructed to check their UCEAP Program Guide and the International Narcotics Control Board
for required documentation and country restrictions. Also, contact the Embassy of the country or countries your student is planning to visit to confirm whether required medications are not considered illegal. Find a list of foreign embassies and consulates that have a presence in the U.S., here
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 regimen so that an overseas physician can consider filling the prescription locally, provided the medication is licensed and legal in the country. In some cases, the local physician may conduct an examination to confirm the diagnosis before filling the prescription provided by the U.S. doctor. Some local doctors may be hesitant to prescribe the same dosage.
For more information, refer to the Health chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
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. Encourage your student to follow these recommendations:
- Consult with a travel medicine specialist before departure.
- 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 a 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 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 carry it at all times. This means antihistamines and epinephrine if you have a serious food allergy. Do not pack this medication in checked baggage.
- Find out how to talk about allergies in the local language.
- In a restaurant, don’t assume that just because the wait staff 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