Approx. Time Difference
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Thank you for choosing the University of California Education Abroad Program. We hope that you will have an amazing experience abroad and will look back on it as a highlight of your UC education. For this program, UCEAP has partnered with CIEE. As a UCEAP student, the terms of your participation differ from students who are enrolled with CIEE independently or through another university. Be aware of these differences and understand your responsibilities as a UCEAP student abroad. You are concurrently enrolled at UC while participating through CIEE abroad. This means that the grades you earn while abroad will appear on your UC transcript as direct UC credit rather than transfer credit; that unlike other students in the program, you will pay your fees to UCEAP rather than directly to CIEE; and that you have UCEAP
Travel Insurance, which will be your primary insurance policy while
Review and read the CIEE materials carefully. Follow all CIEE pre-departure and onsite information and instructions; for example, arrival dates and visa instructions. Write down the CIEE contact information and keep it with your passport in case of an emergency.
Finally, you will have additional resources and contacts at UCEAP. The details of the separate and unique UCEAP elements of your participation are outlined in this short supplement. Be familiar with them before departure.
While UCEAP endeavors to keep all information in this guide updated and accurate, it should be considered in conjunction with program-specific correspondence, which may be more updated. There may be times when information relayed via such correspondence may supersede the online information. Students are responsible for reviewing all information shared through the program guides, and by UCEAP staff in California and abroad, and partners abroad.
UCEAP reserves the right to make changes to its programs whenever, in our sole judgment, local conditions so warrant, in response to local circumstances that could substantially change some parts of the program, or if we deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of our program participants.
Click a heading below to see section content.
Local UCEAP Support
Campus EAP Office
The Campus EAP Office coordinates recruitment, student selection, orientations, and academic advising; and serves as your primary contact during the application process.
UCEAP Systemwide Office
The UCEAP Systemwide Office establishes and operates programs and coordinates UCEAP administration for all UC campuses from its headquarters in Goleta, California. You will work closely with the following Systemwide Office staff:
Program Advisors provide academic and operational program information to you and your campus as well as administrative support for all aspects of your participation.
Program Specialists manage the logistics of the program. They coordinate document requirements, visa application instructions, health and safety precautions, acceptance and placement by host institutions, arrival and onsite orientation, and housing arrangements.
Academic Staff advise on academic policies, review courses taken abroad for UC credit, and document your registration, grades, petitions and academic records.
Student Finance Accountants assist primarily with UCEAP statements, program fee collection, and financial aid disbursements (in conjunction with your campus Financial Aid Office).
Council on International Educational Exchage (CIEE)
Your first point of contact while abroad will be the on-site CIEE Resident Staff in Beijing.
CIEE Staff in Beijing, China
Karlis Rokpelnis, Resident Director
Peking University, Wangkezhen Building 706
Tel: (011-86-10) 6275-5970
CIEE Staff in Portland, Maine
Katelyn Slotnick, Enrollment Advisor
300 Fore St.
Portland, ME 04101
YOUR UCEAP NETWORK
While you will stay in close touch with the CIEE staff on-site, you will also need to know your contacts at the UCEAP Systemwide Office. The UCEAP Systemwide Office establishes and operates programs all over the world, and coordinates UCEAP administration for all UC campuses from its headquarters in Goleta, California.
Student Finance Accountant
UCEAP Systemwide Office
6950 Hollister Avenue, Suite 200
Goleta, CA 93117-5823
Phone: (805) 893-4762; Fax: (805) 893-2583
Academics & Your UC Registration
As a dual UCEAP and CIEE student, make sure you understand all of your academic resources as well as your academic responsibilities. Remember that other students on the program will be bound to different home-university policies. Regardless of CIEE regulations, you must also meet UCEAP requirements.
Minimum UCEAP Requirements
- Language placement test
- 15 UC quarter units; courses must be taken for the full approved units; the variable unit option is not available
- Letter grades for courses (the pass/no pass option is not permitted)
UCEAP does not award additional academic credit for the elective courses.
Read through the following guides to see what types of information is in each, and know how to access them when you have questions. You will be held accountable for the information detailed in both guides.
UCEAP Guide To Study Abroad (UGSA)
The Academic chapter includes UCEAP academic regulations on unit requirements, information on taking fewer units than the program requirement, instructions on the MyEAP Study List registration process, changing courses, petitions, grades, and more.
CIEE Program Handbook (available in your MyCIEE account "Readings" section)
The Academics section in the CIEE Program Handbook outlines your CIEE academic program. Read this guide closely; you will be held accountable for this information, as well as UCEAP academic policies in the UGSA.
The most important thing to understand is that you will be concurrently enrolled in your courses both through CIEE, and through UCEAP’s MyEAP Study List. Completing your MyEAP Study List is the only way for your UCEAP courses and grades to appear on your UC transcript. See “Credit and Registration” below.
Who Should I Ask About...?
- UCEAP academic regulations/MyEAP Study List: UCEAP Systemwide Office Program Advisor or Academic Specialist
- CIEE Peking University course specifics and concerns: CIEE on-site advisor
- UC college or department requirements: your college or department advisor and/or campus EAP advisor
You have the additional resources of UCEAP staff in case of difficulties. The CIEE resident staff should be your first contact for most issues, but remember, if you have significant academic, health, personal, or financial issues that may impact your academic performance, be sure to contact UCEAP staff to discuss options and consequences.
Because you will be receiving direct UC credit rather than transfer credit, you will be enrolled concurrently with CIEE and UCEAP.
Registering through CIEE: Signing up for courses
- Your CIEE Study Abroad Advisor will notify you when details about the course registration process are available in your online CIEE account. Please take this registration seriously.
- Take your UC department advisor’s name and email with you to contact regarding using courses to satisfy particular department or college requirements. Neither CIEE nor UCEAP Systemwide Office can assist you with questions about fulfilling home department requirements. You will need to contact your home UC department advisor.
Registering through UCEAP: Entering your courses into your MyEAP Study List
- Near the start of your program, you will receive detailed instructions from the UCEAP Systemwide Office via email on how to complete your MyEAP Study List. It's critical that you read and respond to all e-mails regarding the registration process.
- The Systemwide Office reviews courses (especially subject areas and division) and finalizes Study Lists. Check your final Study List carefully, as it determines how your courses will appear on your transcript.
- If you have concerns about meeting program requirements or other related questions, first consult the relevant sections of the Academic chapter of the UGSA, then contact the Systemwide Office if needed.
Understanding Your Finances
It is important that you carefully read all of the information available in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and discuss it with the person who will assist you with your finances while you are abroad.
Understanding your finances before, during, and after your program is crucial to having a successful time abroad. The following list outlines just a few of the many things you will need to know before departure.
Detailed information on the following topics can be found in the Money Matters
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
- Contact information for finance questions
- How to estimate the cost of your program
- Budget instructions and information
- Who Can and How to make payments to UCEAP
- UCEAP student account information(what fees do I pay to UCEAP and what fees do I pay out of pocket?)
- Banking before and after arrival
- Fees and penalties
- Loan information
- How financial aid works while abroad (how do I get my financial aid from my home campus and how are my fees paid?)
- Various forms (e.g., direct deposit, etc.)
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Your MyEAP Student Account is similar to your UC campus financial account. It will be available as soon as you are selected for your program in MyEAP. You can make payments through this account using e-checks or credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover). The fees that you owe UCEAP will be applied to your account after your program pre-departure withdrawal date, which is listed in MyEAP. For the amount due to UCEAP prior to fees being posted on your account, refer to the UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule located on the second page of your UCEAP Program Budget
. Program fees are subject to change.
Carefully review your UCEAP Program Budget.
The UCEAP Program Budget does not include funds to purchase clothing or recreational travel abroad.
Your UCEAP Program Budget lists the fees you will pay to UCEAP and an estimate of the personal expenses you will need to plan for. It does not include the cost of recreational travel or personal entertainment. Review your UCEAP Program Budget frequently. The Payment Schedule is on the second page of the UCEAP Program Budget.
- Download and print your UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule.
- Note the deadlines on the Payment Schedule.
- Give the UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule to the person responsible for paying your UCEAP bills. Sign this person up for Third Party Authorization on MyEAP so they can make payments online.
Refund of Credit balances and Financial Aid Disbursements:
If you are signed up for Direct Deposit on your UC campus, it is not linked to your MyEAP account. You must sign up for eRefund with UCEAP to receive direct deposits from your MyEAP account. For more information, see the UCEAP eRefund Instructions
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
UCEAP strongly recommends purchasing changeable round trip tickets, which will allow you to make changes to your return flight for a fee. UCEAP discourages purchasing one way tickets, as your Program Budget is based on a changeable round trip student fare, which is generally less expensive. Carefully research airfare rules prior to purchasing a flight. Standby and courier fares are not appropriate. Plan for this expense. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid office will reserve or pay for your ticket. If you are on financial aid, you will need to purchase a plane ticket before you receive a financial aid disbursement.
Most airline tickets are good for one year only. When buying round-trip tickets, purchase tickets that allow changes to the return date. If you do not make round-trip arrangements, be sure to book a return flight with plenty of lead time once abroad. Flights to the U.S. fill up fast and economy-fare seats are booked early.
Financial Aid Students
Your financial aid package is calculated using your specific UCEAP Program Budget. The estimated round-trip airfare amount is based on the cost of a changeable student ticket to your host country. If your independent travel costs are greater than the airfare estimate in the UCEAP Program Budget, notify your financial aid counselors. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid Office can guarantee that the additional cost will be funded by financial aid.
Pre-Departure Withdrawal Fees
In the event that you withdraw from the program after April 1, 2017, CIEE will charge financial penalties, in addition to any UCEAP withdrawal penalties. See the Student Budget in the Money Matters tab of your UCEAP Pre-Departure Checklist for details.
Attitudes toward the LGBT community continue to evolve. Most aspects of public and official life demonstrate ambivalence toward homosexuality. The government does not actively support the LGBT community, but neither does it impose sanctions. Urban Chinese tend to be accepting of homosexuality, but in deeply conservative rural areas, homosexuality is neither discussed nor socially accepted. The result is a complex risk environment that has few clear social guidelines but little overt threat of violence or abuse.
For more information,
Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities will find accessibility and accommodation very different from what they find in the United States. Standards adopted for making roads and buildings accessible to persons with disabilities are subject to the Law on the Handicapped, which calls for their "gradual" implementation; however, compliance with the law is lax. Even in newer areas of large cities, sidewalks often do not have curb cuts, making wheelchair or stroller use difficult. Many large streets can be crossed only via overhead pedestrian bridges not accessible except by staircase. Although some sidewalks have special raised “buttons” or strips to help those who are blind or have restricted sight to follow the pavement, they are unreliable. While most public buildings have elevators, they are often locked, and the responsible official with the key must be located before they can be used.
In major cities, public restrooms in places visited by tourists usually have a least one handicap-accessible toilet. International signage is used to identify handicap-accessible facilities. Free or reduced-entry fares on public transportation are sometimes provided for a handicapped person and a companion, although this is usually stated only in Chinese and is often restricted to residents with special identification cards.
For more information:
Know Before you Go
While abroad you are automatically covered by the UCEAP Travel Insurance Policy
. Coverage begins 14 days before the official start date of your UCEAP program term. Coverage ends 31 days after the official end of the UCEAP program term.
The UCEAP travel insurance does not include coverage for preventative care, checkups, and vaccinations.
Read details in Benefits at a Glance
. Familiarize yourself with the coverage, exclusions, and eligibility criteria. Your travel insurance policy number is ADDN 04834823. It is underwritten by Chubb Insurance Company.
There is no deductible or co-insurance but the travel insurance works on a reimbursement basis.
You can submit a claim for a refund consideration of covered expenses. For more information about the medical claim proces
or about non-medical claims
Do not assume that if you seek medical care abroad for a covered illness or injury that the local hospital will bill your insurance. Generally, hospitals around the world, including the US, do not bill insurance companies (unless there is a special arrangement with a local hospital in your UCEAP country). It is your responsibility to inquire with the hospital, at the time of service, and make arrangements to pay any outstanding bills. Payment for medical services abroad is ultimately your responsibility.
For more information refer to your Pre-Departure Checklist, Insurance tab, or the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Insurance chapter
For Questions about Coverage, Benefits and Claims Status
ACI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Know Before you Go
If you have questions about the UCEAP travel insurance coverage, benefits, and claims, contact, ACI at email@example.com
Meet with a travel health specialist before departure from the U.S. to get any vaccines and advice you need before your trip. Going at least 4–6 weeks before you travel is best, so that any travel vaccines you need have time to take effect and you have plenty of time to get vaccines that require more than one dose. If you need travel vaccines, your campus health insurance plan may cover them if you have campus insurance. Talk to your campus insurance office at Student Health before your coverage expires. The UCEAP travel insurance doesn't not cover travel vaccines or preventive care.
Western-style medical facilities with international staffs are available. In rural areas, only rudimentary medical facilities are generally
available with often poorly trained medical personnel who have little
medical equipment and medications. Rural clinics are often reluctant to
accept responsibility for treating foreigners, even in emergency
If you feel sick or have a medical emergency, seek medical attention and contact the Study Center immediately. The Study Center can recommend which clinic to visit, provide information about the UCEAP insurance claims process, and help make arrangements with your professors if you expect an extended absence.
A high level of medical care is available at 1 or more internationally staffed hospitals in Beijing and Shanghai. Adequate medical care is available at 1 or more internationally staffed outpatient clinics in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, and Shekou, and may be available in other major cities. Hospital accommodations, and medical care in general, are inadequate throughout the rest of the country, and advanced technology is lacking. Shortages of routine medications and supplies may be encountered.
In most rural areas, only rudimentary medical facilities are available, often with medical personnel who are poorly trained and have limited medical equipment and medications. Rural clinics are often reluctant to accept responsibility for treating foreigners, even in emergency situations.
Even in the VIP/foreigner wards of major hospitals, patients have frequently encountered difficulty due to cultural, language, and regulatory differences. Physicians and hospitals have sometimes refused to supply American patients with complete copies of their Chinese hospital medical records, including laboratory test results, scans, and X-rays.
Hospitals do not process insurance claim forms. You are expected to pay when services are rendered. In some hospitals, you may have to pay a cash deposit before being admitted. Debit cards are not acceptable forms of payment. Be sure to have funds available to cover this contingency. After a service covered by the insurance plan is provided, you will need to submit a completed claim with supporting documentation within 30 days. See the UCEAP Insurance Claims Process
for claim forms and details.
UCEAP strongly recommends that you have an emergency credit card on hand or quick access to cash in case of an emergency.
Both municipal and private ambulance services in China remain substandard. Response time is typically very slow and transport to the nearest hospital can take a long time due to congested traffic. Most ambulances are poorly equipped and staffed by individuals lacking EMT training. If you are injured or seriously ill, take a taxi or other immediately available vehicle to the nearest major hospital instead of waiting for an ambulance.
Beijing United Family Hospital
If you are sick or injured, seek medical care at the Beijing United Family Hospital, which is on the east side of Beijing, about 40 minutes by taxi from PKU and Tsinghua, and 20 minutes from BNU. Students pay up front for medical services and submit a claim to the UCEAP travel insurance. For information about coverage or the claims process, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beijing United Family Hospital
#2 Jiangtai Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100016
Phone: (86) 10-5927-7000
Emergency Hotline: (86) 10-5927-7120
Know Before you Go
Inform yourself before you travel. Just as language and currency vary around the world, so does medical care. Know what to do if you get sick.
Read the Health chapter
of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
and your Program Guide for important information to plan for a healthy stay abroad.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler's Health
web page has important information about health risks present in the country where you will be studying.
"Expect different hygienic and etiquette practices: lots of spitting, littering, pushing, no lines, blowing snot on the ground, etc. Patience and understanding are definite virtues here. Also expect lots of traffic, pollution, and crowds." - UCEAP Student
In China’s vast territory, standards of hygiene can and do vary from place to place. The standard of medical care and the range of familiar medications available in China are often limited, particularly outside of major cities. Medical personnel in rural areas of the country may lack adequate training.
The required online UCEAP Travel Health Education Certification course will provide you with pre-departure health-related advice about specific precautions and recommended vaccinations. You are responsible for reading all health‑related UCEAP materials.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers’ Health website
is a good source of information. The MyHealth Beijing
website maintained by an American doctor at the Beijing United Family Hospital is a reliable source of Beijing-specific health info.
- Good basic personal hygiene and hand washing are critical to help prevent the spread of illness and disease. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before eating.
- Bring a good multivitamin to last the duration of the program.
- Do not consume tap water, fountain drinks, or ice cubes. Drink only boiled water or beverages in sealed containers.
- Avoid undercooked food, dairy products, and food from street vendors.
- Avoid swimming, wading, or rafting in bodies of fresh water—such as lakes, ponds, canals, streams, or rivers—to prevent serious parasitic infections.
- Avoid handling all animals. Wash any bites or scratches right away with soap and water and immediately seek medical attention.
"Take toilet paper with you wherever you go. Health conditions are bearable, but be careful and stay as clean and healthy as possible." - UCEAP Student
Even if you are healthy, you need to be prepared. China is almost the same size as the United States, but it has five times the population, and densely populated areas are prone to more frequent viral outbreaks.
You may be susceptible to diarrhea, colds, and other illnesses after arriving in China. Take a small personal medical kit containing cold remedies, cough drops, cough medicine, throat lozenges, and medication for diarrhea, nausea, and upset stomach. Have enough to get you through the first few weeks until you can find what you need in China.
Due to the burning of soft coal during the winter, all major cities and especially those with major industrial regions are heavily polluted with potential for significant exacerbation of allergies and respiratory conditions including asthma.
Establish a Medical Plan upon Arrival
Some questions to ask local CIEE staff include:
- Where can key services be obtained (e.g., primary care, cardiology, pediatrics, OB/GYN, etc.)?
- How are appointments made?
- What is the cost of visits and method of payment?
- How is off-hours care handled, including urgent care/emergencies?
- How are prescriptions renewed?
- How to access 24-hour pharmacies?
- What hospitals do they work with?
- Is blood screened for HIV and hepatitis?
- Are only disposable needles and syringes used?
- Understand your UCEAP travel insurance terms of coverage.
- If you need a refill while abroad, you must see a local doctor. US prescriptions are not valid in other countries. Note: If the visit to the local doctor is considered preventive care, it will not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance; your campus or private insurance plan may cover it. You must travel with a letter from your prescribing explaining your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic name.
- If you need to find out if this appointment would be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance, contact ACI at email@example.com. For more information about the UCEAP travel insurance, refer to your UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, or your pre-departure checklist, Insurance tab.
- Two classes of medicines – narcotics and psychotropics – are under the control of international law. This covers any medicine that can have an effect on the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the potential to be abused. The narcotic class mostly relates to analgesic opioids and their derivatives (e.g. morphine and codeine) which tend to be highly regulated. Psychotropics are all those medications likely to be used to treat mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and psychotic conditions.
- If you plan to purchase medication using the UCEAP Travel Insurance coverage, you must fill and pay for medication when coverage is effective (14 days before the official start of the program). Do not assume that your local pharmacy knows about the UCEAP travel insurance policy. It is not the same as your campus health insurance coverage. You will need to pay for the medication and submit a claim to the UCEAP insurance.
- Find out whether your medication is legal in your UCEAP country.
- If traveling with a prescription containing controlled substances, review international agreements governing the transportation of medications across borders check the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) website. The INCB is responsible for international drug control. If traveling with controlled substances, you must have a letter from your doctor. Generally, amphetamines (e.g., Adderall, Vyvanse) are illegal in other countries. Talk with your doctor to switch you to another medication.
- Talk to your doctor to see whether he/she can prescribe an adequate supply of your prescription medication to last through the end of the program. Ask your doctor how to adjust your dosage depending on time zone changes.
- Get a letter from the prescribing physician, on letterhead, indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic name as brand names vary considerably around the world.
Traveling with prescription medications
- Keep the medication in its original packaging clearly labelled with your name, doctor’s name, generic and brand name, and exact dosage. Carry it in your carry-on luggage, provided it is in pill or solid form. For more information, particularly if your medication is in liquid form, consult the US Transportation Security Administration., Traveling with Medications.
- Carry copies of all original US prescriptions.
- Carry the letter on letterhead from the prescribing physician for all prescribed medications, indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic names. This is extremely important in case you need treatment or a medication refill abroad.
Why is a letter from your treating physician necessary?
If your particular medication cannot be taken into the country, talk to your doctor. If you need to switch prescriptions, your doctor may need to make changes to your medication at least 3-6 months before departure to monitor side effects and dosage. The letter from your doctor indicating condition, treatment and medication regimen, can help a local physician to assess you and to consider reissuing your prescription provided it is licensed in your UCEAP country. Note that the local doctor's appointment for medication refill may not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance.
Consult with ACI, firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Health section.
Adderall is not legal in China. Work with your treating physician to request a substitute medication.
If you are currently in treatment in the U.S., discuss your UCEAP program details with your doctor so you can work on a plan in case you need to reach out for care. If you are taking a prescription medication, talk with your prescribing physician before departure about getting the supply you need for going abroad. For information about traveling with medications, refer to the Prescription Medications section in this guide.
Your mental health is important to us all. Create a plan with your treating doctor. Managing your mental health while studying abroad – whether or not you have a pre-existing condition – is something every person must think about when going abroad. Being away from usual stress at home can sometimes be a relief when abroad; experiencing new adventures can be a useful distraction. You will also have times when you feel confused, uncomfortable, annoyed, and many of the same emotions that you manage in your daily life at home.
Cultural adjustment and homesickness are normal. They are usually transitory—lasting a couple of weeks—and do not imply mental illness or an inability to cope. Most students who experience culture adjustment function reasonably well under the stress and are able to keep up with the responsibilities of school and everyday life.
You may feel homesick or sad. Feeling down, anxious, homesick, depressed or stressed might be your body’s reaction to the new environment and different life away from your usual support network. Don't cope alone. Reach out for help to the local UCEAP program staff and your friends. If you have been feeling unhappy for longer than a few days, or it is staring to affect your enjoyment of
life and/or your studies, then you should see a doctor immediately.
The UCEAP travel insurance policy
covers outpatient visits as any other illness up to $500,000; there is no co-pay or deductible, and you can make an appointment with any doctor. Budget for this expense as you must pay up front and submit a claim to the insurance company for a refund consideration. Doctors, hospitals, and clinics will require you to pay bills at the time of treatment. You must then submit a completed claim form and paid receipts to the UCEAP insurance company. For information about the claims process, access Insurance Claims Process
. If you have questions about your UCEAP travel insurance benefits contact ACI at email@example.com.
The prevalence of mental illness is rising in China but treatment facilities remain underdeveloped. China’s mental health care trails behind many countries around the world. There is lack of trained mental health professionals, low investment in mental health, high stigma among the population, and lack of an effective public mental health systems of care. Official policy does not permit primary health care professionals to independently diagnose and treat mental disorders within the primary care system. There is a reluctance to address mental illness and psychiatry due to the limited extent to which health care professionals and public health officials are involved with the issue. The country's public health system is struggling to keep up with the demand in mental health care.
In most regions of China, few good options exist even for local families that try to find professional help. China’s mental health hospitals are too few and grossly understaffed. China has a severe undersupply of trained mental health staff. Students with pre-existing conditions will need a treatment plan in place indicating when and who they will be reaching out for help.”
The UCEAP travel insurance policy
covers outpatient visits as any other illness up to $500,000; there is no co-pay or deductible, and you can make an appointment with any doctor. Work closely with the UCEAP staff in China to schedule an appointment with licensed medical providers.
Diseases from food and water are the leading cause of illness in travelers. Follow these tips for safe eating and drinking:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before eating. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel (with at least 60% alcohol).
- Do not eat food purchased from street vendors.
- Make sure food is fully cooked.
- Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.
Unclean food and water can cause travelers' diarrhea and other diseases. Reduce your risk by sticking to safe food and water habits.
Dehydration can be a particular problem during travel. Listen to your body and learn to recognize the signs that you are not getting enough fluids.
China’s water supplies are often inadequate and many are polluted. All water in China must be boiled or treated before drinking. Most dorms and hotels have boiled water available for drinking (for tea, or plain, after it cools).
Do not consume tap water, fountain drinks, or ice cubes. Never drink unboiled water. Boiled water or bottled water is the best choice. Take (or buy after arrival) a heavy duty water bottle that can hold boiling water without melting. Cholera is active throughout the country. You must observe precautions.
China is the largest tobacco production and consumption country in the world. Even though a ban on smoking in most public buildings has come into force in Beijing and Shanghai, it is common to see many smokers inside and outside buildings.
Health officials started a crusade to clean up the city’s air by introducing strict new rules to restrict smoking in public places. However, many smokers are still commonly found inside and outside buildings.
If you have a chronic health condition that is exacerbated by cigarette smoke, consult with your physician before departure.
Health authorities report a high number of animal and human rabies cases annually in China. Do not touch wild or domestic animals in China.
UCEAP continually reviews information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization, works closely with medical experts on the UC campuses, and monitors local host university and country health resources.
Exercise care to prevent avian flu:
- Avoid poultry farms, contact with animals in live food markets, and any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces or fluids from poultry or other animals.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
- Avoid those that appear ill. Wear an FDA-approved respirator mask when in public transportation during flu season.
- Stay informed of the situation.
- Eat thoroughly cooked food and drink bottled water.
- Refer to additional information on the UCEAP website.
In the event of a pandemic, UCEAP’s ability to assist you abroad may be severely limited by restrictions on local and international movement imposed for public health reasons by foreign governments or the United States.
HIV/AIDS is a significant concern in China. There is risk of exposure to unsafe blood and blood products in regional China. Specifically request the use of sterilized equipment. Additional charges may be incurred for the use of new syringes in hospitals or clinics. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
It is not unusual for many to consume large quantities of strong alcohol served in clubs in China. On rare occasions this has led to severe illness or even death. This year a local student died after taking the bar's challenge of drinking 6 cocktails in 3 minutes. The amount of alcohol was more than 1,000 milliliters of a strong alcoholic beverage.
A popular drink is Baijiu, also known as shaojiu. It is a Chinese alcoholic beverage made from grain. Báijiǔ literally means "white (clear) alcohol" or liquor, and is a strong distilled spirit, generally 52% alcohol by volume (ABV) (US: 104° proof).
Fake alcohol (ingredients include, antifreeze, methanol, isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) is also sometimes sold in bars and this can be more damaging to health than genuine products. Alcohol use disorders (AUDs), which encompass harmful patterns of drinking, such as alcohol dependence and abuse, have grown to become a frequent problem linked to disturbances in mental and physical health and in social functioning in China.
Students with severe food allergies should take precautions, as the cuisine may include ingredients that can cause anaphylaxis in those affected. A language barrier increases the risks associated with severe food allergies.
Precautions to take include:
For more information, read the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
, Health chapter
, Allergies section.
Excessive air pollution is a major problem in most Chinese cities. According to the World Bank, only one percent of China’s 560 million urban residents breathe air considered safe by EU standards. China is home to 16 of the 20 dirtiest cities and the largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
During the summer, high heat and humidity will also contribute to China’s poor air quality. Air pollution can result in cardiovascular or respiratory illnesses or the exacerbation of preexisting illness. If you have a preexisting respiratory condition, you may be especially at risk. Consult with your doctor before departure. Minimize exposure to the pollution while in China.
Dust storms, which occur on occasion across the north of the country, can cause eye, nose, mouth and throat irritations and exacerbate respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Some visitors develop a sore throat during the first few days in the city due to the air pollution.
Air pollution can make asthma symptoms worse and trigger attacks. Exposure to fine particle pollution (PM2.5) contributes to cardiovascular disease. In addition to talking to your doctor before departure from the U.S., refer to the following tips.
- Plan activities when and where pollution levels are lower.
- Change your activity level. When the air is polluted, try to take it easier if you are active outdoors. This will reduce how much pollution you breathe. Even if you can’t change your schedule, you might be able to change your activity so it is less intense.
- Listen to your body.
- Wear an N-95 respirator (approved by the United States National Institute of Safety and Health) and follow instructions from UCEAP faculty and staff, and local public health messages.
- If you have a smartphone, get an app that can report instantly on outdoor air pollution and monitor levels before venturing out.
Even if you are healthy, you may experience temporary symptoms, such as irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; coughing; phlegm; chest tightness; and shortness of breath.
If you have lung disease, you may not be able to breathe as deeply or as vigorously as normal, and you may experience coughing, chest discomfort, wheezing, shortness of breath, and unusual fatigue. If you have any of these symptoms, reduce your exposure to particles and follow your doctor's advice.
If you have asthma or other chronic condition that could be impacted by air pollution, ask your doctor before departure from the U.S. to design an action plan in case your symptoms get worse while studying and living in China.
If you wear contact lenses, take the prescription and a pair of glasses with you in case the heat or the air quality makes contacts uncomfortable. If you find you can wear contacts in China, they are readily available at half the U.S. price in all brands and colors. Various brands of saline solutions, daily cleaners, and enzyme removers are also available.
"If you wear contact lenses, take a pair of glasses with you." - UCEAP Student
Understand the potential risks at your UCEAP destination and while traveling. Carry the local emergency contact information with you at all times. Know how to ask for help. Have a plan. Be prepared, aware of your surroundings, and flexible.
Beijing is a relatively safe destination with low levels of violent crime and civil unrest. There are personal safety and security issues, ranging from minor verbal harassment, pick-pocketing, and petty theft to more serious incidents. Always take routine safety precautions and pay attention to your surroundings. Petty theft remains the most prevalent type of crime encountered.
Stay in close touch with the Study Center and attend all meetings organized by Study Center officials.
The best deterrents against crime are awareness and common sense. Take prudent measures to protect your own well-being just as you would do on your home UC campus. Remain vigilant at all times. Pay attention to all signs—even instincts—that alert you to possible danger. Buses and trains are typically very crowded; safeguard personal belongings, particularly cell phones, and keep baggage within eyesight. Never carry an unlocked backpack on your back when walking or riding a bike.
Keep your dorm door and windows locked at all times, both when you are in your room and when you are not, and never allow strangers to enter the premises. Every incident of dorm robbery in the past occurred while dorm doors or windows were left unlocked. Do not invite strangers or questionable acquaintances to your dorm.
Do not give your personal information to strangers or go places with them alone. Caution is necessary in isolated areas, particularly at night, and traveling in groups is advisable. Some portions of the campus are not well lit at night, so exercise caution. If you are traveling in an area and feel unsafe, leave the area immediately.
A common scam involves younger Chinese “English students,” often women or a couple, offering a local tour and an invitation to tea at a nearby restaurant. When the bill comes, the restaurant owners force victims to pay an exorbitant bill before they can leave the premises.
Mission China consular sections have received reports of a financial scam that has victimized a number of U.S. citizens in China. While specific details differ slightly, typically callers purporting to be police officers tell the call recipients that their bank accounts have been compromised by identity theft and money laundering, and insist that the victims wire their money to another account to be “investigated.” Callers often have victims’ personal information, such as passport numbers, and direct them to authentic-looking websites showing “case information.” DO NOT wire money to anyone who calls you claiming to be law enforcement or otherwise involved with an investigation. If you receive any suspicious calls, contact the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) to verify the caller’s identity.
Counterfeit currency is a significant concern in China. Cab drivers and businesses have given many people, not just tourists, counterfeit currency. Carrying small bills or using exact change, particularly in taxis, can help protect you.
Some merchants will switch a large bill with a counterfeit bill and return it to you, claiming that you passed them the counterfeit bill. If you must pay with RMB 100 bills, it may be useful to note the last few serial numbers before paying in case they get switched. There have been cases of people receiving counterfeit bills from free-standing ATMs. Use only ATMs at financial institutions or those recommended by the Study Center.
Chinese Law & Criminal Penalties
While in China, as in any other country, you are subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the U.S. Local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by U.S. standards, apply to you. Americans are not protected by U.S. laws while in China.
Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than those enforced in the U.S. for similar offenses. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. If you are arrested or jailed, the U.S. Government will do what it can to help you but they cannot get you out of trouble or out of jail.
- In China, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you or if you take pictures of certain buildings.
- Do not take photographs of airports, government buildings, or other strategic infrastructure in China. Ask permission when taking pictures outside typical tourist sites. People caught taking pictures of sensitive installations may be subject to detention and interrogation, often without representation.
- Penalties for drug possession, use, and trafficking are strict. Offenders can expect severe jail sentences and fines. In the past, some foreign nationals have been executed for drug offenses. Other foreigners convicted on drug-related charges have received 15-year sentences.
China does not recognize dual nationality. Travelers holding U.S. passports who also hold Chinese citizenship are likely to be regarded by the Chinese authorities as a Chinese citizen, even if you travel to China on your U.S. passport. If you have formally renounced Chinese citizenship, carry clear evidence that you have done so. U.S. Embassy and Consulate officials are often denied access to arrested or detained U.S. citizens who do not enter China using their U.S. passport. For more information see the Dual-National U.S. Citizens section in this guide.
As a foreign national over 16 years of age, you are required to carry your passport or a passport copy with you at all times. Police carry out random checks, especially during periods of heightened security and around major sporting or political events. Failure to produce your ID can lead to a fine or detention.
The use of drugs is forbidden by law. There are severe penalties in China for drug offences including the death penalty.
Political protest is illegal in China and is rarely encountered by foreigners. Travelers who have attempted to engage in political protest activities in public places have been deported quickly, in some cases at their own expense, usually before the U.S. Embassy is aware of the situation.
Participating in unauthorized political activities or protests against Chinese policy in China may result in lengthy detentions and may impact your eligibility for future visas to visit China. Foreigners engaging in pro-Falun Gong or pro-Tibetan activities have been detained or immediately deported from China, usually at their own expense, after being questioned. Several reported they were subject to interrogations and were physically abused during detention. In addition, some alleged that personal property, including clothing, cameras, and computers, was not returned.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
Most traffic injuries involve pedestrians or cyclists.
Do not drive. With only 4% of the world’s vehicles, China has 15% of the total global road fatalities. Injuries in road crashes are the second leading cause of death for people 15 to 44 years old in China. It has one of the highest road fatality rates in the world and the rate is increasing rapidly. Traffic is often chaotic, and right-of-way and other courtesies are often ignored. Cars, bicycles, motorbikes, trucks, and buses often treat road signs and signals as advisory rather than mandatory.
Most traffic accident injuries involve pedestrians or cyclists who are involved in collisions or who encounter unexpected road hazards (e.g., unmarked open manholes).
Cars, bicycles, motorbikes, trucks, and buses often treat road signs and signals as advisory rather than mandatory. Transport security is a concern in China, and using mass transit when traveling alone is inadvisable.
Criminals operate on subways, buses, and commuter trains; bus and rail stations are havens for pickpockets and thieves. Taking steps to reduce vulnerability when riding trains or buses is necessary. Keep valuables secured at all times.
All forms of public transportation are crowded and can become dangerously so during peak times (morning and evening commutes). Passengers typically must be able to read Chinese to read maps and fare charts. Drivers usually do not know any foreign languages. Beware of pickpockets and thieves.
Few U.S. Embassy personnel take public buses, as they are often overfilled to dangerous levels, have poor temperature controls, and do not provide route information in English. Bus accidents are also common.
Robbery is a growing problem that has led to the deployment of mobile police teams at stations with notable security problems and on crime-prone train services. Outside main cities, few stations have strict security measures to limit access to platforms where scam artists and other petty criminals abound.
Use trains during daylight hours only, if possible. Booking the highest-class ticket available is recommended. Do not accept food or drinks from strangers; criminals occasionally drug unsuspecting victims. Never leave belongings unattended when traveling on trains.
Women traveling on public transportation may be groped or sexually harassed verbally, particularly during periods of warm weather. Women should avoid traveling alone on buses and trains at night, especially since taxis are relatively inexpensive, easy to find on main streets, and much safer.
Use official taxis (two-tone sedans) that employ meters. Avoid taking unmarked private cars (heiche) that function as illegal taxis.Do not take black cars that are unlicensed and without meters. If a driver refuses to use a meter, exit the vehicle and use another taxi. Drivers should always use the meter and provide receipts. If they don't, passengers can call complaint hotlines run by the government in Beijing: 68351150 or 68351570. In Shanghai the official complaint line is 12319. Large cities in China may have English-speaking staff available on these hotlines.
Few drivers speak a foreign language, so have your destination written in Chinese characters.
Taxis rarely have functioning seatbelts for passengers. If seatbelts are available, use them to reduce the risk of injury.
Beijing taxi fares are artificially suppressed, making taxis reasonably priced but difficult to hail; supply often falls far short of demand, especially during peak times. Taxis routinely refuse to stop for foreigners, particularly those of African descent. Many foreigners have been stranded for long periods because they could not get a taxi or the taxi driver demanded a huge surcharge. Taxi drivers often refuse to take fares that require them to leave the center of the city.
The US Embassy has received reports of foreigners taking rickshaws or pedi-cabs at tourist sites (Tiananmen Square, Houhai Park) and being driven through hutongs (or alleyways) where they were shaken down for money. Typically, however, the victims are left relatively unharmed.
For more information, access, Taxi and Bus Passenger Safety Checklist.
- Vehicles traveling in the wrong lanes frequently hit pedestrians and bicyclists. Be careful while walking near traffic. Most traffic accident injuries involve pedestrians or cyclists who are involved in collisions or who encounter unexpected road hazards (e.g., unmarked open manholes).
- Exercise special caution when crossing streets in China; pedestrians do not have the right of way.
- Cars regularly make right turns at a red light without stopping and will not yield for pedestrians.
- Even if crossing a one-way street, always look both ways.
Pedestrian bridges and underpasses may be lacking.
Pedestrians may be fined for crossing against crosswalk signals.
Cars and buses traveling in the wrong lanes often hit pedestrians and cyclists on sidewalks.
For more information access, Pedestrian Safety Checklist.
Natural disasters are common in China. The tropical cyclone season in China normally runs from May to November, affecting the south eastern coastal regions of China. The Japan Meteorological Agency
and the China Meteorological Administration
provide information and forecasts (in English) about approaching storms in the region. Areas along the Yangtze River occasionally flood, with large losses of life and property.
China is a seismically active country, and earthquakes occur throughout the country. The North China area around Beijing and Tianjin is subject to earthquakes. Notable earthquakes include one in Qinghai in 2010 in which 3,000 people were killed and a major quake in Sichuan in 2008 when more than 87,000 people perished. U.S. citizens in China should make contingency plans and leave emergency contact information with family members outside of China.
Parts of central, southern and western China, particularly those bordering the Yangtze River experienced severe flooding in June 2011. Heavy rains also triggered landslides in Zhejiang and Hubei provinces. If travelling to the area monitor local weather reports and follow any evacuation orders issued by the local authorities.
Surveillance, Monitoring, and Privacy
There is no reasonale expectation of privacy in public or private locations. Security personnel carefully watch foreign visitors and may place you under surveillance. All means of communication—public phones, cell phones, faxes, e-mails, text messages, etc.—are likely monitored. The Chinese government has access to the infrastructure operated by the limited number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and wireless providers operating in China, and monitors them closely for any sign of activities and words considered subversive or pornographic. Wireless access to the Internet in major metropolitan areas is becoming more and more common. As such, the government can more easily access official and personal computers.
The Chinese government has publicly declared that it regularly monitors private e-mail and Internet browsing through cooperation with local ISPs. The government also employs several thousand individuals to police the Internet. Some bloggers are subject to particular scrutiny in China where such activity is often carefully monitored and in some cases blocked, depending upon the subject matter.
In general, be discreet about discussing politics and religion while in China. These are sensitive issues and are regulated by the government. Officials monitor information travelers bring into the country, especially political or religious material. Writing that is deemed antigovernment is not allowed, including some Christian literature and anything that supports the Tibetan freedom movement.
Many of the same challenges you face in the U.S. will exist in China. Prepare yourself. Know before you travel. Safety and security overseas is everyone’s responsibility.
- Develop sound emergency exit procedures for your dorm and other public buildings. For student protection, outside doors may be locked overnight and first floor windows often have bars over them. There are building staff on duty both day and night who will unlock doors and help to evacuate people in case of an emergency. However, you must survey the situation in your own dorm area regularly and develop at least two workable exit routes.
- Keep a card with your local contact information written in Chinese. This will help direct non-English speaking taxi drivers to the right location. It can also be useful to have other pertinent information translated to keep with you: places you plan to visit and information for local contacts, and emergency contact information.
- Know who to call in an emergency. Have emergency contact information with you at all times.
- Exercise good judgement.
- Read all UCEAP health and safety documents and ask the Resident Director and staff for advice.
- Be careful when taking public transportation.
Fire - Dial 119
About 398,000 fires occurred in China between 2008 and 2010, resulting in 3,865 deaths and property losses of 5.21 billion yuan ($800 million). For fire safety and prevention information, read the Fire Safety section of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
Fire protection standards in Chinese accommodation are not always the same as in the US. Check fire precautions including access to fire exits. Make sure that you can escape any location.
Follow these general fire safety tips. Most college-related fires in the U.S. are due to a general lack of knowledge about fire safety and prevention. Educate yourself about fire safety standards in your UCEAP country. Fire safety standards differ drastically around the world.
- Know where emergency exists are located and check whether exits are passable.
- Know how to call the local fire department.
Do not stay in housing above the sixth floor so you are within range of most fire department rescue ladders.
- Print and take with you the UCEAP brochure, Fire Safety 101 for Students.
- Purchase and use a smoke detector. Before departure contact the Fire Safety Foundation. Choose from a variety of battery-powered smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, including models with sealed, 10-year batteries. Once purchased, the alarms and a multilingual installation manual – written in English and the host country’s native language - will be shipped to the address where you are residing.
- Have an escape plan and practice it.
- Treat every smoke alarm activation as a likely fire and react quickly and safely to the alarm.
- Check for fire hazards. Make sure exit routes are not blocked.
- If you have a disability, alert others of the type of assistance you need to leave the building.
- Refer to the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Fire Safety section for life-saving information.
UCEAP Contingency Planning
If a local situation requires increased caution or a program suspension and evacuation of participants, UCEAP will activate contingency plans. For security reasons, contingency plans are not public and cannot be shared with anyone except UCEAP officials.
Program Suspension Policy
If the U.S. Department of State or CDC issues a Travel Advisory after the start date of the program term, UCEAP may suspend the program. If time and local security conditions permit, UCEAP will consult with the UC Study Center Director, UC security provider, U.S. Embassy, U.S. Department of State regional and security analysts, other organizations that offer programs in the same country, and area experts to determine the appropriate timeframe for suspending the program and/or for the evacuation of the students from the host country.
The UCEAP required security evacuation will override any host institution, or local US Embassy evacuation on U.S. government-arranged flights, that require U.S. citizens to sign a promissory note with the government. The safe evacuation of UCEAP students, managed by UCEAP and its security providers, is covered by UCEAP itravel nsurance. UC students are required to follow UC safety directives in the event of an evacuation.
What Is an Emergency?
An emergency is a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action. The following are considered emergencies:
- Any life/death situation
- A traumatic event requiring immediate assistance
- An arrest
- Civil unrest or natural disaster in the host country
In an Emergency
Contact local emergency services first and then contact the following:
If you are in the U.S.
- During office hours (8 a.m.–5 p.m. Pacific Time): Contact your Program Specialist at the UCEAP Systemwide Office at (805) 893-4762.
- After office hours: Call the 24-hour emergency phone numbers at (805) 893-4762 or (805) 882-2086.
If you are abroad
Carry the local emergency contact information at all times:
PKU Security Guard Office: 6275-1321
U.S. Embassy in Beijing
American Citizen Services
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Phone: (86-10) 8531-3000
Fax: (86-10) 8531-3300
Hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Friday: 8:30 a.m.–noon, 2–4 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday: 8:30 a.m.–noon only
After-Hour Emergencies: (86-10) 8531-4000
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Federal and State law and University policy, does not
discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion,
sex, gender identity, pregnancy,* disability, age, medical
condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status,
citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era
veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also
prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy
covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs
and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s
student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to
the campus Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action
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conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.