General Heath and Safety
The Office of Extended Studies provides students with the resources and tools they need to prepare for a healthy and safe term abroad. Because there are inherent risks in international travel, the university cannot guarantee student safety abroad. Although Western takes every reasonable precaution to enhance the safety of its students, individual students must take primary responsibility to maintain their health and minimize their risky behavior. All students are required to sign an enrollment contract and waiver of liability to enroll in a study abroad program.
In addition to the health and safety information listed below, each trip has additional health and safety information available that is region specific. This information can be found on the webpage for the trip.
A study abroad experience, while extremely rewarding, can often bring health challenges as you adjust to new schedules, routines, eating habits, and cultural norms. It is important to prepare to manage your health prior to departure and throughout your experience abroad. Remember that studying abroad will be stressful both physically and mentally. A healthy mind and body are essential for a successful education abroad experience. Please read the following points carefully to prepare yourself for any health issues that may emerge while you are abroad. If you are experiencing or have experienced physical or emotional problems, please carefully consider your readiness for an international experience. If you are experiencing emotional, eating or substance abuse problems, strongly consider deferring your participation in a program until you have the concern well under control. If you do intend to participate in the program while managing a health issue, speak with your doctor or counselor well in advance of departure to devise a plan for your ongoing care.
When feasible, bring an adequate supply of medication to last the full term abroad. Do not ship medications as they are likely to be held up in customs for an extended period of time or not arrive at all. Bring medications in their original labeled containers along with copies of prescriptions. Know the generic names of all medications.
In some countries, immunizations may be required or recommended. Check with your doctor as well as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control which offers a study abroad and Traveler's Health section.
Students with Disabilities
Students with apparent or non-apparent disabilities will likely need to take special measures when planning a study abroad experience. Appropriate accommodations and facilities may not be available in all locations, so discuss your needs with your study abroad advisor as far in advance as possible. Your study abroad advisor and Western's coordinator of disability services will work together to assist you. Mobility International is a valuable resource for students with disabilities.
Register Your Travel
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. government to U.S. citizens traveling abroad. STEP allows Americans abroad to receive updates from the nearest embassy or consulate and allows the Department of State to better assist you in an emergency.
Staying Safe Abroad
- Use alcohol wisely and never use illegal drugs. Impaired judgment puts you at increased risk for accident, injury, and crime.
- Do not walk alone at night.
- Be aware of local laws and act in a responsible manner.
- Never leave your belongings unattended.
- Do not store or carry your documents and money together in one place. Carry only the necessities to minimize chance for loss.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Do not display money openly.
- Be inconspicuous in dress and demeanor. Be aware of belongings that might be perceived as valuable to thieves.
- Do not drive or hitchhike.
- Be wary of people who seem overly friendly or interested in you.
- Know your local 911 equivalent and other emergency contacts.
Communicating Your Plans
Always inform the on-site coordinator at the host institution and your family of your travel plans (destinations, itineraries, and how to contact you), even if it is just a weekend trip. This information is vital in case you need to be contacted in the event of an emergency. Needless to say, be certain to educate yourself about any destination you plan to visit prior to your departure.
In Times of Political Conflict
- Make sure you always carry the emergency contact numbers for your on-site coordinator, the U.S. embassy/consulate, and the police.
- Stay informed of the current political situation in your host country by using the local media. Consult the U.S. Department of State travel advisories. http://travel.state.gov
- Avoid potential target areas, especially bars, clubs, fast food restaurants, banks churches, embassies/consulates frequented by U.S. citizens.
- Stay away from areas known to have large concentrations of residents unfriendly to the United States.
- Stay out of political demonstrations. Resist the temptation to satisfy your curiosity and investigate what is happening. Go to a secure location and watch it on the news.
- Do not agree to newspaper, TV, or radio interviews regarding political conflicts or controversial issues. Remain inconspicuous.