By and large, living and traveling abroad is no more or less dangerous than staying in the United States. The primary difference is that students and travelers may not have the accumulated knowledge and subconscious signposts they would have at home and, as a consequence, must be more actively aware of their surroundings. Study Abroad and Exchange Programs (SAEP), the Office of International Studies and Programs and Central Washington University take the safety of our students very seriously and will not send them into regions of the world that are truly dangerous.
Below are policies, suggestions and resources student must follow or may utilize in order to ensure they remain healthy and safe abroad and, thus, allow themselves to be as successful as possible in their program.
Role of Study Abroad and Exchange Programs
International Health and Emergency Insurance
U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings
U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
Travel Health Resources
Pre-Existing Conditions and Disabilities
CWU policy 2-10-150 mandates all University-endorsed or -supported international travel by students be reviewed by the Office of International Studies and Programs, regardless of sponsor or purpose. Students traveling abroad under such conditions must complete the SAEP Education Abroad Application and subsequent documentation.
All Central Washington University students participating in an international travel or education abroad program are required to obtain insurance that will cover both routine medical needs and hospitalization while abroad valid for the duration of their program. Moreover, all students must also obtain insurance that will cover the costs of medical evacuation, repatriation of remains and other emergency services. Proof of such insurance must be submitted to SAEP prior to the student’s departure.
Beginning Fall 2015, CWU will have a designated default insurance provider and policy, though a hard waiver policy will also be put in place. Please watch for more information.
SAEP closely monitors Travel Warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State, and the default position of Central Washington University is to prevent university-related student travel to locations subject to such warnings. However, programs to such countries may also be evaluated on an individual basis.
Students may view Department of State Travel Warnings at http://www.travel.state.gov.
Other governments maintain similar travel advisories, which are good resources, as well.
Students are strongly encouraged to register for the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) while abroad.
From the Department of State website:
- The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.
- STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency.
- STEP also allows Americans residing abroad to get routine information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
The Department of State also has a downloadable app for Apple and Android users. It’s available here: Free Smart Traveler App
Below are further resources from the U.S. Department of State:
- What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis
- Illegal Drugs
- Tips for Traveling Abroad
- Students Abroad
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and other resources provide health information for international travelers. This includes required and/or recommended vaccinations, Travel Health Warnings, information on outbreaks and information on common travel ailments. Below is a list of such resources:
- CDC: Travelers’ Health
- CDC: Travelers' Diarrhea
- CDC: Sexual Violence Prevention
- International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers: Vaccinations
- Kittitas County Public Health Department: Travel Health Consultations
- U.S. Department of State: Health Issues
- WHO: Travel and Health
In instances of outbreaks of disease such as that of SARS in 2003 and H1N1 influenza (“swine flu”) in 2009, students should rely on information from the CDC and WHO, rather than general media, to determine travel safety. In such instances, SAEP and Central Washington University likewise will monitor this information and, when necessary, make determinations about continued viability and safety of a given education abroad program.
Students can obtain information on English-speaking or other appropriate health care providers from the U.S. consular mission in the host country, and local partners should have it available, as well.
Some destinations, particularly tropical or developing countries, may require one or more vaccinations or other prophylactic medication. Certain vaccinations require multiple, scheduled doses over a period of weeks or months. Students should consult the previous resources and a medical professional to understand the required vaccinations for their destinations, as well as the necessary dosage regimen.
The CWU Student Medical Clinic and the Kittitas County Public Health Department are able to provide some vaccinations and may do so at a cost lower than other medical providers. Students are encouraged to consult those resources first.
Students who regularly take medication, whether over-the-counter or prescription, should consult their health care provider on how best to manage those medications while abroad. Some medications will be easily available abroad and others may be more difficult to obtain or unavailable entirely. Moreover, some medications, such as certain anti-depressants, are banned in some countries.
Students may need to work with their health care provider and insurance company to bring sufficient quantities of needed medications to last the duration of the student’s time abroad. Medication should not be shipped internationally. Students should obtain copies of all prescriptions (including those for corrective lenses) in both English and the language of the host country. As trade names differ internationally, students should ask for the generic name of any medication.
All medication should be transported in the student’s carry-on bags and in the original, labeled containers.
Students should be sure that they understand the physical, intellectual and emotional demands of their chosen program and how those demands will impact them. Students with chronic physical and/or mental health conditions or disabilities are recommended to consult their health care provider on how to manage their condition(s) and the program demands abroad. CWU’s Student Disability Services also serves as a resource for identifying reasonable accommodations and working with Study Abroad and Exchange Programs and/or the faculty program director to incorporate those accommodations into the program. Further advice and resources may available through Mobility International USA.
While disclosure of these conditions cannot be required, students are encouraged to have frank and open conversations with SAEP staff, the faculty program director and the program sponsor about their conditions. Such conversations will prepare the necessary people to assist in the event of an episode or emergency and enable them to find the accommodations and/or programs that will allow the student to be as successful as possible in his/her education abroad experience.
The acceptance of LGBTQIA identities varies broadly internationally. Identifying oneself as LGBTQIA may put one at risk for harassment and physical violence. In some countries, homosexuality and/or homosexual acts are illegal and punishable by imprisonment and even death. In choosing an education abroad program, LGBTQIA students should thoroughly research the attitudes and laws regarding LGBTQIA issues in the proposed destination(s) and make an informed decision. Students are encouraged to have frank and open conversations with SAEP staff, faculty program directors and/or host institution contacts, especially in regards to accommodations.
- U.S. Department of State Information for LGBT Travelers
- U.S. Department of State Human Rights Reports
- Amnesty International USA: LGBT Rights
- Human Rights Campaign: International Topics
- International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)
- International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO)
- International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
- University of Michigan International+LGBT: Study/Work/Travel Abroad