Health & Safety Information

Living and traveling abroad is generally as safe as staying in the United States. The main difference is that people who are abroad may not have the same level of familiarity and subconscious awareness of their surroundings as they would at home. Therefore, they need to be more actively aware of their environment. Central Washington University, along with the Study Abroad and Exchange Programs (SAEP) and the Office of International Studies and Programs, prioritize the safety of their students. They do not send students to regions of the world that are genuinely dangerous.

To ensure the health and safety of students while abroad and maximize their success in the program, there are policies, suggestions, and resources that students must follow or can use.

Helpful Information About Health and Safety Abroad

Details for travelers.
  • Role of Study Abroad and Exchange Programs

    According to CWU policy 2-10-155, any international travel by students that is endorsed or supported by the university must be reviewed by the Office of International Studies and Programs, regardless of the sponsor or purpose. Students who are traveling abroad under these circumstances are required to complete the Education Abroad Application and submit the necessary documentation.

  • International Health and Emergency Insurance

    Central Washington University requires all students participating in university-sanctioned international travel or education abroad programs to have international health and emergency insurance throughout their program. CWU has arranged a group insurance plan through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI), and students will be automatically enrolled unless they request and receive a waiver. You can find more information about the CWU insurance plan here: Coverage Plan.

    If students fail to show proof of adequate insurance coverage, they may lose permission to travel.

    Enrollment and Billing

    For students participating in CWU exchanges and faculty-directed programs, the cost of insurance is included in the program fees paid to the Office of International Studies and Programs (OISP) and Study Abroad and Exchange Programs (SAEP). This covers travel expenses and more. SAEP will enroll students in insurance coverage based on their application materials and handle all premium payments. Starting from September 2022, the insurance cost will increase to $2.07 per day due to additional benefits being added to the policy.

    For all other students, they need to complete the SAEP Education Abroad Application first. Once their travel is approved, SAEP will enroll them in the insurance coverage and post the relevant charges to their CWU account.

    Waiver Requests

    Washington State law allows students to request a waiver from the CWU policy if they can provide proof of comparable insurance coverage. To request a waiver, students need to complete the International Health and Emergency Insurance Waiver Request Form and submit it to SAEP along with the necessary supporting documents before the specified deadlines.

    The decision to grant a waiver rests solely with CWU, and any waivers granted for one or more quarters do not automatically guarantee waivers for future quarters.

    Trip Cancelation Insurance

    It's important to note that this policy does not cover trip cancellation or financial losses related to canceled programs, flights, baggage issues beyond the stated limits, or similar situations. Students have the option to purchase separate trip cancellation insurance if they desire, but the decision to do so is up to each individual student. CISI offers an individual Trip Cancellation policy that can be purchased through their website by visiting the Marketplace section.

  • U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings

    SAEP keeps a close watch on Travel Warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State. By default, Central Washington University discourages student travel to locations with active Travel Warnings. However, programs to such countries can be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

    Students can access the Department of State Travel Warnings at to stay informed.

  • U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

    Students are required to register for the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) prior to traveling abroad.

    STEP is a free service offered by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to or residing in foreign countries. By enrolling in STEP, you can provide details about your upcoming trip, enabling the Department of State to offer better assistance in case of an emergency. Additionally, STEP allows Americans living abroad to receive routine information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

    The Department of State also offers a downloadable app for both Apple and Android users to access these services conveniently.

  • Travel Health Resources

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and other reliable sources offer health information for international travelers. These resources provide important details about required and recommended vaccinations, Travel Health Warnings, updates on disease outbreaks, and information on common travel-related health issues. Here is a list of these helpful resources:

    During disease outbreaks like the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the H1N1 influenza ("swine flu") outbreak in 2009, students should rely on information provided by the CDC and WHO instead of general media sources to assess travel safety. In such situations, SAEP and Central Washington University will also closely monitor this information and make decisions about the feasibility and safety of specific education abroad programs, as needed.

    Students can find information about English-speaking or suitable healthcare providers from the U.S. consular mission in the host country, and local partners should also be able to provide this information.

  • Vaccinations/Immunizations

    Certain destinations, especially tropical or developing countries, may require students to receive one or more vaccinations or take prophylactic medication. Some vaccinations need multiple doses administered over several weeks or months. To understand the required vaccinations and dosage regimen for their destination, students should consult the aforementioned resources and seek advice from a healthcare professional.

    The Kittitas County Public Health Department can provide some vaccinations, often at a lower cost compared to other medical providers. Students are encouraged to first consult these resources for their vaccination needs.

  • Medication

    Students who take regular medication, whether it's over-the-counter or prescription, should consult their healthcare provider for guidance on managing their medications while abroad. Availability of medications may vary, with some being easily accessible while others may be difficult to obtain or even prohibited in certain countries, such as specific anti-depressants.

    It may be necessary for students to work with their healthcare provider and insurance company to ensure they have an adequate supply of medications for the entire duration of their time abroad. It's important to note that 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. Since trade names can differ across countries, students should inquire about the generic names of their medications.

    All medication should be carried in the student's carry-on bags and stored in their original, labeled containers.

  • Pre-Existing Conditions and Disabilities

    It is crucial for students to understand the physical, intellectual, and emotional demands of their chosen program and how these demands may affect them. Students with chronic physical and/or mental health conditions or disabilities are advised to consult their healthcare provider on managing their condition(s) and the program requirements while abroad. CWU's Student Disability Services can also provide support in identifying reasonable accommodations and collaborating with Study Abroad and Exchange Programs and/or the program faculty director to incorporate these accommodations into the program. Mobility International USA may offer additional advice and resources.

    While disclosure of these conditions cannot be mandatory, students are encouraged to have open and honest discussions with SAEP staff, the program faculty director, and the program sponsor about their conditions. These conversations will help prepare the relevant individuals to assist in case of an episode or emergency, and they can help identify appropriate accommodations or programs that will contribute to the student's success during their education abroad experience.

  • LGBTQIA+ Identities

    LGBTQIA+ individuals may face different levels of acceptance worldwide. Coming out as LGBTQIA+ can expose individuals to the risk of harassment and violence. In certain countries, homosexuality and same-sex acts are illegal, leading to severe punishments, including imprisonment or death. LGBTQIA+ students should carefully research the attitudes and laws concerning LGBTQIA+ issues in their desired study abroad destination(s) to make an informed decision. It is important for students to engage in open and honest conversations with SAEP staff, faculty program directors, and host institution contacts, particularly regarding accommodations and support.

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