Health, Safety, and Wellness Information
In what is still a time of heightened international tension, the Office of Study Abroad at Brandeis University urges students and parents to stay abreast of current issues that may affect the health and safety of students abroad. Travel and study abroad always involves some elements of risk. Below you will find information that address the issues of health and safety while abroad. Study abroad is a reasonable and exciting choice for Brandeis students, but we encourage students and families to discuss the potential health and safety risks and take appropriate measures to protect themselves.
International Sickness and Accident Insurance
All Brandeis University students who participate on an approved study abroad program must ensure they obtain coverage from a comprehensive international sickness and accident insurance plan. Many programs will automatically enroll students in a comprehensive plan. You should check with your program as soon as possible to determine if you are appropriately covered. Students must ensure that they have adequate insurance coverage for their particular circumstances. If your program does not provide comprehensive international sickness and accident insurance coverage, you will be required to enroll in the Brandeis international sickness and accident plan offered through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI).
Maintaining U.S. Coverage
You must retain your U.S. health insurance, even while overseas. This will cover you both before you leave and after you return from your program. Should you have an accident or illness overseas that requires long-term care, you will have insurance upon your return to cover these expenses. Please also note that since you will be an enrolled, full-time Brandeis student while you are abroad, the same insurance regulations that affect you while you are in Waltham will still apply. Please see the University Bulletin or contact the Health Center at 781-736-3677 for more details. Keep in mind that if you have special insurance needs, or if you plan any travel before, during or after the program, you are responsible for obtaining appropriate coverage.
Travel/ Personal Property Insurance
We strongly encourage you to obtain insurance against theft and/ or damage to your personal effects for the period of time you will be abroad. Most programs do not provide insurance for your possessions. Your family's homeowner's insurance or rental insurance may provide coverage.
ACE Travel Assistance Program
For students going abroad, you will be covered by the ACE Travel Assistance Program.
Brandeis University has contracted with ACE USA and Europ Assistance to provide worldwide travel assistance to all study abroad participants. Europ Assistance USA is a global assistance leader established in 1963 that offers robust services through 850,000 service providers located all over the globe.
In addition to the coverage provided by your health insurance, ACE has arranged with Europ Assistance USA to provide Brandeis students studying abroad with access to its network of travel services around the world. These include:
- Medical Assistance: referral to a doctor or medical specialist; medical monitoring while hospitalized; emergency medical evacuation to proper medical facilities; and medically-necessary repatriation and return of mortal remains.
- Personal Assistance: pre-trip medical referral information; emergency medication; embassy and consular information; lost document assistance; emergency cash advances; translation services; emergency referrals to legal assistance.
- Travel Assistance: emergency travel arrangements;
- Security Assistance: crisis hotline; on-the-ground security assistance; access to secure, web-based system for tracking global threats and health- or location-based risk intelligence
The coverage provided by ACE is meant to be a supplement to the policies, procedures, and support mechanisms offered by your study abroad program. While ACE does offer travel, medical, and security services, it is NOT health insurance. Brandeis requires all students participating in study abroad to maintain health insurance coverage that meets the standards set forth by the university.
Please visit the ACE website for more information: http://www.acetravelassistance.com.
U.S. State Department
The U.S. Department of State periodically issues its latest "Worldwide Caution" Public Announcement. This announcement underscores the importance for Americans living and traveling abroad to remain vigilant and security conscious. Please visit the Worldwide Caution web site to read the current announcement prior to departure. It is important to note that cautionary notices are not the same as "travel warnings." Cautions remind all persons abroad to be careful. Warnings tell us that it may be best not to go to a particular country or region for specific reasons.
We advise all students studying abroad to consult the State Department Web site on a regular basis. This site includes valuable information about countries throughout the world. The following information is available at:
- International Travel Information
- U.S. Embassies Around the World
- Tips for Traveling Abroad
- Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
- Students Abroad Web site
Safety Precautions for Students Abroad
- Prior to leaving, read up on your destination country (and any countries which you plan to visit). Check out the State Department Consular Information Sheets and Travel Warnings, and read local newspapers. Be sure to review the pre-departure information provided by your program/university. You should also refer to a travel guide for your country.
- Check out the Study Abroad Student Handbook, a publication of the SAFETI (Safety Abroad First - Educational Travel Information) Clearinghouse.
- Consult the Centers for Disease Control for immunization/vaccination recommendations and requirements for the country in which you will be studying.
- Learn about the customs and local laws of the country to which you are going. Remember that you are subject to their laws and are NOT protected by U.S. laws or the U.S. embassy while in your host country.
- Make at least two copies of your passport ID page, airline ticket(s) and credit card(s). Leave one copy at home, along with any Travelers Checks’ serial numbers. Bring the second copy with you (separate from the original documents) in case something gets lost or stolen abroad. Having a copy of your passport expedites the replacement process.
- Keep a low profile. Try not to be conspicuous in your dress, speech, or behavior. In many countries Americans are not always viewed in a positive light and speaking loudly in public and drawing attention to yourself as an American is not always wise. Once you have some time to adjust to your new location, you will have a better sense of how you wish to act in your new surroundings based on how the locals around you act and address situations.
- Avoid crowds, protest groups, or other potential volatile situations. It is also a good idea to avoid places where Americans are known to congregate.
- Women especially: don’t respond to negative comments, 'cat-calls' or pick-up lines, they are best ignored (just ask the local women).
- Do not give your phone number or address or any other personal information to strangers.
- Never leave your luggage or any bags unattended. Thieves strike when people are distracted while making a phone call or checking a train schedule, with a bag casually left at one’s feet. Never agree to carry a package for anyone.
- Beware of con-artists and pickpockets. They exist everywhere in the world. Be especially alert in crowds. The most common sites for purse or camera snatching are central train stations, crowded shopping areas, and public transportation.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or all your credit cards at one time. Carry handbags/ backpacks under your arm on your side or in front of you; you will notice locals do the same. A money belt is an excellent investment and a great deterrent to prying hands.
- If anything is lost or stolen, report it to the local police. Keep a copy of the police report for insurance purposes or in case you need to replace your passport or student visa, as they will need to confirm that the passport was indeed stolen. It is also necessary to report the loss or theft of traveler’s checks to the nearest issuing office, a passport to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for a new one, and airline tickets to your airline or travel agent.
- Register on-line with the U.S. consulate or embassy in your host country.
- When traveling, always make certain your program, host university international student office, host family, and family back home in the U.S. know where you are going and when you are expected to return. Provide program and family members (including host family) with an itinerary as well as emergency contact information.
- Make plans to be in regular contact with your family so that in an emergency you can communicate with family members about your safety. You should carry the following phone numbers and e-mail addresses with you at all times:
- Family at home and work
- Study abroad program resident director or host university visiting student office/international student office
- U.S. Embassy and/or local Consulate in any country you visit
- Brandeis Study Abroad (781-736-3483; firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Your travel agent
- Attend the orientation program(s) run by the study abroad program and/or host university - at these sessions the programs/universities will provide region-specific information regarding health and safety issues.
- Use common sense: Avoid dangerous areas. Don’t use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly lit streets. Know where you are going and how to get there before dusk. Try not to be out alone at night. Always carry a little extra cash in case you have to select an alternate route home (i.e. taxi). Never get money from an ATM when it is dark out.
- Become a professional people watcher. Know what is happening around you and how locals respond to different situations.
Note About Illegal Drugs
Remember that you are subject to your host country's laws. If arrested, the American consular officer cannot get you released from jail. For more information, contact the United States Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.