Getting medical treatment and hospital care abroad can be very expensive, and, if you need it, a medical evacuation back to the U.S. can cost more than $50,000! While the U.S. consular officer at your local embassy can assist in locating appropriate medical services, informing family or friends, and even assist in the transfer of funds from back home, ultimately, payment of hospital and other expenses is entirely your responsibility.
All study abroad students are required to possess adequate international health insurance for the duration of their program. If you plan to travel abroad prior to or following your program, you are encouraged to obtain insurance for those periods as well. You are required to maintain your domestic insurance in the United States and should not terminate your existing coverage.
When securing health insurance coverage, realize that most U.S. medical insurance plans do not include coverage outside of the United States—adequate coverage many times will require an additional policy to cover you while abroad. Contact your provider to ask about coverage. If your plan will not cover you abroad, consider other companies such as GeoBlue Travel Insurance or iNext International Insurance who offer international insurance for study abroad students. Premiums are affordable, often around $2/day.
Your coverage should be comparable to what’s required for study at HPU and must include emergency medical evacuation and repatriation. Review an example of international insurance provided by iNext to see if your private insurance is comparable.
Visit the U.S. Department of State’s website for a list of travel medical insurance providers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the national public health institute of the United States and offers valuable resources to American travelers abroad on their Traveler’s Health website.
As a student on a High Point University study abroad program, it is your responsibility to check the CDC website to see what, if any, vaccinations and/or medical tests are recommended or required for your travel destinations. It also is your responsibility to schedule and obtain any vaccinations and/or medical tests before you travel abroad.
Know that some vaccinations may be time-sensitive and require more than one visit to obtain. Vaccinations and medical tests are not included in the program fee of your study abroad program so you will want to factor their fees into your total participation costs. Contact the HPU Student Health Services as well as your home physician and/or a travel clinic for more information as some vaccinations and exams may not be able to be provided on campus.
Please keep in mind that there are different categories of vaccinations of which you should be aware:
Studying abroad is not a cure for existing mental health conditions and most likely will make existing conditions worse by adding stress, unfamiliarity, culture shock, language barriers, and removing oneself from their normal support system. If you are struggling with a mental health condition, it is important that you discuss with your doctor your intended study abroad plans, including to which countries you plan to visit, what you will be doing, and the length of your program, before making a decision about studying abroad.
If you are taking any prescription medications, ensure you have all the proper documentation for bringing your medication into your host country. We recommend you visit your doctor at least a month before departure to make sure you are fit to go abroad and that any medication complications are resolved. Not all medications approved in the U.S. are legal in other countries, and some countries have stricter regulations than others. This is especially true of AD/HD and other psychotropic medications. Check with the local embassy to make sure that your medication is acceptable to carry and/or mail into the country. Speak with your doctor, especially if your medication is not legal in your host country, about the possibility to switch to another medication. Your international insurance provider also can provide help answering these and similar questions.
If your medication is legal, you must:
If you have allergies, reactions to certain medications, foods, insect bites, or other unique medical problems, it is strongly suggested you disclose this information on the Health Information & Emergency Treatment form. You also may want to consider wearing a “medical alert” bracelet. Talk with your doctor to determine what should be the required medical treatment for your allergies. You also may wish to carry a letter from your physician explaining any necessary treatment. If you take over-the-counter allergy medication, you will want to research the availability of your medicine abroad.
It is a good idea to learn how to say what you are allergic to and to describe your allergic reaction in the language of your host country.
Your host country’s gastronomy may differ significantly from what you are used to. If you have dietary restrictions, it is strongly suggested you disclose this information on the Health Information & Emergency Treatment form.
Learning how to say what your dietary restrictions are in your host country’s language will help you to obtain the food you can eat and avoid the food you cannot. Research the food available in your host country, and do not assume that the food you want or are used to eating will be readily available.
The United States Department of State offers valuable resources to American travelers abroad and has created a website dedicated to American college students studying abroad: http://studentsabroad.state.gov. As you prepare for your program, and while you are abroad, check their website for easy registration with the nearest U.S. Embassy and the most up-to-date information including travel and safety tips, warnings, alerts, world-wide cautions, individual country profiles, and country-specific updates.
Before all travel, register your plans with the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). You also may access the STEP program enrollment from the U.S. Department of State’s website by clicking on the blue suitcase with the white check mark or from the State Department’s dedicated smart phone application.
Be sure to include all ways a consular officer can contact you, which may include residence hall phones, hotel phones, cell phones, etc. If there is an emergency in the States or in the location to which you are traveling, the consular official will use those numbers to contact you directly.
The U.S. Department of State provides detailed information about particular countries and their current safety situations. Be sure to review the Travel Warnings webpage for up-to-date information about the locations to which you plan to travel.
The United States Embassies and Consulates offer valuable resources to U.S. citizens traveling abroad. Located throughout the world, it is important to know which embassies and/or consulates offer consular services to assist you should you need them. These services include, among other things, emergency assistance, answers and clarification to non-emergency questions, and replacements for lost or stolen passports.
Attitudes and tolerance toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) persons vary from country to country, just as they vary among U.S. cities and states. Most LGBTQ travelers encounter no problems while overseas, but it helps to be prepared and research your destination before you go. If you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, it is very important to consider what the local attitudes, beliefs, and laws are in your host country in regards to LGBTQ issues. Some countries abroad have much more liberal views than the U.S. on these issues and provide greater rights and legal protection to LGBTQ individuals. Other countries have more conservative views on sexual orientation and identity and provide little or no rights or legal protection to the LGBTQ community. In many countries homosexuality remains a crime and can result in harsh punishment.
Some Important Questions for LGBTQ Students to Consider:
Gender roles differ from culture to culture, and even within cultures. It is important for you to consider how you identify with your gender and how your gender may impact your experience in your host country. This is important for both men and women, and is especially important if you identify as transgender or gender-queer. Your gender may impact how and with whom you are able to interact, how others perceive you, what you can wear, and where you can go. It may afford you greater or lesser privilege than you enjoy in the U.S. There may also be differences in how locals are treated based on gender and how foreigners are treated based on gender.
Some women from the U.S. are surprised by greater levels of equality of women and men in certain countries. Others struggle to integrate in a culture where women are expected to assume more traditional roles in the home. Men from the U.S. may be uncomfortable if they enjoy certain privileges in the host culture which women on their program do not.
Some important questions to consider about gender:
In addition to researching information ahead of time, it is important to speak with and take cues from your local counterparts in the host culture. Observe and follow their behavior and dress when appropriate.
Students with disabilities are encouraged to disclose their disabilities early in the process of planning a study abroad experience. This will allow for sufficient time to investigate a number of options for programs that meet academic interests and to explore the availability of accommodations prior to making a program selection.
In researching programs, consider the following questions:
It’s important to remember that local law governs equal access to people with disabilities and that the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act are not in force outside of the United States. Some countries may not be as accommodating as others. In some countries, mobility is restricted by sidewalk conditions and public transportation, and accessible housing options are scarce. Please feel free to discuss your needs with Academic Services and the Office of Study Abroad before applying to a specific program.
For many, cuisine is an important part of experiencing a new culture. Enjoying local delicacies is part of the adventure, but eating certain things could make you very sick. Many countries don’t have the same food handling and preparation standards found in the United States. Consider the following suggestions to help you remain healthy abroad:
All study abroad students are required to possess adequate international health insurance for the duration of their program. Many times, this will require an additional policy to cover you while outside of the United States, as most U.S. medical insurance plans do not include coverage outside of the United States. Getting medical treatment and hospital care abroad can be very expensive, and, if you need it, a medical evacuation back to the U.S. can cost more than $50,000! While the U.S. consular officer at your local embassy can assist in locating appropriate medical services and informing family or friends, and even assist in the transfer of funds from back home, ultimately, payment of hospital and other expenses is entirely your responsibility.
Should you become ill while abroad, log on to your international health insurance website and utilize their tools to find a doctor or pharmacy near you. If this is a non-life threatening medical condition that requires visiting a doctor, call the doctor’s office first to state your issue, ask if they are accepting patients, and ask whether they accept your international health insurance and what their billing or payment options are. Schedule an appointment once all of your questions have been answered. If you have to pay for the visit out of pocket, be sure to log on to your insurance account and fill out a claim form to request reimbursement for services.
Let the program administrator in your host country, the HPU Office of Study Abroad, and your parents know if you are ill or require assistance.
At all times be aware, be careful, and use common sense. No matter how safe you feel and how trusting you are, always stay mentally alert so that you make wise decisions. Don’t go out alone—always go out with at least one other person, and more is better. Be especially cautious at night. Realize that you are easily identified as an American when in large groups and you might be targeted for that reason. You can minimize risks and avoid obvious dangers by keeping a low profile, and not identifying yourself as American by dress, speech, or behavior.
Stay informed of any political unrest that may take place in your city or country. Avoid participating in demonstrations and other political activities. There may be an increased risk of anti-American activity during periods of political conflict. Even demonstrations that are intended to be peaceful can sometimes turn violent, and you don’t want to be arrested for involvement even if you just happen to be there.
It’s also helpful to know when and where major events are taking place, as they can delay or detour travel plans and can cause greater traffic at public transportation stations.
Be aware of your surroundings, including unknown individuals hanging around your residence. Be suspicious of unexpected packages, letters with no return addresses, and/or letters that appear to contain more than just paper. Visitors should be screened and delivery persons should be asked for identification. Make sure to always lock your doors. Take the same precautions as you would in any large city. Do not give out your name or address and do not share program information with strangers. Know where the nearest police stations and hospitals are, and keep emergency numbers handy. Do not go into unsafe or unknown areas.
Be especially cautious in or avoid areas where you may be more easily victimized. These include crowded subways, train stations, elevators, tourist sites, market places, festivals, and crime-ridden neighborhoods. Seek the advice of the local embassy or consulate for a list of “no go” zones, or neighborhoods and areas to avoid. Consider the following safety tips:
For information on driving safety, safe practices for car rentals, and other information regarding driving abroad, please read the State Department’s webpage on road safety overseas.
Your place of residence needs to be a place where you feel safe. Remember, that your actions also affect others (e.g., host family, roommates). Consider the following safety tips:
If a country has a pattern of tourists being targeted by criminals on public transport, that information is published on the Country Information section of the U.S. Department of State website. To help you stay safe while using public transportation, please consider the following safety tips:
You must obey the local laws of the host country in which you’re studying. An arrest or accident during a term abroad can result in a difficult and expensive legal situation. It makes no difference if you did not know the law. Your U.S. citizenship does not protect you from full prosecution. Many countries impose harsh penalties for violations that would be considered minor in the U.S., and, unlike in the U.S., you may be considered guilty until proven innocent.
Feel free to take pictures, but only if you know it’s okay. In many countries, you can be detained for photographing security-related institutions, such as police and military installations, government buildings, airports, border areas, and transportation facilities. If you are in doubt, ask permission before taking photographs. You should also ask permission before taking photographs of local people. This shows respect and is polite.
Don’t accept packages from anyone, regardless of what may be offered or what story you are told. You could miss your flight, your exams, or several years of your life behind bars.
If you find yourself in a legal jam, contact the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. Information can be found online or on your emergency embassy card. U.S. Consular employees cannot arrange for local officials to release detained American citizens, but they can help notify family and arrange a lawyer. Don’t get yourself in trouble and stay away from others engaged in questionable behavior.
There are many things of which to be aware when handling money abroad. Keep in mind the following:
Regardless of the laws of your host country, use of any drug by an HPU student may result in termination from the program at the student’s expense. High Point University can assume no responsibility for you if you are arrested for drug use. Something that might be considered a misdemeanor in the U.S. could be seen as a felony in another country. Do not put yourself or others at risk.
Laws concerning drugs may be much more stringent, and penalties more severe, in countries other than in the U.S. Being a citizen of the United States does not mean you are not subject to full prosecution under the local law. The U.S. Consulate cannot get you released if you are arrested. They only can help notify family and arrange a lawyer. If you have a drug problem, or suspect that you might, you should not study abroad.
At all times, all HPU students are held to the academic and social policies of the High Point University Guide to Student Life, the HPU Honor Code, and the HPU Code of Conduct.
Drinking ages vary from country to country, but excessive drinking is inappropriate in all countries. Excessive drinking can lead to serious consequences, including dismissal from the program. Moreover, all cultures consider drunkenness as socially unacceptable. If you do drink, do so in moderation.
Sexual harassment occurs abroad, just as it does in the U.S. Even if you have never experienced sexual harassment before, know that in some countries street harassment such as shouting obscenities, comments on your appearance or dress, or other verbal or nonverbal sexual harassment may be a cultural norm. Sexual harassment laws also differ from country to country. The country in which you study may not consider unwanted sexual attention harassment even if it would clearly be harassment in the U.S., or if other people (including local people) might consider it a problem. Therefore, the safest way to manage unwanted sexual attention is to distance yourself immediately from the individual or situation, speak up in a clear and firm manner when possible, and, most importantly, report the incident immediately to your program administrator or housing coordinator. Please remember that reporting the incident helps keep you and others safe.
Again, making sure that you are never alone with someone helps keep you safer.
Having a full and engaged experience while studying abroad is important and it can be threatened by negative experiences. Sexual violence and relationship violence are traumatic events that can destroy your term abroad. Many of us don’t think about potential dangers and the contexts that aggravate certain crimes in other countries.
Sexual and relationship violence are never your fault. To reduce the possibility of sexual or relationship violence, there are some important points to remember. The perception that American women and men are very sexually active, heavy partiers (i.e., liberally consume alcohol and other drugs), and want to have romantic or sexual relationships with people from other countries are common in other parts of the world. While these stereotypes most likely come from the prevalence of glamorized TV shows and movies, and may surprise you, they need to be taken seriously in order to reduce the potential for harm. Thus, it is even more important for students studying abroad to be educated and aware about the issue and context of sexual and relationship violence.
Things to think about while studying abroad:
Violence against women is a growing concern all over the world. Sexual violence is prevalent in all cultures. Sometimes when students are out of familiar environment, they are even more vulnerable to these crimes. Please remember that if someone commits one of these crimes against you, you are not responsible.
In an emergency, tell your advisor/on-site staff and ask them to contact Heidi Fischer, the Director of Study Abroad at High Point University, at (336) 953-0239 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can contact directly the on-duty Resident Director at (336) 880-4409. Know that Federal law may require High Point University employees to report certain situations regarding students abroad, so if you need to speak with someone in complete confidence, we recommend that you contact instead a member of Counseling Services at (336) 841-9231 or (336) 841-9112 (24-hour emergency number), as these individuals are not bound by the same U.S. laws.
If you experience an emergency, the best resource and the first person you should contact is your in-country program manager. Communicate your location, situation, and condition to your in-country program manager immediately. Allow them to assess the situation and follow their instructions. Both the in-country program manager and students involved should inform the Director of Study Abroad of the situation as soon as possible. HPU staff will contact parents of all the students involved in the incident.
High Point University requests that students participating in any HPU study abroad program follow the emergency procedures described above. In order for HPU to provide assistance swiftly and effectively, students in emergency situations should contact the in-country program manager, followed by the Office of Study Abroad, and wait until both have assessed the situation before contacting their parents.