Health & Safety Abroad
In current times, it is natural to have concerns about health, safety, and security while abroad. It is important to remember that just as a student’s everyday decisions cannot be monitored at WCU, they also cannot be monitored abroad. Using common sense, becoming aware of a country’s laws and regulations and following them are some of the most important ways a student can ensure his or her safety. The school or university students will be studying typically does their utmost to provide the most enjoyable and safe environment for WCU students. These schools want their visiting students to have the best time they can and to leave with a good impression of their school and country.
Knowing the best way to communicate before studying abroad can also help in making sure students are prepared in case of an emergency. Communication is becoming easier all the time due to efficient and inexpensive technology. Students and parents should find out about the easiest ways to communicate before leaving for their study abroad program. Learning about phone rates and country codes, postal rates, and the availability of the internet are some items that are good to know before traveling, as well as mobile apps for texting like WhatsApp and using Skype, or Facetime.
Stay Informed Before Departure
It is the responsibility of the student to stay informed about developments in the country/countries where they will spend time. Visit U.S. Department of State’s Web page and the U.S. Department of State’s Student Travel Abroad website . On these pages, you can find information about registering for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program as well as the following additional information:
- Country Information Sheets include the location of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in that country, unusual immigration practices, health conditions, minor political disturbances, unusual currency and entry regulations, crime and security information, and drug penalties.
- Travel Alerts are a means to disseminate information about threats and other conditions posing significant risks to the security of U.S. travelers.
- Travel Warnings are issued to recommend that Americans avoid travel to a certain country.
- Airline safety and flight regulations
International Health Insurance
WCU requires that all students have international health, medical evacuation, political evacuation, and natural disaster evacuation insurance for the entire duration of their international travel. This insurance is often included in the program for all of our affiliate program providers. For faculty-led and exchange programs, all students will be required to purchase GeoBlue insurance through the WCU SSI office. Information about cost, how/when to make payment, and the policy enrollment processes will be provided to the Program Director and all the students after the program has been approved and students have been accepted into the program.
Leave at home:
- credit cards, keys, and other items that will not be used while abroad
- photocopies of your valuable documents in order to maintain an “emergency file”: copies of airline ticket, passport, traveler’s checks, driver’s license, blood type and Rh factor, eyeglass and medication prescriptions, insurance policy information, and the credit cards you take abroad. (keep another copy with you separate from the originals)
- a copy of your itinerary and contact information with family or friends at home (provided before you leave)
NEVER pack your passport, visa, credit cards, money or any other important documents in your checked-in luggage or your carry-on luggage. These should be worn in a pouch or a money belt as close to your body as possible. Be aware that certain reading material or literature may offend officials of some countries.
If your passport is lost or stolen abroad, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance.