Health and Safety

Take responsibility for your own safety. Do your research and plan ahead.

The health and safety of PSU students participating in our Education Abroad programs is a primary concern for the PSU Education Abroad Office. Every effort is made to ensure that our students, faculty, and staff traveling abroad have the resources and information they need for a successful study abroad experience. Though absolute safety cannot be guaranteed abroad, just as it cannot be guaranteed in the United States, PSU is committed to taking the necessary steps to maximize student safety at every program site.

The protocols and guidelines in place are designed to minimize risk to PSU student and faculty participants.

  •  The PSU Education Abroad staff vets all program partners prior to approval, requiring 24-7 health and safety coverage and crisis management plans. PSU also confirms that the insurance and liability codes of each partner meet U.S. standards.
  • PSU staff monitors U.S. government advisories, considering both those issued by in-country embassies and consulates and by the Department of State in Washington, D.C. Click here for more information.
  • Our staff are in contact with all students abroad (via email and the VikingsAbroad portal), and students are kept updated on travel warnings or potential threats in their area as they develop.
  • We maintain an emergency telephone number for students abroad. The phone line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Students attend mandatory pre-departure orientation sessions during which health and safety issues are covered.
  • All study abroad program participants are be covered by a mandatory, comprehensive insurance plan (either through the program provider, or the PSU international insurance) which covers them for the duration of their international program. Click here for more information.

General Advice for International Travel

Traveling outside of the United States is an exciting and life-enriching experience available for many PSU students and staff.  Whether you are traveling to study abroad for a term or year, or on a short-term program to engage in Capstone, internships or service learning programs, it’s an opportunity for personal and professional growth. However, when traveling outside of the United States, you should take adequate time to prepare for situations that you may not have considered while at home.

The staff of the PSU Education Abroad Office would like to offer some important advice for your upcoming travel:

  1. As excited as you likely are about traveling to a new country, international travel can often present unanticipated mental and physical challenges.

    • If you have any chronic or recurrent medical conditions (including but not limited to asthma, heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, attention deficit, chronic pain, immunosuppressive disorders), please take this into consideration when selecting your destination, and make sure that you are mentally and physically capable to participate in your upcoming travel itinerary. Please talk to your primary caregiver about a health management plan, and also consider meeting with the PSU Disability Resource Center (DRC) to discuss accommodation needs.

    • If you take medications, please make sure that you have sufficient medications for the duration of your travel and that you have a follow-up plan should you encounter a flare-up of your medical condition or loss of medications during your trip.  Keep in mind that there may not always be medical services near your destinations that can reliably refill your prescriptions.  If you are planning on bringing controlled substances (stimulant medications for ADHD, narcotic pain medications) or injectable medications, you should inquire with your destination countries/embassies to make sure that they are permitted on your travels, since some countries will not allow these medications, and you may risk medication confiscation and/or personal incarceration or deportation if they are found in your belongings.  More information and advice about traveling with prescription medications is available here.

    • If you have any disabilities, you should inquire with your program and host countries to make sure that you have accessibility where you are traveling- many countries may not have accommodations available for disabilities.  More information about accommodations for students with disabilities who study abroad is available here.

    • Some countries will not allow you entry if you have certain medical conditions (HIV, undergoing treatment for infections, etc.) and you should research on your host country’s embassy website that your medical condition will not cause entry issues.

  2. If you will be going to destinations of higher medical risk or need medical clearance forms completed for your travel, please give yourself adequate time to get a medical evaluation before your departure.  We generally recommend that you obtain this evaluation at least 2 months prior to your travel, since vaccinations generally take at least 2 weeks before providing any protective effect, and some vaccinations need more than one dose. You can review in advance the standard recommendations for your destinations at www.cdc.gov/travel.  More information about the services provided by SHAC Travel Health is available here.
     
  3. Personal safety is always a concern, regardless of destination.  Accidents (motor vehicle, pedestrian and drowning) are among the top causes of injury/death for travelers, so maintain awareness of your surroundings, avoid high risk activities, and heed locally posted signs and precautions.  Travel in groups when possible and avoid being in socially isolated areas that may increase your risk as a crime target. When traveling independently, make sure you notify a responsiblity party of your destination. Familiarize yourself with local traffic laws, as well.
     
  4. Remember that as a traveler, you are a representative of your program and of your home country.  Be proud of who you represent and always behave in a respectful manner that will leave a positive impression for your host countries, thereby building lasting friendships for you and for all future travelers.