The Study Abroad office places the utmost importance on the safety, security, and well-being of all students participating in programs abroad. While we are firmly committed to providing pre-departure information and support throughout your experience off campus, we also emphasize that you too must take responsibility for your own safety, security, and well-being. Review the information below as you prepare for an experience abroad, and contact a study abroad adviser if you have any questions or concerns.
All study abroad students have access to study abroad advisers that can address any concerns you might have, and direct you to further resources. You will also complete a pre-departure orientation, either online or in-person, before leaving campus.
Talk with your program director or onsite staff about what to do in case of an emergency, such as a personal injury, natural disaster or political unrest, and know specifically what would be expected of you. Also, think through what you might do in certain situations, such as if you lose your wallet, or get sick, and make sure that you are ready to be responsible for your own well-being.
In case of emergency, first call:
- Local emergency service
- Onsite program staff
- UnitedHealthcare Global: 1.410.453.6330
- 24 hour Yale Security: 1.203.785.5555
- Yale Study Abroad Office: 1.203.432.8684
Your health and safety abroad largely depends not on what might be happening around you, but on the responsible decisions you make before you leave and while you’re abroad.
It is very important to remember that you are subject to the laws of your host country, and any country to which you travel. The penalties for public intoxication can be severe, as can be the case with penalties for driving while under the influence. Legal blood alcohol levels can often be much lower abroad than is allowed in the U.S. If you get arrested for an alcohol related incident, neither Yale nor the local U.S. Consulate can obtain your release from jail.
Never travel with illegal drugs, and this includes marijuana. Yale University assumes no responsibility for any student apprehended for possession of drugs. Be aware that laws concerning drugs may be much more severe in your host country than in the United States and you cannot assume any special privilege as a U.S. citizen or citizen of your home country. There are foreigners jailed abroad for drug use or possession, and some countries even have the death penalty. A consulate representative may be able to put you in contact with legal representation, but should you have or develop legal problems in the country where you are living, you have the sole responsibility to attend to the matter at your expense and with your own personal funds. It’s not worth the risk, so avoid it entirely.
Pre-existing health considerations are not uncommon; most are mild and are easily controlled by medication, therapy or in some cases, a selective diet for things like food allergies. However, even common conditions like diabetes, depression, or asthma can be more challenging to manage abroad due to changes in environment, climate, food and water, or even increased stress. If you are taking prescription medication or are in regular treatment for a pre-existing condition, we strongly recommend that you have a medical examination before you leave. Talk with your primary care physician about specific steps to maintain your healthcare plan and to assess if any special accommodations might be needed abroad. Consider how traveling across time zones might affect your schedule. Keep in mind that going abroad – like any transition – can bring about a return or increase in symptoms.
We encourage you to talk with your study abroad program:
Cultural sensitivity does not mean that you need to submit to behaviors that invade your personal boundaries or that make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. However, educating yourself about sexual harassment, violence, and gender dynamics abroad can empower you and your friends to make safer choices. We encourage you to talk with your host family, your program, and local students to understand these cultural differences better.
If you feel you have been harassed, or if you are sexually assaulted while abroad, we encourage you to contact your in-country support. They have the best resources for you since they not only have the cultural knowledge, but can advise you about next steps legally and medically in that country. There are also many resources here at Yale that will still be available to you while abroad and we encourage you reach out to the one you feel the most comfortable with. First and foremost, if you are the victim of a sexual assault, remember that it is not your fault and that we put a high priority on confidentiality in these situations.
The following Yale resources are available to you even while abroad:
If you need immediate assistance or medical attention, contact one of the following:
- Someone on your program's staff that is in-country, such as the director
- UnitedHealthcare Global: 1.410.453.6330
- 24 Hour Yale Security: 1.203.785.5555
- Yale Study Abroad Office: 1.203.432.8684
Make yourself aware of customs regulations on medicines brought into your host country. Talk to your physician, Yale Travel Health, and your study abroad program for more information. Some medications that are routinely prescribed in the U.S. may be much more heavily regulated in other countries. Be sure to bring a note from your physician describing your condition and the necessity of the medication with you abroad. Your physician should also include the generic name of the drug as specific brand names available here may not be available elsewhere in the world. Bring with you abroad necessary health documentation such as immunization records, prescriptions, eye glass or contact prescriptions.
Yale Travel Health can provide you with comprehensive pre-travel care including consultation, education, vaccination, travel medications, and, if necessary, referral for medical evaluation. There is a fee for the consultation and for select travel vaccines that are not covered by the Yale Health Plan. Yale Travel Health also offers regional travel information sessions at no charge. Yale Travel Health, or your personal care physician, can advise you about any immunizations, inoculations, or other medical support that you might need before and while you are abroad. Be sure to schedule appointments as soon as possible. During this appointment, consider not only your study abroad location, but any other countries you might travel to. Whether you use the Yale Travel Health, or your home physician, please be aware that some inoculations need to be spaced out in order to be effective so early planning is essential.
It is your responsibility to make sure you have adequate health insurance while on your study abroad program. Some study abroad programs require that you purchase their health insurance plan, while others will not, or some of you might already have international coverage through a family insurance plan. Talk to your family and review your current plan and make sure that you will be adequately covered while abroad. If you want to continue to be covered by the Yale Health Plan you will need to contact them directly before going abroad. Keep in mind that the Yale Health Plan will likely give you minimal coverage abroad, so if you are not covered by your study abroad program we suggest you purchase supplementary insurance.
Aside from your program staff, you also have additional emergency support while abroad. All students are covered by UnitedHealthcare Global, Yale University’s student travel assistance plan. UHC Global provides specific services, such as assistance if your credit cards are stolen or if you lose your passport. They can provide medical referrals if you are sick or injured, as well as evacuation from the country if necessary due to a natural disaster or political unrest. A complete description of their service is on their website, but it is important to note that UHC Global is not a travel health insurance plan and should not replace adequate insurance coverage.
There is no charge for this service and you have online access with your Yale NetID and password. After logging in, you will be able to print out a UHC Global card, which you should take with you abroad. Please make certain your family knows about the UHC Global service, and give them a copy of the card, or direct them to the web site. It is also helpful if you let the study abroad program staff onsite know that you are covered by this service. If you ever lose your card, you can always log in and print out another.
Yale's International Travel Policy relates to countries of heightened risk and when the university would decide to restrict study abroad in a particular country. It is your responsibility to be aware of this policy and how it relates to your study abroad destination. If you have any questions about the country in which you plan to study and how this policy applies, please contact a study abroad adviser.
Stay informed of current health and security considerations in your proposed country of study. You should refer to these resources as you determine the most appropriate program abroad, during pre-departure planning, and when traveling within or outside of your study abroad location.