Health & Safety
We recommend that you have a complete physical, eye and dental examination 2-3 months prior to your program abroad. Check with your doctor (and with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control) regarding any inoculations you might need to protect yourself from infectious diseases endemic in the countries you will visit.
- Health Insurance Coverage: All students on Linfield’s study abroad programs (January Term and semester/year abroad) will have insurance coverage through a College approved plan/vendor. The cost of the coverage, during the duration of the program, will be included in your program fee. This policy covers medical needs while you are abroad as well as necessary evacuation (for medical or other contingencies as determined by the plan). You should also be aware that medical insurance coverage, if any, is extremely limited for anyone injured while engaging in any “extreme sports” (any kind of dangerous athletic endeavor such as bungee jumping, cliff diving, zip-line riding, etc., more broadly defined to include any activity which is not part of the college’s current athletic program). Accordingly, you should be aware that Linfield does not condone such activities and strongly discourages anyone from engaging in any form of extreme sports while participating in a Linfield-administered program abroad.
- Further health details: Take into serious consideration your own health issues when applying for a study abroad program, and make all your necessary health information available to the program’s administrators so they can assist you with any special needs, or advise you on the risks you might face. When completing the health form, be truthful and upfront. Not disclosing information about your health or medication you are taking can lead to a dismissal from the program when such information is brought forward later in the process. Study abroad includes both physical and mental challenges for students.
- U.S. Department of State Country Guide Website: You will find the following information about your host country: embassies & consulates, destination description, entry, exit, & visa requirements, safety & security, local laws & special circumstances, health information, and travel information.
- Travel Advisories, Alerts and Warnings: The State Department issues both travel advisories, alerts and travel warnings. It releases travel alerts to disseminate information about short-term conditions, generally within a particular country, that pose imminent risks to the security of U.S. citizens. The agency’s travel warnings inform U.S. citizens about long-term conditions that make a country unstable or dangerous. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control issues travel health warnings to alert citizens to widespread, serious outbreaks of a disease or to other public health concerns.
- Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP): We recommend ALL students and their parents enroll in the STEP program to receive updates from the U.S. Department of State regarding your host country.
- Center for Disease Control: Learn about what vaccines you should have before you go and about other important health information regarding your host country.
- Why Studying Abroad is Safer than you May Think
- World Health Organization
Prior to going abroad, Linfield College urges students to share with the International Programs Office information/concerns about personal matters such as health conditions, mental health concerns, medications, and allergies.
This information will be reviewed with the professional staff at the Student Health, Wellness & Counseling Center to ascertain if additional preparation is needed/required prior to your departure. A general overview will also be given at Pre-Departure Orientation, however, individual students should connect with the IPO for more in-depth information/help.
If students run into a situation while abroad, the following steps should be taken:
- Notify IPO.
- The IPO can help provide support and problem-solving suggestions for you. The IPO staff may also direct you to online resources and programs provided by the U.S. State Department for U.S. citizens traveling abroad.
- The IPO staff will contact our colleagues abroad regarding local resources to best handle your concerns/questions. Students may also connect with the host program staff directly.
- The IPO will help you connect with the Health, Wellness & Counseling Center to discuss needs on a case-by-case basis to help define goals for care while abroad. Due to legal constraints, the Linfield Student, Health Wellness & Counseling Staff are unable to provide on-going mental health or counseling care for students abroad.
Learn all you can about the health and safety issues of the countries you plan to visit. This includes reading about the cultural and political climate of those countries, as well as learning about how others view people from your country, race, ethnic group, religion, gender and sexual orientation.
- Laws and Codes of Conduct: Make yourself aware of both the rules and regulations of your host institution and country, and the local laws and customs of the cities and towns you will be visiting. Understand that you will not only have to conform to the legal system of the country you will be visiting, but also obey the codes of conduct required of program participants.
- Diseases and Inoculations: Find out about the infectious diseases endemic in countries to which you will be traveling, and get the appropriate shots, and take the appropriate medications with you if your doctor thinks it’s necessary. Find out about any potential side-effects of shots and medication that you may take. The Center for Disease Control is a great resource.
- Water, is it safe? Find out if water is safe to drink in the countries to which you will be traveling. Make sure water bottles come sealed when you buy them. Remember that ice can also be unsafe, as well as the water you use to brush your teeth.
- Prescriptions: Get a doctor’s signed prescription for any medication you have to take abroad. Some prescriptions may need to be translated if you wish to fill them abroad. Include your glasses or contact lens prescription. Bring an extra pair of glasses and contact lens kits and paraphernalia.
- Fitness and Exercise: Try to get fit in the time you have before departing overseas. A healthy body can help you fight off illnesses and recover faster if you do get sick. Also, try to stay fit and exercise while abroad, even though it may be harder to follow a structured workout routine.
- Walking: Get a good pair of comfortable walking shoes. Without access to a car or public transportation abroad, you may have to do quite a bit of walking. Break in your shoes before you go.
- Alcohol and Drugs: Use and abuse of alcohol and drugs abroad can increase the risk of accident and injury. Many study abroad accidents and injury are related to the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs. Violating drug laws abroad may result in very serious consequences. In some countries, being found guilty of violating drug laws can result in consequences as serious as the death penalty.
- Culture Shock (and homesickness): This is a much under-estimated and often ignored item among students traveling abroad to study. People often adopt the posture that it will never happen to them. It is real and it has “afflicted” even the most seasoned traveler. Take it seriously, recognize the symptoms and be informed of what you can do to overcome culture shock. And, look out for each other. This is widely discussed in your pre-departure orientation material….please review it.
- Emergency Contacts: Keep the staff at IPO and an emergency contact back home well informed of your whereabouts and activities and provide these people with copies of your important travel documents (i.e. passport, visa, plane itineraries, E-tickers, and prescriptions). And, let people around you (host university staff, homestay family hosts) know of your whereabouts during semester breaks and other long weekends, if you are traveling. Make sure they have your hotel and other travel information.
- Fire Safety While Abroad: One threat that is often overlooked is the risk of fires in countries where smoke detectors and fire escapes are not readily available. We strongly encourage all study abroad students to pack one battery-operated smoke alarm and place it in their room while abroad (whether in a homestay room or dorm room). Place the detector high, without having to damage the wall with a separate hook. Explore these free resources and discuss them with your parents.
- Air Travel: When you travel by air, drink a lot of non-alcoholic fluids, stay away from caffeine, eat light, and stretch often to avoid jet lag. Many airlines are now required to show an in-flight video of stretching exercises you can do on the plane in order to avoid the potential formation of blood clots, which can be caused by cabin pressure and sitting for long periods of time.
- Transportation:Accidents involving in-country travel, whether by air, bus, train, taxi, car, etc., are a major cause of injury to students abroad. It is important to understand what the safe modes of travel are abroad.
- Bus: Since it is the least expensive, travel by bus is often a very popular choice for students. Some may prefer to take the train instead. But, be cautious in making these selections. Your homestay hosts will know more about these kinds of transportation modes and can offer good advice in making informed choices.
- Train/Metro: You may want to avoid traveling by train alone at night, particularly in more urban areas. In major cities especially, you will find the metro system (where available) to be the most convenient form of transportation to move about the city, although beware of pickpockets. Don’t fall asleep on trains, buses or metro, especially if you have personal belongings (suitcases, backpacks, etc) around you.
- Air: Air travel can be a good value. If you know of discount airfare websites, you can find tickets at reasonable prices.
- Cars (Driving): Linfield College strongly discourages you from driving while you are on a study abroad program (regardless of whether it is Jan term, semester or year abroad and regardless of whether you are familiar with the area). In countries where driving laws are significantly different than in the U.S., such as the UK or Hong Kong, Australia, Ireland where drivers travel on the left side of the road or in other countries where you would experience a completely different driving environment, driving will become more of a challenge and insurance coverage can be prohibitive….so, don’t do it! If a driver is involved in a vehicle accident resulting in damages or injuries to another party, the driver may be detained by local authorities until a settlement is arranged with the injured party. Furthermore, depending upon the extent of damages or injuries to the other party, you may face charges filed by the country’s judicial authorities.
We are grateful to Center for Global Education at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, Gary Rhodes, Director, for allowing us to use part of their material on our web pages.