It is important to consider the safety and health implications of your education abroad experience PRIOR to actually leaving. This section of “Health and Safety” will address a couple of these implications to consider.
Avoid Risky Behavior
In the thrill and excitement of being in another culture, it is important for participants to stay aware of their surroundings and take precautions. Participants should avoid potentially risky behavior while abroad, which can include drinking, traveling alone at night, attracting unwanted attention, etc. Understanding culturally appropriate behaviors can go a long way in ensuring one's safety and security while abroad.
Please take some time to watch the YouTube series called “Health and Safety Abroad” which was created by HTH Worldwide Travel Insurance. This series covers how to address, avoid or manage issues related to alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, mental illness, chronic illness, STDs, jet lag, traveler's diarrhea, sun exposure, malaria, motion sickness, water hazards, altitude sickness and security.
For participants traveling to a remote location, it is also important to read the Staying Healthy and Safe in Remote Locations brochure.
Staying Healthy and Safe
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. U.S. citizens should sign up for the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at https://travelregistration.state.gov. This will help the Department of State contact U.S. citizens if there is a family emergency in the U.S., or if there is a crisis where they are traveling. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information will not be released to others without express authorization.
Emergency Contact Information Card. It is prudent for participants to carry an Emergency Contact Information Card at all times. Be sure to include local emergency contact information, the contact information of the on-site staff, and any other essential information in case of an emergency. If necessary, the information should also be noted in the local language.
Personal Travel. Part of an experience abroad is engaging in the local culture. Participants are encouraged to be open to new experiences but also not to let down their guard. Telephone numbers, addresses, and other personal information should not be given to strangers. When traveling alone or in small groups, participants should leave their itinerary with the program leader, site leader, or another trusted individual. Any valuables should be left at home. Do not leave unattended luggage in public areas, and do not accept packages from strangers.
Clothing and Style. To avoid being a target of crime, participants should not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry or carry excessive amounts of money. Wearing clothing without insignia can help one blend in with the local population. Standing out as an American could invite anti-American sentiment in some locations. Participants should stay aware of the attitudes, dress, and behavior of the local population in order avoid drawing unwanted attention.
Drinking. Some of the most common problems occurring among education abroad participants are linked to alcohol consumption. Drinking excessively can lead to a loss of control resulting in theft, assault, and unsafe sexual contact. Excessive drinking can also lead to entanglements with local authorities, a violation of host institution rules and policies, and can have repercussions at UK.
Sexual Health. Whatever decisions the participant makes about sexual behavior while abroad, it is important to make smart and healthy decisions. Please review this booklet, Sexual Health Abroad: A Guide to Healthy Practices During Education Abroad.
What to do in an emergency
Make sure the participant knows the emergency phone numbers for the country in which they are studying. In the event of an emergency while abroad, first contact the appropriate local authorities as soon as possible. Then, contact the program director or on-site UK faculty member for guidance. In case of health-related emergences, contact AXA Assistance in Coordination with Mercer at 1-312-935-1469. Then, contact the University of Kentucky police department, who will relay the call to the appropriate authorities on campus. The 24-hour line for the UKPD is 1-859-257-8573.
Consular personnel at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the U.S. are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens. Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates appears on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov. Also note that the Office of Overseas Citizen Services in the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs may be reached for assistance with emergencies at 1-888-407-4747, if calling from the U.S. or Canada, or 202-501-4444, if calling from overseas.
Faculty members may electronically submit the Education Abroad Incident Report Form in order to quickly inform the EA staff of incidents on-site that may require attention.
Emergency Phone Numbers:
HTH Worldwide Insurance (For those departing PRIOR to Aug. 1, 2015)
Tel: 1-(800) 257-4823 or 1-(610) 254-8771, if outside the U.S.
AXA Security/Medical Assistance (For those departing AFTER Aug. 1, 2015)
University of Kentucky Police
Tel: 1 - (859) 257-8573 (24h)
Dr. Anthony Ogden, Director, Education Abroad
Cell: 1-(814) 574-0120
Miko McFarland, Assistant Director, Education Abroad
Cell: 1-(417) 337-1316
Jason Hope, UK Risk Management
Main Phone Line, UK Education Abroad
Tel: 1-(859) 257-4067
Note: Calls from abroad require that the U.S. country code be entered before the local area code. In most countries, the code is 001. For example, for the UK Education Abroad main office line, dial 001-859-257-4067.