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Health & Safety

Health & Safety

International travel involves being responsible for one's health and safety.  You have the most control and responsibility for your personal health and safety while abroad.  The University of Wyoming recommends that students consult The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The World Health Organization for information about health issues related to travel. 

The best way to protect yourself during international travel is to stay informed of the latest health information for your destination, to consult with your personal physician to confirm if your current medication is allowable in your chosen location, which vaccinations or medicines you may need, and to practice safe personal hygiene while abroad.  We recognize that there are many factors outside of your control but above all we encourage students to make good decisions, avoid unnecessary risks and know what to do in case of an emergency.

 

Studying abroad is an exciting and transformative experience, but it is not without risks to your personal health and safety. Taking appropriate precautions before you leave can help mitigate many of these risks. In this section, you will find information about some of the steps to take before you leave that can promote safety abroad.

Research your Destination(s)

  • What are the major health risks in the country(ies) you are traveling to? Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information.
  • Determine which vaccines or immunizations you may need in advance. Some may need to be administered several weeks before departure and you may need a certification of these vaccinations upon arrival. 
  • Visit your primary healthcare provider to discuss your study abroad and any considerations you may need to take in your host country. You may also get other immunizations/vaccinations during this visit.
  • You can call or visit Albany County Public Health (609 South 2nd Street; (307)721-2561) or UW Student Health on campus (currently open to students). 
  • Take the time to research the political landscape and customs of your host country before you depart. Stay informed about current events and developing situations while you are away.
  • For current news, safety bulletins and analysis view:

For more information visit the Prepare to Go page.

Communicate with Education Abroad staff well before the program starts if you need specific medical services or accommodations made during your program. Planning and clear communication are the best strategies towards being successful while abroad. For example, if you have a documented disability, communicate with your Education Abroad advisor in order to identify specific needs and we can then follow up by researching and confirming whether specific accommodations can be arranged at a given program location.

Road accidents are the #1 cause of death and serious injury abroad for young adults. Remember, people may drive on the other side of the road. Something as simple as crossing the street may be a challenge. If you are not sure how to do it, watch the locals! Regardless of where you study in the world, it is important to recognize that vehicle and pedestrian responsibilities are different than in the U.S. Do not make assumptions and use extreme caution if you choose to drive a motor vehicle while abroad. 

For international road safety information and reports view:

Car Pooling and Ride Sharing 

Carpooling and ridesharing may be less expensive, and more economical but do not forget that you are driving with strangers. 

General Advice

Avoid late at night: 

  • Empty public transportation (metros, buses, trams, etc) 
  • Deserted streets 
  • Neighborhoods you do not know 
  • Places that are poorly lit or not very visible at night (parks, tunnels, etc.) 

Think about using the Get Home Safe Application

It allows you to select a friend within the app who will follow your route home and who will verify that you arrive safe and sound at your destination. Can be downloaded for free!

Building safety standards vary widely between countries and can be below the standards required by U.S. law.  Even in highly developed and modern cities, you will find many buildings lacking common safety features such as egress windows, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and/or lit stairwells. Education Abroad encourages you when you first arrive abroad to develop a building escape plan in case of earthquake, fire, or other emergency. If there is no fire extinguisher, smoke or carbon monoxide detector in your building, you should consider purchasing them. 

For more safety information view:

Although, crime can occur anywhere, as a guest in another country you may be more vulnerable. It is extremely important that you take certain steps that can significantly reduce the chance of being a victim of crime abroad.

ALWAYS HAVE ON YOU: 

  • Your Student IDs from UW and from your host institution 
  • Photocopy of your passport and visa
  • A photo of your passport and visa in your cell phone

Tips on Staying Safe abroad:

  • Situational awareness- be aware of your surroundings. Listen to your instincts and learn to trust them.
  • Keep important bags and belongings close to you or on your person at all times.
  • Be alert in crowded places like train/bus stations and popular tourist destinations.
  • Know local emergency numbers - Remember, 911 is not a universal emergency number! You can use your Alert Traveler app to find the local emergency number of where you are traveling. Learn how to ask for help in the local language.
  • Know and follow all the laws of your host-country. You are subject to those laws and the US government may not be able to assist you if you get into legal trouble. 
  • Identify ways to blend in with the local culture to avoid being targeted as a tourist.
  • Trust your instincts – take immediate action to remove yourself from situations that feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • Avoid behaviors and situations that put you at risk – if you consume alcohol and drugs, do not walk alone, and never leave a club or get into a car with someone you do not know.

For more safety information view:

 

Alcohol Abroad

  • Studies show a new environment affects your tolerance for alcohol - be mindful of this when trying new drinks in new places and in different quantities. Take it easy! 
  • Many places do not have the same relationship with alcohol as the U.S. It's unlikely that public drunkenness is tolerated by locals. 
  • Alcohol impairs your judgment and you need to stay on your toes when navigating a new city and a new culture. Alcohol is involved in most of the accidents that occur abroad.
  • Some programs may not allow students to drink. This is usually due to cultural norms or safety considerations. 
  • Intoxication that interferes with program activities or disrupts the local environment is prohibited and may result in you returning from your study abroad.
  • Not all students drink! Maybe that's you. We support that and so should your fellow students.

Drugs Abroad

DON’T DO IT:

  • Drug laws may be much more strict in the U.S.  If you are arrested for drug possession or drug use, there is not much the Education Abroad Office or the US government can do to help you!
  • You do not know what substance you are getting, the dosage, or how it could affect you and your judgment.
  • You are studying abroad to study, learn, and grow.  That’s pretty hard to do if you are high.

For more information about illegal drugs and your rights abroad view by country:

Sexual Harassment 

In some places, whistling, hissing, catcalls, leering, stalking, groping, pinching, and indiscrete comments are more frequent and more “accepted” than in the US. While these things are more “acceptable” forms of attention in some places that does not mean that you have to tolerate it or think that it is normal or acceptable. However, be prepared that these things could happen and more frequently, than what you may be used to in the US. 

Strategies for responding to harassment in the streets and in other circumstances

  • Do not answer; ignore the person who is harassing you and move away or take refuge in a safe place (shop, restaurant, etc.)
  • Answer “no” calmly and firmly; don't insult
  • Seek help from passers-by or passengers if you are harassed in public transport, a store or other public place
  • If the person harassing you becomes aggressive, threatening or follows you, call local police and / or take a photo or video to provide them to the police

Sexual Assault 

Sexual assault and rape can happen to people across gender identities anywhere in the world. Violence, specifically sexual assault, continues to be a serious problem both on and off of college and university campuses and students heading off campus to study abroad/away should continue to be vigilant about being aware and safe, as well as understanding your role in helping to look out for one another and be active bystanders. Sexual assault is defined as any unwanted sexual contact, including rape.

It is important to know that victims do not cause sexual assault. Any sexual contact with you without your consent—regardless of how well you know someone, how much you’ve had to drink, or whether some of the sexual activity was consensual – is wrong. 

While most students do not experience sexual assault while abroad, it is important to know procedures, resources and care information in the event that this happens to you, a friend or a colleague while abroad.

If you are sexually assaulted: 

  • Take the necessary steps locally to ensure your immediate health safety.  Seek guidance from your on the ground support related to reporting to local authorities. 
  • UW has resources to support you if you experience a sexual assault. In the case you have experienced sexual misconduct—ranging from sexual assault to intimate partner violence to stalking to sexual harassment—or have questions about whether something you experienced could fall into these categories, consider disclosing what happened to a trusted member of the UW community, potentially a faculty or staff member on your trip, or your program directors. We can then assist you with next steps and provide you with resources if you wish to use them. 

If you have questions or concerns regarding sexual harassment or assault while abroad, reach out to Education Abroad at uwyoabd@uwyo.edu.

Regardless of where you travel in the world, you are subject to that country’s laws.  It is extremely important that you familiarize yourself with the laws of the country(s) you are traveling to and know that the consequences of violating those laws can be more severe than for a comparable violation in the U.S.  If you are arrested overseas, the U.S. Department of State can provide limited assistance and support.

For more information view:

Avoid them! Gatherings that may start peaceful can quickly escalate and turn violent. The UW International Insurance plan will not cover any injuries that result from attending a protest or demonstration, so just do not go. It is also illegal in some countries for foreigners to participate in protests.

Terror attacks occur at home and abroad, but there is no evidence to suggest that Americans are less safe abroad than they are here in the U.S. In fact, the leading cause of death for college-age individuals in the States is the same abroad: a motor-vehicle accident.

Nonetheless, we recognize that terror attacks are a real concern while abroad, especially in Europe, where we have seen terrorist attacks at major events, tourist sites, restaurants, commercial centers and transportation hubs.

To reduce one’s chances of being exposed to such risks and in keeping with best travel practices, we encourage you to:

  • Exercise vigilance in public places – identify multiple exits, monitor your possessions and alert authorities to unaccompanied bags or suspicious individuals
  • Exit and enter buses, trains and subways quickly (do not loiter)
  • Stay informed of local news; follow the guidance of local authorities
  • Have your cell phone fully charged and with you at all times
  • Memorize local emergency contact information (names and telephone numbers)
  • Read all electronic messages you receive from the U.S. DOS Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) – registration is strongly encouraged (and even required for certain types of traveler)
  • Stay in regular contact with your family members or loved ones at home
  • Pay attention to all messages from your team leader, faculty director, host institution/provider or UW regarding health or safety
  • Respond immediately to any check-in requests from UW 

If you have questions or concerns regarding terrorism while abroad, reach out to Education Abroad at uwyoabd@uwyo.edu.

Whether you are engaging in study, research, internships or community engagement abroad, you are required to have UW International Insurance, or to be participating on a program through one of our approved partner programs where insurance is included as part of your fee.

See our webpage Emergency Communication for information about emergency assistance abroad.

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