Center for Global Engagement
Connecting you to the world!
Health & Safety
It is important to make sure that your student has all of the necessary vaccinations and immunizations for the trip. You should also check for any regional health advisories for your student’s host country. The website below is a link to a list of vaccinations recommended by the CDC before international travel and any health advisories you and your student should be aware of.
If your student requires any type of prescription medication, they should make sure to bring enough of the medication to last for the duration of their trip. It may be difficult to fill prescriptions while overseas so it is a good idea to bring extra medication. However, students should also bring copies of prescriptions in case more is needed.
It may be a good idea to make sure your student visits any and all doctors, dentists, etc. before leaving for their trip. This will ensure that your student is in good health prior to visiting abroad, which can help prevent problems while they are gone. If additional treatment, other than prescription drugs, may be required for your student, acquire a written letter from his or her doctor for your student to take with them. The letter should include all details of your student’s required medical treatment. This will make it much easier for your student to receive the appropriate treatments while they are abroad. If your student has a disability or other special health need, ensure they will have all appropriate paperwork, and aid and assist them in arranging for special care.
International health insurance is required for North Georgia study abroad students. Coverage is provided for all students by CISI (Cultural Insurance Services International).
Your student may want to bring some first aid items of their own on their trip. Below is a list of recommended items.
- Rubbing alcohol
- Sunscreen and sunburn ointment
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Gauze and adhesive tape
- Antibacterial ointment
- Pain reliever
- Feminine hygiene products (if necessary)
- Hand sanitizer
When traveling abroad, jet lag, a temporary disorder that may affect patterns of eat and sleep, is to be expected. Student’s bodies will need time to adjust to the time difference in other countries, but they generally feel normal after a few days.
Your student may also experience what is known as culture shock. This occurs when a person feels anxious, confused, or impatient when exposed to a new cultural environment. Once your student has adjusted to the new environment, they should go back to feeling normal. However, if they continue to have these feelings, they should consult one of their on-site program directors. Most students are able to adjust fairly quickly. If studying abroad was your idea and not your student’s, make sure that you are not pushing them into something that they do not want to do. Students who do not want to study abroad will take longer to adjust to a new culture, and some may never adjust. If the idea to study abroad was your student’s, it is important to encourage them and offer your full support. This will help in their adjustment process.
Four H's of Adjustment
When your student first arrives in a new country, everything will seem new and exciting to him/her. Your student is in a new environment with places to explore, people to meet and a new academic system to adjust to. Everything seems great! You can support him/her by listening to his/her new experiences and sharing in the excitement.
After your student has been in the new country for a short period, everyday things that were simple in his/her home country may seem more difficult. Your student may be having difficulty communicating in a new language while at the same time adjusting to new cultural norms. Your student may begin to feel self-conscious and frustrated while trying to adjust to cultural and linguistic differences. Your student may be feeling really homesick at this point. You can help your student by listening to his/her frustrations and encouraging him/her to realize the "small" victories he/she has every day and that things will get better.
Once your student has lived in the new country for some time, he/she will begin to understand the local culture and customs. If your student is communicating in a new language, he/she will begin to feel more confident speaking the language. Things that once seemed strange to your student now seem commonplace as he/she has adapted to living in a new culture. Your student is now able to deal with new and challenging situations with humor rather than frustration.
At this point, your student has "settled in" to his/her new country and community. It will feel like home now that he/she can easily navigate the city and the university. Your student may have adopted some of the cultural norms of the new country. Culture shock has worn off.
Some students will also experience reverse culture shock when they return home. It may take them some time to readjust to being back in America. Your son or daughter may express feelings of longing to be back abroad, but with your support, they will be able to better adjust to being back home. To help with this, ask them about their trip, get the details they want to share, and do your best to be understanding of their feelings.
Encourage your student to seek out local hospitals and health care organizations in the area in which they will be staying and become familiar with their locations. Your student will also want to find out if there is a “911” system in place in their host country in case an emergency arises.
Students are encouraged to be independent yet responsible when studying abroad. However, you may want to sit them down and talk with them about being safe and smart when it comes to making decisions overseas. Make sure they are aware of the laws in the country to which they are visiting. Many laws, such as for the required age for alcohol consumption, differ around the world. Encourage them to make responsible decisions in regards to these laws.
Your student should also familiarize themselves with the culture of the country they are visiting. Certain behaviors that are acceptable in the U.S. are not acceptable in other countries. Some attitudes towards gender, friendships, and dating differ as well and your student should also be aware of those differences. Many students will need to take charge in initiating friendships and should be aware of the benefits and dangers of making new friends. Some other countries do not have laws against behaviors that Americans consider to be racist or sexist so your student should be aware that a situation could potentially arise. Laws on smoking in restaurants may also be different or non-existent. If your student is allergic to, or extremely bothered by, smoke they should make preparations to be around it.
Your student should make his or herself aware of safety issues when it comes to local transportation, recreation, and even simple electrical appliances. In some areas of the world it is not safe or recommended to be out after dark. If security systems, such as guards or alarms, are used, your student should understand how they work in case of emergency.
Your student may stand out as an American, at least at first. Natives of the country they are visiting may have many inquiries about America, but you should remind your student not to be too concerned about encountering those who are “anti-American” because students tend not to encounter as many of those people as they might think.
Unfortunately bad situations do occur and we want your student to be aware of the possible dangers of any and all bad decisions they may be tempted to make while abroad. Your goal is to make them aware of these dangers and assist them in the prevention of such decisions.
Safety Tips for Your Student
- Do not carry much cash.
- Try to blend in with locals.
- Be aware of surroundings.
- Stay sober.
- Try to avoid driving at night.
- Understand traffic laws.
- Check reliability of transportations methods.
- Understand any laws associated with drug use. (The U.S. Government has no authority to remove an American citizen from foreign jail if the citizen was placed there on drug charges.)
- Make smart decisions in regards to sexual behavior. (Risks for diseases such as HIV/AIDS are higher in other parts of the world than in the U.S.)
- Be aware of potential natural phenomena. (Surfs at beaches)
- Watch for dangerous plants and animals.
- Be aware of any environmental hazards.
- Learn which individuals and businesses can be trusted. (Sometimes the police cannot be.)
- Learn norms for dress and behavior.
- Stay in touch with emergency contacts in U.S.
- Notify program staff if any illness develops.