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Health and Safety

Theft and Property

Petty larceny is an issue for anyone when traveling. Pickpockets in heavily visited cities often single out foreigners as easy targets. Students should make copies of all important documents and:

  1. Leave one set at home with a family member.
  2. Keep one set on file with the Center for International Education.
  3. Keep one set in a separate location while traveling independently (e.g. in backpack or luggage).

Each set should include a photocopy of the first page of their passport and the page with their visa, the numbers of their credit and ATM cards and bank accounts as well as traveler's check and insurance card numbers.

Property and Liability Insurance

Despite students' best efforts to safeguard their property, it is still possible for it to be lost, stolen or damaged when traveling or living abroad. As Juniata does not insure students' property while they are overseas, all student participants are urged to purchase property insurance for the entire duration of their stay abroad. Students should investigate their parents' homeowner's insurance to verify if all the items to be brought on the trip will be covered by their policy. It is recommended that all valuable items (e.g., laptop computers) be insured.

Accident and Sickness Insurance

Health insurance is an important component of study abroad. Students participating on Juniata programs are required to be covered by a comprehensive international insurance plan. Students are issued International Student Identity Cards which include basic insurance. However, if you feel additional insurance is needed, you can supply the ISIC insurance one of your own choosing.

If your child is participating in a non-Juniata program, please check with the program provider to determine if insurance is provided. If it is not, you must secure insurance independently that will provide adequate health coverage outside the United States, including medical emergency evacuation and repatriation of remains.

Questions to Consider When Reviewing Insurance Policies

  1. Will the plan cover hospitalization for accidents and illnesses for the entire period while I'm abroad?
  2. Does the policy provide coverage in all countries to be visited?
  3. Is there a deductible? If yes, how much?
  4. Is there a dollar limit to the amount of coverage provided?
  5. What are the procedures for filing a claim for medical expenses abroad? Do I need to pay for expenses and then submit receipts to the insurance company for reimbursement? (Make sure that you get full information from your policy about how to arrange for routine treatment, medical emergency procedures, and what is required to pay for or be reimbursed for a claim. Many overseas health providers will not process American insurance claims and will expect payment at the time of treatment so students should have access to a minimum of $400 (either by credit card or traveler's checks held in reserve for emergencies) in the event that medical treatment is required abroad. Be sure to obtain receipts, information, and signatures needed by your insurance company to file for reimbursement).
  6. Will I be required to pay cash in the currency of the host country and seek reimbursement later? What if I don't have enough money to pay cash up front?
  7. What do I use as proof of international medical coverage (if I need to use the insurance or if the host government requires documentation)?
  8. If I am not a U.S. Citizen, will I be covered by your plan? (In some instances international students have had to arrange for coverage with a company in their home country)
  9. Will this insurance cover me in the U.S. for the insured semester if I decide, for medical or other reasons, to return before the end of the program? (If a student has a serious accident or illness abroad, most usually he or she will return to the U.S. for further care; it is therefore important the student carry coverage that applies not only abroad, but in the U.S. during the study abroad period.)
  10. Does the policy exclude injuries sustained from terrorism and/or acts of war?
  11. Does it include coverage for medical evacuation/repatriation?
  12. Does the insurance company require claims to be submitted in U.S. dollars
  13. What kind of financial and medical documentation will be required, and is such documentation readily available in the host country?

Drugs and Alcohol

While overseas, students are subject to the Juniata College Standards of Student Conduct as well as to the local laws of the host country.

Alcohol is a serious issue for American students both at home and abroad. Students who are not of legal drinking age in the United States sometimes adjust poorly to the general availability of alcoholic drinks while abroad. Wine and beer are a regular part of social discourse and meals in the households of most host countries, restaurants, and campuses. "Responsible" drinking practices vary considerably from country to country, though none have the "binge" drinking culture often found on United States campuses. Public drunkenness is severely frowned upon in most countries and campuses. We trust that Juniata students will behave responsibly and will remember that as a foreigner they can be more vulnerable to problems if they have had too much to drink. Students should act responsibly when choosing whether to drink or not.

Drug penalties are generally much more severe than those of the United States. In some countries, simple acquisition of prohibited drugs, including marijuana and other controlled substances, can result in heavy fines, deportation and prison sentences ranging from months to years, or to capital punishment in Southeast Asia.

United States students are expected to abide by all local laws, including drug laws. United States embassy officials are very unsympathetic to drug violations by United States citizens and will only give a list of local lawyers and will contact, by collect call, one person in the United States. One student's action often affects several others. Therefore, Juniata takes a strong line against the abuse of alcohol and use of illegal drugs while a student is here or abroad.

Emotional Well-Being

Even under the most optimal conditions, adjusting to life in a different culture can be a stressful transition. On occasion, this stress may trigger or exacerbate more serious emotional conditions. Adjusting to another culture is a higher risk for a student who is currently under treatment for depression, an eating disorder, or any other serious condition. In these cases, study abroad should be postponed or planned very carefully in conjunction with the Center for International Education as well as other healthcare professionals.

Remember that typical reactions to cultural transitions may include homesickness, boredom or fatigue, physical complaints, feelings of depression or helplessness, and/or hostility toward the host culture. However, these reactions are usually short-lived when the student is encouraged to test new problem-solving methods that enhance their sense of mastery in dealing with a new culture.

Above all, trust your instincts. If, after an initial transition period of two or three weeks, your student demonstrates unusual or prolonged distress, you should refer him/her to the Director of Education Abroad.

Consider consulting the Director if you:

  1. Notice a student cries easily or seems sad a lot
  2. Observe significant changes in a student's behavior (e.g. stops going to class or quits participating in activities)
  3. Feel that your student seems more dependent than before
  4. Feel ill-equipped to handle the emotionality of your distressed student
  5. Feel awkward or helpless when your student confides in you about their problems
  6. Are concerned that your student could potentially harm him/herself or others


Vaccination requirements and suggestions vary by country. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta has an International Traveler's Hotline that provides up-to-date vaccination requirements for any region or country you select. Call Traveler's Health Hotline at 1-800-394-8747, or visit the CDC web site. We urge students to research vaccinations and health precautions for any areas they plan to visit outside of their host country.

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