BEFORE A WSU SPONSORED STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM BEGINS
Be sure you clearly understand the academic requirements of the study abroad program (course pre-requisites, assignments to be completed prior to leaving, in-country, or after returning to the United States, program activities which are mandatory or optional, etc), as well as the trip itinerary. In addition, you should know the travel dates (to/from and in-country), which cities you’ll visit and where you will stay in each location.
If you have special needs which the Study Abroad Program Director must accommodate, please inform the Program Director of this as soon as possible. The Program Director has the right to identify the selection criteria to be used with all trip participants, including age, educational background, physical fitness and/or required medical exam, or other criteria necessary for the successful completion of the program.
Be sure you understand and can pay for all the anticipated program costs consistent with the published payment schedule. If you indicate preliminary interest in a study abroad program, but fail to make payments as required, you will not be able to participate in the trip. Further, this could jeopardize the trip for all other participants.
If you don’t already have a passport, apply for one as soon as possible (processing can take as long as six weeks during the peak travel season). Some countries also require a visa; the Study Abroad Program Director can advise you on the need for a visa. See http://travel.state.gov/passport for detailed passport application procedures.
You may also want to obtain an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) which grants you access to student discounts and benefits in over 90 countries. If you are 25 years of age or younger and not a student, you are eligible for an International Youth Travel Card (IYTC). Teachers are eligible for the International Teacher Identity Card (ITIC). Both these cards offer benefits similar to the ISIC. To get your international identity cards, apply online at www.counciltravel.com, or call 1-800-2COUNCIL.
It is your responsibility to see that you have all the necessary documents before you leave.
The key to happy and safe travel is to be able to carry all you need without a struggle. Suitcases with wheels may be difficult to maneuver on cobble-stone streets, and duffle bags are hard to carry for long periods of time. Consider a convertible back pack instead.
Traveling light means you should choose your wardrobe carefully. Take clothing that can be mixed and matched and pack a bag for dirty laundry so you can wash some of your clothes in bathroom sinks. Use small bottles of toiletries and replace them in-country if necessary. Be sure to include copies of prescriptions for any medicine you need to bring with you. Before you depart, put everything you think you will need into your suitcase or back pack, and take a nice long walk, preferably in hilly terrain. Then review what’s inside and decide what to leave at home before you go abroad.
Leave at home anything you absolutely cannot bear to lose either for its cash or sentimental value. Make two photocopies of important documents (passport, tickets, credit card numbers, etc); take one set of copies with you and leave the other set at home with a relative or friend. Consider leaving your wallet at home and only take those materials which you have in your wallet which will be essential for study abroad. A money belt which can be worn inside your clothes is a good place to store your passport, credit cards, travelers checks, tickets, cash, etc.
Accident insurance is required for all study abroad program participants. If you are a WSU employee or student, you are automatically covered by virtue of your being employed at or by paying tuition to WSU. You are considered to be Class I insured. Class II insured participants (non-WSU employees or students) must purchase accident insurance from the WSU Office of Public Safety before you leave for study abroad. Your Study Abroad Program Director or the WSU Study Abroad Office will provide information on how to purchase this insurance.
The accident insurance available through WSU only provides coverage for activities undertaken during the study abroad program (including travel to or from the destination), while participants are actually in the care, custody and control of the Study Abroad Program Director; see http://www.weber.edu/risk/fieldtrip.asp This policy does not provide 24 hour a day coverage, however this can be arranged for an additional premium paid through the WSU Office of Public Safety. Supplemental accident insurance coverage, as well as other travel abroad assistance, may also be obtained by purchasing an international ID card.
- Key aspects of the WSU accident insurance plan include:
medical coverage is provided only for illness or death due to accidents (alcohol or drug-related accidents are not covered)
- there is a required payment of $100 deductible for a medical claim
- the maximum limits are $10,000 medical and $25,000 accidental death or dismemberment; if additional coverage is desirable beyond these limits, participants must arrange this through their private insurance carriers
- the insurance is a reimbursement type policy which requires the participant to:
- pay for any medical services at the time they are provided
- request and complete the necessary claim forms from the WSU Office of Public Safety upon return from the study program
- submit the forms to WSU’s insurance carrier along with the required medical receipts
All study abroad program participants must have comprehensive health insurance coverage adequate for travel abroad (including the specific countries which are part of the program), or access to a major credit card which may be used to purchase needed health care. WSU employees have adequate health insurance coverage as a condition of their employment (check with the Human Resources Office for more details). WSU students may purchase student health insurance by contacting the Student Health Insurance Office (Student Center, Room 165), or through a private carrier. All other trip participants must acquire adequate health insurance through a private carrier. International SOS Assistance offers a range of medical and legal services for business and student travelers. In addition to medical insurance, services include worldwide medical and legal referrals, take-along medical kits, an immunization program, evacuation services and country-specific reports that detail risks to health and safety. For more information on enrolling in an SOS assistance program, call 1-800-523-8611, or visit http://www.intsos.com.
In addition to adequate health insurance coverage, some study abroad programs may require clearance from a physician in order for participants to complete scheduled trip activities. Your Study Abroad Program Director will advise you of the need for this.
Trip cancellation insurance
Most study abroad programs require a substantial amount of money up front, and usually several months before the actual program takes place. If a personal emergency arises and you are no longer able to go, you could forfeit the money you have already paid. You may want to look into cancellation insurance that can refund your money if a last minute emergency causes a change in your plans.
Approximately one month before the trip departure, an orientation session will be held for all study abroad participants by the Program Director and the Study Abroad Office. It is very important that you attend this orientation; the following topics are usually discussed:
- academic course requirements and procedures
- travel details
- fee payment schedule
- codes of conduct/cultural issues
- health and safety concerns
- emergency management plan
- Statement of Understanding/Release
- other issues specific to the proposed trip
Depending on your destination, you may be venturing into a culture completely unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. How do you keep from doing something embarrassing or offensive? During the pre-departure orientation, there should be a discussion of the applicable codes of conduct for the areas you will be visiting, as well as the consequences of noncompliance. Publications called "culturegrams" also provide helpful information for more than 160 areas of the world. Besides historical and political background, each four-page "culturegram" report explains country-specific customs, courtesies and lifestyles that differ from those in the United States. To order, call 1-800-528-6279; fax 1-801-378-5882; website: http://www.culturegrams.com/individual.htm.
Staying healthy while studying abroad is probably the most important thing you can do to assure a successful international experience. Health topics are frequently discussed during the pre-departure orientation; the exact content may vary depending on the health issues and health resources of the country being visited. At a minimum, a pre-departure orientation should cover the following health topics:
- basic hygiene
- water and food issues
- alcohol and drugs (legal and illegal)
- personal responsibility and health status
- existing conditions, special care needed
- prescriptions, eye wear, etc.
- sexuality and relationships
- accident and injury prevention
- health care availability abroad
- diseases psychological issues
- common sense
Many other resources are available to provide information on specific health topics. The WSU Student Health Center can provide information not only on immunizations but also how to respond to simple health care needs such as upset stomachs, cold and flu symptoms and just plain homesickness. Other good sources of information include faculty and students who have traveled abroad, country guidebooks, public health hotlines such as local and state health departments, and the Center for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/.
8. Become familiar with the emergency management plan for your study abroad program
International travel has always had its joys and its hazards. Terrorist acts have usually been directed at government officials and business people representing large US firms, but all Americans are at risk while studying and traveling abroad. Regardless of how safe an international location seems to be, it is important that an emergency management plan be in place and reviewed prior to the trip departure. This review often takes place at the pre-departure orientation.
You are responsible for understanding the risks associated with travel to the specific locations of your study abroad program. The State Department regularly issues warnings for specific areas; see http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html. In addition, the nonprofit ASIRT (the Association for Safe International Road Travel) promotes road travel safety through education and advocacy. Its staff of 50 statisticians, lawyers and physicians around the world work pro bono to compile yearly updated road travel reports on over 60 countries that are available to members. Contact ASIRT, 5413 West Cedar Lane, Suite 103 C, Bethesda, MD 20814; telephone 1-301-983-5252; web site: http://www.asirt.org
NOTE: The right is reserved by WSU, in its sole discretion, to cancel the study abroad program or any aspect thereof prior to departure, if WSU determines or believes that any person is or will be in danger if the program occurs.
An emergency management plan should also include provisions for health care which might be needed during the program. Before you leave, find out about the health care delivery systems found in the various trip locations. This includes the kind of health facilities which exist, their locations, their hours of operation, their methods of payment, and whether or not they will treat foreigners.
In the case of an emergency during your study abroad program, your Program Director will promptly report to the appropriate law enforcement agency and to the WSU University Police any accident or other incident which, in the course of a study abroad program, causes physical injury to participants or other persons. In addition, the Program Director will evaluate the real danger to the trip participants by considering such factors:
- the event’s impact on the availability of food, water, and medical supplies
- the presence of military or emergency personnel
- the feasibility of continuing the trip or its activities
- advice of the nearest US embassy or consulate
Your Program Director will relay the above-listed information to the WSU Study Abroad Office; this office will consult with appropriate WSU administrators to decide what initial and long-term strategies are needed to deal with the emergency. Based on that discussion, your Program Director will take appropriate action based on the on-site situation and the WSU responses, including evacuation procedures, if necessary.
Included with this packet is the Statement of Understanding/Release which you must sign before you depart (if participants are less than 18 years of age, their guardians must also sign). This form also requests an emergency contact telephone number for you while you are abroad. These signed release forms are collected at the pre-departure orientation and kept on file in the Study Abroad Office.
Weber State University does all it can to minimize risks inherent in study abroad. However, keep in mind that the legal system, for the most part, considers individuals who study abroad to be adults and to be responsible for their own actions.
In summary, BEFORE you leave on a study abroad program:
- review the program details
- obtain necessary identification documents
- plan to travel smart and light
- review your insurance needs
- attend a pre-departure orientation session
- become familiar with international codes of conduct
- plan to stay healthy while abroad
- understand the emergency management plan
- sign the release form
The deposit is non-refundable, as are all expenses incurred up to the point of cancellation.
WSU STUDY ABROAD - PARTICIPANT PACKET