Study Abroad, as with any major life change, (regardless of length of time, location, etc.) has the potential to exacerbate pre-existing medical, mental health or personal issues or contribute to new ones. Local culture, customs and practices may not have/provide the support systems students might be accustomed to in the U.S. and the resources they typically rely on in the U.S. might not be available to them while they are abroad. When selecting an overseas program and preparing for departure it is very important for students to consider how they might manage things like medications, allergies, meal restrictions, mental health issues (stress, depression, anxiety, etc.), physical health/mobility, sexual health, learning disabilities, etc. Students will attend a mandatory Bon Voyage meeting where we will discuss some general health practices for travel abroad but students are encouraged to reach out to the appropriate resources on campus and in-country to prepare for their unique situations. If your student requires medical attention while abroad, they can work with our in-country partners or staff to identify English speaking providers, set up transportation and manage follow up such as obtaining prescriptions.
It is also important to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to determine if vaccinations are necessary for the location of travel.
All of our programs are thoroughly vetted by RIT's Risk Management office to ensure that appropriate safety and security practices are in place. They are also reviewed regularly if changes are made or programs may be temporarily suspended as situations evolve in other countries.
At the mandatory Bon Voyage meeting, we will have important conversations with students about safety abroad. We will cover topics such as drugs and alcohol, local laws, transportation, advice for women travelers, etc. When students arrive in-country, they will attend a mandatory orientation which will more specifically address safety strategies. Every program has residence directors or other program personnel on-site and will provide students with emergency contact information. We also encourage students to contact RIT Public Safety 24/7 in case of an emergency at 585-475-3333. RIT Public Safety will engage any of the necessary staff at RIT to assist students.
We encourage students to register on the U.S. Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service offered to U.S. citizens who are living or traveling in a foreign country. STEP will email students regular travel updates and alerts and allows for better governmental assistance in case of an emergency. More information and registration can be found at step.state.gov
Gather all of the information you and your student might need while they are away. Keep one copy for yourself at home and make sure your student keeps a copy with them while abroad:
- Insurance cards (front and back)
- Debit/credit cards (front and back)
- Photo page of passport and visa pages
- ID cards (front and back)
- Emergency contact information
All students have signed a FERPA waiver which allows us to communicate with parents in case of an emergency. It is wise for you to have a valid passport in case you need to travel out of the country in case of a student emergency.
More details on RIT's International Emergency Response Plan is available here.
All students going abroad will be covered by health insurance (minor medical issues, doctor visits, etc.) and emergency evacuation and repatriation insurance (evacuation and major emergency medical services). This insurance is provided either through the student's affiliate program provider or RIT's insurance company, OnCall. Students will be provided a copy of their health insurance cards either by the affiliate provider or the Education Abroad office. Students may be required to make a payment for medical services up front, so be sure that your student has access to emergency funds. Your student may then submit a claim for reimbursement.
Travel insurance, which covers canceled trips or lost baggage, etc. is optional for students and is not provided by RIT. If purchasing travel insurance, it is important to understand the policy details of what is and is not covered, for example, flight delays due to weather or if a program's tuition costs would be considered a covered expense.