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Health & Safety

The Study Abroad Office suggests that all students obtain a physical examination from their physician prior to their departure. Students need to be in good physical and mental health in order to participate on any extended international experience. Students should also discuss with their physician any prescription medicines they plan to bring with them on their study abroad program, as well as any on-going health concerns.

It is vital you and your family discuss you current health insurance policy and make certain that you have a plan for paying for medical treatments overseas. UMBC and the Study Abroad Office require that all study abroad participants demonstrate that they have adequate health insurance that will cover them while they are studying abroad. If your level of coverage is insufficient, you may wish to purchase additional insurance coverage for your time abroad.

It is also strongly recommended that you purchase medical evacuation and repatriation insurance prior to your departure. Emergency evacuation and repatriation insurance provides two distinct services. If you fall ill or are injured in an area where adequate medical facilities are not available, emergency evacuation insurance can cover the costs associated in getting you to the nearest suitable medical facilities. In some cases, you may be brought back to the United States for treatment. This insurance also offers the repatriation of your remains should you die overseas. Given the tremendous expense and logistical difficulties that are involved in any medical evacuation or repatriation, we strongly recommend that you purchase this insurance.

Safety abroad is of paramount concern to UMBC and specifically the Study Abroad Office. Our role is to monitor conditions at our program sites before and during students’ time abroad and to provide students with safety information they will need to know while abroad, including that provided by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. In informing students about safety abroad, our practice is to repeat the information early and often. Safety issues are addressed in advising sessions, reiterated during orientation when students first arrive on site, and discussed in students’ program manuals. Directors and other on-site staff also meet with students periodically and, when conditions warrant, during their time abroad.

Even more important than educating students about safety abroad is emphasizing that the biggest risks abroad are the same risks faced in Baltimore—alcohol- and traffic-related accidents and injuries. Laws and customs relating to alcohol consumption and driving can be significantly different abroad and students need to be prudent and cautious. The Study Abroad Office strongly discourages students from renting cars or similar transport. Public transportation, such as trains and buses, is far more reliable in most countries—and even superior to what is found in the U.S. Similarly, although we cannot regulate or prohibit students’ consumption of alcohol, we urge them to observe local customs of alcohol use. In most countries drunkenness, in public or private, is frowned upon. We also emphasize that their judgment is impaired while intoxicated and that they may be ill equipped to evaluate the risks of dangerous situations.