Most UMBC students who go abroad have a safe and enriching experience. However, no place in the world is completely without risk and it is important for students to take responsibility while abroad and to be vigilant of their new surroundings. Extensive information on health and safety is available in the Take Me With You Packet and will be provided at Pre-Departure Orientation. The Education Abroad Office will also do everything possible to support students and provide a safety net while abroad.
- Students should plan to visit a physician well in advance of their travel plans to obtain any necessary immunizations.
- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises on health precautions for travelers by country.
- It is important for students to read the Health Information Form in their Registration Packets and discuss their health needs with their family, physician, and study abroad advisor in order for the Study Abroad Office to provide the best support possible and to outline a health plan for on-site, if necessary.
- All students studying abroad on UMBC, affiliated programs without adequate coverage, and direct-enroll programs are required to purchase the UMBC international health insurance, which includes emergency assistance, evacuation, and repatriation.
- The U.S. Department of State provides tips for students abroad and offers the Smart Traveler Enrollment program (enrollment required), studentsabroad.state.gov.
Talk to your doctor about your study abroad plans
The Education 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.
Mandatory Health Insurance Coverage
It is vital you and your family discuss your current health insurance policy and make certain that you have a plan for paying for medical treatments overseas. UMBC and the Education 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 will be required to purchase additional insurance coverage for your time abroad.
You will need to 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 involved with 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.
NOTE: a standard domestic health insurance plan such as Blue Cross Blue Shield or United Healthcare does not provide these benefits and is insufficient.
All students whose programs do not include adequate insurance coverage are going to be required to enroll in UMBC’s travel insurance policy through RCM&D insurance. Rates are less than $50 per month. Coverage details will be posted and provided to the students.
Monitoring Safety Abroad
Safety abroad is of paramount concern to UMBC and specifically the Education 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.
Responsible Alcohol Use
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 Education 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.